I come from a family that has been rooted in the American West Coast for generations; any traveling we did was north and south, but we never went east of the Cascade/Sierra ranges. When I got older I had a chance to visit Vermont and Washington DC on work trips, but until I became a knitter I'd never visited the Midwest.
Now, with 16 knitting camps under my belt, the feel of humidity when I step out of the airport signals vacation time! I still remember my first experience of driving through Wisconsin on a sunny summer day. I said to myself, "How come EVERYONE doesn't know about how beautiful this place is?"
Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp is a tradition at this point (that's Meg, above). I've grown to love the people there, those I see only once a year and those I am in regular contact with.
I met this crew the second year of camp--here we are, ready for lunch at the Kitchen Table Restaurant. Their friendship and ongoing support has meant the world to me.
I always learn something, too: this year's major revelation was Susan Rainey's presentation on Invisible Stranding. Susan scouted out and described for hand knitters a machine knitting technique that allows yarn to be carried for long distances without any color peek through! She has gathered all this information into a Ravelry pattern called It's Not About The Hat that goes through the steps to set up, knit, and end the invisible stranded areas as needed (10 youtube videos are included in the pattern). If you are a stranded knitter who wants to knit large, isolated motifs, the cost would be worth triple the $6 she's asking!
After camp was over I drove to Washington Island, 23 square miles set in Lake Michigan off the tip of Door County (the thumb to Wisconsin's mitten).
Revelation! I've been an urbanite all my life, so spending 5 nights in a place where people don't lock their doors? Leave their windows open at night? Don't automatically lock their car doors when they take in a load of groceries? A relaxing haven.
Plus: really good restaurants.
And so very green and blue in high summer. Summers in the west are marked by brown (don't get me wrong--there's plenty of green, but it's a little dusty and stressed). My friend Holly designed a Fair Isle sweater she calls Driving to Camp based on the blues, greens, and roadway gray:
She says it reminds her of Wisconsin when winter turns cold and dark. I think she captured it!
I taught my Design Your Own Fair Isle class at Sievers School of Fiber Arts. This school, in its 37th year, lived up to its good reputation--I was really impressed with how the staff focuses on the experience their students are having. If I lived nearby I'd be taking classes all summer long--but it's a destination as well for people from further away (an easy 2.5 hour drive from Green Bay). (Note: If you decide to sign up for a class, don't hesitate: when registration opens at the start of February classes fill up just like that!)
My students were great! These are Mindy's swatches--everyone's work was so individual! I've got to say, teaching is one of my favorite things.
And now it's back to California: 3-minute showers, watering with a watering can so nothing goes to waste, water-saving appliances, low-flow toilets.... They say we might get a wet winter. I say: bring it on!