Where have I been?


two women seated at spinning wheels listening to woman instructing at front of room. Shelves of raw fleece line the wall behind them. All are smiling.
Oh my! It’s been so long since I posted.
And I have so much to share, I hardly know where to start.
Between those unexpected “life” moments, and the beginning of summer weather, I’ve been out and about every day instead of writing. I’ve traveled, knitted, spun, fretted over family members, solved problems, held hands, wiped tears, given hugs, been to the beach (twice) and tried to stay cool.
Plus, in late spring, I had my whole fiber thinking process challenged in a great way by Abby Franquemont. I will never be the same…more on that later. By the time I came up for air, summer was in full swing. I suppose it’s part of our life cycle in this Michigan climate. When spring arrives, we jump at the chance to get outside and do stuff while we can.
So now, I’m jumping back for a quick visit in between summer adventures. Got some spinning and catch up time with friends planned this week. Will upload photos of the great places I’ve been this month. Look for a page for LYS around the country which I love to visit in my travels. “Local” yarn shops in the sense of wherever I’m resting my head at the moment! It’s so fun to go places and “find my people”…people who speak gauge, stash, spindle, breeds, patterns, texture, cast on, frog, social knitting, and a bag for every project! One day, I should post my bags, and the work in progress. I have been doing my share, no fear.

What’s in your bag? Post your project (and bags) as I’d love to see what you’re making!



Teaching Grandma

Teaching Grandma

Grandma gets the hang of using chopsticks.

“Tropical” Island Retreat

Poe Reef Light with SailThere’s an island in my heart where I love to go. I’d been inhaling the fresh air in my imagination ever since my visit last fall. I could hardly wait to return. I knew I’d see the trees sway, and the crystal water shimmer and hear the birds calling. We’d take the ferry ride to the landing and drive down the dirt road to our secluded destination. And be greeted there as if we were family. A little slice of paradise has become a home away from home. And this time, we were in for a surprise. Let me explain…

In the Straits of Mackinaw

Located to the southeast of its better known cousin, Mackinaw Island, our destination was the beautiful Bois Blanc Island in the Great Lakes. Part of the Mackinaw State Forest, mostly undeveloped Bois Blanc Island has one restaurant/general store, one tavern, private residences and a handful of places offering lodging. We were headed to the island’s only Bed & Breakfast, Insel Haus, for a weekend  knitting retreat organized by Heritage Spinning and Weaving.

Fourteen knitting affectionados had the run of the place for three days. Our gracious hostess, Christa Newhouse, provided instruction and access to her knitting patterns to all takers. So we knitted. We talked. We ate. We laughed. We spun and plied yarns. We ate more. Watched the hummingbirds and waited for deer. Enjoyed our beautiful surroundings and the company of like minded spirits.

We had beautiful weather with clear blue skies and the fresh cool breezes I’d been imagining. And then, Sunday. Hot. Humid. No breeze. None. We’d been transported to the Doldrums. Out came the fans, and the vats of cold drinks. Off with the sweatshirts and sweaters. Ninety-one degrees F!

Wow! Bois Blanc, in northern Michigan, gone (temporarily) tropical! An island of surprises in my heart.

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He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. Ps. 23

Oh no! Sad news for sheep

For a Friday Smile: Anatomy of a Knitter by Missy Martin

Just love this young woman and how

“her legs lead her toward yarn shops”!

What does your inner Knitter look like?

The Knitter’s case for public transportation–in art


Interior of an English "coach", a luxury bus between cities in the mid 20th century. 3 rows of seats, each with a passenger. In the middle row, a woman wearing a head scarf is knitting away.

Felixstow to Ipswich Coach

Who’s that in those Foster Grants?

Vogue Knitting.

Who’s Irma? Ten knitters, ten stockings, ten unique creations

Two colorful Christmas stockings in greens, white and red, knitted with four different patterns, starting at the cuff, and separated by knitted braids. Heels and toes knitted in red. One says Noel with Green fir trees above. The other has a band of holly and a band of people.

In the Ethnic Socks workshop, two wonderful teachers, Mary Germain and Sandy deMaster, introduced us to traditions, methods and patterns of two-stranded knitting inspired by the socks made by Irma Mezeraups Ciganovich, a Latvian knitter. Irma’s socks and others knitted by our instructors practically danced through our hands as we heard about skills and beliefs of the Latvian knitters. Before we knew it, we had opened our materials, grabbed our yarn and started to make the first of many design decisions for our own stockings.

As we worked over the next two days, we learned knitted items in these villages reflected the beliefs, skill and industry of their people. How pattern covered every visible inch for fear of empty space. And colorful costly dyed yarns indicated the prosperity of the wearer and their family. Through the stories, we knit and considered our own choices of pattern and color. Making Irma proud, we hope. Ten knitters, ten stockings, ten unique creations.

For more about Ethnic Socks and Irma’s story, check out these two articles; “Messages in Mittens: The Story of a Latvian Knitter” by Sandra Messinger De Master and “Irma’s Christmas Stocking” by Mary Germain in Knitting Traditions, Fall 2011

Becoming Intrepid

class workbook with sample stockings and a just-started stocking on double pointed knitting needles using white, red and blue yarns.Even though I’ve called this blog and by extension, myself, The Intrepid Knitter, I wonder if the title fits. Intrepid conveys a certain bold fearlessness, and while I go forth with new projects and techniques like a kid in a candy shop, I can find myself in a sort of “knitter’s remorse”. Case in point, I signed up for the Ethnic Sock weekend because I hoped it would be fun, I would try something different and a weekend away would do me good. Even so, as I was packing, my thoughts stuck on a certain line in the class description.The little part of me which wants to follow all the rules, get everything right and be pleasing started to obsess:

You must know how to knit circularly with double-pointed needles and have two-color knitting experience.

The “circularly with double-pointed needles” part was okay. I’ve done it and like having 3 or 4 needles sticking out every which way. It looks pretty cool. Yeah, that part was fine.

What gave me pause was the little phrase “two-color knitting experience”. Did I really have any? or enough? Did that two-color Norwegian Sport hat which I “frogged” (“rip-it, rip-it” out) because it was going to fit some guy named Gulliver, and not my son for whom it was intended…did that count? What about the legendary Bi-color Cabled Brioche* hat? Surely, since it was bi-color which means, well, two colors, it would qualify. But, I was pretty sure the type of two-color knitting called for in our stockings was would be more like the hat I ripped out. There I was setting off to spend two days doing some pretty fancy two color knitting! Really?

Just when I was ready to bag the whole idea, I asked myself what was it? What was I afraid would go wrong, because this had to be about more than a couple of strands of yarn and some sticks. And there it was. The real worry sprang right to mind. Not that I wouldn’t be able to do the project (although that was a possibility.) Not that I would make mistakes (not too fond of that either). Really, I feared might be in over my head and too slow or far behind the rest of the class. I didn’t want to cause a “problem”.

As you might surmise, I can be my own worst enemy. I have learned to question these worries of mine. I make myself get realistic and consider how I’d treat a friend who was having these doubts. And I came up with “plan B” for the worst case workshop scenario. I packed my spinning, my knitting and a notebook, so if I wanted to bail on the class, I could do something else. After all, I was going to be spending a couple of days in a yarn shop located in a big barn with comfy chairs, access to food and drink, tons of colorful yarns and fiber in plain sight, a fabulous collection of inspiring books, plus llamas and alpacas and big friendly dogs, and best of all, a group of knitters who would support and encourage, no matter what.

So, bright and early on Saturday morning, I sat down, took up my needles, introduced myself and began my first two-color stranded stocking. Step by step, and stitch by stitch. Laughed and talked. And made mistakes. And ripped them out. And asked questions. And got help. And learned. Boldly or timidly, with or without worry, I created that stocking! Because for me, becoming intrepid is not about doing things without fear. My intrepid-ness comes from facing my fear, and going forward in spite of it.
Green toe and heel, red and white patterns in three different combinations, and green, white and red cuff bordered with a green and white braid.

*Ed. Note: Someday, they assure us, the Intrepid Knitter will be able to tell the story of her Bi-Color Cabled Brioche Hat. Just not yet. (The hair is still growing back in that little spot.)

See what we made! Ethnic socks to make Irma proud!

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Christmas stockings made at the Ethnic Sock Workshop in Pendleton, Indiana, at the Trading Post.

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