The silly sisters, my girls on spring break. Spring break during sock club, sock camp and the ever looming sock summit.
The silly sisters, my girls on spring break. Spring break during sock club, sock camp and the ever looming sock summit.
My roots run deep and green. Being of predominantly Irish heritage, today is a day we happily celebrate here with great joy and colourful abandon.
My grandfather’s favourtie good bye accompanied by a pat on the back and hearty handshake.
Dance as if no one were watching,
Sing as if no one were listening,
And live every day as if it were your last.
And … just a little random green moments to honour the day:
May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!
We are almost at one of my favourite times of the year, Sock Camp. (Shhh… don’t say it out loud, but I’m pretty sure it’s only weeks away.) As we let this year’s theme seep into all the details, big and small, I can’t help but remember where we’ve been, how we got there, who we got there with, what we’ve learned, the crazy fun we had, and the the lasting bonds we formed.
This trip down memory lane happens for me every year. I quite enjoy it and thought maybe I should share some of what I remember and feel.
As we come up with the Camp theme, which in and of itself is boatloads of fun (The list for years to come is long) and colourway, I think back to all those very first camp chicken colourways. If I remember correctly, the first go around each tribe had their own colourway. (Can’t even imagine how I pulled that one off.) For my own sanity, I now do one colourway for the camp as a whole. I like it better. A many-hued glue that binds us. I love watching through the rest of the year what all the campers knit up with it.
Last night I was up to the wee hours of the morning watching some old video footage that I finally figured out how to download from Camp Cockamamie. It’s not the best quality but you can still get the feel. It certainly was the of start of something, you could feel it. That is when you sat down long enough to catch your breath you maybe could feel it. What boggles the mind (and what might be why we’re all reeling when this is all said and done) is the wide range of experiences we go through in 4 days. A veritable roller coaster ride.
We’ve learned a whole lot about anything remotely to do with sock knitting (traveling stitches, cast-ons, bind-offs, troubleshooting, dyeing, beads on our socks, lace, colourwork, cat-work…) from some pretty talented,adventurous and, yes, brave sock knit-wise teachers.
See? Very serious, mind-bending learning requiring wicked concentration and focus.
To wackily creative:
Camp projects. This has come to be one of my favourite parts. Every year I am amazed, just stunned by the creativity, talent and joy of knitters. Most of us end up in tears at some point along the way.
Where the fun starts before we all arrive. When I sent out my first homework kit and directions, never in my wildest dreams, and wild they are, did I think or hope for what our campers showed up with and keep showing up with year after year.
Every year I think it can’t get better and every time it does. I think they should be art installations and some should maybe be performance art because, as is so often true, it’s the story that carries the heart of it all. At Camp Crows Feet, the sockateers set up all the homework in a room and would not let me see it until it was all ready to go. I’ll never forget walking into that room. I was blown away. I was not the only one.
Someone asked me recently which of the themes homework wise was my favourite: the chickens, the raveny tp covers, the oceany goodness or the boobies. I love them all, but I have to pick the boobies because of the bravery that depth of sharing required from most of us. Laughing and crying in the same moment. Heartwarmingly beautiful.
Camp. The whole idea in the beginning was that it was campy. Kind of a cross between kids camp and knitters gone wild. I do believe we’ve achieved our goal. I also think we’ve retained the campiness throughout the years. We play games, have contests, get all crafty and work together for a common goal and good. We sat in circles the first 2 camps and knit together on the same blanket which we donated. We made sock monkeys, tiny little sock monkeys, and we dressed them, gave them names and personalities. We’ve made sock puppets twice now and believe we have the next new theatre craze. Yes, that would be sock puppet theatre. We made them from cotton tube socks one year and then an orphaned hand-knit one then next. We’ve had knitting races of all kinds. We knit under water. Knit as two handed duos. We’ve knit with some freaky weird stuff. (Some of us better than others. I sucked at this one.) We have scavenger hunts or challenges.
As I I look around at all of this joy and community I think maybe, just maybe this all might be a bit healing. It’s not just one component of it either. It’s the whole package as one.
Laughter is damn good medicine.
As I said in the beginning I love Camp. I love all the parts some a bit more than others. It’s great fun, exhausting and moving all at the same time.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. So I thought maybe I would take a few minutes today to tell you. Sometimes you are in my thoughts because I just flat out miss you. I miss your laugh, that delightfully contagious belly laugh of yours that could be heard all through the house and lightened even the darkest days. I ache for your pithy piss and vinegar wit ( your words not mine) and your straight to the heart practical wisdom. I long for the sticky hot summer evenings of sitting on the back stoop leaning against your legs as you smoke your last cigarette of the day telling me about your work and asking me about my school. I thought then as I do now that you were the best grandma that any kid could hope for.
There are times like today where I’d like to call you up or drop by for a visit. I would like to make you coffee and sit at the kitchen table and compare notes like we always did, to share my troubles, and to ask your guidance. I’d like to tell you about your grandchildren. You would enjoy them so much. All three of them have your sass. Rabia has the most though, she even looks like you. They are smart and funny and well I like them quite a bit and just wish you had lived to be a part of their lives. I used to feel great sorrow that you never got to meet them, but even greater was the grief that they missed out on you. Until recently when I looked in the mirror one morning and saw you looking back at me. The laugh lines around the eyes, the smirk… all of it right there staring back at me. A delightful shock I’ll tell you.
In that moment I finally (only took me 53 years) realized that a whole lot of who I am I have you to thank for. The good and the hmm… let’s say quirky. I have your laugh. It’s true, ask around. A full bellied, head thrown back roar. I’m more silly than witty, but I do have my moments. What I do think I have a smidge of and am the most grateful for, is your strength. You were by far the strongest person I knew and most certainly the strongest woman. A fierce and determined woman. A woman who kicked out her abusive alcoholic husband and raised three kids alone at a time when that was not only a difficult proposition it was also not the norm. You worked all kinds of hours to support them and yourself. I remember when I was older hearing stories almost mythical about this brazen woman. I’ll never forget the day I realized they were all talking about you. You were an outcast because of the choices you made, still you stood by them. Strong and firm. You helped people no one else would. Opened your heart and your door. Generous and kind to a fault and with not much to spare.
Today grandma, is International Women’s Day’s centennial celebration. Yes, we are still working towards equality for women, still trying to end violence towards women (I know. I’m sorry.), and still working towards equal pay for the same jobs (to name a few).
Don’t get me wrong; things are better so much better then when this was your fight. Thank you for that by the way. Still there is a long way to go.
As I thought about equality, human rights, feminism, power and women today, you waltzed into my consciousness. How could I think of anything of those qualities without thinking of you? You taught me their essence. So I want to acknowledge and say thank you for modeling what a good, strong, smart, funny, and courageous woman looks like. A woman who will stand up and fight for her children and herself. A woman who is not afraid to be in the minority and will fight for what is right and good for her fellow humankind. ( I think there was a few cats and dogs in the mix too.) I watched you carefully. Even when you were afraid, you would give yourself a little shake, put your shoulders back, and move forward. Walking right smack dab into whatever current fire there was to put out or dragon to slay.
Grandma, to this woman’s little girl-self that was majesty. I never got a chance to tell you but I’m hoping you knew that you were my heroine. I am honoured to see even a hint of you when I look in the mirror and joyous to see you when I look into the faces of my children.
I do still miss you.
Oh wait I know. It went here.
The first shipment of the year always takes a fair bit of work and time. Especially if it you’re trying a brand new something brand that you’ve never ever done before (and you are down 1 production dyer). Needless to say we miss Anneli a whole bunch.
Prep, prep and hey how about some more prep. Three shows in January/February, two of them on the same weekend. We also did our usual seasonal colour change thing at this time as we always do.
Which all makes for a whole lot of yarn everywhere. Like everywhere we could find to put yarn, there was yarn. Rafters, piles of boxes in barn, barn is full so move to pod, pod is full so move to studio, studio is full so move to spare bedroom, bedroom is full so move to … hmmm?
We swore in more helper bees. Say hi to the lovely, ever so helpful Rhonda.
We think that the wool goddess sent Rhonda. She called said she wanted to help and has been a blessing .A kind and lovely blessing. (Everybody has to swear on the chicken before they are allowed in the dye barn.)
And… then there was what we lovingly (with a twitch or ten) refer to as hankyacolypse. Steph blogged her crazy good mittens out of I Mad Heart Ewe from silk mawatas (hankies) that we’d been working with and teaching about form our silk retreats. We even made our own mawatas. When I told Debra that we wiped out the supply of mawata she said (without skipping a beat) that is we thought she was making hankies from our stash of cocoons then we might need some sort of intervention. I agree with Debra. As the mawata maker of our team I have a serious appreciation for those whose job this is.
Thank you silk worm!! Thank you mawata makers!!
We are getting there.
I have been pretty smitten by both the silk mawata (hanky) and cap(bell) since I first set my dyer/knitter eyes on them. I ask you what is not to love? It’s the closest we’re all going to come to working with webs as we’re going to get and really it is just magical. I’m stopping now. (Heavy fiber infatuation.)
So then some of us were actually at the shows: Vogue LIVE, Stitches and Madrona. While the rest were at bmfa headquarters dyeing &shippimg away.
We had great fun saw old friends met some new ones and watched knitters do what they do best create a fabric whether it’s in stitches with yarn or in life with friends. Woolly friends.
One of my best moments was witnesses designer Anne Berk meet one of her knit heroines Joyce Williams. I know this feeling so well. Watching Ann tell Joyce about her colourwork technique was a moment I will remember.
Along with this one.
Do your socks match your sweater ? Not like these eh? I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Joyce Williams I think you are the bomb. Just the bomb!!
This just in from Tina:
The dye barn is currently buried under two feet of snow.
As a result, the power is out and so are the phone lines.
If you need to contact us, please email info @ bluemoonfiberarts.com.
(I work remotely where there’s power, so you’ll probably hear from me!)
Stay warm and happy knitting.