06 September 2013

Visiting the Shakers

While in Maine we drove up to Sabbathday Lake to see the Village, which is the last active community in the world. Did you know that there are only three Shakers left? In the world? It makes sense, since it is a celibate religion, reliant upon conversion. Though they are often compared to the Amish, the Shakers embraced technology (all three Shakers have mobile phones). In fact the first circular saw in America was "invented" by a Shaker sister based on ... you guessed it, the spinning wheel!

Most of the village is now a museum, as well as a working farm. We took the tour and got to spend time in the meeting house, which also included living quarters for some of the elders and eldresses (their weaving and boot making tools were upstairs in the living quarters, too - I so wanted to take pictures!). Sadly, photographs were not allowed inside, so I can't show you the dark, lovely blue paint used on the built-in benches around the perimeter, nor the freestanding benches in their classic Shaker style. You can see a photo of the interior here. According to my notes this Shaker blue paint was only used in meeting houses and is a milk-based paint tinted with blueberries, sage, and indigo. Is it just me or is that delightful?!

But I can show you a couple of sheepy shots:
Sheep in the barn

Sheep in the field (look at the view!)
And the goodies that came home with me: Shaker 2-ply in Scotia, Rose Water, and Eldress Hester's Potpourri. Now, I am generally not a potpourri person, but there is some intriguing spiciness to this that makes me love it. Love it! I get a little boost when I walk into our room.
Yarn, rose water, and delightful potpourri from the Shakers
I guess this yarn is actually close to that blueberry/sage/indigo color inside the Meeting House, though lightened up with its tweediness. Something lovely will come out of this!

If you find yourself in Maine, I highly recommend visiting the Shakers. And if you bring two little girls, you might get to visit the Candy Making Room. During the Depression, the Shaker women realized that the market for some of their goods had disappeared, so they took up candy making. As you can imagine they did quite well with it. As an amateur candy maker, I loved seeing their set-up. The Candy Room is no longer on the tour, but our guide thought the girls would get a kick out of it and showed it to us anyway.

But my favorite room was the Fancy Goods Room. I'm not even sure that is what they called it, but it was set up as something of a shop to display all the little baskets and needlecrafts the Shakers sold. Go look at this photograph. I'll wait. It was pretty much exactly the same, just in color. Actually, I think they have since turned it sideways, since the window was to the side of the large case, not behind it. Needle books, sewing cases, all sorts of other little velvet-lined containers for bits and bobs related to sewing. And that cloak! It is a lovely soft red, and that circular drawn portion at the back of the hood is just the best.

More adventures to catch you up on shortly. The kids finally start school next week, and once Penelope is eased into Kindergarten (Friday is her first full day), I'll be able to refocus on blogging, knitting, pattern writing, and so on. Until then ...

Happy knitting!

P.S. The Sabbathday Shakers have an Etsy shop! Only some maple syrup on there now, but they did sell some yarn there. I love Etsy, so maybe we should encourage them to sell more yarn there...

03 September 2013


It ain't just a river in Egypt, people. I am in total denial that we are back in NYC, and the soggy weather isn't helping. Nor is the fact that the children don't start school until next week, but Nick starts teaching today. So, it's difficult to focus on pattern writing/editing/layout. And I'm knitting the border for a pi shawl, which means working the same eight-row edging pattern 144 times. Whee. Actually, that's not bad and better in terms of knitting in this weather than redoing the attached front edging on the sweater I worked up in Maine. I do not want that on my lap right now. 

In exciting knitting news, Sailor's Valentine was featured in a Craftsy blog post last week along with some other nautical knits, which made me very happy. An early birthday present (ten days until the big day), if you will. Guess if better get cracking on my annual wish list post. 

Until then, happy knitting!

It's not much of a post without a picture!
The upside to being back in New York? Dinner at John's Pizza in the Village followed by a small scoop of nocciola gelato at Grom whose A/C required me to don my Tempest cardi (Malabrigo Sock in Impressionist Sky)

23 August 2013

Maine report, August 2013

I sailed a schooner in my Wavelette (pattern going out for tech editing when I recover from the loveliness that was our time in Maine). Actually, the captain let me steer for quite a while, since it was a beautiful day with a steady wind. If you ever get up to Boothbay and want to cruise the harbor, choose Eastwind Schooner. Lovely lovely boat and really nice people. You will not be disappointed. 

Foggy beach day

Wavelette photo shoot outtake - this sweater ended up being perfect for cooler summer weather. I wore it a lot, and not just to have my picture taken. 

I found the jetsam at the beach visually intriguing

Selfie with Isobel at the Seadogs game (we made it to two games - AA Red Sox affiliate, so a great place to see future stars)

We visited the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake. There are only three Shakers left in the world. 

They've got sheep! I brought home some yarn but haven't photographed it yet. Separate post on that to come. 

We left Maine briefly for the Fiber Revival in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Pretty much my favorite fiber festival - it's the only thing I will leave Maine for during our time up there. Proper post to come on that as well. 

The rosa rugosa at the beach not only look beautiful, but they smell divine. There weren't too many left, since most of them had matured into beach plums, but there were enough to perfume the path to the beach proper. 

I started a pi shawl whose design has been hibernating for three years. 

And this is how far I was at the start of day two. 

And the third day at the beach. The beginning of a pi shawl is very satisfying. Until you realize that you've messed up the lace pattern in the 288-stitch section and have to frog back. It's taken me almost a week to get back to this point, but now I'm forging ahead, though the knitting time isn't as glorious now that we've left Maine. 

Isobel sailed a kite (and boogied boarded and collected shells and read Harry Potter 3 & 4 and neglected her knitting but wanted a knitting bag and consumed a lot of cheese-based meals)

Penelope worked on her modeling career (and finally splashed around in the tide pools and jumped the waves and collected shells and took naps which made for some afternoon quiet time for everyone and turned five with birthday wishes on the Seadogs' scoreboard)

Stephen sounded the horn announcing our casting off in the Schooner Eastwind (and boogie boarded and played a wide variety of ball games and read so many books I can't keep track and played games with his sisters despite being a mature ten and bemoaned his bad luck at UNO)

Sunset at Reid

All in all it was pretty spectacular. Back to knitting and designing next week when the kids will still have two more weeks until school begins. Cross your needles for me :)

08 August 2013

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So, I finally decided to start a newsletter, which I plan to use once a month (at most) to share new pattern release information and anything else that seems truly relevant. I will never sell or share your subscription information (but I hope you knew that already). I hope you'll let me visit your mailbox once in a while :)

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31 July 2013

Maine report, July 2013

Photo highlights from our first two weeks in Maine. 
Crossing the bridge from NH to Maine. 
My first lobster roll of the season from Gilmore's in Bath
First visit to the beach
Girls at the lobster dock
Beach grass at Reid
Rosa rugosa at Reid
Seadogs game
Flotsam at Popham
Lobster-shell injured thumb and a Selbuvotter in some Wisconsin yarn
Visiting the construction of the Virginia
Model of a pinnace
My unblocked Selbuvotter 
Sunset over the Kennebec 
Climbing the Pemaquid Point lighthouse
Sailors valentines in the Fishermen's museum
Nice design
Some rope work in the museum
Isobel the lobster at Shaw's
Penelope the clam
Visiting the boot at the store that never closes (LL Bean never closes)
Real alligator bag
Another perfect beach day
Wooden whale at the flea market

Guess that's a good selection of highlights from the first half of our time in Maine. Not much knitting has happened, since I started rereading a series of Dorothy Dunnett books (House of Niccolo -sooo good). Guess I'm taking a knitting vacation, too. But I have visited Halcyon Yarn as well as the wonderful Purl Diva. Perhaps there will be more knitting in the second half of our time in Maine

02 July 2013

New layout

What do you think of this layout? I was having issues blogging from my phone, where all my great photos come from (well, the best camera is the one you have with you, right?). So, I thought I'd see what could be done, and this more interactive "magazine" layout seemed interesting. It is a work in progress, so please be sure to let me know if it doesn't work (or work for you).

The pattern list in the sidebar has been moved to its own page, which you can reach from the top bar or here. Other pages will find their way up there, too, as I get to them (there is nothing that inspires procrastination like the need for an "about" page).

I'm in a sort of fallow period, knitting-wise. I had been working on a lacy cardigan, but had to ... frog. the. whole. thing. ugh! Sometimes, unfortunately, my ideas aren't spot-on, and I couldn't tell with this one until I tried it on. So, that lovely pile of tosh pashmina is in timeout for a while. And the weather has, um, gotten disgusting! Which means all my sweater ideas have to go take a nap until I can bear the thought of being near them. I have some designs in the testing stage, as I mentioned not too long ago, so there is stuff in train. Then there is the stuff for Jane Austen Knits, but that's not until November. And there is one that is all ready but for purty photos, and there is no way I am putting on a long-sleeved Shetland wool sweater at the moment. I really don't want a heat stroke.

So, I'm trying to figure out what to knit next. There are some laceweight ideas rolling around in my head, and I had been planning to start a shawl, since we were supposed to head to the Midwest tomorrow to spend some time with my family, but we have canceled the trip. My mom suffers from clinical depression, and right now she is really suffering. It's hard to be far away and feel like I should be able to help in some way, but it seems like right now I wouldn't be able to do much if I were there (and I have responsibilities here). So, I'm spending a lot of time on the phone trying to be as empathetic (and sympathetic) as I can. And now I need to find some knitting, which has been balm for my soul for many years. Hug your loved ones and knit something :)

01 July 2013

Visiting The Cloisters

Last week I visited The Cloisters with a friend of mine to see a unicorn exhibit in honor of the Museum's 75th anniversary. It was lovely! If you haven't been up there, you should go (let me know, and I'll join you!). In addition to the exhibit, which had a lovely variety of unicorn items, including a narwhal horn and the transplendent Unicorn in Captivity, we got to spend some time in the lush Bonnefont Cloister. 

View of the Bonnefont Cloister from the far corner

A quince ripens on one of four trees at the center of the garden

How fabulous is it that they have a section with flowers that are depicted in the Unicorn Tapestries? I love the little wild pansies. 

One of two potted dwarf pomegranate trees. People often think the red marks on The Unicorn in Captivity are bleeding cuts from his capture, but they really are pomegranate juice dripping from the tree he is tied to. 

The garden is segmented into beds for different categories: medicinal, magical, culinary, and the one that interested me most - crafts. Here is some indigo. There was also madder, flax, and quite a few other plants used in fiber production. One of the amazing things to realize about the tapestries is that all those colors are from natural dyes. 

Here is a snap of The Unicorn in Captivity from when Isobel and I visited in March.  

It is more vibrant IRL, of course. My creativity is whirring away, so maybe you'll see some unicorn-inspired designs down the line.