Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Classy Ladies-- Having a Ball on Monhegan Island

Okay, let's see, technically it's Tuesday as I'm writing this, but I haven't yet told the story of Monday. For someone who tries to spend as much of my life as possible in a frenzy of anticipatory anxiety, all this relaxing stuff really throws a wrench into my life. (Fortunately, the wrench is encased in a form-fitting, hand knit cashmere and angora wrench cover so, you know, it's not like I'm suffering.)

Relaxing? Me? No really, it's nothing short of amazing. And as I confided to my knit comrades on the dock in Port Clyde, please don't tell my son, my man or my dogs, BUT... I'm thinking my annual trek to Monhegan Island to knit is pretty much my favorite week of the year. Let's go over this again for latecomers who haven't heard about the Knitting and Yoga Adventures as well as those of you who simply like to remind yourselves just what it's all about: sleep, eat, walk, eat, knit knit knit knit, eat, stretch, knit, eat, knit, knit, sleep.

Sure, there are variations to the above, maybe a massage, an extra knit session, some early morning sunrise stroll, but you get the idea. And I know I'm not the only one who loves it when, on Day One, Lisa issues the most important command of all: Only Do What You Want-- You Don't Need to Do It All! This, along with some first year information that she gave me-- You Don't Have to Clean Your Room-- really sets the (lack of) pace for me.

On the downside, my off-the-island skills take a pretty hard hit. At home, I make the song Do the Hustle seem like a slow dance-- nay, a funeral dirge! But here on the island? Ha! My organizational skills dissolve in the salty air, my Note to Self to keep a minute-by-minute record of events gets carried off on the breeze, and suddenly here I am, in the moment.

All that said, today I am going to muster my memory muscle to try to capture just a bit of what the classes mean to me. Then tomorrow I'll give some delicious samples of all this natural beauty we're drenched in. Honestly, these two things hold equal weight for me and my heart sits upon a seesaw of love, teetering back and forth, beating out a little ditty that goes like this: Yarn. Nature. Yarn. Nature. Yarn. Nature.
Okay: YARN. So Susan got the class love started on Monday. As I mentioned in an earlier post, rumor had it that Susan had some chart reading planned for us. (You know, I just had an idea, we're going to call Susan SuMi for the rest of this week, you know like J Lo). As I also mentioned, before I started coming to the retreat, the idea of ever reading a chart seemed, to me, about as likely as the idea that I might once and for all lose and keep off those twenty pounds that keep showing up "under my seat" like some unbidden flotation device.

But lo! SuMi has done it. In just three short retreats she has moved me from the realm of Whiny Chart Fearer into the arena of Say, I Can Actually Read This! For this, SuMi deserves a medal. Several medals. I'm being quite serious here. SuMi's tremendous patience has totally paid off.

Mind you, I still mess up the pattern some. I ripped out my lace about four times already. But that's besides the point. What's important is that I GET IT! I understand the point of the charts, I comprehend that a little circle is not a smiley face that has lost its mouth and eyes, but rather it is a YARN OVER! I grasped, quickly enough, that not unlike the instructions on shampoo, that there's a certain part of the chart where I need to Rinse and Repeat. Well, okay, just repeat. It makes my brain feel so happy to learn something new. Boy is my brain happy.

Now, as for application-- well, I need to sit down and really focus on this lace stuff. But for the first time in a dozen years of knitting, I finally want to finish a real lace project. And I think the rest of the crew would agree that I, Spike, am lacking a respectable amount of lace in my wardrobe. Not for long!
Today we had a class with Cathy Payson, designer extraordinaire. CaPa has use working on a cable-y snood. In fact, it's more of a neck warmer, but I love saying the word snood. Please, say it with me now: Snood, Snood, Snood. The room got awfully quiet once we started or engines and revved our needles and buried our noses in our patterns. I have only the teeniest bit of experience with cables and looking at the more complicated of two samples I had two thoughts:

1. I must do the more complicated because I am competitive and overzealous!
2. I am insane for attempting the more complicated pattern!

Even though we're working with written instructions, I heeded Cathy's advice about charts-- Do Not Jump Ahead No Matter How Tempted You Are-- and applied it to these longhand directions. Yes, that's right, it's yet another opportunity to stay in the moment. Stitch by stitch, row by row, you gotta just focus on exactly where you're at. I'm doing it and each time I get to the end of a row and there aren't any missing stitches or extra stitches, I feel like I just won the Miss Universe contest or something. And considering I got two whole rows done in snood class today, it's like I'm Miss Universe and the Miss Universe Runner Up all in the same day. (Why I didn't start coming to knitting camp about thirty years ago is beyond me.)

Here are some pics of the knit-side of our adventure:

Exhibit A & B below: Le Skein & Le Ball
(Sometimes, that's as much progress as I can make in a day)

Below: That's Isabel and Me-- I'm the one sporting the Flashdance leg warmers. Isabel is a knitter who's been visiting MI for over 40 years. We heart Isabel.

Below: No shortage of hand knit fabulousness on the retreat. Socks aplenty.

Below: "I WILL figure out this pattern!"

Below: "I CAN turn this spaghetti into a ball!"

Below: "I WILL turn this dental floss into a lace shawl that I will wear to the opera AND the laundromat!"
Below: Life is so hard...

Below: "Does this skein of yarn make my diamond ring look fat?"

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