OK, for all of you with your noses pressed against your smeary windows--a participant's view of Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp.
Meg's knitting camp has been going since 1979, I think, when her mother Elizabeth Zimmermann started the first one. The camp has grown and grown since its inception, and now there are 4 sessions every year. Actually, there are two sessions of Camp and two Retreats--Camp 1 is for those who are new to EZ's concepts of how to create garments without patterns; Meg spends a lot of time teaching (a wonderful experience--she is so knowledgable and soothing); Camp 2 still involves a lot of Meg teaching; Retreats 2.75 and 3 (the latter known as Ofttimers) are for those who cannot get enough! Meg answers questions about techniques, talks about new and upcoming books, and shows us her new work, but the Retreats are dominated by mini-workshops led by campers and show-n-tell.
I attended Retreat 2.75 (so named because Camp 2 had become totally filled by those who didn't want to "graduate" to Retreat 3; Meg created a new Retreat in between the two). This was my third year with this crowd--I'd estimate that 75% of the people were knitters I had met in previous years and 25% were new this year. In my first year, I met a few people I really enjoyed and in the second year we solidified into a group of friends. This year, however, of the Front Table Group only Greg was able to come. Disadvantage: missing pals; Advantage: had more opportunities to meet new people.
After a 5-hour drive through lovely eastern Iowa and southern Wisconsin, which sped by as Marilyn van Keppel entertained us with stories about her recent experiences spinning llama and the dyeing workshop using Turkish natural dye techniques had she attended the weekend before, we reached Marshfield, nearly smack dab in the center of the state (Pittsville proudly boasts a sign claiming that it is in the exact geographic center...). Camp was held in the new Holiday Inn Conference Center, a lovely venue. The 62-some campers assembled in a very large room, where we claimed our seats at the tables. Every spot has a good view, because Meg has a cordless microphone system and several monitors show the details picked up by the camera at the front table.
Meg at the front table, showing a newly "rediscovered" design by Elizabeth Zimmermann
A full table after hours. Campers gather in the room to knit after the official day has ended, often staying up until 1 AM knitting, chatting, and whooping it up.
And some shots from show-n-tell:
Double-knit jacket and hat by M'Lou Baber.
Shawl by Bridget Rorem (this will be in her new book!)
Greg's Stonington Shawl (I know I promised a better picture of the lace he chose, but, well, best intentions and all)
The amazing Joyce Williams (author of Latvian Dreams)
Falkenberg jacket and very strange hand.
The annual camp contest this year was Masks. Attendees had a year to work on their entries, which were all marked by technical expertise and liberal doses of humor.
M'Lou's brown paper bag.
One highlight of camp is eating at the Kitchen Table restaurant, owned and operated by Meg's sister Lloie. We go as often as we can while in town. This is the trompe l'oeil on the back of the building.
It is always hard to say goodbye when camp is over. Meg is not only very talented, she is generous with her praise and suggestions.
I always leave camp filled with ideas for taking my knitting just a little bit further. On the plane home I was writing furiously on a napkin...
By the way, this year Wisconsin public TV was at camp, filming the events (including the Mask Contest) and interviewing a number of participants for a regular show on goings on in Wisconsin. The producer said to look for it after mid-September.