June 15, 2010

Squam Summary (the long version)

Last week, I ventured out on my own for five days to a place I’d never been, where I knew no one, and I did it by choice. Woah. Totally out of character for me (understatement of the century).

Traveling was a small mess on my way to Squam Art Workshops (SAW) in New Hampshire. I was delayed two hours in Detroit and missed my scheduled shuttle in Manchester. But, as luck would have it, the woman sitting in front of me on my flight to Manchester was also headed to Squam. What are the chances? She immediately offered me a ride in her rental car, quite pleased to have a navigator join her (those who know me well know that I get lost in my own house, so… she wasn’t so fortunate to have ME as a navigator). Another Squammie also had delays and missed the same shuttle, so she caught a ride with us as well. I was a little hesitant at first since I knew absolutely nothing about these two women and was always told not to talk to strangers (much less get into their vehicle willingly), but I soon learned that this is just the nature of the craft community. They are open and friendly and have a way of making you feel welcome even if you just met. Our drive from the airport was a little less than an hour and a half, but it felt like five minutes – we talked and talked the whole way there (and only missed one turn, which was only partially my fault).

I made a vow to myself before I left that I would enjoy every moment and not get caught up in my usual anxieties about meeting new people. But by the time I arrived, registered, and unpacked in my cabin, at least ten women had already made me feel like I belonged there all along. I can’t think of another time in my life when I’ve ever felt so at home with strangers.

I shared a cabin, appropriately named “Point Comfort”, with seven other women and only one shower. Surprisingly, this was never an issue. We were paired into rooms, each with a set of twin beds. I was a bit worried about sharing a bedroom with a complete stranger, but was both thankful and relieved to find that my roommate was not only normal, but kind and considerate as well. The cabins were definitely rustic for my experience – I don’t often venture out of the air conditioning – but I actually enjoyed every second of cabin life (well, except for the second where that spider crawled on my bed). The view of the lake was breathtaking, and each cabin had its own dock. The common areas were filled with rocking chairs, couches, and day beds perfect for knitting and chatting while enjoying a great view of the lake and surrounding mountains. Since I returned home, I have genuinely missed my cabin mates and the time we enjoyed sitting together and telling stories. We had such a great group of women, and if we did nothing else while we were at SAW, we laughed a LOT!

My classes were all wonderful – each for different reasons. In the Seamless Sweater class with Jared Flood, I felt like I was in college again! We actually never knit a stitch in the class, but for the full three hours, he walked us through the percentage system and the steps for knitting an entire sweater to specific body measurements. I took 19 pages of notes (it was small paper, but still quite a large chunk of notes)! Jared is definitely a brilliant designer and teacher and seems to have a deeper understanding of the how and why it works than any knitter I’ve met yet.

The two pattern design classes with Cal Patch were so much fun and also quite informative. In the first class, I drafted a pattern for an A-line skirt to fit my specific body measurements. In the second, I was able to add some embellishments to the pattern – pockets, a ruffle, and facing. Cal is a wonderful and patient teacher, and I really enjoyed meeting her. Her book is definitely on my Amazon wish list and as soon as I convince my husband that you can never have too many sewing and knitting books (and besides, this one is about pattern making and I don’t have one specifically about pattern making, right?), I will get it.

The Knit a Baby Sweater class with Megan Ingman (who is also incredibly patient and wonderful) was probably the most relaxing because it was a full-day class and we literally just sat and knit all day. The class was held in yet another beautiful cabin with cool breezes coming through the screened windows all day long. I fell in love with the yarn that Megan brought for us to use for our sweater not only because it was named Sweet Georgia, but also because it was hand-dyed and the colors just made me happy. We used the 100% superwash merino, and I chose the colorway “fondant” – bright pinks and blues mixed with brown. I loved the yarn and the sweater pattern so much that I couldn’t put it down – before my first plane landed in Detroit on Sunday, I was already finished weaving in all of the ends. The only thing lacking is the lone button for the collar.

There were special events planned each evening – and I must add because this is very important, free beer at every one! This place really was my own little slice of heaven on earth.

Night 1 – We enjoyed a great welcome from Elizabeth (the reason SAW exists in the first place), introductions from the instructors, an inspiring talk from Jenny Doh, and beautiful music from Jonatha Brooke, whose CD I have worn out already.

Night 2 – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot, made us laugh until we cried! I’ve enjoyed Stephanie’s blog for quite a while now and wasn’t sure she could be even funnier in person, but she did not disappoint – she had the entire crowd rolling for over an hour.

Night 3 – At Coffeehouse night, we enjoyed a story from Jen Lee, a great history of Ravelry from Jess and Casey, and more beautiful music from Jonatha. Afterwards, the ladies of Point Comfort enjoyed s’mores made over the fire in our cabin.

Night 4 – The Squam Art Fair was open to the public, not just the SAW attendees. Many of the instructors and attendees sold their various handmade crafts, yarns, clothing, books, and patterns. I was able to get a copy of Stephanie’s book, Knitting Rules, and was so excited to have her sign it! Ysolda Teague, a Scottish knitting pattern designer, also signed my new copy of her pattern book, Whimsical Little Knits. Lastly, I bought a skein of green, superwash merino/silk blend yarn from Woolarina (always the green – I don’t know where the obsession comes from). After we all got back to the cabin, we had a mini celebration of Jessica’s 30th birthday, which was the next day.

It’s very unlike me to mention food last, but I probably should mention that I ate ice cream twice a day, every day I was there. So if you weren’t convinced that this place was awesome before, with all the beer and knitting and relaxation and laughing and general friendliness, then you should now be convinced. More than anything else, I enjoyed SAW for the uninterrupted time I had to just do what I love and be surrounded by wonderful people who love to do the same thing. There’s something very powerful about being surrounded by people that really GET why you love doing something. And it’s pretty cool to look around a room and realize that you’re in the minority because you’re NOT knitting and not because you are…

Check out the rest of my pictures from the week on flickr.


  1. lovely post...you might want to delete that first post from kim. i don't think that you want the link.

  2. kati this is beautiful! i think it's the most thorough account i've read yet. i know what you mean about being shy to go on a vacation 'alone' and finding instant new best friends. i gave a ride to caarin, who i'd never met before (connected through ravelry) and we were like sisters by the time we arrived!

  3. Great post, Kati! I consider myself honored to have been one of the lucky ladies of Point Comfort. Squam was a freakishly magical experience for me and I'm still kind of giddy from it. Keep creating, girl! Remember: YOU ROCK!