Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kicking In to Make Art Happen



Hey Y'all,
Lots to share with you this month. First, I want to let you know there are still openings for the second Vermont Retreat, which we added since the first one filled up so quickly. That trip is November 13 - 16th in Quechee, Vermont. We stay at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm and you can hike, stretch, and shop in addition to knitting. Or you can just cozy up to the fire and knit, knit, knit. This might just be my favorite thing about these trips-- flexibility to take it at your own pace. (That said, it's really impossible to name one favorite thing, given the amazing possibilities, the incredible food, the hilarious conversation, and all the rest of it.) Lynne Barr will be our guest teacher for this weekend. She has designed some really cool stuff-- check out her Ravelry Page. And if you want to join us on the trip, here's the REGISTRATION PAGE.

Pictured above is Alison. I met her years ago on a Knitting and Yoga Adventures trip to Monhegan Island. We've both been repeat attendees and we've got a friendship beyond the island, too. Alison's son, Richard, lives here in Austin, not far from me. He's got a super cool studio called Paleo Denim where he makes dungarees, one pair at a time. Alison and Richard's dad, Dick, were down to visit Richard recently and I got to tag along for a tour of his studio, which he opened thanks to a successful KickStarter campaign. Check it out:


Speaking of KickStarter, Lisa and I are both currently participating in active fundraising campaigns. Lisa is part of a group of artists in Portland, Maine, raising funds for the art studio Running With Scissors, which is comprised of more than fifty artists working across a broad range of mediums. Lisa creates stunningly beautiful ceramics. Other artists work in silkscreen, photography, and woodworking to name but a few of their disciplines. The space serves more than the artists-- it offers community to Portland at large. If you'd like to help by being a backer, you can check out the Running With Scissors Campaign.  Kicking in is a great way to be part of the community whether you live there or just visit.


As for my KickStarter Campaign-- I'm using my daily blog, Meditation Kicks Ass, as the basis for my next book. I'm raising funds to carve out writing time and self-publish. If you're reading this before April 2, 2014 and would like to kick in, you can just CLICK THIS LINK to check out more details. And yes, of course, I'll be writing about how knitting is a form of meditation for me. Here are two pictures from the trip to Monhegan last year, both of which I used at my blog, one co-starring Patty our fearless hiking leader, and the other co-starring Chris, a very funny guy we met there.



In addition to working on my KickStarter, yes of course I HAVE BEEN KNITTING. I finally finished a cowl that I made from yarn we got from Swans Island, where we stopped on the way back to Portland after Monhegan Island. The cowl is a knock-off of a GAP cowl. I got the pattern free at Ravelry. It's called GAP-tastic. Something about working this cowl changed my attitude toward seed stitching. I always love the way seed stitch looks but used to be annoyed at having to switch back and forth between knit and purl the whole time. Now, fifteen years into my knitting life, I am less suspicious of the purl stitch. Finally! Here's a silly picture I took. If any of you remember Land of the Lost, that ridiculous Saturday morning TV show from the 70s, you'll get the joke when I tell you I am calling this my Sleestak Cowl.


I hope y'all have lots of great knitting going on. Please remember to check out our regular website:
Knitting and Yoga Adventures to find out more information about the upcoming Monhegan Island Retreat and the additional Quechee, Vermont Retreat. We would so love to have you come away with us.
Thanks,
Spike

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Great News! Second Vermont Weekend Added


Hey Y'all,
Our first weekend Knitting and Yoga Adventures Retreat in Quechee, Vermont sold out so fast that we've added a second weekend! All the details are RIGHT HERE. Dates are November 13 - 16, 2014. And you can REGISTER AT THIS PAGE. Our guest teacher for the weekend will be Lynne Barr. You can see Lynne's designs at her Ravelry Page. She's a great teacher and author of several knitting books. Do sign up soon because it's likely this weekend will sell out, too.

Meanwhile there's still room if you want to attend the Monhegan Island Knitting and Yoga Adventures Retreat, September 14 - 20, 2014 in Maine. This year will be my one-gazillionth trip and I look forward to it so much every year. I can't emphasize enough what an amazing trip it is. Please do join us.

In other news I've spent the past month knitting for others. Sometimes I get selfish and knit just for me. But so far 2014 has been all about enjoying making others happy with my handiwork. A friend of mine told me he really missed the dishcloths his mom used to knit him. He has a couple that are falling apart. I had him give me one so I could make him replacements. He supplied me with her needles, too, so I used those-- a nice touch and a real honor to get to use those beloved needles.


A friend of mine on the West Coast is undergoing chemo, so I made her a silly cat hat to keep her head warm. I used Malabrigo, which is SO excellent to work with.


And then, for a treat for me, I went and got a knitting themed tattoo, which I do say turned out GREAT. Check it out. Can't wait to show y'all in person. 


Enjoy these last few weeks to wear your heavy woolens and have fun planning out those Spring projects. Can't believe it's almost time for the flowers to bloom.
Yay!
Spike

Friday, January 31, 2014

Registration for Monhegan Island, Maine & Queechee, Vermont is Filling Up. Don't Wait! Register Now.



Hey Y'all,
Hard to believe it but here we are, February. January whipped by so fast and if that's any indication of how 2014 is going to go, then the Knitting and Yoga Adventures will be here in no time. Both the Monhegan Island, Maine Retreat and the Queechee, Vermont Retreat registrations are half-full and will likely sell out soon enough. So now is the time to sign up-- Don't wait.

We are so excited that Kristina McGowan will be our guest teacher on Monhegan Island. Kristina is a leading designer of top-down knits, based on the work of Barbara Walker, the queen of top-down knitting. Kristina will take the mystery out of this amazing technique-- and let me tell you, my all-time favorite sweater, the one I wear most often, is a beautiful top down cardigan.

The Queechee retreat will include a workshop at the lovely LYS Six Loose Ladies, with knitting tips and tricks and a delicious yarn tasting. We'll also lunch at King Arthur Flour and visit another great shop, Northern Nights, in Norwich, Vermont.

To register you can visit the Knitting and Yoga Adventures website.



And now, I need to switch topics and share with you some very sad news. Lisa's mom, Boots Bailey, passed on January 9, 2014. Boots had attended a number of Monhegan Island retreats with us. Those of you who had the pleasure of her company know that Lisa's mom was a real hoot. She was an incredibly talented designer of leather goods and needlepoint canvases. We miss her so much but she remains with us in spirit. Our deepest condolences to Lisa and her brothers and their spouses and children.

Until March,
Spike

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's Time to Register for the Monhegan Island and Vermont Trips! Yay!


Hey Y'all,
I am SO HAPPY and SO EXCITED to announce that as of January 1, 2014, registration is OPEN for both of our Knitting and Yoga Adventures 2014 trips. Yay! And if you register by May 1, 2014 you'll get the Early Bird Discount. 

This year the Monhegan Island trip will be September 14 - 20th. We'll stay at the wonderful Monhegan House with the amazing Holden the Innkeeper. There will be hiking, chilling, yoga, massage and, of course, knitting and knitting and more knitting. Our guest teacher will be Kristina McGowan, a leading designer of top down knitting. You can get all the details about the trip and register by clicking this link.


The Quechee, Vermont trip is a shorter trip and runs from November 6 - 9th. Cathy Payson returns as our guest teacher/designer. And once again the group will stay at the cozy Quechee Inn at Marshland Farms and we'll visit Six Loose Ladies Yarn Shop for a couple of excellent mini-workshops. You can get all the details about the Vermont trip and register by clicking this link.  

I have to say that, even though I'm a writer by trade, and have been for thirty years, and I'm not half-bad with words if I do say so myself... well even still it is ridiculously hard for me to capture for you just how much fun we have and how fulfilling the trip is. I've been on the Monhegan trip many times now and every time my plane touches down in Portland I want to jump up and down and squeal knowing that in a few hours I'll be in my Most Happy Place in the World. And I'll be there with a group of equally passionate knitters and there will be astonishingly fabulous food, and I don't have to make my bed, and I can just totally RELAX. Really, you've got to try it to believe it.


The camaraderie is beyond compare. I have made such good friends on these trips. You will, too. So please join us. Space is really limited-- best to sign up early. And hey, your reward is a nice discount. Can't beat that.



I look forward to meeting you all.
See you in the fall! Happy Knitty New Year!
Thanks,
Spike

Sunday, December 1, 2013



Hey Y'all,
The long weekend Knitting & Yoga Adventure retreat in Queechee, Vermont  was splendid. We did a yarn crawl to four stores: Six Loose Ladies, a non-profit cooperative in Proctorsville, VT; Baker's Yarns in Smithfield, White River Yarns in White River; and Northern Nights in Norwich. Each shop was fabulous and they had really distinctly different personalities.

I'd like to remind you that registration opens on January 1, 2014, for the 2014 Monhegan Island Retreat, which happens in September. That is truly a spectacular adventure with great knitting classes, yoga sessions for all levels including super beginners, amazing long walks around the island, and fantastic food. Registration is limited, so don't wait to sign up. And remember-- the retreat makes a great holiday gift, so don't be shy about telling your loved ones that all you want this season is a trip to Monhegan Island to knit! 

Here are some pictures from the Vermont trip. 

Happy Holidays!
Spike





















Friday, October 25, 2013

Hello! It's Officially Knitting Season!


Hey Y'all,
So I think we can agree that it's knitting season all year round. But then, there is something extra awesome about knitting when the temperature drops. Which for me-- down here in Austin-- means a brisk 75 degrees. Ha! But seriously, it's getting chilly at night and soon enough our one month of winter will be here.

I know a lot of you are up north and actually have snow to look forward to. Please send me pictures when that happens. I always love looking at pictures of snow, just can't stand driving in the stuff.

So this time around, I want to give a big shout out to QUINCE & Co yarn pictured at the top. We used some gorgeous Quince wool when we were on Monhegan Island. Really knits up beautifully and it's also eco-friendly-- most of it is American fiber and the stuff that comes from other countries is acquired from farmers and ranchers who love the earth. We used yarn from Quince that was created by Pam Allen, spun and dyed in Maine. The company has limited LYS distribution-- most of it is sold directly online to help them keep costs down.

Here's a picture of my scarflet-in-progress, which Teva designed for us to make using the Quince:



Down below there's a picture of yours truly. What am I wearing? Let's call it a PROTOTYPE okay? It didn't turn out exactly as I envisioned. I used the Swans Island Samurai Hat pattern I picked up when we stopped at Swans Island on the way back to Portland. I used super scratchy old school wool I bought at LOOP, on my trip to London. Also, I was too lazy to look up how to do garter stitch in the round, so I just took a guess, figure it involved purling, and found out later at my LYS that what I'd done was actually a reverse stockinette. No biggie. I wound up with an excellent hat regardless. Now I understand the pattern, I know how to do reverse stockinette, and I most definitely will do more of these. They knit up very quick.


And down below-- a scarf I made using Blue Sky alpaca which is so incredibly fabulous I felt like I was getting away with something using it. I mean it is so so so so so soft and buttery. I just did a simple K2P2 rib and made it about seven-feet long-- birthday gift for a friend who lives in truly cold climate so it'll get real use. Even though I have about ninety scarves of my own already, I am tempted to make one of these for myself and to keep the a/c on 30 degrees just so I can wear it all the time.


I know the trip to Queechee, VT is coming RIGHT UP. How I wish I could join y'all but I am duty bound to stay in Texas and help folks get married.  But I will certainly be with you in spirit. Have a most wonderful trip. Catch you on the other side.

Spike

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thank You Swans Island!


Hey Y'all,
Wanted to give a big shout out to Swans Island for hosting a great visit when we stopped by on the way back from Port Clyde to Portland. I love the amazing blankets there. And I love the yarn, too. We had the great pleasure of using some Swans Island chunky for the improvised lace bag project Teva set us up with. I scored a couple of skeins of beautiful chartreuse wool and I just want to sit around and look at it all day.

This was my third trip now to Swans Island and I never get tired of visiting. The place has such a great history-- I've blogged about it here before. The company used to actually be on an island, but now its on the mainland. We got to check out their dyeing vats, their amazing looms, and, of course, the showroom.

I'd been thinking about a Beluga Whale stuffed toy pattern I'd seen there last year. This year I bought it. I figure if you think about a pattern for that long, better go ahead and get it. I've got a little friend with a birthday coming up soon enough and I know he's going to love it.


I also picked up the pattern for the Samuri Hat, which is so cute and is going to knit up fast and is going to be great once the temperature down here in Austin drops into the 70s (brrrrrr....)

And I took great joy watching everyone else shop. It's a special delight watching folks walk into the showroom for the first time-- the displays are arresting and you get to touch the goods.



Patty was able to find an alternative use for a ring full of sample mini-skeins. Check it out:


And here's a picture of one of the looms:


For more information about Swans Island you can check out the Swans Island website. Also they have a really fabulous blog-- fantastic photos and lots and lots of patterns.  

Thanks Swans Island folks! We sure had a terrific time. See you next fall!
Spike