My trip to Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp did not begin auspiciously. However, I did prove that it is possible to wake up in north Seattle at 5:33 AM and be seated on a flight pulling out of the gate at Sea-Tac aiport at 6:50 AM. I will leave my language upon waking up to realize that I had not set the alarm correctly to your imagination. Honestly, I did not think that this was possible, given the physical realities of morning bodily functions, caffeine requirements, and geographic distance. Plus, don't forget parking.
I flew into Kansas City to visit with my friend Marilyn--she has an extensive collection of spinning wheels, looms, and books, so I was in seventh heaven. We drove up to Iowa City to spend the night at Greg's--our route included a scenic side trip on highway 2 to Fort Madison, IA, to eat at the Ivy Bake Shoppe. Wonderful. The millennium toffee bars in particular.
The route from Iowa City to Marshfield, Wisconsin, seemed to involve a trip to Illinois--we stopped at The Fold, a marvelous fiber destination. Their website doesn't begin to cover the extent of stock. I found an old copy of Color Trends by Michelle Wipplinger, a used copy of Eye for Colour by Bernat Klein, and Koekboya by Harald Bohmer on natural dyeing in Turkey and beyond (a FABULOUS book! and offered at a very good price).
Knitting Camp was great this year. Entering the room feels like going home--I range around the tables, picking up the original garments knitted by Elizabeth Zimmermann or Meg many years ago. There's always something new to see.
Greg and I have a rigid set of traditions around camp. Thursday night: introductory buffet at the hotel: Friday breakfast at the Kitchen Table.
Friday dinner at Sceeter & Otis' in nearby Hewitt. Wisconsin Friday night fish fry, of course--the waitress always recognizes us. (Greg's partner says it's because we are freaks....). Please note that Gayle (left below) and Mabel are not freaks.
Saturday repeat breakfast, dinner at Culver's. Sunday breakfast at the Marshfield Family Restaurant (Kitchen Table is closed); pizza night dinner at camp. What can I say? Elizabeth Zimmermann herself said that you add to Christmas traditions at your peril; so it is with knitting camp. Any variation leaves us shaky.
So, camp itself. There's an incredible amount of talent in the room. I learned some cast-on variations that I, let's be honest, will forget within one week. I saw some wonderful garments in the show and tell. I learned a new way to close the little gap at the top of the heel gusset in a sock. Knitted shibori taught by Linda Lutz. Wild fisherman rib and mosaic variations from Morgan. A sweet little bird pattern from Cheryl Oberle. A knock-out double-knit coat by M'lou Baber (her book will be out in December!). That's M'lou on the left.
I finished the Leo Vest:
Meg showed the sweaters that will be in the next Wool Gathering:
I took lots and lots of intensely unflattering photos during camp. Be grateful that I didn't post them. These will remain with me unless I get pissed off, so if you were there you'd better be nice to me. The only reasonably good photo was of Poppy, who is irritatingly photogenic.
Greg mentioned to the group that the best thing about camp was that he could spit-splice publicly without anyone commenting. Cheryl Oberle offered a hint that was worth the cost of camp: Just pretend that you are stiffling a yawn.
Books going going gone: Sweaters from Camp (Fair Isle knitting--there are plans afoot to re-issue the technical introduction, but don't hold your breath), Poems of Color (Bohus knitting), Vatid Troid, Vamsad: Knitted Jackets from West Estonian Islands (Greg and I call this the Vapid Troll book), Foroysk Bindingarminster (Faroese color patterns).
Book good/bad news: Bridget Rorem's eagerly awaited book on lace has been tabled, but the patterns will be offered as single booklets. Soon!
Camp dates for 2009 have been posted: You know you want to be there!
P.S. I had many opportunities to see the devastation the Midwestern floods last month left behind. Cedar Rapids looked like a war zone, the University of Iowa art department had moved to an old hardware store, and many of the fields we passed were still under water.