Friday, May 26, 2017

Friends, Fans and Foes

This year's Men's Spring Knitting Retreat found us hosting both current and upcoming superstars in the world of fiber...honestly, they're all superstars in my book!

Retreat - It Means Just That

There were a number of guys at the retreat this year that brought persona's with them.  Guys known for their expertise or their talents and also emerging personalities in the fiber world.

Given that the retreat gives guys the opportunity to retreat from their everyday lives and connect deeply with each other, I encouraged all who attended to take advantage of the opportunity and to just enjoy each others' company and revel in the magic of the retreat.

It was a smashing success.

I can't tell you how thrilled I was when a guy-pile photo was taken which included one of the attending men who is quite well known.  One of his adoring fans commented that it was "nice to see him surrounded by fans."  She was quickly corrected by one of the attendees of the retreat with the single word, "friends."  Which was exactly right...he had reconnected with old friends and made a lot of new friends during the retreat, but no one demanded that he did anything but be one of the guys.

For many of us, that kind of support is awesome.

These photos are the first of a two-part photo montage of the guys attending the retreat...I hope you can get a little taste of what it was like to be there.

Franklin and Bill

Alasdair, Steve and Chad

David and John

Hayes, Lars and Rob

Jeff, Sam and Tim

John and John

Kirk, Colin and Tom

Matthew and Jeff

Mike, Ted and Dennis



Sam, John and Rob

Steve, Bob and Ryan

Tom, Jeff and Minh

Vithard, Christopher and Jeff

Tom, Greg and Chad

Phillip, Ted and Dennis
 Are you able to pick out the current superstars?  The future superstars?  The down-low superstars?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Easton Mountain - Perfect Space

The accommodations may be rustic and the sounds of nature may be unsettling for those unused to it, but I love my annual visits to this place and revisit it often in my mind when I need to reconnect with my own inner peace.

The Men's Spring Knitting Retreat

Eleven years ago, Ted was attending a non-knitting retreat at Easton Mountain and was envisioning out loud to an Easton Mountain staff member (who is also a knitter) what it might be like to bring men who knit and the beauty of Easton Mountain together.  We never imagined what this vision would have turned into over the course of the next ten years, but we're oh so glad he thought of it.

In addition to hosting the annual Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, Easton Mountain has a wide and varied calendar of events, opportunities to participate through volunteering and various youth outreach programs that have had a significant impact on the lives of those participating.

Last week, I went up three days early and enjoyed the beauty and serenity of the retreat center before the activities of the retreat kicked off on Thursday.

Here are some photos from the days leading up to the retreat...enjoy.

Current Knitting

As many of you know, I find myself much too pre-occupied to knit during a retreat (despite how non-intuitive that might sound), so I'll update you on my knitting progress in a later blog entry.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I've always loved yarns with deep, saturated, broody colors...Koigu, Noro, some Rowan.

Tweedy Rich Goodness

I've also always loved deep, ruddy least the colors of them.  The texture of the knitted fabric was not always very pleasant.

Until now!

Trendsetter has a newish (I think) yarn called Fortezza that is 47% wool, 47% acrylic and 6% rayon viscose.  The colors are fantastic and the resulting knitted fabric is soft and drapey and warm.

I couldn't have designed a yarn that incorporated all that I want in a yarn better than Trendsetters has.

I used it to knit a standard West Coast Watch Cap

I tried finding this yarn at three of my local yarn stores, and ended up having to order it on-line when none of them had it in stock.  I will definitely be getting more of this yarn and asking my LYS to keep it in stock for me.

Current Knitting

In addition to the cap above, I've also started a new cap with two colorways of the Fortezza.

Lest you think I let the garter colorblock baby blanket languish, I did finish the blanket as well.

The blanket is very soft and machine washable.  And as you can see, I ended up finishing with the dark gray color block.  I wish you could feel both this blanket and the Fortezza yarns.  I've been enjoying the tactile aspects of knitting a lot lately.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Sometimes I Hope I'm Wrong

I don't really believe in the concept of heaven, but for the sake of these two amazing people, I hope I'm wrong.

Good People

Thaddeus's Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Jack were the definition of "good people." Uncle Jack had already passed away a few years ago, but during our infrequent visits to see them, we were always greeted with joy, and they were always glad to see us.

We just attended Aunt Dorothy's funeral today, and while I was sad to say goodbye, I was glad I had the opportunity to know here a little bit.  And they've left a legacy of wonderful children and grandchildren that I got the chance to know a little better today as well.

Rest in peace you deserve all the blessings possible.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Forget "Farm to Table"

Hell, if you're going to have REALLY fresh food, why not do "Forest to Table"?

Nature's Bounty

Thaddeus went on his annual trek into the mountains this year to find the prized morel mushroom.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, all of his morel hunting spots had stopped fruiting mushrooms, and we have had to resort to buying our morels from more successful fungi hunters around the country.

But fortunately, there's a fine delicacy that can be harvested at about the same time as morels, in similar environments...the wild ramp.

If you're unfamiliar with wild ramps, it's an onion-like plant with a broader, non-tubular leaf that can be found growing in forested areas.

Ramps are a bit difficult to pull from the ground.  Their bulbous roots grow deep into roots and rocks and also require a lot of cleaning, as the root collects a large amount of forest-floor detritus.  They also have a very strong oniony/garlicy aroma when they're first picked.  I always think they would completely overpower a dish with this strong flavor.  But fortunately, I always think wrong...they create a very subtle flavor that I enjoy immensely.

We always soak the roots for a few hours in a large bucket of water.

We then lay them out for a good power-spray of water to remove as much of the dirt as possible.

And while the leaves are edible, Thaddeus doesn't use them in his famous Morel Ramp Risotto.

I'd tell you that the bread was baked using wild wheat found on the outskirts of the forest and hand-ground into flour, but that would be a lie.  Neither was the butter churned from forest-herded wild goats.  But the risotto was exquisite.

Current Knitting/Crocheting

I have been loving the color-block baby blankets I've seen (mostly for sale as completed blankets or kits for making them) done in all garter stitch.  So I decided to start making some using colors I find interesting or appealing.

This blanket will have one more color added at the top...any guesses on what that color will be?