Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

Squam Art Workshops takes place at an old summer camp in New Hampshire, on the shore of Squam Lake (where On Golden Pond was filmed). It’s actually two camps, built one right after the other in the late 1800s by a civil war widow and her protegé, and combined into one after the death of the older woman. It’s about as picturesque a place as you could ever imagine, so you spend a lot of time just ogling and photographing your surroundings, from the rustic cabins with their screened porches and iceboxes (literally) to the docks and the woods and the paths and the phone-booth cabin and the dining-hall window … and the list goes on. My first afternoon, before my cabin mates arrived, I wandered around shooting Fringe bags everywhere, from the woodshed to the wheelbarrows. It’s the sort of place that makes everyone look like a brilliant photographer.

On the second and third days, I taught my cables class. And on Friday afternoon, when my second class let out, I was overcome with that school’s-out-for-summer feeling. I’d be working like a madwoman before I left, then teaching (which I sincerely love and enjoy) and then suddenly I realized I had almost 48 hours to just enjoy the place and the people and my cabin mates, which this year were Kristine and Adrienne from Verb, my beloved pal and two-time cabin mate Mary Jane Mucklestone, and Jessica Forbes, the co-owner of Ravelry, who’d I’d met briefly on many, many occasions but had never gotten to spend any time with. She is a HOOT! So there was a lot of dock-sitting and knitting, porch-sitting and knitting, fireplace-sitting and knitting. On Saturday, MJ and Adrienne and I hiked up to the top of Rattlesnake (point? ridge? peak?) and took in the incredible view of the lake. This is MJ at the tippy-top, below right:

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

But I’m getting ahead of myself. So Friday afternoon: Class is over, I’m done teaching, and I’ve come prepared. The really hard part about teaching is not getting to take classes, when you’re surrounded by all these people learning to block print and macrame and make beautiful journals and … so many temptations. But before I left for camp, it occurred to me there might be the slight possibility of dipping a little something into Kristine’s natural indigo vats when her students were done. She was very sweet to indulge me (even though it was really wrong of me to ask) so these little bundles are what I had packed in my bags, just case:

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

And here’s how they turned out:

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

The upper one is the white linen shell I had sewn just in time for Squam last year. And the smock is my once-white State Smock, which was getting a little “ring around the collar”-y. The both came out almost exactly as I had imagined them, and I can tell you that dyeing with a few friends and a can of beer, on the wraparound porch of a lodge building overlooking a scenic lake, is one lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon. My biggest thanks to Kristine for the dyeing and to Mary Jane for the beer!

So I came home with two new-again garments, but I know you’re wondering how my ultra-minimal packing list played out in the woods. Here are all the ways the contents of my suitcase got worn (with a bonus tee I bought at the gift shop while I was there) —

Squam outfits

The cardigan was frequently in my bag (or over my shoulders) just in case, but it was mostly too warm for it. I wore the clay pants 5 out of 6 days, and the jeans only once. Those pants are PERFECT in this setting, and barely even showed dirt. And it was fine that I only had my Chucks with me — even on the bouldering part of the hike. (Although I did also have flipflops for shower shoes, basically.)

For the full inventory/origins on the garments, see my packing post. And to see the real-time Story of my week in motion, watch the highlight reel in my Instagram profile. I’ll be watching it anytime I need a moment of peace.

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

PREVIOUSLY: Squam part 1, Gauge (and other) lessons

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Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

I have so much to tell you (or show you) about my six days at Squam Art Workshops (aka art camp for grown-ups) that I’m breaking it into two parts! First, let’s talk about my classes. This year and last, I’ve taught a class called In the Company of Cables, which is ostensibly a class about how to knit cables but is really a class about getting comfortable with reading charts, tracking your progress, fixing mistakes, seeing the pattern in a way that often frees you from needing to keep referring to the chart, and so on. Which is good, because this year all but six of the people who signed up already knew how to knit cables! I’m always saying you should take classes from people you find interesting, even if you already know the thing they’re teaching, because there’s always something to be learned in amongst all the dialogue that happens in a knitting class. I say that, and then I freak out a little bit when people who already know everything I’m teaching take my class! So hopefully even the pros in the room picked up a good tip or two. I certainly enjoyed spending the day with both groups, and feel very honored that people would want to listen to me yammer on about something they already know. So thank you to everyone who signed up, beginners and lifelongers alike!

(Gravest apologies to the half of the cutie-pie sister duo I accidentally cut off in the only still photo I took of Friday’s group! Everyone is in the frame in the video version found in my Instagram highlight reel.)

In Friday’s class, we had an amazing demonstration of why gauge matters. For myriad reasons, I don’t ask my students to swatch for the hat that I teach, but they do have homework. They’re asked to cast on 90 sts and work the first few rows of the pattern before coming to class. Everyone uses the identical yarn, Osprey, and size US8 needles. Obviously, because everyone’s tension varies, everyone’s finished hat size will vary, and my hope is that everyone winds up with a hat that will fit someone they know. But I do state that if you know yourself to be a loose knitter, cast on 80 stitches instead, so your hat won’t be gigantic. Check out this photo:

Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

Am (@oystersandpurls) is on the right, and she cast on the prescribed 90 stitches. Am is a tighter knitter than me, so her hat is smaller than my pattern/samples. Brienne (@brienne_moody), on the left, is a loose knitter so she cast on only 80 stitches, and her hat is still bigger than my samples! Think about this for a second: the hat on the left has 10 fewer stitches and is significantly larger than the hat on the right, even though they were knitted in the same yarn on the same size needles. Fortunately, they both still fit: One is a slouchy beanie and the other is a fitted skullcap. But it was an incredibly vivid example of the difference gauge makes in the finished dimensions of a project — even a little hat.

(And how cute are they with their matching toffee Field Bags? I just noticed that.)

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PREVIOUSLY: Squam 2017 reflections and outfits

Almost-perfect sweatshirt + Squam packing list

Almost-perfect sweatshirt + Squam packing list

This past weekend, I packed two totally different sets of clothes for two very different trips: Squam Art Workshops and Portugal. Pretty much all of my current favorite garments went into the Portugal pile (show you later), which left me combing through my remaining clothes looking for just the right few things that are A) reasonably presentable enough to teach in, B) appropriate for tromping around in the New Hampshire woods, and C) suitable for the cool, changeable, early-spring weather (as I sweat here in Nashville). And also, I seem to have entered some phase where each time I pack I’m in some kind of competition with myself to see how few things I can get away with! So, y’know, just a few complications there. But thankfully I left myself some very helpful notes after last year.

The Squam trip is just five days: travel there, teach, teach, playtime/art fair, travel home. (Although it feels so long and peaceful in those woods.) Having just watched On Golden Pond, which was filmed on Squam Lake, what I really wanted was to dress exactly like Katharine Hepburn in the movie — i.e., a daily diet of big button-down shirts over a jersey turtleneck and trousers.

In reality, there are two things going in both suitcases — my trusty old denim vest and my recently finished grey sweatshirt, above. It is perfect in every way but one: I cut the fabric the wrong direction. But it’s fine! And I’m looking forward to having it along for sleeping in, for knitting on the screened porch at night, and of course for those chilly mornings on the dock before class. It’s Grainline’s Linden Sweatshirt, and all I did was raise the neckline about an inch all the way around. The fit is utterly perfect, and I’ll definitely make it many more times over the course of my life.

So I’m takig 7 primary garments (outfit clothes) in my Squam suitcase:

Squam Art Workshops packing list

Black cardigan
– Denim vest (J.Crew, ancient)
– Chambray shirt (hand-me-down)
Black shell
Striped shell
– Clay wide-legs (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Culotte, made in Nashville, sample sale 2017)
– Jeans (Imogene+Willie Willie, made in US, 2017)

(Lots of overlap with last year.) Plus for around the cabin: the sweatshirt, a tee, old cutoffs and my thick black leggings. And since apparently my good ol’ Chucks were the only shoes I wore last year, they’re the only shoes I’m taking this year — hopefully no rain. I’m tempted to throw in my black turtleneck, just in case.

Funny to think I’ll be seeing some of you in the dining hall tonight!

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PREVIOUSLY: Squam 2017 reflections and outfits and Knitting in paradise

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Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

I have a lot of Deep Thoughts coming away from this year’s Squam Art Workshops, but that’s sort of what Squam does to you. Some of those might find their way into this post in one form or another — I’ll see what happens as I write — but if you really just want to know what I wore, feel free to scroll on down, that’s cool! “Whatever makes you happy” is sort of the number one rule of Squam, so go with it.

(Bob came in and started talking to me just then. I said, in apologies for shushing him, “I’m trying to write about what I’ve learned about myself in the last five years.” He said, “Wow. It’s a good thing you got a nap.”)

The simple summary of the trip is: I had the best, most peaceful time imaginable. I flew to Boston the night before and met my longtime online friend Felicia Semple for the first time at the picturesque Squam Lake Inn in Holderness, NH, near the old camp where Squam takes place. We had dinner and talked each other’s ears off, and the next day we drove an hour and a half to visit the Harrisville Designs mill and take the tour — my first time watching yarn being made. (I couldn’t get a cell signal there, so I’ll be belatedly putting all the images and videos into my Instagram Story today.) New Hampshire is so pretty it feels like you’re in a movie set: Every little general store and fire station is picture-perfectly adorable, and Harrisville is definitely no exception. But even without the scenery and the mill tour, I cherish that chunk of time I got to spend with Felicia, yammering like mad and making observations about the ways we talk about ourselves or our endeavors. As they say, it felt like I’d known her forever, but she’s that sort.

Wednesday evening we checked in at camp and got our cabin assignments. I had the good fortune to be bunk mates with my hilarious sprite of a friend Mary Jane Mucklestone (who I first met taking this class from her four years ago) and two people I’d not met before: the warm-hearted dynamo Anne Weill (who I’ve admired since her graciousness in the face of this snooty post I wrote in 2015) and Camille DeAngelis, who was teaching the writing workshop and is a lovely, gentle soul. We were assigned a fantastic cabin on the tip of the spit of land with the widest view of the lake I’ve seen so far — we couldn’t see another cabin from our dock, just water and trees and the greenest hills — and my teaching cabin was right next door. So yeah, off to a great start.

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

The dining hall that night was full of old friends, heroes and new faces, and my hermit heart was racing a bit, in a good way. Everyone was asking me how I felt about being there to teach for the first time, and honestly I was feeling pretty chill about it. I had what I thought was a solid plan and good notes, plus I was already under the lake’s spell and still high from the whole Harrisville adventure. I was a little shy at dinner with my class that night, but by breakfast felt entirely relaxed and ready. Then I ran into our fearless leader Elizabeth on the way to the wooded path toward class and she gave me such an intense pep talk that it got my heart pounding! But that gave me a funny anecdote to open with, so thank you, Elizabeth, in a million ways.

I could go on for days, but what I want to say is it went fine. Better than fine. My students were lovely and relaxed and determined, and nearly all of them even finished their hats! (Note to beloved students: the Debutant pattern is listed on Ravelry, please link your projects!) On the whole, I got to spend several days surrounded by so many people I already loved, so many more I loved getting to know, and many moments just sitting quietly on the dock, gathering energy to rejoin the happy-noisy crowd or teach the next session.

What this all has to do with what I’ve learned about myself in the last five years is this: I’ve spent my whole life telling myself I’m inept at making conversation with people I don’t know. That I’m better in writing than in person. That I prefer solitude to crowds. All of that is true of me, but it’s not the whole story. Since starting Fringe, I’ve forced myself to challenge those notions. I showed up at the trade show the first time without knowing a soul, and now each year it’s a sort of homecoming. Likewise, I’ve traveled to events and workshops and retreats (Squam included) with a few friends and come away with new ones every time. I’m part of a community I value so much, and am so honored to be involved in, and I’m blessed with these friendships and opportunities because I’ve dared to show up and to not sit in the corner. (At least, not the whole time.) I’ve learned that yes, it will take a lot out of me, but it’s beyond worth it and I’ll sleep that part off when I get home. Somehow all of this was amplified in those woods last week. And discovering that I’m perhaps not a half-bad teacher was a whole new level of the process.

There’s more in my head, but that’s the part I feel is important to share here: Please don’t believe all the things you tell yourself about yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.

So this is a love letter and thank-you note to everyone I’ve met, been befriended and/or challenged by these last five years. I’m awash in gratitude. And yes I got that Dottie Angel “I am a W.I.P.” shirt (and tote bag!) at the fair Saturday night and feel it more strongly and proudly than ever.

. . .

So what did I wear? Here’s what was either on me or in my little carry-on suitcase, along with a box of teaching materials, an umbrella, two headlamps, my travel dryer and toiletries:

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

white linen shell
black hemp muscle tee
– grey Everlane linen knit muscle tee
– black silk Elizabeth Suzann artist smock, which I LOVED wearing with jeans and sneaks
– secondhand chambray shirt
– old flannel
– purple J.Crew boiled wool pullover from a few years ago, which I finally got around to taking the waist elastic out of and newly adore, wish I’d gotten to wear it more
black linen-wool cardigan
camel cardigan
– J.Crew made-in-LA jeans
– black linen Elizabeth Suzann pants (with added pockets)
– old cutoffs
– my heaviest/warmest LL Bean tights for cold nights
– dirty old Chucks for tromping along wooded paths
grey Orlane shawl

And here are all the ways it went together, from travel day through return-travel day:

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

In addition to Squam life calling for a lot of changing of clothes (for example, Saturday was teaching in the morning, knitting on the dock in the afternoon, boiling hot art fair setup, the fair itself, and a chilly night back at the cabin), the NH woods in early June are an unpredictable place, weather-wise (e.g., Friday morning we were on the dock before breakfast, basking in the early warmth, but were huddled around a fire in the living room by mid-morning). So it requires versatility and layers.

Not pictured are the rain boots I wore only the first day (on the plane and the drive up) thanks to the predicted rain being replaced by mostly unseasonably warm weather, and the sandals that never came out of the suitcase. My grey shawl also stayed in my bag the whole time, since I flung my black cardigan around my neck when needed. Pretty much everything else got worn more than once, but I could have gotten away with just the sneakers, one cardigan, the pullover, and I believe in having both the flannel and the chambray. Notes for next year, as I’m hoping there will be one!

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: The summer 2017 plan

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Knitting in paradise

Knitting in paradise
Knitting in paradise
Knitting in paradise
Knitting in paradise

On my flight home from New Hampshire, the nice woman seated next to me looked at what I was doing and said “That’s … knitting, right?” Shaking her head woefully, she declared, “It’s a lost art, I tell ya. I’m an art teacher.” I assured her briefly that knitting is alive and quite well, but it was a particularly funny moment for someone to say that to me, since I had just left the deep woods of Squam Lake, where I’d spent several days surrounded by knitters (and artists and writers and weavers …) at Squam Art Workshops.

I’d been seeing photos and hearing about Squam for the past few years, and longing to attend, and I can tell you the place is even more beautiful than the pictures. When Anna and I got our first glimpse of our cabin and our porch (that porch!) and our dock, we just shook our heads and laughed at how lovely.

Knitting in paradise
Knitting in paradise
Knitting in paradise

It being late Sunday night after the long travel day home, I’m too tired to describe any of it nearly as well as I hope these photos can — but there was the scenery and the yarn bombing and the wonderful people, some of whom were carrying Fringe Supply tote bags! The first couple of days were chilly, and we started off in classes held around blazing fireplaces in the living rooms of various large cabins and lodge buildings, which was just as charming as it sounds. But by Saturday the sun had arrived, and the place was a whole ’nother kind of beautiful. Many classes, mine included, moved outdoors. And Saturday afternoon was all free time — prime dock knitting time, the one thing I wanted most.

Knitting in paradise
Knitting in paradise
Knitting in paradise
Knitting in paradise

It all culminated in the Squam Art Fair on Saturday night, which I definitely don’t have the words for. I’m so grateful to Christine and to Anna for helping me in so many ways, to Austen and Kate for bringing me cold beer from the Ravelry party as I stood boiling under those lights, to the friends who came from neighboring states to say hello, and to everyone who introduced themselves and/or shopped the table. It’s all a blur, but it was amazing.

Knitting in paradise
squam_sam_lamb_kate_osborn

These last two photos are my two favorite outfits/sweaters of the week. Sam Lamb, on the left, is wearing a sweater she improvised and a Wiksten tank dress. Kate Gagnon Osborn, on the right, is wearing a sweater I’ll tell you more about soon, with a perfect denim jacket and the cutest Hasbeens ever — which you can’t see in this photo, but this one is a lot funnier than the one where you can see the shoes, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

In short (much too short; leaving so much and so many people out): it was a fantastic trip, full of good friends old and new, and a reminder of just how much knitting — thankfully not a lost art — has enriched my life.

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ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT NOTE: There were some difficulties back at Fringe Supply Co. headquarters while I was away that held up the shipping of some orders. I apologize profusely for the delay!