Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter Knits & Retreat Dreams


Hi Y'all,
Well so far down in Texas we haven't had a whole lot of winter. But it's gotten chilly enough some days for me to do my famous routine of applying as many hand knits as I can get away with and parading around town, hoping people will ask my if I made this or that. Happily many folks indulge me in this. And Austin, despite the fact our summer is about ten months long, is full of knitters.

I did get some real winter in December when I scooted over to Portland, Oregon for a few days in December. My friends took me on a day trip to Hood River and, despite my vow to stop growing my stash (for a little while anyway) I couldn't resist popping into Knot Another Hat. I saw an irresistible pair of hand warmers and grabbed the pattern and some Rowan Finest yarn to make them. They're pretty long and, as you can see, very stripy, with stripes that start out in rounds of five, then four, three, two, one. The thumb gusset is super easy. I can tell this is a pattern I will use often.

As I was checking out, the cashier swore she knew me. I said I'd not been to Hood River before, but mentioned this blog. She thought maybe that was it and we got to talking and I told her about the Monhegan Island Retreat and she said a couple of her regulars had been to the island with Lisa. That's just another thing I love about the Knitting and Yoga Adventures-- folks come in from all over the place to partake.


In other news, I was picking up my mail the other day and I found a package slip for a mystery package from a return address I did not recognize. I tore it open and inside found a couple of amazing skeins of super chunky wool from Wales, sent by a woman in London. She knew me through my writing and decided to surprise me with a gift. I was blown away by the kindness. I told her her timing had been excellent-- I was feeling a bit down-- and also that her color choice was perfect. You can see all the pinks in that wool. As I told her, I'm not usually drawn to pinks EXCEPT times I'm feeling a need for a bit of growth. Which I am now. I'm whipping through this scarf which should be done in a day or two. A good reminder to not only keep a couple of projects going, but to really vary needle size. The hand warmers aren't at all hard, but they are on size 2.5, so they're taking awhile. The pink scarf is totally TV knitting.

I'm guessing y'all get surprise and mystery knit-related gifts, too. Would love to hear about those and any projects you're working on. Also would love to hear that you are coming along on Knitting and Yoga Adventure's  Monhegan Island Retreat in September  and/or our April and November Quechee Vermont Retreats. 

Hope you're warm and knitting away wherever you are!
Spike

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2016 Knitting Retreat Registration Opens January 1st!!



Hi Y'all,
Spike here. Today I'm sitting at the Rain or Shine Coffee Shop in Portland, Oregon. Just like I visit Monhegan Island annually, I also visit Portland, OR every year. But this year, my trip-- typically in August-- got pushed to December. On the downside, I really can't stand cold, wet weather. On the upside I sure get to wear a whole lot more of my hand knits than I typically am able to wear when I visit in summer.

Today I'm sporting some beautiful hand warmers my friend Pamela made for me-- they have a little bit of cable work up the center. And you can't see very well, but those are hand knit socks I'm wearing. I'm working on a super simple K2P2 scarf in Blue Sky Extra, which seems to have become my go to comfort yarn in 2015. A great wool/alpaca mix, it's so soft and it's pretty heavy so it knits up quick. I'm also still, ever so slowly, working on the NYX cowl designed by Norah Gaughan, which I started in the fall on Monhegan Island. I swear I will finish it soon. And I swear it will be the project that launches me to finally, no REALLY, start a cable sweater. I'm going to do one. And I'm going to do it right.

Speaking of setting goals-- it's time for New Year's Resolutions and might I suggest you resolve to join us on one or more of the Knitting and Yoga Adventures 2016 retreats? We're going to Vermont in the Spring and Fall and we're going to Monhegan Island in September. Registration opens on January 1, 2016. Visit our Knitting and Yoga Adventures home page to sign up.

Depending on when you attend you'll get to observe and participate in all sorts of fun activities including: lambing, maple tree tapping, birding, mill visits, farm-to-table meals, artist demonstrations, boat rides, yarn tastings, lobster bakes, island walks, incredible company and, of course, KNITTING KNITTING AND MORE KNITTING!!

Really hope to see you in the New Year.
Enjoy your winter knitting.
Spike

Friday, November 20, 2015

Knitting and Yoga Adventures Vermont 2015 Was Smashing


Hey Y'all!
Well I'm green with retroactive envy upon seeing the pictures from this year's Knitting and Yoga Adventure's retreat to Quechee, Vermont. This is the tenth anniversary year for KY&A, it's the 18th retreat Lisa has hosted, and this was the fifth trip to Vermont. 

Designer Rachel Kahn was on board for the long weekend. She got the gang going on knitting super fancy hats using Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair yarn. As ever the group stayed at the Quechee Inn where uninterrupted constant knitting was encouraged. Not that a roomful of dedicated knitters really needs to be encouraged to keep the needles clicking.

Look at these hats! 
Delicious snacks.
But of course even the most passionate knitter must stop and refuel. Toward that end there were snacks. Really really delicious snacks. There were also trips to Grandview Farm and Snowshoe Farm to visit the source of excellent fibers. To wit:





Now it's time to settle into a long winter's knit while visions of next year's retreats dance through your head. There's plenty to dream about. In 2016 there will be TWO trips to Vermont-- a long weekend in Spring and one in Fall. For the Spring Retreat (April 7 - 10) we've got designer Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton joining us. And for the Fall Retreat (November 3-6) Bristol Ivy will be on board. 

Soon we'll let you know more about the Monhegan Island 2016 Retreat. 

Registration for all three Knitting and Yoga Adventures opens on January 1st. So set an alert and make your first (and best) New Year Resolution to sign up for a retreat. Or three.


Here are a few more pictures of our excellent Vermont adventure.
Happy Knitting,
Spike











Monday, October 26, 2015

'Tis the Season to Bust Out the Serious Projects


Hi Y'all,
Well finally-- TRUE KNITTING SEASON is upon us. Maybe it arrived for those of you in the North last month. Down here in Austin we had a big storm roll in on the heels of Hurricane Patricia that brought tons of rain and dropped the temperature about thirty degrees lower than a week ago. I used that as an excuse to bust out some leftover Blue Sky Extra I had to start a scarf. That stuff is so soft (alpaca/merino) I kind of want to just wrap myself up in it. Maybe I can go as a hybrid yarn ball/mummy for Halloween.

As you can see above, I FINALLY finished my Color Affection Shawl. Actually, I finished it on Monhegan Island though I have yet to block it. Since I used fingering weight and tiny needles, it's more like a hoodie scarf, which is fine. The hoodie part was unintentional. If you've not made one of these before and are planning it, bear in mind that unless you add a yarn over at the beginning of every row, and then drop that on the return, you'll wind up with some major curvature. I was given that tip a few inches in, did all my yarn overs from that point on, and still had this problem. Although I am, as ever, going with convincing myself that any problem in a project is actually an "element of design." I wish I could remember who taught me that notion-- I owe them so much.



I have made some more progress in my Norah Gaughan NYX Cowl, which I (barely) started on Monhegan Island. I temporarily set it aside for good reason. Those of you on the Monhegan trip know I'd been hustling to acquire a ranch just outside of Austin. For those curious: I GOT IT! The big move begins this week, and so until I get that all sorted I will focus what little knitting time I can gather on the aforementioned 2-2 ribbed scarf, since it's simple enough to work on in the dark and/or in my sleep. But I really can't wait to get back to the cowl. 



I also knocked out yet another (my 10,000th it seems) Umbilical Cord Baby Hat from the original Stitch 'n Bitch book. While I do love picking up new patterns every year, I definitely have my standard go-to projects. This hat is so fun. Knits up in about ten seconds, always well received, and another opportunity to work with ridiculously soft yarn.

 To your right-- another spectacular view of the Color Affection Shawl, displayed by my favorite model, Rebound. She is quite often the beneficiary of my finished projects. You can see her appreciation written all over her little smooshed face.

I know some of you are fixing to head to Quechee, Vermont in a couple of weeks for the weekend knitting retreat with designer Rachel Kahn. I'm bummed I can't join you, but I'll be down here hammering out the details of my new Green Acres life. That trip is sold out but you can CLICK HERE to get on the waiting list.

And mark your calendars. Registration for both 2016 retreats opens on January 1, 2016. We'll post more details about those trip soon over at the Knitting and Yoga Adventures website.
Happy Knitting Y'all!
Spike

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Monhegan Island 2015 Episode Six!


Hey Y'all!
I'm at JFK for my 700-hour layover. I thought I'd put up some more photos for your enjoyment. Thank you all for another AMAZING Knitting and Yoga Adventures Monhegan Island Retreat! I had so much fun and I'm very happy you did, too. Big shout out to Norah Gaughan who is SO AMAZING. And who fixed my cable mistake this morning at around 6 am up at staff house. I finally, finally settled into my knitting on the plane from Portland to NY. Yes, I keep fumbling, but then I keep figuring out how to fix it. To me that is incredible progress. I learned how to read charts on Monhegan Island (thanks Susan for that!). And each year I return is, among other things, a reminder of how much my knitting has improved thanks to these trips. 

I already miss the island and Holden and Sue and all y'all! Very sorry if I did not get to tell you goodbye at the dock. We had to hustle to get Liz and me to the airport. I hope the yarn crawl was a blast. Don't forget to LIKE OUR KNITTING AND YOGA ADVENTURES FACEBOOK PAGE-- great way to stay in touch and keep up with these posts.

Safe travels!
See you next year!
Love,
Spike









YAY NORAH!!!!