#6 the corkline
(for previous posts start with Cordova Gansey Project The Long Story Introduction)
After several weeks and a busy reprieve, the long story continues, and now... back to the Shetland Islands, where our story finds us on the last Saturday of Shetland Wool Week in October 2014. Following a wonderful week of classes scattered around the islands, the icing on the cake was that my final class would be a color workshop with Knitsonik Felicity Ford.
I was still reeling from the "Fishing for Ganseys" class on the fishing boat from the day before, where Stella Ruhe, our instructor, had shared her expertise with us on Dutch Ganseys and the Dutch interpretation and modification of the traditional ganseys of the United Kingdom. She had given us the opportunity to convert our own ideas and imagery into patterns and graphic charts. Using knits and purls, we designed, then created swatches to test these ideas and how well they translated into actual knitting. (see blog #5 A & B )
Dressed and ready to face this last class day with plenty of time to spare, I was a little sad leaving the cottage at Vementry that beautiful morning, yet proceeded to pack up my car for the days outing. I remember thinking to myself, I wish I could spend the WHOLE day right HERE just soaking it in; so peaceful with the calm water wrapping around the spaces between the sunlit hillsides dotted with Shetland sheep and ponies. With my full schedule of classes, it seemed like each day it was already dark by the time I got "home", and that I had hardly had the time to explore much around the property.
Be careful what you wish for. I quickly took some photos and jumped in the car to find that my petite lime green rental car had a dead battery. Now what? I asked myself. I knew the kind woman, Marion, in the cottage immediately up the hill who had been my lodging hostess had gone off to work for the day. I realized I had to explore the "neighborhood" for help, and in reality, I knew there was only one other house on the property which was where Marion's family lived, and no other options for at least a mile or two away.
I hiked up the little hill and around to the two story house. I first hesitantly knocked on the door, as it was still fairly early in the day, but no one answered. There was a boat engine idling on the dock down below, so I then wandered down the muddy path to the boat dock and shed, but unfortunately found no one there.
I walked back up the hill and tried knocking on the house door once again, this time a little more forcefully. I heard noises and giggles, and then two sweet little girls with the cutest faces answered the door. They went and fetched their mum. Although I felt bad disturbing her morning, I was grateful for her offer to help. She tried calling her husband, who was off attending the mussel beds. After unsuccesssfully attempting to reach him on his cell phone, she took off on the four wheeler to go find him, leaving me with the children. While she was gone, I had a delightful time visiting with her girls. They were quite friendly and wanted me to have some of their "lollies and biscuits". I loved hearing their sweet voices and accent as they showed me their "catty" (kitty), their trophies, and their big screen tv.
It is funny, for me, as I drove around Shetland, seeing these charming crofts scattered on rolling green hills, in my mind somehow I imagined walking up to the door of one and maybe finding an 18th or 19th century family living inside. This house at Vementry in particular with the stone walled garden full of giant cabbages and vegetables, and Shetland ponies wandering about, and from the way the building itself in all its charm looked on the outside, I half expected in my imagination that the inside would be a step back in time as well. I thought on this as I listened to the girls chatting and sharing their stories with me in their little Shetland voices, looking out through the foot wide window coves as we pet the cat. Eventually their father returned and helped me get my car going and I was off and on my way.
Although I was VERY late to class and embarrassingly so (once again), this unexpected morning walking around the property up and down to the dock and into this home with the delightful children was as a much a part of the wonderfulness of the day as the rest of it that followed. If not for my dead battery, I would not have had that chance for those moments with the young Shetlanders, or an eyeful of the giant, beautiful, bright orange carrots with huge fluffy green tops overflowing from the edge of their kitchen sink, petted and scratched a Shetland catty behind the ears, or had the very much desired hike I was longing to take around the property.
I reflect now on that time where I had no other option but to just sit and visit with those girls as we waited for their mum and dad to return for my auto rescue. Such a good example of the priceless incidental and accidental adventures that we encounter and savor as we look back on our days. The extra bonus was that I was able to speak with the father after he helped me get my car started, as I had hoped somehow to purchase a fleece from the farm there, and when I returned that night I found on my doorstep a most beautiful prize fleece. A treasure indeed from a mishap morning.
Perhaps when we are in a faraway place we are more prone to be open to appreciating these unstaged moments, but it is a good lesson for me to remember about making the most of the opportunities to appreciate what is there to be had in the midst of inopportune times.
All this to say, that when I FINALLY arrived at my class with way too long of a story to explain, I just crept in hoping to not be too disruptive, and squeezed in around the full table of knitting students at the Jamieson & Smith Yarn store where the workshop was taking place.
That is all for now...The Cordova Gansey Project and the Long Story continues when we find out what happens next...
Behind the green door with Felicity Ford.
#5 of lockers and fishing boats, fishermen and those who love them ...part B (for part A, please read first)
And so, alas, 'twas in the Shetland Islands, after I walked down the cobblestone path through the narrow village walkway from atop the hill that fine October day, that I reached the harbor in the town of Lerwick and made my way excitedly down the modern dock to the F/V Swan LK243, the boat on which my next Shetland Wool Week knitting class would take place.
I just remember walking along the planks of the wooden ramp that early morning and taking a big long deep breath just to really take it all in. I was so happy and grateful to be where I was right then and there.
And then, there it was, as clear as could be, "the diesel and the docks", and though half way around the world in an unfamiliar place, the fragrance spoke to me like the voice of a familiar friend. Just like that day of Nathan's hug, I was somehow reminded of other places and other times, and there was something quite endearing and comforting about that and the start of this very special day.
Grinning from ear to ear at this point, I joined the group as we were aided on board by the crew with our satchels of yarn and knitting. One by one we climbed onto the boat and down into the cabin. Here to take a class on Dutch Ganseys with Stella Ruhe, pictured below, the group of us from the UK, Europe and abroad arranged ourselves in the galley on benches squeezed around a small wooden table, rocking slightly with the lilt of the ocean, even though we were still tied up to the dock for the day.
Knowing nothing about the boat, its history or much about the fishing industry in Shetland, I assumed the Fishing Vessel Swan LK243 was still actively being used for fishing. At one point, as we were getting settled, I asked the skipper more about the boat and fishing life. Of course I wanted to know more about “his” boat and what he fished for and how they fished in the Shetland Islands. I thought myself somehow a compatriot of sorts, though I truly had no idea. I was wide eyed in general about being in this new place and so much to soak in, but so eager to connect to this place at 60 degrees latitude (just like Cordova) and what we held in common, ie: fishing for a living. Besides that, it was such a charming little boat, and I was somehow caught in this romantic nostalgia enhanced by the atmosphere and surroundings.
Ah yes, without a word at first, in answer to my question, the skipper patiently motioned me back up the stairs and up on the deck. In all honesty, I thought he was taking me up to show me his nets or something, but instead, he simply pointed in the direction of a VERY large vessel, at least 300 feet long on a MUCH larger dock off in the distance, and explained to me that although the Swan LK243 was at one time used as a herring boat, that these days, the herring fishery was performed by a few mega boats such as the one off on the distant dock and all is accomplished in just a few days of the year. He told me that the boat we were on was actually owned by a historical trust and that it’s fishing days were long gone. So sad I thought.
With that I returned down the stairs and back around the table, reflecting on the skipper's news and listening to the mesh of voices and accents from Shetland and Fife in Scotland, London, Suffolk, and Cullercoats in England, the Isle of Man, Denmark, and New Zealand as we all handled and studied Stellas's swatches and discussed the pattern ideas and were inspired by her stories of the Dutch ganseys that grew out of the herring fisheries in the UK.
Her words “follow the fish, follow the patterns, follow the herring trail and you will find the trail of knitting patterns that spread through this region" sunk deep into my heart and mind.
As mentioned before, Stella is an enthusiastic speaker. She is genuinely excited about her topic and what her research has revealed, and even now in the midst of a second collection of ganseys collected from Holland. She was a diligent detective and investigator, hunting and searching out photos and digging up clues as to the origins and evidence revealed by these garments she so eagerly sought. With little physical evidence left behind, she relied on the photos she uncovered through her research, and reknit them based on what she could see in the photograph. One reason she cited for so few being around, at least in Holland, was that they were worn until they were worn out, and that once a gansey became no longer able to be worn, the fisherman would often use it as a deck mop at the end of a stick.
One of my favorite stories and photographs she shared with us concerned the pompoms that were on the end of some of the men’s gathered gansey collars. It was odd and amusing to see these grown men with pompoms hanging from knitted strands tied in a bow on the front of their garments. As she explained the reasoning for the pompoms, I had to laugh to myself, as they weren't a decoration as I had assumed, but rather they were there to wipe away the jellyfish that would land in their eyes as they brought up the nets, and the drawstring were there to help draw up and secure the neckline. Beginning with the basic elements they found in the UK sweaters , these Dutch women who had knit the sweaters had added practical special touches of their own at the request of their fishermen husbands to help them as they worked, implementing their own tradition and creating a Dutch gansey knitting heritage.
As she spoke, still caught in an emotional fishing memory state, I was once again mentally transported to the days on the back deck of our seine boat, stacking the leadline, one of my jobs, and to the unforgettable memory of the hurtful sting from the jellyfish as the net came over the power block splattering jellyfish bits into our eyes. Right then, glancing at the photographs I felt an immediate connection to the gentlemen in the old photographs, for we shared the sting of the jellyfish, as well as the connection to their knitting wives with their desire to care for their loved ones via their knitting. If you look closely in the second photo below you can see the bits of peachy gold in the net, which are the bits of jellyfish.
The class was wonderful and halfway through, we all shared a delicious potato and smoked haddock soup with home made bread cooked for us by the "galley girl". After Stella's introduction and history lesson concerning the Dutch gansey version and how they came about, she further elaborated on the graphic designs that were incorporated via knit and purl in a way that varied from gansey to gansey.
These ganseys were "a reflection of life, fishermen, and their families". I think I continued to be most struck by the willingness of the Dutch women to make it their own and to comfortably adapt the patterns in a way that genuinely personalized them as they interjected their own motifs and that which they held important as translated graphically into their designs.
In light of this, as part of the workshop, instead of merely copying their ideas, Stella invited us to think about what we felt was important in our lives, and how we might graphically translate those values and images into simple patterns. WIth graph paper and pencil, then yarn and needles, we set about to reflect on this and bring our own ideas to life.
She also spoke about the garment she was wearing which wouldn't be immediately identified as a gansey, in the traditional sense, for it incorporated the essence of a gansey, yet looked completely modern and contemporary. In the quiet moments that followed, as I began to knit my swatch, I mentally wrestled with this myriad of thoughts concerning traditional, contemporary, fishing, fisherman, fishing boat, fishing towns, old patterns, new patterns then, now, now then...I wondered if anyone else's head was spinning as fast as mine was right then.
What rattled around in my mind was the thought of this fiber (ie:wool), this wonderful fiber with these wonderful qualities and how it was incorporated into a garment and personalized via the handknitter and worn by loved ones. I thought again as I had the night before when Stella had given her talk, that the Dutch gansey, in regard to actual fisherman was shrouded by these words, “was” “in the past” “historically” “traditionally”, and yet Stella was weaving together past and present in regard to ganseys.
Yes, it is true, ganseys ARE still around, and I do see ganseys and their influence all the time in the knitting fashion world, modified and unmodified, but what about the fishermen? If these were fishermen sweaters originally designed and worn by fishermen, then why weren't more fishermen still wearing them? The first realization, at least for today, was that at least here in the Shetland Islands, there weren't a whole lot of independent fishermen anymore.
Hmm....The pat I had felt earlier was no longer a pat, it was a lump in my throat. This is precisely what went through my mind.
- We are a fishing town. It is our proud identity.
- We bring a healthy sustainable product into the hands of the consumer.
- We are more than historical, and we are continuing to make history.
- We are an active, living, and thriving coastal fishing community and state in an industry where independent fishermen in small boats are presently harvesting an unadulterated product that is nutritionally superior than its farmed counterpart.
- We are knitters by choice and desire.
- We love to knit and we love to knit for those we love.
- Wool is a superior fiber with superior qualities, ideal for those working in cold and wet environments and we are a cold and wet environment.
With all this in mind, why could we as handknitters not put all these together once again in a way that was somehow new and different and incorporated our unique and special Alaska harvesting heritage?
The words, “working in wool” came to my mind. Just as the Moray Firth Gansey Project was about ganseys of the past, why couldn’t we have a project that clothed the fishermen of the present. Just as the Dutch women modified the patterns that they came in contact with that followed the fishermen on the herring trail and integrated them with their own designs and modifications and had implemented their own tradition, why couldn’t these patterns follow the fish once again and come to OUR fishing port and OUR fishing fleet, and be modified by our local hand knitters for an active present fisherman?
Simply put, why couldn’t we put fisherman sweaters back on the backs of the fishermen?
Wouldn’t it be ideal to not only knit my fisherman son, daughter and son in law each a gansey ( I promise, no pom poms...), as I have thought and wanted to do for awhile now, but also to pull together and collectively knit as a group wool gansey sweaters that we designed ourselves for our fishermen and outdoorsman loved ones to work in. I know this is nothing new and that there have been those in our town who have knit for their fishing family members for years, but this would be something we could do together as a group, just for fun as well as function, and maybe not just for us, but eventually we could ignite from Cordova an idea that could spread amongst this next generation of other Alaskan fishing communities as well.
The one thing that is taking place in our industry is the attention drawn to the care that our fishermen are purposely tending to the fish they catch in order to preserve best the quality of their product. What better way to care for these harvesters than to clothe them in that which is made with care and purpose. As I continued to knit, my mind mulled over all these thoughts. Sitting on the benches of that boat, rocking gently with the water, I felt both calm and excited at the same time.
As class came to a close, I climbed up the ladder and out of the cabin of the F/V Swan LK243 and into the ocean air. Once again, the diesel and the docks swept over me reminding me of the fishing life back in Alaska, and more questions filled my mind. With all this talk of ganseys, I wondered if ganseys were ever worn long ago by the fishermen in Cordova, or anywhere else in Alaska? And for now, would there be a way to combine these ganseys with our wonderful local Copper River Fleece gear in a way that would bring out the best of both worlds?
And so from all the taps on my shoulders and pats on the back, and beyond the lump in my throat, I began to put to words what had been stirring within all week, now grown from concept and idea into something tangible, so much so, I almost felt I could touch it..
I traveled back to my little cottage that night full of ideas and wrote in my travel journal about the day's adventure. I looked over my notes from Stella's class as I wrote and came across these words that I had written down, which she had shared concerning the growth of her idea and what was going on in her mind as she was just getting started. As I reread them, I felt a bit of myself in them, "...but if I don't do it, what would happen?" How I could relate. These words seem to be what has kept me doing so much of what I have done over the years in The Net Loft, and although inadequate in so many ways, I always have thought to myself, "it might not be perfect and someone else could probably do it a whole lot better than me, but if I don't do it, what would happen?".
What was even more interesting were the next words in my notes that I had jotted down and put in quotes from her sharing. It was just a phrase..."With enormous joy in my heart". I wrote this down because she was so beaming in describing the journey she had taken in making the Dutch Gansey Project happen. I believe it wasn't just an impersonal and technical study on sweaters, but rather it was the stories about them and the people in and around that brought them to life that brought her joy. It was the joy she found of the human experience and the people she met along the way, those from then and those from now, as she unraveled the Dutch gansey story.
Stella's excitement and passion concerning her project is that which happens when we follow that inkling, that tap on the shoulder, that pat on the back, that lump in the throat, even when we are not so sure always what we are doing or where it will take us. Thank you Stella for an inspiring day...
Finally, before dropping off to sleep, touched and inspired again by the hand knitters who came before me, and from all that led up to this day in Shetland and in my own fishing and knitting life, the closing words I wrote at the bottom of the page of my journal posed a simple question... "What about a Cordova Gansey Project?"
As a sidenote, from a recent correspondence with Stella, she now has 125 sweaters in the Dutch Gansey Collection that are hand knit reproductions of Dutch ganseys found in old recovered photographs, and is just as excited about her second book in the making as she was the first, which promises more stories of life and living conditions on the herring boats in the early 1900's, and further history of the life and times of these fishermen and their families. To be published in the future initially in Dutch, here's hoping an English translation will soon follow.
top photo from: http://www.historiegaasterland.nl/Sites%20hist.archief%20%20HWG/Haringvisserij.html
bottom photo: http://www.geheugenvannederland.nl/?/nl/items/ZZM01:F021570/&p=44&i=19&t=911&st=breien&sc=(breien)/&wst=breien
all other archival Dutch Photos courtesy of Stella Ruhe Dutch Ganseys
#5 of lockers and fishing boats, fishermen and those who love them ....part A
Years ago, before we built our fishing warehouse at 6 1/2 Mile Copper River Highway, we kept and stored our gear in an equipment storage locker in the Alaska Packers Association warehouses. APA, as it was called, was where our newly purchased first fishing boat had been stored by its previous owner, and so became our inherited new home of sorts.
In order to get to our storage locker, there was a maze of steps and corridors that wandered through the multiple story old metal and wood buildings which were connected by enclosed wooden catwalks. At one time, these structures housed a cannery that used to pack salmon and later clams, but these days, the old buildings were storehouses for boats and fishing nets.
At first, because we were new, they gave us a locker on the uppermost level of the buildings. At that time, we lived on the boat and didn't have a bunkroom yet, so whatever we owned in our fishing life either was on the boat or in the locker. In order to take things on and off the boat, we had to first climb up and over the rails and across the decks of all the boats we were tied up next to, at either the pilings or the floating dock at the end of the buildings.
From here we had to climb up a precarious rusty ladder, or up a wooden ramp, depending on where we were docked, and then follow along on a very narrow wooden plank boardwalk under the warehouse structures along the rows of pilings that supported and were just below the warehouses. From under the buildings you emerged and continued around the dim walkways, winding through narrow passageways and multiple stairs until you finally arrived at the locker. Although some of the details are a little fuzzy, I just have this recollection that at low tide it was quite a journey, especially with boxes or armloads of gear.
I do remember, however, that at that time, everything I owned seemed to reek of diesel fuel and mechanical fluid. We (mostly Fred our mechanic and crewman) had put a new engine into our "new" 35 year old wooden boat before launching it for the season. I remember standing there passing tools back and forth, when I wasn't busy repainting the exterior and letters of the boat name. Launching it was an adventure in itself, as the whole building seemed to quiver as it was lowered into the water. Mechanically speaking, it was one thing after another, and from that point on it just seemed like everything I had was drenched, and I mean drenched in the fragrance of oil and fuel, hydraulic fluid, mildew from the dampness of endless rain, and the lingering aroma of past fish harvests.
As it turned out, the roof above our first locker leaked profusely, and consequently, we were given a new and different locker on another floor, and so we proceeded to haul our soaked gear and goods down to our new spot. Now, if my memory serves me right, it seemed that from then on, Captain Bob, my husband, was in search of the perfect locker. Somehow, he would find that someone was moving out of their locker, and had us crew move everything to this new spot. Of course, these new lockers were never close by or on the same floor. And so, it seemed, that over the next several years of our time at APA, when we weren't out on the fishing grounds, we crewman experienced an endless parade up and down the stairs, and around and about the warehouses hauling our gear from boat to locker, locker to boat as well as from locker to locker...buckets, ropes, oil cans, net mending supplies, raingear, clothes, and a myriad of odds and ends.
Maybe being bound in that little space had something do with it, but regardless of the location, upstairs or downstairs, our locker never ceased to contain this distinct "fragrant" concoction of dampness, diesel, and fish. Anything you put into storage would quickly absorb the fragrance of the locker, and I was always reluctant to store in there anything I really cared about, but often didn't have the option, and the same went for that old wooden boat, whose old wooden hull seemed like a sponge to every fluid it ever came in contact with. I thought about that in terms of all the people that had come in contact with that old boat and these buildings once astir with the rattlings of a cannery and cannery workers, and then and moreso now, the hum of fisherman's voices and their discussions on fish prices and dreams of better boats, with a hint of secrecy about how many fish they actually caught. I often wondered if somehow a bit of them lingered as well.
Eventually, we purchased our first fiberglass boat, and a few years later bought land and built a warehouse, and even farther down the line, opened up the shop in the net loft of the new warehouse. Everything was new and fresh, and although I missed my friends and life at the bunkhouse, I appreciated having a fresh environment for my possessions. It wasn't long after opening the store out the road that I started carrying lotions and perfumes in the shop as part of our repertoire. I knew first hand the need to smell something of a different sort of fragrance even more so while working on a boat or in the cannery.
Fragrances are known to stir memories, and although as years go by, one may sometimes forget what they have forgotten, a whiff of a scent can somehow bring it back to mind. And so it was one day last summer, that our fisherman son, Nate, wandered into The Net Loft for a hug and a hello. Surrounded by the usual Net Loft fragrances of lavender, lemongrass, perfumed Lollia lotions and candles, interlaced with fresh chocolates and wool yarn, Nate reached out and gave me a long hard hug, weary from working on his boat, which he had been tearing apart learning and figuring out how to fix and maintain.
To my surprise and without a conscious thought, in that moment of embracing him, loud and clear, I was instantly catapulted back to that old fishing boat and APA locker. I felt myself hesitate and had a sense of time collapse as past merged with present. In those brief seconds, I didn't want to let him or the memory go.
Having been recently out on the water for a fish opening, and then without stopping to change, as is common in fishing life, working on his boat for the last few days changing hydraulic hoses and doing engine maintenance, Nate's clothing and body had accumulated and become saturated with that distinct strong aroma and combination of just the right formula of diesel, dampness, engine fluids and fishing.
As I breathed in its "perfume" it had transported me back in time 35 years, and all the memories of those early days came flooding in and filled me with nostalgia. One more hug please, I thought. What once was something I willingly tried to avoid but could not get away from, I now longed for more. It wasn't so much for the buildings and the boat, but rather the friendships formed and the lifestyle lived while being in the midst of them...of weddings on boat decks, babies in the bunkhouse, conversations in the cookhouse around the big black iron eight foot diesel cookstove, exploring attics and finding "treasure", of youth and vitality, new love and a new life.
Our boat these days is down a dock, rather than at the end of an old cannery, and yet as you walk the docks you can still catch a whiff in the air in the Cordova Harbor of diesel, boat mechanics and fishing.
Though not quite so intense as that found in our old boat or locker, it is still a distinct combination, and evokes the thought of fisherman astir throughout the season. Perhaps one could simply call it the aroma of "the diesel and the docks", even though it really is so much more. And those who know it can tell you, indeed so very much more...
Soon to follow...Part B the docks of Shetland
Watercolors by Karl Becker , Cordova, Alaska
Oil Painting of Fisherman at the Dock by Jen-Ann Kirchmeier, Cordova, Alaska (there a few signed glicee copies of this fisherman at the docks painting available which may be ordered directly from Jen-Ann)
On a side note, our Net Loft Custom Colorway from Three Irish Girls Yarns was derived by the watercolor painting shown above by Karl Becker of the old APA Cannery. Though not in our online store, these yarns are available in a variety of bases at the shop. You can now understand where this color comes from and why it is so special to me. Yarn inquiries for yarns in shop but not online may be made to email@example.com.
#4 a spin of the wheel and a pat on the back
The reality of my time in Shetland for Wool Week is that basically I had just signed up and so I showed up. I was too busy with life to really take time to figure things out too much beforehand, and so everything was an adventure and a surprise, and I was open to whatever came my way, with few expectations. I just showed up each day in each place that I had just sort of picked out without much thought. I knew what I liked and what I was interested in, and that I wanted to make the most of every moment, so I had a full schedule of a variety of classes in a variety of subjects that I had quickly chosen last April, so I wouldn't miss out. I was so busy with planning and executing Fiber and Friends that I didn't have the time or energy to invest in much research. There were, however, some classes I had thought I would have liked to register for, one in particular, but that one was full, and I felt grateful for the classes I was able to get into, so I was mostly content.
It was now Thursday, and I was registered for a spinning class in the southern town of Sandwick, and providentially found myself in class with Suzanne, another American and a kind and dear soul, who happened to have joined us at our Net Loft Fiber and Friends event in Cordova this past summer. What a great surprise!
Oh my goodness, this was a delightful class. Our excellent instructor, Elizabeth Johnston of Shetland Handspun, was a wealth of information and had a wonderful sense of humor. Suzanne, our classmates, and I had a fine day learning about the remarkable and special qualities of Shetland sheep.
I felt excited and grateful to be having this intense learning experience and took careful notes of Elizabeth's teachings. We cleaned and studied a variety of Shetland Fleeces, examining the details and unique qualities of the fleece from these sheep and what make them special. This was followed by demonstrations of a variety of techniques, all of which reinforced the joy of handling and transforming fiber to yarn, and further strengthened my love for wool, and especially for this primitive breed that I had had no previous experience with.
It was a great day, and I was delighted to be spinning again. I was so enthused from the class experience with Elizabeth that I actually purchased a few fleeces, which is a tale in itself. I was able to get them in a variety of colors with hopes of spinning enough yarn for a natural colored Fair Isle jersey for myself someday in the future.
It is hard to put into words, looking back at how this all fit together, but what I find interesting is that my love of spinning placed me there that day in that particular place at that particular time. The chain of events in all this and what followed is one of those serendipitous times that makes life and its circumstances somehow come together in a way one cannot always plan or expect.
My love of spinning, The Net Loft Fiber and Friends and meeting Suzanne last summer. My involvement in fishing. My presence in Shetland. My years at The Net Loft. My love of handcraft. Generally not having time to think or reflect on such things, looking back I see that these elements of who I am and who I have met and where I have been and what I do and what I like and what I want to know, were at that time converging in the same way spokes of the drive wheel on a spinning wheel come together and intersect in one spot, and how that coming together is where it finds stability. In the whirl of life, things often seem to be spinning in mad constant motion in a million different directions, but now these different components were actually meeting and coming together in synchronicity.
This being said, Suzanne and I, after having been reacquainted during our class decided to have dinner together. During dinner I mentioned to Suzanne that I had been interested in this "Fishing for Ganseys" class that was supposed to happen the next day. I had been explaining to Suzanne this connection I was experiencing inside me concerning Fishing and Knitting, and that I had originally wanted to sign up for the class, but that the class was full. I shared with her about the taps on my shoulder, and how something unknown was stirring inside me that I couldn't explain. As it turned out, I was surprised to hear that she actually had a spot in the class, and I was excited for her to be able to participate, as I heard the class would take place on an actual Shetland fishing boat, which sounded fun to me. Even though I wouldn't be able to take part, I looked forward to her return and hearing more about the class and her adventure.
That night, together we both went to hear the evening program, which included a lecture from Hazel Tindall, who had been my instructor for the Fair Isle yokes class, and another, as it turns out, by Stella Ruhe, the author of the book, “Dutch Ganseys”, and the teacher scheduled for the class on the fishing boat the next day.
Stella was genuinely excited about her Dutch gansey project and book. My mind opened further as she further unfolded the story of the transport of knitting patterns that followed the herring fishery in the North Sea. As she spoke, the auditorium screen revealed larger than life images of fishermen donned with the Dutch version of this fisherman’s attire. The words HISTORICAL and TRADITIONAL were a large part of the conversation. It was as though the words historical, traditional, fishermen and knitting, were somehow entwined and closely bound together.
Looking back, I had always been fascinated by ganseys and those that knit and wore them, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Years ago, I had corresponded with Mary Wright in Cornwall, England, because I loved the photos in her book on Cornish Ganseys that we carried in the shop, and she had actually helped me get copies of several of the photographs printed from her local museum to hang in the store, like the one below which has always been one of my favorites, because I loved the look of the fisherman leaning back on the stone in the background looking at the fisher girl knitting . If you have been in the Net Loft, you may recognize this picture we have had hanging since the days in the old Net Loft. It just seemed like a perfect fit and was nice of Mary to help me get a copy.
In the past, I hadn't really paid much attention, or grasped the extent to which historical, traditional, and fishermen were bound in regard to working in wool ganseys. As I was listening to the lecture, and after my day with Elizabeth, I felt like I was literally being pulled even moreso into this tangle of fishermen and knitting and wool and my own personal connection to it all. Day by day it continued to grow stronger.
After the lecture, to my surprise, Suzanne offered me her space in the class for the next day, as she could see I was feeling this strong connection. She would not let me refuse. I have to admit I was very excited.
Then came more than a tap; this was definitely an encouraging pat on the shoulder, and I felt grateful for Suzanne’s gift of her class space, for how it all came about, and really looked forward to the next day and what more lay waiting to unfold. A fishing boat and knitting.... the perfect combination...
Follow the fish...sail on to #5 to find where it leads you....
Cornish Gansey Knitter from http://www.thatsmycornwall.com/stitch-in-time-cornwalls-knit-frocks/
# 3 - Friends in a Faraway Place
We all have our reasons for finding our way to a faraway place. Sometimes we are simply born there, and other times we follow an inkling or follow a friend, for fun, for a job, or both. Sometimes it is for a long while, and sometimes it may just be for a week or two. Regardless of the time spent, these places off the beaten path change us, and we are not quite the same as we were, or would have been, without the influence these kind of places have on us.
Cordova is such a place one has to come to with intention. It is not on the way to someplace else, but rather a destination one must choose. It takes a little extra effort, but definitely worth the journey. Sometimes around the Net Loft Knitting Table the conversation arises as to "what brought you here", "how did you come to be in Cordova?" I always love to hear the different stories and responses as they are shared.
For my husband, Bob, he had a friend who had gone to Alaska and came back with tales of life on a fishing boat. Like his grandfather Charles on the right in the photo above, who had left the comforts of home in England during the gold rush in search of adventure and fortune in Alaska, Bob and his friend Kenny headed northward on their own sojourn, and found themselves in the town of Cordova, Alaska, just months after the 1964 earthquake.
After walking the docks, these greenhorns both found jobs as deckhands on two different salmon fishing seine boats, and joined the ranks of the fishing migrant summer population.
Cordova has long experienced this swell in numbers in response to the return of the salmon. Captains, crewmen, and cannery workers fill the town, just like the salmon fill the sound, streams, and rivers. The town bustles with activity as they gear up for another season. It is the fish that draw them here. The scenery and the surroundings bid them to stay, or be compelled to return, such as these two friends, Kenny and Bob.
And so for me, it was an inkling and a long standing desire that was MY reason and what inevitably led me half way around the world to the Shetland Islands. Perhaps it was that photo in my geography book in the 5th grade with the children standing by the Shetland pony, or the yoked Shetland sweater my best friend at camp in Colorado would wear that I always loved. The sheep, the yarn, the knitting, and from far away, it just drew me to it and just seemed like a place that I would love, although it was a long time wanting to go before finally culminated in a getting to go. And then, it happened, I set my compass heading purposely for this faraway land and made the journey, without really thinking too much about it beforehand.
As a migratory individual, I generally consider home as the place where I am at that moment in time, more of a state of mind than a physical condition...never a "local", but always "at home". So it was, that in just a few days, Shetland and my little cottage by the sea with the Shetland ponies in the yard, was now "home", and I settled in and felt my roots sink quickly. Waking up in my new "home" after a good nights sleep, I felt more comfortable and ready for what lay ahead. It was now Wednesday of Shetland Wool Week. I awoke extra early, as I had a special place and activity to reach that were two islands and two ferry journeys away on the far north island of Unst, famous for producing beautiful handspun fine lace and the northernmost inhabited island in the British Isles. I was signed up for an all day lace design class with the “Lace Knitters of Unst”, and because of the ferries, timing was criticaI.
Today's journey began via the north entrance to the town of Aith on a narrow back road. There were no cars on this single lane byway that wound up and down and through the mountains and heathered hills where sheep roamed on and along the roadside. As I ventured down the lane, it was so beautiful my heart was literally fluttering with excitement, and in the early morning light, the landscape virtually took my breath away. There was so much adrenalin pumping through my veins, I felt like I was going to burst. Off the beaten path to a faraway place, definitely worth the journey.
A few hours and many miles later, I arrived at the Unst Heritage Center for my class. The small center had been a school at one time, but now had an assortment of displays on Unst history, lace knitting, as well as a small gift shop of books, knitting patterns and knitted items. The entrance to our classroom had this lovely hanging handknit lace framing the top of the doorway. Our class met on a table they set right between the small glass cases and living history vignettes with old style mannequins dressed in their period clothing. All day, I would catch a glimpse of them with the corner of my eye and forget they weren't real. It was as though these characters of the past were there overseeing our lessons. Squeezed into the room alongside us were racks with more of the ganseys on display from the Moray Firth Gansey Project that were on exhibit in Shetland for Wool Week. We were literally surrounded with historical knitting in our close quarters.
The day's workshop was led by Hazel Laurenson. With just three other students in the class and lots of personal attention, the day was one that is deeply etched into my memory. My heart felt laden with so much of the experience to absorb. I didn’t want to miss a drop of it. I recently stumbled into a blog post by one of the other women that was in our small group. She felt a similar response to her experience that it was one of those very special days in her life to long remember.
Hazel was a patient and kind instructor. During her introduction, as she gave us a lesson in Shetland lace history and structure, she pulled out a pillow case filled with these acid free tissue paper wrapped rolls, and unrolled piece after piece of beautiful hand knit lace. Clearly I was in the presence of a living treasure.
So interesting to hear her care and concerns that the craft not be lost. She mentioned that knitting was no longer taught in the schools and her fears that the next generations would not or were not interested in these old knitting ways. This was a genuine concern that I heard over and again throughout my time there, this heartfelt desire for their knitting traditions to not fade, especially on the island and throughout Shetland, hard to believe with so much excitement and interest during wool week. I also thought of how Ravelry has reignited and reintroduced some of these traditions and fine knitting to a new generation, and though maybe not so fine of yarn, some of the same ideas conceptually are being taken on throughout the world now and the incredible exchange of pattern and ideas via the internet.
After carefully studying and fondling her beautiful samples, we jumped right into our knitted lace projects using Jamieson Cobweb Laceweight Shetland Wool. We had a choice of two different sizes. I was actually surprised at how "sensible" and simple the knitting was structured. It was so logical and with the knitter in mind.
During our tea break, I had time to look at the Moray Firth ganseys up close. On each garment was a tag and each tag told the origin of that particular garment. What is interesting about knitting is the person and the place and the situations that surround each project. I really liked getting to take a closer look at more of these sweaters that had caught my eye and that had stirred up my attention a couple days earlier. I found that they had been collected from around Scotland and I was impressed by the fine gauge knitting, intricate design, and workmanship in each piece.
During lunch while others were off in the other room eating, I wandered around and took time to study the display cases searching for more details of Unst history in the quiet of this little museum. The mesh between fishing and knitting on this distant island continued to unfold, and I was interested in finding our more on the subject. Not knowing too much yet, I wondered to myself, where were these fishermen that used to line the coast? It all seemed very still here and sparsely populated. I am sure others knew, but this was new history for me.
I soon learned that Baltasound, the main village in Unst, once vied with Lerwick as the top herring port in the boom years 1880-1925. During the ‘season’ the population of 500 rose to 10,000 with the influx of gutters and coopers, supporting some 600 boats. Our town of Cordova may more than double or possibly triple, but this was twenty times the nonseasonal population. What a major change in the dynamic of the town this must have been. Where did everyone live? Where did everyone go? Was fishing still happening even if the boom years were gone?
I wanted to know the details and I was especially intrigued by the women who were the laborists in this open air on the docks cannery of sorts. I continued to be drawn to the photos of the“herring or fisher lassies”, who would gut the fish and pack the barrels. I wondered who they were and how they felt or what they thought about this faraway place that provided their living, and their part in this moving mass of people that followed the fish. There was something about those girls with their smiles, and here I was on a faraway island in their fish town gazing at the hills that once were their migrant fishing "home" for those days they were here, moving along with the migration of the fish.
It wasn't just that they were connected to me because we were both tied to fishing, but it was the fishing and the knitting I wanted to know more about. The simple words I found were, "in their spare time, when they were waiting for the fish, they would sing or spend time knitting ganseys and stockings". Those words sounded so wonderful to me. Even with the long hours and hard work, they would sing and knit in their down time. Just for fun, here is one of their songs I found which they also sang as they worked: herring girls song http://www.banffshiremaritime.org.uk/index.php/following-the-herring/herring-gutters-song
I know well this waiting for the fish. The boats go out, the boats come in. As a fish wife, my summer life has been marked by boats going out and coming in, with the weaving in and out of the "Captain" being home and crewmen in the house, alternated with concentrated Net Loft time.
It also reminded me more specifically of my friendships in the past with some of the young women from the cannery office during the summertime, who have come to the shop, and knit with us on their off time, a reprieve from bunkhouse life, or come by to show us their knitting accomplishments, as we always love show and tell. When not working, they would often knit. Along the same lines, I reflect on some of the very dear friends I have come to know over the years whose families, some like my own, followed the fish, and often around the Net Loft summertime table, as a mix of summer and year round residents, have knit and shared stories when the boats were out...our own version of knitting and fishing.
I read recently of an interview with Margaret Ann, a herring girl (quine), from years past found in the book The Herring Lassies
. One of the things she said reminded me so much of this group of us that fishing has brought and kept together over the years. The interviewer mentioned how what came across most strongly from listening to Margaret Ann was the bond of fellowship and friendship which the quines had with each other. They helped each other, shared what they had, and looked out for one another, and their knitting was what they enjoyed when they were off duty. In our fishing community of Cordova, I have often experienced these special bonds. For us, or we like them, the knitting and the fishing have gone hand in hand. We didn't really think about what we were doing, we were just doing it, and I think that was the same for them, and in the midst of it, deep bonds of friendship were formed.
Knitting…Fishing. Fishing….Knitting. These were “my people” in this faraway place. Another tap on the shoulder. Tap #3. As I returned to my lace knitting class, listening and appreciating the voices from new knitting friends around the table on this distant island of Unst, my thoughts were definitely stirring, but not yet sure where they would be taking me.
there's still more tales to be told...stay tuned...#4
Shetland Islands #2 The next nudge...for the love of sheep... the list
The next day of my Shetland Islands Wool Week Adventure, I was pretty overwhelmed from all that I had experienced thus far, and needed to catch my breath. The place I had chosen to stay for the week was more of a bit of a drive than I had anticipated. The night before, after a full day of classes and activities, I had arrived in the dark after driving for quite some time with a few sheepish friends that joined in here and there. It was late, and I was very very tired.
My little spot at Vementry Farm was at the end of the road beyond the town of Aith. When I awoke (late, mind you, weary from the travel) to see the scene from my sheep farm croft cottage at the edge of the sea, the panorama took my breath away, but hardly had a minute to catch it (my breath), for I had to make haste to get back down the road and off to Lerwick for my first class of the day, even though the view from my little Shetland home for the week beckoned me to stay.
There was no such thing as rushing on the small lane I had to travel leaving Vementry, and trying to acclimate to driving with the steering wheel on the right didn't help, even though the inside of me was racing at full speed. I had a workshop on Fair Isle Knitting with Hazel Tindall on my schedule for the morning, and I was desperate not to be tardy, but it was too late for that. I could only drive so fast, and there was no way I could make up the time. The class was on "Designing Fair Isle yokes for Round Yoke Jumpers and Cardigans". I took a deep breath and walked in late, with my head held low as class was already in session. I didn't like having to race to get caught up with the class, but I loved hearing the stories Hazel shared and tried to soak up every drop I could of the colorwork and design of her samples on the table.
If you are interested in The Art of Fair Isle Knitting, Hazel has an excellent DVD on the subject and worth investing in. http://www.hazeltindall.com/dvd She is a great instructor and grateful I could attend even though I was a little frazzled.
I now could really take a deep breath I had no afternoon class, and so I finally had some free time to explore the museum and read through the literature provided in our welcome pack, and so, after milling around the museum, sitting down for a rest and quietly leafing through papers seemed like a really good idea. I found myself a cozy corner and I began to read through the brochures they had given us. There was one document in particular from the Campaign for Wool that I was compelled to read over and again . I had seen it somewhere before, but this time I read it extra intently. Much of it I already knew, but there it was, point by point, in black and white, all the features of wool that make it such an excellent fiber.
This is the list that I read again and again...Take time to read it slowly, it's worth the read.
Wool is a protein fibre formed in the skin of sheep, and is thus one hundred percent natural, not man-made. Since the Stone Age, it has been appreciated as one of the most effective forms of all-weather protection known to man, and science is yet to produce a fibre which matches its unique properties.
As long as there is grass to graze on, every year sheep will produce a new fleece; making wool a renewable fibre source. Woolgrowers actively work to safeguard the environment and improve efficiency, endeavoring to make the wool industry sustainable for future generations.
At the end of its useful life, wool can be returned to the soil, where it decomposes, releasing valuable nutrients into the ground. When a natural wool fibre is disposed of in soil, it takes a very short time to break down, whereas most synthetics are extremely slow to degrade.
Wool is a hygroscopic fibre. As the humidity of the surrounding air rises and falls, the fibre absorbs and releases water vapour. Heat is generated and retained during the absorption phase, which makes wool a natural insulator. Used in the home, wool insulation helps to reduce energy costs and prevents the loss of energy to the external environment,
thus reducing carbon emissions.
Wool fibres are crimped, and when tightly packed together, form millions of tiny pockets of air. This unique structure allows it to absorb and release moisture—either in the atmosphere or perspiration from the wearer—without compromising its thermal efficiency. Wool has a large capacity to absorb moisture vapour (up to 30 per cent of its own weight) next to the skin, making it extremely breathable.
RESILIENT & ELASTIC
Wool fibres resist tearing and are able to be bent back on themselves over 20,000 times without breaking. Due to its crimped structure, wool is also naturally elastic, and so wool garments have the ability to stretch comfortably with the wearer, but are then able to return to their natural shape, making them resistant to wrinkling and sagging. Wool therefore maintains its appearance in the longer term, adding value to the product and its lifespan. Wool is also hydrophillic—it is highly absorbent, and retains liquids—and so dyes richly while remaining colourfast, without the use of chemicals.
Thanks to its hygroscopic abilities, wool constantly reacts to changes in body temperature, maintaining its wearer’s thermophysical comfort in both cold and warm weather.
The protective waxy coating on wool fibres makes wool products resistant to staining and they also pick up less dust as wool is naturally anti-static. Recent innovations mean wool items are no longer hand-wash only. Many wool products can now be machine-washed and tumble dried.
Wool is far more efficient than other textiles at absorbing sweat and releasing it into the air, before bacteria has a chance to develop and produce unpleasant body odor.
A SAFE SOLUTION
Wool is naturally safe. It is not known to cause allergies and does not promote the growth of bacteria. It can even reduce floating dust in the atmosphere, as the fibre’s microscopic scales are able to trap and hold dust in the top layers until vacuumed away. Thanks to its high water and nitrogen content, wool is naturally flame-retardant, and has a far higher ignition threshold than many other fibres, will not melt and stick to the skin causing burns, and produces less noxious fumes that cause death in fire situations. Finally, wool also has a naturally high level of UV protection, which is much higher than most synthetics and cotton.
All of these features, growing in this environment, on this creature. What a marvel.
As I read and reread this list, all I could think about was the ganseys I had seen the day before, my fishing family, and the idea that wool is indeed a very good idea.
Now, I have always liked wool, but somehow being in this environment surrounded by sheep, knitters, and with a moment to contemplate, I pondered these qualities and the first of the dots began to connect. I thought about our fishermen and the work they do and these living animals with this inherently superior fiber growing on them, roaming the green hillsides. Of course there is the economics of it all, and much more complicated than my simple thoughts, but the elementary concept of sheep, wool, fleece, yarn, knit, wear, work, fish just seemed like such a natural and logical progression to me. My thoughts were drifting. It worked for them...it could work for us...in the midst of knitting, I was contemplating fishing...
It was then as clear as day that I felt another tap on my shoulder, and maybe even accompanied by the ting of a bell, maybe even a ship's bell. Something was most definitely stirring. This was tap number two.
More to come… the saga continues...
Etchings by Nicola Slattery
I was fortunate enough to take an etching workshop with her while in the UK. For more info on etchings and workshops, folllow link above.
The First Tap
This past fall, October 2014, I had a wonderful journey to the Shetland Islands for Shetland Wool Week, a week long celebration of the legacy of Shetland sheep and fiber arts. When I first entered the arts center, where registration was taking place, there was a great exhibit on display of Scottish Ganseys, traditional single color fisherman sweaters .
The Shetland Islands are the northernmost region of Scotland and have a rich history of fishing in addition to their sheep farming. The large posters in this "Fishing for Ganseys" display featured old photos of the “herring lassies” and gansey clad fishermen, and as a previous fishing industry worker and present commercial fishing family member, I felt an instant affinity to the girls in the photos with their huge smiles and knitting in hand.
For those who don’t know the origins of The Net Loft, it was born in a fisheries bunkhouse room in Cordova, Alaska with an old wooden salmon egg box filled with cross stitch kits, and often inspired by knitter Bonnie Morris Phillips, the net mender who taught me how to hang fishing nets.
Bonnie would knit in her offtime, and would often be wearing one of her hand knit sweaters on the docks where she worked mending nets. She would invite me to her bunkroom for tea and her delicious home made sourdough bread toast with jam, and show me her latest knitting project, most often of her own design, and first and foremost, all about function and fit, but always with her extra special touches.
Fishing is what brought us to the old cannery bunkhouse where I met Bonnie. My husband had been a commercial salmon fisherman/deckhand in Prince William Sound, Alaska, since 1964. We were married in 1978 on our first fishing boat (the one shown above with me in a headscarf running the hydraulics). These days (37 years later) two of our four children, as well as one great son-in-law, are fishermen as well, so it was an unexpected special connection I felt from the moment I walked into the museum and saw the exhibit of ganseys there on the wall.
My mind drifted as I studied the display and looked into the eyes of the girls in the photos, and in that moment, I wished I could go back in time to share and exchange fishing and knitting stories. I felt such a commonality to their lives and lifestyle. They had no idea the part they played in the passage of patterns and design. I jotted down the name of the gansey exhibition which was “the Moray Firth Gansey Project”, rushed off to the registration desk, and conciously felt just the slightest tap on my shoulder. Onward…
To be continued…
Follow along to The Long Story #2
photo of Herring Lassies courtesy of Moray Firth Gansey Project
The Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival is a celebration that marks the anniversary of the return of nearly five million shorebirds en route to the arctic tundra and other Alaska destinations via the Pacific Flyway. The tidal flats of the Copper River Delta are an important stopover site for these birds, as it is the largest undisturbed wetland on the continent of North America, and provides the perfect setting for the birds to stage and feed before moving on to breeding grounds west and northward across the state. To be in the physical presence and to witness this migration firsthand is an experience beyond words.
You are invited to come join the celebration with a host of activities to compliment the times with the tides via art, music, dance, and oral presentations. Each spring, The Net Loft joins in the celebration of this great migration with workshops and activities that reinforce an appreciation for the significance of this magnificent natural phenomena.
This May, the festival's twenty-fifth anniversary, The Net Loft will be offering a special set of workshops. We are honored to present accomplished Illustrator, Author, Naturalist, Maryjo Koch as our featured guest, and invite you to participate in her workshops as a compliment to your time by the shoreside watching the migratory birds.
Maryjo will be teaching a variety of workshops, and I promise you, you will not be disappointed with her classes. I personally have taken several workshops with Maryjo. She is a delightful and wonderful teacher, who is generous in offering to share her techniques and expertise with others. Beginners are welcome and will find success in her classes, as her methodology is well constructed for all levels. Her presence in Cordova is an opportunity you will not want to miss. I can honestly say, I have LOVED every workshop I have ever taken with Maryjo. You can read more about her on the website, but take my word, you will enjoy and be enriched by watching her demonstrations and being in her fine company while we have her in Cordova.
Registration is online with full detail of her workshops on the event workshop website:
Illustrations & Vintage Collage by Maryjo Koch
Photos by Milo Burcham
Our dear local librarian, Anna Hernandez is featured in the most recent Never Not Knitting Podcast with Alana Dakos, and in the strory she shares, she refers to a blogpost from my other blog, and just wanted to pass on the link to it.
We are very excited for Anna's most recent colorway based on the Jane Austen story of Sense and Sensibility and hope to post a few skein sets on the website soon.
Happy Thanksgiving one and all. More to come...
It’s fall again in Cordova, and we all know what that entails: shorter days, colder temperatures, and beautiful fall foliage. The rich green of summer has been replaced by yellowing leaves, which look striking against our newly snowcapped mountains. Fall comes and goes quickly here, and with fresh snow already on the mountains we acknowledge the need to fully celebrate fall, as it will be gone all too soon. The seasons are one of the few things in life we can depend on, and yet, while we already expect fall to come after summer and winter to follow quickly, it amazes me how new every season feels. As nature depends on change we are reminded of fresh starts and new possibilities. It also reminds us that life is lived in seasons, in that there will be a time for work and a time for rest. Rest, isn’t just a luxury, but a fundamental part of our being.
And it has been a well needed rest, for here at the Net Loft, summer brought a whole new level of busy-ness as we hosted our first Net Loft Fiber and Friends event. This was a weeklong program with world renown knitting instructors including: Bonne Marie Burns, Alana Dakos, Donna Druchunas, Gudrun Johnston, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Celia Quinn and many more excellent teachers such as our local talents, Michelle Ess, Barb Hanson, Christa Hoover, Alyssa Kleissler, Gail Nowicki, Frances Samuelson, Terri Stavig, as well as previous Cordovan, Bonnie Morris Phillips and her dear friend Lori Goldman . The week consisted of more than just classes, and included an adventure day, with activities for our guests to explore and enjoy the beauty of Cordova. It was a wonderful event with more than a hundred people participating from all over Alaska and many from other parts of the United States as well, and an international traveler from Norway. It was a great learning experience and opportunity to make new friends while gaining new skills. Thanks to all who helped make it a reality. I will have to memory blog on that soon, (as well as on my recent trip to the Shetland Islands). Here is a photo of our local group of Anchor Yarn Bombers that kicked off the event.
With our summer over, the Net Loft has settled back into it’s regular pace. Here at the shop, we know that fall isn’t just the season of pumpkins and colorful leaves, but more importantly, it is the perfect season for crafting. As the chilly weather brings people inside, it’s the perfect time to work on fall crafts, and spend these slower months with friends and family. The Net Loft is offering Autumn Workshops to get you started and inspired. The classes include: spinning, weaving, knitting.and crafting, and are a great way to get some gifts made for the upcoming holiday season.
Register at the Net Loft for these upcoming classes!
Knit Wristers with Valerie Covel: November 3rd, 10th 7-9 PM
Cost: $20, includes pattern and materials
Friday Night Crafting with Anna Hernandez
First Friday of the Month: November 7th 7-9 PM
Craft: Paper Stars
Cost: $10, includes workshop and materials
Rigid Heddle Weaving with Dotty Widmann: November 17 10 am - 2 pm
Weave a boucle scarf in class session and weave another at home. Class uses handdyed mohair wool boucle in your choice of color.
Cost: $25 plus materials includes use of loom for 5 days.
Gift Knitting with Val Covel and Dotty Widmann: November 17 7-10 pm
We will be knitting a small set of mittens that can be used for an ornament or for the start of a mitten advent calendar. Class includes yarn for knitted miniature mittens AND students will receive a notebook of several patterns perfect for knitgifting. Samples will be on display of potential quick projects. All students will receive 10% off yarns needed for any of the projects in the notebook.
Cost: $25. Students will need to bring needles. Needle size tba
We hope you are enjoying these cozy fall days, and taking time to craft. Let us know if we can help in any way.
Thanks to Megan Butler for help writing our blog and for getting us back in the swing!
Spring! April 23 2014, 0 Comments
There is so much stirring around the shop with the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival, Mother's Day, and the Copper River Salmon Season just a few weeks from their opening day... and then, right around the corner, here comes graduations, summertime, seining, wildflowers and our very own Net Loft Fiber and Friends event.
So...first things first. The Shorebirds are headed our way (hooray!) and Shelly has been very hard at work creating her latest limited edition Shorebird yarn. We are loving her artistry and interpretation of our 2014 theme and inspiration for this year's event. She has also dyed fiber for us for spinners, felters and needlefelter in this same limited edition colorway.
Thursday May 8, 6 pm
We will be having an evening of Shorebird Crafts and a launching/unveillng of...
Net Loft's 2014 Shorebird Snow Capped limited edition colorway
You will LOVE this COLOR when you see it. Shelly is truly a yarn artist.
MEANWHILE... we have lots of wonderful new products coming to the shop including new Petunia Pickle Bottom, Amy Butler Bags, and some wonderful surprises perfect for spring gifting.
We are also looking forward to our knitalong for the next three weeks with Gudrun and the upcoming Knitalong on May 14 with Mary Jane Mucklestone. Kits may be picked up at the shop or online .
If you have some of our quartet sets that you have purchased from us in the past, you can just purchase a skein of Dale Falk or Heilo and you will be set.
Pattern available for purchase here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/muckle-mitts
It has been great fun visiting with our upcoming instructors and doing these small projects together. We hope you can join us whether or not you are able to attend the event in June.
We hope you are enjoying the signs of the return of spring where ever you may be. It is a time of awakening and the stirrings of life all around us. The sounds and the smells and the sights of this time of year somehow stir something deep within. The beautiful green of fresh new growth, the thawing of the land, and the sounds of water flowing and life reemerging. It is the fresh start of spring and all the hope of the season to come. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can hold it back. Look and listen.
All the best to you from all of us at The Net Loft,
For more information on our Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival
(our black and white Snow Capped Yarns preview photos thanks to Shelly Kocan)
Our next Knitalongs with Featured Fiber and Friends Instructors are as follows. Order your yarns now to save on shipping.
APRIL 9 12 noon and 7 pm AK time for Ravelry forum chat with Donna who will be knitting along with us
We will be knitting the headband and/or scarf set as pictured below. Thought would be an easy knit and great to wear at the conference to keep the chill off. You may knit just the headband OR the scarf OR both.
PATTERN is available (onsale right now) on Donna’s Website
The yarn we will be using is a Net Loft exclusive dyed in Cordova, called Snow Capped Yarns. You may use Latouche (especially if you are just going to knit the headband. One skein makes two headbands) or if you want a softer yarn, Perry is especially nice for the scarf. You choose your color from the site.
If you make scarf and headband or just scarf alone YOU WILL NEED TWO SKEINS total.
If you make just one or two headbands YOU WILL NEED ONE SKEIN.
Latouche http://the-net-loft.myshopify.com/products/dried-sedge-la... OR
Perry http://the-net-loft.myshopify.com/products/be-my-valentin... OR http://the-net-loft.myshopify.com/products/olde-salt-perry
There are a couple of new colors being released in a couple of weeks, but these are choices right now.
APRIL 23 12 noon with Gudrun, 7 pm AK time with our knit group for Ravelry forum chat
We will be knitting this wonderful cowl with a Merino single ply also from Snowcapped, called Chenega, named after a small village on the other side of Prince William Sound. The original village was destroyed in the 1964 earthquake and there is a new village now called New Chenega where fishermen will often dock up close by when they are fishing “on the other side”
Yarn: Choose a color of CHENEGA for a single ply wool
OR if you want a plied slightly softer superwash merino you can choose from these colors in KNIGHT
OR Sphynx is perfectly lovely with a nice sheen.
YOU WILL NEED TWO SKEINS for the project.
SPECIAL : IF YOU USE THE CODE: FFFF when you check out you will receive free freight for your order until May 14.
If you would like to ask questions or order over the phone, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your phone number and best time to call. Please allow at least 10 days for delivery when you order.
We are still putting together the project for Mary Jane Mucklestone which will take place in May. As soon as we have it available for you online we will let you know.
Hope you will join us online or at the shop. It is a great warm up for the event and a chance to make connections with others attending OR a vicarious knit for those from afar who are unable to join us.
We are really looking forward to the Net Loft Fiber and Friends Gathering this June! We have been busy making plans to make this a special time, and have designed a series of knitalongs for you to join in, featuring some of the excellent teachers who will be traveling to Cordova to join us for the event.
YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN IN THE KNITALONGS EVEN IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND THE EVENT.
The Net Loft has chosen some simple designs and some of our specialty Net Loft Yarns for these projects. They will completed in two or three week knitalongs with an opportunity to join others for group knitting. We will be meeting in person in the shop at The Net Loft, and online via our chat room on the Net Loft Group site.
We will be chatting with those online during this time with those who are at the shop knitting together, and everyone is encouraged to post photos via Instagram, Facebook, and Ravelry
HERE IS THE PLAN!
FIRST, if you are not a member of Ravelry, you can register HERE.
It is a great way to be involved in the Online International Fiberarts Community.
SECOND, Once you are a member, you can join THE NET LOFT GROUP.
This group lists the forums and discussions pertaining to The Net Loft, with threads of conversation specifically concerning our event in June.
THIRD, Order your materials from THE ONLINE SHOP or come by the shop and pick up Knitalong Kits. We are offering a special IF YOU ORDER BOTH KITS TOGETHER for those out of the area who want to participate, and for those in town, a 10% discount will be received IF YOU PURCHASE BOTH KITS TOGETHER at the same time. Kits may be purchased separately, but special applies to combination of both kits.
FOURTH, Join us online or at the shop on Wednesday, March 12 for the first knitalong. We will meet upstairs at noon, Alaska time. Becca Dodge will be leading the daytime session and Bonne Marie will be meeting us on the computer in the chat room. We will post information about a potential evening session which will start at 7 pm Alaska time. The chats are found on the Net Loft group page in the upper right hand corner. For each of the knitalongs, there will be certain times you will be able to ask the designer questions and we can all be knitting together and start to get to know each other before June.
We encourage you to post your photos on Instagram using #netloftfiberandfriendsknitalong or on our Knitalong Thread on our Ravelry Group site. If you do not currently follow us on Instagram, we are thenetloft.
Our first knitalong: Bonne Marie Burns of Chic Knits
We will be knitting the He Said She Said Women's Hat with Three Irish Girls Springvale Bulky in your choice of a selection of custom designed Net Loft Cordova Colorways. This pattern also has a cowl and man's hat, but the single skein makes the women's hat with just the right amount of yarn. This is a Superwash Merino hand dyed in regional colors.Knitalong begins MARCH 12.
The Second Knitalong: Alana Dakos
We will be knitting the Roses are Red, Violets are Blue Headbands for children (perfect for springtime). Kit will include yarn enough to make both headbands. Knitalong begins MARCH 26.
In April and May, we will continue with knitalongs with Donna Druchunas, Gudrun Johnston, and Mary Jane Mucklestone.
We look forward to spending this time together each week as we look forward to our time together this summer. You do not have to commit to every week and may join us according to your schedule.
Let us know if you have any questions. If you plan to join us for the Knitalongs, be sure to order early so there is plenty of time for your materials to be received in time.
ALSO, if you haven't registered and are interested in the event, the 10% earlybird discount ends April 1. Now is the time to make plans. The more the merrier! It will be a great learning experience and an enjoyable time together.
If you have any questions about the knitalongs, don't hesitate to email us with your questions.
All the best to you from all of us at The Net Loft.
Come join us...Let's Knit!
Happy Valentines Day...
Back to my old eblogger site...reflection on the day
This February we have so much going on at The Net Loft!
Don't worry those of you not in town, you can join 2 of the events online using your Ravelry or Facebook account!
On February 5th we'll be starting a knit-along with Snow Capped Yarns' Shelly Kocan.
Check-ins will take place on the 12th and 19th.
Join the knit-along on Ravelry, Facebook,
or in the shop by signing up at the counter.
I can't wait to see the rainbow of vest knitted next month!
From February 7th-23rd, Team Net Loft will compete in the 2014 Ravellenic Games. This is an event put on by Ravelry to encourage people to challenge their knitting skills by completing a project within the timeframe of the Winter Olympics. Cast-on happens during the opening ceremonies and knitting must be finished by closing ceremonies.
Signing up can be a bit tricky. I'll step you through how to sign up officially with Ravelry. If you don't want to go through the bother, you can follow along on Facebook and/or come into the shop on Monday's Knitter's Night Out February 10th and 17th.
Here's the Ravelry step-by-step registration instructions:
1. Have a Raverly account. Click here to register.
2. Join Team Net Loft by clicking on this link.
3. Pick your event. Click here for the list. Underneath the bold name of the event is a "tag" in italics, you'll need to know this when creating your project: an example, eventunwind
4. Add a project in your notebook. Fill out the "Tags" blank with your event "tag" from step 3, also add teamnetloft
5. Cast-on February 7th!
If you need help signing up, email Jessyka at email@example.com
Hearts to You January 24 2014, 0 Comments
When I was a young girl, the words, “Be My Valentine” meant romance and school girl crushes. The Valentine with "to Dotty from.... " held special meaning, and I would spend hours the days before the class party working with paper doilies and construction paper on handmade cards bound for the classroom "Valentine Box".
After being married for 35 years, despite the fact that the days of young love have long since past, I haven’t lost my love for doilies and glue, and for an excuse to once again cut out paper hearts, bring out my paints and brushes, and put together my own hand made Valentine cards.
These days, Valentines Day represents an opportunity for me to let those I love in my family and friends circle to know, in just a small way, that I am thinking about them and that I CARE about them.
It is this word CARE that just seems to be on my mind lately.
As a noun ( a person, place or thing) it seems to be more about concern, provision and serious attention applied to something, but as a verb it has more to do with
affection, liking, and looking after.
I have been reflecting on this thought that it is in the ACTION of caring that we demonstrate our affection.
In some cases, it can merely be the kind and gentle tone of voice we use, and in the intentional choice of the words we speak. Sometimes it may simply be a touch, the gentle warmth of a hand held, or a loving hug or embrace.
Presently, I am on a trip, and, because they are so readily available where we are staying, last night we opted to get massages, a rare treat for me. My mind was stirring about as the thoughtful masseuse, dear kind Wilma, was touching my weary and aging body with her thoughtful and caring hands. It almost brought me to tears as she attempted to work out the accumulated strains and tension spots within my body. The word CARE kept rolling over and over again in my mind.
It was a physical manifestation of thoughtfulness and kindness. I felt so cared for as she touched me. Some people seem so adept at this. Nurturing just comes naturally to them. They are CARE GIVERS. I watch and learn. I do believe that down deep we all have a desire that someone would care about us. I think Valentines Day just provides us an excuse to spread a little of this needed love around. It is a perfect stage to actively care for others.
For me, the best means to express my care and loving thoughts flows from my creative side. Being a crafter, I show my affection with paint, glue and paper, felt, or fabric, thread, glue, whatever inspires me at the time. Once I get started, more ideas always seem to arise, and I have SUCH FUN DOING IT.
Colleen, our mail order and yarn manager, is always packing up these wonderful care packages for loved ones, and I think back on the day a wonderful Valentines box arrived from a cousin I hadn’t heard from in years, and how wonderful it felt to hear from her and receive her package. I opened the box to find heart cookie cutters and a cookie making party in a box. It made my day, and made me want to turn around and pass that care along to someone else, because of how it had made me feel. . . that she had been thinking of me across the miles, and cared enough to put together a little care package for our family. Care packages seem to say, "You are important to me. I haven't forgotten you, I want you to know I am thinking about you and I CARE."
SO in the context of Valentines Day, which is right around the corner, now is the time to assemble and get care packages and cards in the mail. Is there someone with whom you have lost contact ? Who doesn’t love receiving mail? Even if they are a friend in the same town, they will certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Not sure where to start? Jessyka Dart-Mclean will be teaching a block printing Valentine making workshop next weekend at the shop. By taking the workshop, you will have time to create and finish, and put some of your own creations in the mail to be received by February 14. The Net Loft has some fun Valentine candy to slip into a package, as well as these lovely new Annie heart glass dishes in a gift box for that extra special someone. They are beautiful handmade glass hearts overlayed with lovely gold and silver designs. They would make a treasured candy dish and would be perfect with a package of fresh chocolates or a batch of homemade heart cookies. Our online customers may email us at the shop firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to put together items we have at the shop that may not be listed on the site.
And for our yarnies, a special treat for you from Shelly Kocan’s Snow Capped Yarn Collection, a limited edition rosy yarn entitled “Be My Valentine". Perfect for a cowl or scarf dyed on luxurious Perry, OR wrapped up with red tissue, a very special valentine for a beloved knitting friend.
We are all at different stages of life, but caring is something that knows no limits. Whether we slip a little love note into a child’s lunch or leave a little hand made treasure on a friend’s desk at work or school, as always, it is the thought that counts. Of course for those in the midst of romance, a hand made card (of course paired with chocolate) is always treasured. Caring nurtures those around us and helps them know they are valued in the midst of a life that may sometimes feel lonely and perhaps isolated. In simple words, IT IS A GOOD THING.
There are so many fun ingredients at the shop, we hope you will set aside some time to be creative and think of some special new ways to let someone know you care. As I have said many times before, always remember, size never matters. for a big amount of thoughtfulness can surely come in a just a small package or kind gesture.
Hearts and Flowers and little bit of Chocolate too,
Net Loft Dotty
By Jessyka Dart-Mclean
To say I love color feels like an understatement. My yarn stash basket/tub/shelf has a full range of lights, darks, brights, and well, not too many neutrals. Up until the summer of 2011, I used color but it was usually the same color throughout the garment; most of the time I only needed one skein and didn't want to purchase multiple skeins for a single project. Then Sharon McMahon from Three Irish Girls came to Cordova and changed the way I choose yarns by introducing me to Quartets.
Quartets are a set of mini-skeins of coordinating colors. The world of colorwork became more obtainable! Now I can easily make stripes on any knit project! Needless to say I've been scooping up the Quartets as they come into The Net Loft.
On my needles now is a pair of toddler mittens made from the Cordova Colorway "Black Bear and Blueberry" set. Two row striping makes a simple project 1000x more exciting. Good news is that the Quartet come with ample yardage; these mittens are made from the scraps of a striped hat I made for my brother this summer.
Another fantastic perk of the Quartets is already assembled coordinating colors! In the Fall of 2012, Three Irish Girls released new color in sets and The Net Loft ordered Quartets of these combinations. Check out an older post for a glimpse at the "Bellisimo" (pictured on the left), "Fresh Earth", "Wonderland", "Trip to the Tropics", and "Fireside Chat" Collections. I have 2 sets of the "Fireside Chat" Collection in my stash awaiting a fantastic worsted striped sweater pattern, any suggestions?
In the meantime, I have found the perfect match for my Cordova Berries Quartet, the What Cheer! Cardigan. It will be perfect for my berry cute daughter who loves the great Alaskan outdoors.
Only question is, what solid color will I pair with the color collection?
Explore some of the Cordova Colorway Quartets we have available online.
Also check out this older post for photos of Quartets made of Three Irish Girl colorways.
Don't hesitate to email Colleen at email@example.com for more information!
Meet Shelly Kocan, the woman responsible for the amazing collection of the hand-dyed skeins, Snow Capped Yarns. Shelly creates beautiful colorways by pulling inspiration from her local surroundings of Cordova, Alaska. Her new collection Olde Salt that debuted at the Net Loft recently, is sold exclusively at The Net Loft and their online store.
Last week I sat down with the Shelly over a cup of tea.
How did you first learn to dye? What made you want to start?
It was serendipitous that I started, I wouldn't say that I had a longtime plan of trying to learn to dye. But Dotty had brought Sharon McMahon from Three Irish Girls here to Cordova, probably about two and a half years ago, and she did a series of classes. The last day of her classes, she did a workshop on dyeing, and it just looked really fun. It was really fun! I remember we were still wanting to be dyeing even after the class was over at the end of the day. She sent us home with our leftover dye stock, which was probably very important, I don't know if I would have gone out and gotten more dye right away. Since I had that, I was very compelled to get more undyed yarn and keep at it. I dyed at home that summer. I still remember those first skeins hanging in the shower to dry, losing sleep getting up every hour to see how they looked or what had possibly changed. It was such a fun process. I brought some to the Net Loft to share, and after a couple of months, Dotty noticed that I was still buying yarn and still dyeing it, she asked me if I was interested in dyeing yarn for the shop to sell. I thought that sounded like a fantastic idea. She was going to give me the yarn, then I would dye it, and she would pay me for that. It sounded amazing. I started with 8 skeins of a color and that was the beginning.
Do you have your first color here?
I found one skein left of it. When Dotty gave me that mission, I went out in late July, the salmon berries were still on the bushes. They were a dark melon to yellow color, and the fireweed had already started blooming that a lovely fuchsia color. I snipped off pieces, brought them back home, and experimented making colors that matched the berries and flowers. Then I dyed this first colorway, Salmonberries & Fireweed.
How do you describe your style? Where do you get your inspiration?
I do really try to draw a lot of inspiration from Cordova, Prince William Sound, and this area. We live in such a beautiful area, also really unique place as far as lifestyle. There's so many great dyers and hand-dyers out there right now, what I try to focus on is capturing some of the colors of coastal Alaska and the lifestyle of people around here. Looking back to this fall, I did a color about the chanterelle mushrooms that are great to go out and harvest, cook up, save for the winter or enjoy in the fall. I also dyed some to commemorate duck hunting which my husband is really passionate about, colors called Chest Waders, Duck Blind, and Autumn Comes to the Delta. I try to do things that are seasonal, specific to our lifestyle.
My dyeing style I would say, even though my first colorway is pretty bright and variegated, is that I tend more towards tonal and semi-solid colors. I think that is because that's what I like to knit with. I enjoy a highly variegated skein for accessories, but for sweaters and bigger projects I like the timelessness of semi-solids and tonals. That's the direction I've gravitated to. Even the style of dyeing I do is different than what we learned initially, I don't do much hand-painting or even kettle-dyeing, I tend to do layers of immersion of colors, playing with saturations, playing with laying colors on top of one another. I feel like I can get a product with enough similarities for knitting a sweater, everything will look pretty similar, but still have the richness of hue and variation.
What part of dyeing is the most satisfying?
There are a few parts, because dyeing is definitely a process from the color inspiration to the time it's in the store. There are plenty of parts of the process that are laborious, wet, and sweaty, smell like wet wool and vinegar. One of my favorite parts is when you do finally get a color you were thinking of, after playing with different ratios, and trying to figure out how to get just that red or just that orange. There's so many variables with dyeing, and it's not an exact science at all, especially when you're trying to replicate something with variation. When you get a color that you've been aiming for, that's very satisfying. I would say I still feel a lot of satisfaction when I see the skeins of yarn hung up and dry, when you just look at them and say "yes!" You've finished the first part, and they're like squishy rows of color. That really is a good feeling, in the preparation part, those are it. On the other end, it's pretty great when you bring them into the store and people see them. When people have a visceral reaction and they're excited about it. So much of the creative process happens on your own and you never know if people are going to like it. When people are moved by the colors, that is pretty satisfying as well.
Do you feel like the colors you like best are the colors people react to best?
No, I think it's really different. In the Olde Salt collection, people have been most drawn to Rusty Anchor, a rusty orange color, and Low Tide, the dark purple-black. I like those colors plenty, but they're not my most favorite colors. It is interesting that in a series of 3 colors, the color I'm least excited about could be the most well received.
We made a little video to introduce readers to Shelly's Olde Salt collection, enjoy!
Net Loft News December 10 2013, 4 Comments
Having had to overcome a big case of blog freeze, probably the best way to kindle a little flame is to just get started again. Sometimes I think I have so many thoughts, that there are too many to put down into one train of fluid thought, and other times it is just plain busy shop life that takes over. With the holidays here and now, I am feeling a desire to write, especially since after our open house, I had so many unspoken thoughts that I had wanted to share.
First things first.
Shop happenings: NOW…
If you haven’t yet seen it, the new Snow Capped Yarns Olde Salt Collection is beautiful and perfect for those projects where you want slight color tone variation, but not so distracting that your textures don’t show up well. This is perfect for everything from straight stockinette to intricate lace or cables. We are loving the greyed out misty tones that perfectly suit our marine environment. The names reflect our salty sea neighborhood.
Port Side Red (in limited quantity)
We have been wanting a good navy tonal and Shelly hit this one spot on. Colleen, our yarn manager is knitting a sweater with it, and it is coming out BEAUTIFULLY.
We are very excited about this first release of our new permanent collection of in house yarns, dyed by local yarn artist Shelly Kocan and know you will love them. She has dyed fairly large batches, perfect for sweaters, blankets and larger project quantity needs. There will be another set of colors released next year to fill out the pallette, but this is the range of colors so far. We have specifically chosen some of the bases that are slightly more durable for good wearability.
There are three great new compatible patterns available, one of which may be purchased online.
The ICELASKA HAT
Other patterns include
The ICELASKA VEST
and MOOSE MUNCH
All three are available as hard copies in our online store.
Both the Icelaska Vest and Hat are knit in the Latouche Yarn Base.
So far we have the Latouche weight online. If you are interested in the other bases, you can call 907 4247337 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
and we are happy to send photos, and do mail orders via paypal with one on one contact. We will be adding more of the line on the website, so stay tuned. Other bases include fingering, and worsted weights, as well as a variety of some other bases dyed in limited quantities.
Shop Happenings: FUTURE
Just a reminder for those who have heard about the event coming next June, The Net Loft Fiber and Friends 2014 will be taking place in Cordova and is a one week fiber arts camp style retreat. We have some wonderful teachers lined up and a great week of classes and activities. We hope you will join us. Information to be found at www.rsvpbook.com/thenetloftfiberandfriends. If you are interested in volunteeting in any capacity please email us at email@example.com.
It is going to be a fine time that you won’t want to miss and some of classes are near reaching full capacity, so register earlier rather than later and you will receive 10% off your class fees.
just a thought or two…
It is hard for me to not want to share some thoughts, especially this time of year. It can be such a mixed up set of feelings that happen during this time, old memories, new happenings, changes in life, changes in traditions. We are a store, yes, but we are also a facilitator. A facilitator, in a sense, of memory making. Or maybe, even just an encourager to making a memory.
There are these opportune times in life. As I get older, I realize more and more, just how many of these opportunities are brief and swift. How thankful I am for the times I stopped and just did something... Made something, painted something, sat with someone, set the table with a pretty cloth, put the candles on the table, made a wreath, did a project with a loved one. It wasn’t always a big thing. But it always meant setting aside the time to do so, and making THAT be the most important thing I had to do at that moment.
Families and Holidays are generally so entangled, and sometimes there are situations where it is difficult to celebrate or engage in any type of festivity.
At the open house, I talked a little about joy, and I have come to realize, sometimes reluctantly, that joy and celebration are not necessarily dependent on our circumstances, and about the value of festivity amidst whatever is happening in our lives. I believe that to celebrate and to engage in festivity is a statement in our lives and to others that joy shall prevail, and that our source of joy is deep within and cannot be shaken.
The other day, I was rereading about Tasha Tudor, someone I have always admired, and her comments about the holidays and the value of creating memories for children and families, and the importance of impressing upon them during the holidays, a sense of "wonder". I know that eventually her marriage fell apart, and I was thinking about the fractures that resulted because of that. I am tempted to think sometimes when fractures of any kind form, whether or not it was worth it to have done whatever special things that I did. Should I have bothered to do this or that, or was it just a wasted effort?
I do believe, however, that there will always be fractures and shakes and disappointments. We don't always celebrate because everything is going great, or for some projected outcome. We are not celebrating perfect lives. We have to remember that the focal point of our celebration is not us. More than anything, it is a witness of our deep grounded belief that
JOY SHALL PREVAIL
and that there is nothing that can keep us from that... That the lights we string, and the candles we burn represent the Light that overcomes darkness ...That the sparkle and the decorations are meant to stop us and break us away from our routines, both mental and physical... That family and friends hold the greatest value and are worth stopping everything for... That to simply come together and spend time (our most valuable asset) with one another, despite differences or beliefs, or even distances, is one of the greatest investment opportunities we have.
So does this mean you get to take out the glitter and have a big (or little) craft blitz? YES YES and YES.
For me, it means even if there are no kids at home, I will still get out the glitter, and the ribbons, and the glue, my paints, and celebrate in the way I know best... to craft, and to make contact with loved ones in whatever way I can. Now for others, it may by singing, cooking or entertaining, all of which touch positively the lives of those surrounding and instill the wonderment of the season.
It is always worth it... no matter what. We all need good memories, no matter what stage we are in life...it doesn't have to be spectacular. It can just be simple. I am looking forward to a little creative mess myself...
and... on that note... the fire has been kindled...
All the best to you ,
With love and friendship,
Net Loft Dotty
New Yarns! July 15 2013, 1 Comment
This past week we have had a couple of new custom yarn releases from our local yarn dyers here in Cordova . The first, from Shelly Kocan our in house line called Snow Capped Yarns, was a lovely colorway entitled "The Sea Otter and The Starfish". You can ready more about it HERE, and orders may be made HERE. There is a great drawing for a give away HERE, just for signing up for our email list. Her yarn release party was a fun evening complete with purple starfish cookies handmade by Karrin Marchant. The drawing takes place Wednesday evening at our Wednesday Night Open Studio Spinning Session. There is a sweet hat pattern that will be available soon. Those that order her yarn before Wednesday, July 17 may request a free copy with purchase of "The Mama and the Baby Pup" Pattern. One skein makes both hats.
On Saturday, Anna Hernandez was here with her latest Skeins in the Stacks Yarn color collection, inspired by the familiar Sir James Matthew Barrie tale of "Peter Pan". We had a wonderful opening with Shanty Music and our center table became a sailing ship, complete with canvas sail, chocolate coins, an alligator, clock, and sea blue Net Loft punch to celebrate. Her yarns are available HERE. We will be having a drawing for a copy of Peter Pan and a skein of her yarn. Anyone who orders any of her Peter Pan collection by 5 pm Saturday, June 20th will be eligible for the online drawing.
We hope you will enjoy these two new collections. We are LOVING them.
love and summer knitting,
Net Loft Dotty
My dear friends of the Net Loft,
Here is recent post on our regular blog...firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, we will finally be making additions to the site once again. We have been immersed in air freight and summer life at the shop and wanted to apologize for slowing down on our online store. We have some new additions coming AND giveaways too, so keep your eye out this week. Wednesday at 6:30 pm the new Snow Capped color will be posted. Skeins in the Stacks will be coming soon also as well as a lovely new colorway from Three Irish Girls. Coming soon also Phydeaux Hand dyed yarns and online posting of our Alaska Fisherman Yarn. We hope you are having a lovely summer. We had hot weather here for a couple of weeks which was a treat, but now back to our rain and misty days. Perfect knitting weather.
All the best to you,
Dotty and the crew here at The Net Loft.
ps. Had to share with you this cute mermaid sleep sack my daughter Nelly made up for a good friend of hers who is having a baby. It is made with Three Irish Girls Cordova Colorways, Port Nelly Juan with Hawkins Island for the tail (perfect for the new baby daughter of a local fishing couple/family). The buttons are mother of pearl/shell. Really really cute.
I believe we have the shopping cart issues resolved. So sorry to those of you who experienced difficulties checking out. Hopefully, we are on our way once again...
Working on our new Cordova Colorways that will be coming to you this summer with more colors of our local summertime life here in Alaska. In the meantime, we are filling our bins with our custom favorites from Three Irish Girls, one of them "Lupine"...hopefully this bit of warmer weather will lure them into blooming as summer is just around the corner....
Our class schedule is just about ready. We will be posting the calendar here on the website. Lots of wonderful classes coming for the summer for all ages in a wide variety of handcrafts . We hope you will join us.
Happy Knitting and Crafting everyone!
Net Loft Dotty