Monday, August 30, 2010

Inspiration Everywhere!

When I had the pleasure of interviewing Cathy Payson-- who is our guest teacher on the retreat this year-- for Interweave KNITS, she told me that when she travels she sees inspiration for her designs everywhere. I thought of her a lot these past two weeks—I’ve been on vacation in Israel. Everywhere I look I see color schemes and patterns. There’s the blue green of the Mediterranean, the arches in Jerusalem, and even chevrons all along the walls of some ancient, human-made caves we visited.

I’ve had a great time AND I’m really looking forward to Monhegan Island. Some of the cliff views here remind me of there. And the sunsets in both places are stunning. But there are certainly big differences—a major one being no traffic on Monhegan. I am especially eager for the absence of honking horns. And, while I have managed to get quite a bit of knitting done on this trip. I can’t wait to make that the entire focus of a full week. I might even manage to finish this sweater I’ve been working on.

Here are some pictures of my trip, inspired by the look-for-ideas notion Cathy planted in my mind. Am really eager to find out what she has planned for us.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trendsetting-- A Little Extra Bonus for You

I'm pretty hooked on the online edition of the New York Times. In particular, I love to check out a little box on the site featuring the Top Ten Most E-mailed Articles to see what people are talking about. Today I was excited to see a story about Portland, Maine. Part of an ongoing series in the Travel Section known as 36 Hours In..., this story takes a quick look at a mounting buzz about Portland's restaurant, art, and nightlife scene. Apparently, just by flying into Portland, we'll be part of a growing trend-- trendsetting being an added if unintended bonus for retreat attendees.

Now, now-- I know we'll be spending most of our time on Monhegan Island, which is fine by me. And I'm sure it's fine by you, too. But for those of you who will have a little time on either end of the retreat to explore Portland before jetting or driving back home, you might want to check out the article for suggestions on places to visit. Apparently there are several new galleries and a number of restaurants that feature locally grown veggies and locally raised meats.

So there you go, be part of the trend. I'm going to. Maybe those of us with enough spare time can have a little group knit at a cafe on Congress Street.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Almost Time to Get Packing: What to Bring

Hey Y'all,
So if you can believe it, we are now LESS THAN ONE MONTH away from the big retreat! I realize I get a sort of delightful anxiety thinking about what to pack. I'm not talking about undies and my collection of knit-themed t-shirts. Those I've already got selected. No, the hard part for me is figuring out what knitting projects to bring-- both ones I've finished in the past year that I want to share and those I'd like to work on in the evenings during the informal knit gathering in the parlor.

I've had two years of experience now, and know that I could show up practically empty-handed, save for some needles. Between Susan and Cathy's classes, and the patterns and yarn we'll receive to play with, there's plenty to keep us busy. But like any good and zealous knitter, I like to always have "a few" projects with me just in case I find the time to, say, start and finish six pairs of socks, a sweater, some arm warmers, and a king-sized afghan.

I also know that, really, just a pair of yoga pants, one or two sweaters, and a few pair of socks (hand-knitted) are almost all I need in the "fashion" department. But if I can figure out how, I'll bring my entire collection of sweaters because there's nothing like having an appreciative audience of fellow knitters to admire my work (or, let's be honest, given some of the things I make, gently poke fun at).

Right now, I'm thinking of bringing what I need to make some arm warmers I spotted in the new pattern book Amy Butler did for Rowan. And I'll likely bring along the sweater I'm working on from a Mirasol pattern book I am absolutely smitten with (pictured above). I can't ever go on vacation without sock yarn, so I'll have some of that. And I recently promised my optometrist I'd make him a little something, though I'm not sure what yet. That means I'll probably throw in a few skeins of this and that and mull over the gift while I'm on the island.

Anybody else already strategizing what to bring? Do tell.

And watch for me in the van-- I'll be the one wearing head-to-toe handknits, even if it happens to be 80 degrees. Oh I can't WAIT! Sadly, I will probably not be able to bring the sweater, pictured below (and modeled by my friend Shannon) that I made while on a trip to Buenos Aires in March. I used needles the size of broomsticks, the whole thing took about six minutes to knit, and/but it weighs about fifteen pounds and requires its own suitcase. Too bad I can't lug it along, but I'll be sure to tell you all about it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

If You Can't Join 'Em, Tweet 'Em!

For the past few years, the Knitting and Yoga Adventures Retreat has coincided with a big gathering of birders who, pardon the pun, flock to Monhegan Island because they can spot all sorts of interesting feathered friends there. This is always a big treat for both groups since it gives us each a glimpse into the other's zany passion. One of my favorite ever retreat moments came during my first trip, a couple of years ago, when some birders came into Monhegan House while we were eating and we could (easily) overhear them asking each other in puzzled tones why anyone would be so drawn to a pastime like knitting. And yes, this exchange happened while they were weighed down with all sorts of mysterious equipment they use for their pastime.

Sadly, this year we'll be on the island a week before the big birding group gets there. While I'm certain beyond any doubt we will, like Gloria Gaynor, survive, I confess I'm going to miss being scrutinized by them. But we're hoping to leave our mark behind, hints that we were there, so the birders-- who no doubt will be searching the island over looking for the missing knitters-- will find traces of us. I have to give Lisa credit for this great idea. She's proposed we consider leaving some little knitted birds for them.

Toward that end, I've tracked down some free patterns so we can knit up these birds. Feel free to get started before you head out, or maybe knit one up on the plane, or we can sit and knit these little birds by the fireplace at night.

Here are the patterns:

For those of you who'd like to make a bluebird, here's a cute one.

Then there's a pattern for these generic birds which, if we knit them up in weird colors, might lead the birders to believe they've discovered a new species!

Or how about this lovely bird mobile, that sets the birds in flight? I found it over at it was designed by Meg Bakewell. I think we should make a few of these for Monhegan House to complement the knit graffiti we left for Holden last year.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

But Wait, There's More: Beyond the Island

I was reading the New York Times the other day and saw an article about Red's Eats, a lobster roll shack in Maine that's so popular traffic in the area often grinds to a halt because EVERYBODY wants to stop and get one-- or six. I do believe we drive by this very shack on the way to the ferry that takes us over to the island. Thinking about that-- the lobster rolls, the drive, the ferry, got my already very high level of excitement to surge even higher, which I didn't even realize was possible. Then, I started flashing back to all the extras I love about this annual excursion with Knitting and Yoga Adventures.

If you happen to be part of the group that meets at the JetPort (isn't that a cute name for an airport?) and takes the van to Port Clyde to catch the ferry, then count on Patty starting you off right. Patty plans excellent snacks to get things going-- my first year there were these awesome lobster-shaped cookies. Then there's all the great chat in the van.

On the way back, after that whole inimitable week of knitting and stretching and learning and laughing, the adventure isn't over. Lisa plans some great stuff for the drive back in. My first year, we stopped at Halcyon Yarn in Bath, Maine, and it took at least fifteen minutes to pick my jaw up off the floor. This year, Lisa has more great tricks up her sleeve to make sure we all have fun until the absolute last second before boarding our planes (or driving off). We'll be going to Romney Ridge in Woolwich where they sell "beautiful yarn from happy sheep," and a gallery in downtown Bath called Markings on Front Street to meet Nanney Kennedy of Seacolors, which is yarn that's hand dyed with seawater.

Honestly, you might consider packing your suitcase into a larger, empty suitcase, because I'm telling you, your stash will grow exponentially on this trip.