Saturday, November 23, 2013

Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl and a Maine Knitting Pipeline Retreat


Notre Dame Spiritual Center, Alfred, Maine
 Knitting Pipeline Retreat

If you wonder what I have been up to and where I've been, sit tight and I will try to capture the joy, warmth, and inspiration that pervaded the atmosphere of our knitting retreat just over a week ago. It was my second retreat and one I will never forget.

My knitting and blogging bestie, Julie, (aka Inky077 , author of  Urban Mouse to Country House)  and I made the trip north to Alfred, Maine for the Knitting Pipeline retreat. We were nervous and anxious, despite knowing the fact that knitters are very kind people.We had packed plenty of warm clothes, fiber, patterns, needles, and project bags. Being a tad nervous to be in the company of "famous" knitters, podcasters and women of uber knitting magical skills, little did we realize that each and everyone of those women would be smiling, encouraging, innovative and inspiring. Silly girls that we are, we should have had nary a worry.

Knit Wit, 247 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
The retreat, for us, started at Knit Wit in Portland. We browsed, shopped and smoozed. Pam Allen of Quince and Co Yarns yarns was there. She was warm, welcoming and so easy to talk to. Hannah Fettig of Knitbot Designs was also there with copies of her newest book, Yoked. I have followed Hannah for a few years now, ever since she was a guest on the audio podcast, NeverNotKnitting by Alana Dakos. I have always wondered at the many design ideas and patterns that she creates, seriously, how is one person so prolific and on the mark with design esthetic? Anyway, she graciously signed my Coastal Knits and chatted in such a friendly way.

The shop was pretty full of us knitters, and many an icebreaker moment happened there. Susan had the shop open for us to gather as we arrived from the airport or in cars. I met Mel of the podcast, SingleHandedKnits there. I gave her a big hug, wondering at the ability of the internet to provide us with a means to make virtual friends, and how tiny she was in real life. Also, there was Julia, a friend I had made via Twitter that very morning...   I know, how can I explain the phenomenon of following someone who messages back and we start a friendship by Tweeting our location as we approached the destination  of Portland and a four day stint of knitting, learning and networking? Amazing. I get a fiber high from being in certain yarn shops so you can imagine my delirium as I was rubbing elbows with all of these people that I admire from afar.

After a yummy dinner at Becky's Diner on the waterfront, (click to listen to oceanfront sounds), we headed to Alfred. We were two of the final three arrivals, but we were warmly welcomed and ushered up to our room. As we unpacked and tried to work up the nerve to join the many tables already full of knitters, Mel popped in and said, "Oh! Come on down, Paula wants to just welcome everyone and she wants to meet you". Imagine??? So our evening of meeting, knitting and marveling at the WIPs began. We were to become a family of sorts in the next few days, little did we know of the connections and friendships that were waiting to be built.

Monday was a day of learning, sharing and cake making. No, not the edible kind. Wait, you'll see.

The collection of fingering weight yarns.
It started like this, Paula had asked us to bring any leftover sock yarn that we had with a plan to create something fresh.
Sorting through.
Each table was asked to collaborate and create a color story of leftover yarns.
One collection of colors.
Another beautiful grouping.
The lineup.
Here's the cake!
 So, in a photo array, I hope I have shared with you the steps taken to create this Magic Ball of colors. In her pattern, Magic Cake Ruffled Shawl, Paula describes in detail the steps you will take, including a tutorial on a Magic Knot that virtually disappears as you knit, saving the tedium of weaving in ends later. Please go and have a look at some of the completed shawls and buy the pattern. I think this concept of using leftovers will become a frequent practice for many of us with bags of scraps waiting to be used up!
Paula's own Magic Cake Ruffled Shawl
Hijacked Magic Ruffled Shawl
Yarn: assorted lengths of fingering weight yarn on size 3 needle.
The start of my Magic Cake Shawl.
So why the "Hijacked"? Well, I got up early on Tuesday, very early. I brewed a few pots of coffee, wandered the meeting room and admired the Magic Cakes displayed on the table. The night before one of my new besties had urged me to choose a cake, but I demurred. I felt like an interloper as I had missed contributing to the creation of my table's cake, I missed most of the cake making thanks to a number of important phone calls that interrupted my Monday classwork. But in the wee hours of the morn, I was pining for something I could actually knit on while meeting and making new friends. Many of the WIPs in my project bags just weren't seeing any love or focus. I figured, cast on and at least have productive hands for the day of our field trip. I downloaded Paula's pattern, cast on and began to sail away in the familiar lull of garter and stockinette. This is truly an addictive pattern, the stripes and the mystery of what the next color will be engage and encourage more knitting.

I want to save the day trip shenanigans for another post, but I did knit on the shawl throughout the day and in the evening. As I was chatting with Barb and Mel, they admired my work, but exchanged knowing glances that had me repeating...."What? What? WHAT?" The magic cake I had selected earlier that day was the result of much hunting, gathering, measuring and weighing on the parts of Mel and Barb. The fibers had been selected from their stash with the intent of creating a memory to wear.

Can you imagine my confusion, embarrassment, guilt and remorse? They were not mad, they insisted I keep it, but I just felt bad. I frogged my work, and with Julie's help, returned it to cake form again. I attempted to return it to Barb, but she and Mel both insisted it was mine to keep. So, I suggested it become like the Traveling Pants, a shawl to share. Solution accepted! I felt better and have been knitting away on the cake, marveling at each new color as it unwinds.
Close.
Closer.
Closest!
Do you follow Instagram? There are many new Pipeliners adding images daily and I find it such a great diversion as well as an inspiration. I am 19vesperstreet there and on Twitter and Ravelry if you are inclined to have a look. I added a number of photos of my shawl progress in the past few days.

I am going to wrap this post up and stop here. I have so many other tales to tell of people met, projects admired, techniques learned and books to review. Come see me again and live vicariously through the retelling of four days of restorative hilarity and knitting.

Also, leave a comment with your thoughts on Magic Cake and using scraps to make your version of Paula's pattern.

3 comments:

unionjgirl said...

Sounds like so much fun, I love the idea of the magic cake!

Kathy said...

Hi Erin,
Just read your blog and loved reliving the retreat. Great pictures and stories. Getting together with Gail and Sue tomorrow night for our class. Hope to share pictures of my magic cake progress soon!! Stay warm!!! Kathy (katenh50)

Carol said...

Nice post about the retreat. We are having our own retreat in San Juan Bautista the first weekend in January and I really like the idea of a magic cake and the magic cake ruffled shawl.