Is it possible to be homesick for a place that isn’t your home? It can when that place is as special as coastal Maine and you just came back from spending a weekend teaching with amazing students in the company of amazing fellow teachers in a most AMAZING location at the Make. Wear. Love retreat.
From the first glance at the coast and our lighthouse home, I knew this was going to be an incredibly special weekend – but I had no idea how special.
Make Wear Love retreat – sweater love and proud of it!
The retreat is the brain child of Amy Herzog to spend a weekend focusing on sweater making, and helping students put what they learned through Custom Fit in action (if anyone out there in blogland doesn’t know about Custom Fit, click the link – seriously, your sweater knitting life will never be the same), but it was SOOOO much more than that.
I think what spoke to me as a “technique nerd”, was Amy’s welcome comments that first night. She mentioned the much noted statistic that there are more knitters than golfers, yet one big difference is golfers don’t apologize. They don’t apologize or feel “silly” for the time and money they spend working on perfecting the thing they love. This comment was like a bolt out of the blue for me. As someone who has made their life’s work exploring what others might find to be “minutia” (like the technical details of how our stitches are formed and how to form them better), I felt more than just validated, more then just appreciated, I felt understood – and so did every knitter in that room.
I was expecting to be inspired by working with incredible teachers like Amy (who made knitters embrace the thing I love to make more than anything – sweaters) Clara Parkes (obviously to say she “wrote the book” on everything about yarn is not just an expression – if I could crack open her head like a walnut and extract everything she knows about yarn . . . but that’s creepy, so instead I’ll just bask), Kim McBrien Evans (who created such amazing yarn with the most brilliant colors and equally brilliant names – seriously BRILLIANT), and Gwen Bortner (a woman proud to call herself a technician, and damn does she know some cool tricks!), but I didn’t anticipate how inspired I’d be by the 80 spectacular knitters who showed up to learn.
The weekend was filled with such laughter, relaxation and ah ha moments, it’s impossible to sum up, so I’ll just share one story and then let the pictures speak for themselves. I was there to teach “Improve Your Knitting”, that meant we spent hours just focused on better ways to form the stitch, tension your yarn, create increases and decrease, blah, blah, blah. We weren’t “making” anything (except better knitters), but wow were these knitters energized and brilliant students.
There were two friends Cindy and Britta who took the time to show me just how much their knitting had changed since taking my class (something that brings me more joy then I can say). Cindy showed me a swatch and said, pointing the the bottom half “look, this is the swatch I made before your class, and here (pointing to the top half) is my knitting after your class. Can you see the difference?”. After a moment of dumbfounded silence I nearly yelled ” What am I, hard of seeing? Of course I can see the difference!”. These pictures don’t quite capture it, but . . .
“Before” she then used it as a swatch for finishing class
After. Note the size difference from the back and how neat and perfect her stitches are.
The next day, Britta was in my class. I was walking around the room watching people knit and giving feedback, and I made a small suggestion to Britta on a change she might make to how she was tensioning her yarn. She screwed up her face and stared at her knitting with the intense concentration of a golfer trying to perfect her put (see it all comes full circle). By the first break she showed me proudly the perfect stitches she made. Here they both are proudly displaying their knitting. They have a right to be proud.
Cindy showing off her “after” swatch.
Britta beaming with her brilliant knitting
Then there was the knitter who decided to start her sweater over once she took Kim’s class, knowing she COULD get the neckline she wanted, the knitter who told me she would never look at yarn the same way again after taking Clara’s class, the knitter who seamed her VERY FIRST ever sweater together after taking Gwen’s class, and the knitter, after knitter, after knitter, who told stories of how they made the sweater they love thanks to Amy’s classes.
I teach at a lot of shows and guilds where you spend 3 – 6 hours with knitters. Spending three days, talking, listening, laughing and eating Lobster with knitters . . . that’s a whole different, wonderful ballgame.
Here are a few pictures to enjoy. I hope when the traffic noise and crazy life of NYC gets too much, I can close my eyes and see the coast, smell the air, feel the grass under my feet and hear the click of needles and the laughter of happy knitters.
p.s. If you want to know how AWESOME it is to spend an entire weekend exploring sweaters in a beautiful place, I hope you can join me at Camp Stitches this year. I blogged about my last time here.
Sketch Inspiration Station
What a way to spend an afternoon
Secret Knitting Nook!