work

Recapping: Squam Art Workshops 2014

squam lake motion

To tell you the truth, before I went to Squam, I knew I would love it: crafting, classes, woods, friends, lake, hosting a fun event with my work teamies... these are all things I cherish. But the recaps I've read throughout the years were so effusive, with phrases like "magical experience" and "nurtured my spirit" and such, that it did cross my mind a few times: exactly how freakin' "magical" could this thing really be? 

Well, I gotta say, it was pretty darn magical. And yes, it really did nurture my spirit and left me deeply inspired. I loved it so much, and I am so grateful to Jess and Casey for bringing us here as a special Ravelry retreat!

SAW is held at the Rockwold-Deephaven Camps in Holderness, NH, which I think for most of the summer is sort of like the Catskills family camp where Dirty Dancing took place? During the Squam Art Workshops, the campgrounds are taken over by happy makers there for the classes (the teachers are fantastic), the nature, and the camaraderie with other creative types. The schedule was great - apparently it has varied a bit over the years, but this year attendees chose two classes, each six hours long, to take over the course of three days. The second class was divided up over Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, which meant that we had the rest of those days open. There were optional activities we could do during that free time (yoga classes and special talks), or we could choose to go hiking, hang out in our cabins or at the docks or common areas, or go swimming in the lake (they also had kayaks and hydro-bikes to rent!). There were great evening events as well: a talk by Jared Flood, a poetry reading from Sarah Sousa, and the Saturday night Art Fair and Ravelry Revelry (which I wrote about on the work blog). 

Obviously this was all so relaxing! The most pressing decisions of my week seemed to be: get in the lake or take a yoga class? S'mores, an ice cream cone with sprinkles, or both? What a treat.

The first class I took was Narrative Truth, taught by Amy Gretchen. It was a photography class with a focus on telling stories and conveying emotions through our pictures, with some lessons on composition and technique to help us impart feeling into our photographs. I loved it, and it was a perfect class for the types of photos I like to take: capturing special little moments and the beauty around me in everyday life. I know I'll be thinking of Amy Gretchen's photo prompts and her emphasis on expressing the feeling behind the pictures whenever I take my camera out.

On the second and third days I took the Story in a Day class from David Anthony Durham, which was a creative writing class in which we worked on story prompt exercises and then wrote our own story. The thought of taking this class terrified me... which is exactly why I signed up for it. I can't think of a time in which I've ever written fiction (outside of school assignments) and I knew that this would be a safe, supportive environment for me to try this crazy thing. I am so, so glad I did. David's advice was practical and encouraging, the other students in class were supportive, and sure enough we all came up with stories! Feeling vulnerable but writing anyway, sharing our work in a cozy little lakeside cabin with the sounds of the water lapping against the dock in the background, was such a memorable experience. The act of pouring words out for something not-work-related was so much more fun than I expected. It definitely inspired me to start writing for fun - at least in this blog space again, and doing more journaling in my Project Life photo journal - and for that I am so thankful.

It was truly special, getting to have this experience with (and because of!) my Rav teamies. I know I'm so fortunate that a retreat with coworkers is something to get excited about, knowing that it will mean motivating, creative time with friends. Such joy! Squam: yep, it's super magical. I get it now. So grateful I had the chance to dive in.

Sugarleaf, my Rhinebeck Sweater!

It's so exciting to be able to blog about Sugarleaf, my contribution to Ysolda's book, The Rhinebeck Sweater!

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

My trip to Rhinebeck for the New York Sheep and Wool festival is a highlight of my year. I always fly out to Boston a bit early and spend a day working with Team Rav; then we all drive out to Rhinebeck and stay with a group of friends in a rental house with a fabulous kitchen. Since I love feeding people as much as I love knitting, this is an altogether fabulous weekend for me every year. We enjoy the festival each day: Ravelry meetups, seeing friendly faces, browsing the vendors' booths, watching the sheepdogs and visiting the fiber animals, and eating our weight in cider donuts. (Ok maybe that's just me.)

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

For Ysolda's book, we were asked to make our ideal Rhinebeck sweater. For me, that meant a cozy and durable cardigan, for sure. NYS&W has been super cold every year I've been - thank goodness for layers of wool! I definitely wanted to do colorwork with a motif and colors that would remind me of the gorgeous, bright autumn leaves that are on glorious display at each festival. The sugar maples in particular blow me away every year with their fabulous glowing orange leaves. And so, Sugarleaf was born.

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

I was thrilled to be able to work with Green Mountain Spinnery's New Mexico Organic and Local Color yarns (Local Color is naturally-dyed New Mexico Organic). The sheep for this wool are raised just a few hours from me here in New Mexico! The wool is then made into a scrumptious woolen-spun yarn by the wonderful people at Green Mountain Spinnery. I'm a sucker both for naturally-dyed yarns and natural-colored wool, and I looooove how the the rich orangey-red pops out against the grey. I want to make another, with the indigo Local Color as the MC and a natural cream as the CC. Wouldn't that be nice? The buttons, gorgeous rosewood toggles, are from Melissa Jean - another NYS&W vendor whose booth is on my "must stop and buy" list every year. I squealed when they arrived and I sewed them on the sweater - the refined rustic toggles were exactly what I wanted!

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

The yoke! This was my first adult-sized circular yoke sweater and I so enjoyed the process. The pattern is pretty bold, but tight, just framing the face and circling the tops of the shoulders. Bonus: the colorwork part flies by and then you can really motor along in stockinette. Surely it can't be just me for whom "cramming in knitting as fast as I can and then blocking in the hotel room or maybe the van driving out to Rhinebeck" is a part of the New York Sheep and Wool experience?

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

The inspiration for the colorwork motif is a little silly but makes me happy. Late last summer, while the design was in the hibernating/waiting for yarn phase, I was having a bit of a Skyrim moment. In the fictional Skyrim town of Whiterun, lots of doors have these geometric floral carvings. (You can see them in the background of this image from the Skyrim Wiki.) While playing one day, I realized - these would make a terrific colorwork pattern! There is actually a Skyrim character who lives in this village and was named after Ysolda, so I felt like this was fate. ;)

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

These photos were taken on the festival grounds just after dawn. Ysolda, Bex, and I got to wander around the fairgrounds admidst the buzz of focused vendors busy setting up their booths. Jennie the Potter kindly allowed us to borrow one of her beautiful mugs for the shoot, and  I also got to walk a baby llama, no big deal. (HA! Yeah right, it was a very big deal. Baby llama walking!)

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

Sugarleaf photo copyright Ysolda Teague

You can find all the details about Sugarleaf on its Ravelry page. I was so excited to finally be able to add my project to Rav! Bex is already working on a gorgeous version in her handspun (!! it's always a huge honor to me when someone uses their handspun for one of my designs) and I love the colors she chose. If you'll be at NYS&W this year, you'll be able to see this sweater in person - like last year, I'll be wearing it on Saturday - but this time I can wear it *after* the festival is open. Can't wait!

The Rhinebeck Sweater designers photo copyright Ysolda Teague

The Rhinebeck Sweater designers photo copyright Ysolda Teague

Thank you, Ysolda, for inviting me to participate in this project - it is an incredible honor to be included with this amazing group of designers and passionate fiber folks! I am so excited to be able to hold this book in person. You can check out the full details, see a complete lookbook, and even preorder the book on Ysolda's website. Hooray!