Total Knitting Immersion (And Travels on the Mississippi)

Total Knitting Immersion. That was what was needed to finish the Wedding Pi Shawl.

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And that’s what I fortunately got weekend before last!

I was able to go to a private knitting retreat “Up North” in Minnesota, with a wonderful group of knitters; three of whom I’d met, and the rest who were “friends I hadn’t met yet”, in The Preteen’s memorable phrase (she was 4 at the time). (One is Deb, yarn enabler par excellence — she of the Wollmeise!)

It was gorgeous weather, good to have when you have a lot of road ahead of you. (This time of year, snow is very possible.) Warning: Yet Another picture-heavy post!

Here are some semi-Kinneared photos from the trip up.

(disclaimer — DON’T try this at home or, indeed, at all; but I put the camera on the steering wheel when there was no traffic about, and semi-randomly snapped photos of the gorgeous scenery without really looking. Often it didn’t turn out, bad-picture.jpg but sometimes it did. And twice I had to make pit stops, so those photos were very safe and much better quality photos. But I’d really rather be a passenger, I admit, so I can look and daydream and KNIT and photograph to my heart’s content. Though my husband wouldn’t dream of stopping the car for me to take a photo. [Well, maybe if there were something spectacular and I whined really hard and made a few promises, he’d consider it.]) Click pictures to embiggen if you wish.

On my left, limestone bluffs heaped in autumn.

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On my right, the Mississippi River.

bird-flying-over-the-mississippi.jpgmississippi-through-trees.jpglooking-up-the-mississippi.jpgalong-the-railroad.jpg

OK, these next ones are going to be big whether you like it or not. On the way, I stopped at the loveliest rest stop ever!

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(Q: What kind of weirdo takes a camera basically to the bathroom? A: A blogger, of course!)

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Clouds to the south behind me, blue skies ahead to the north.

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See how all the bluffs have the same shape?

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Looking downriver.

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Upriver.

That’s because they were all worn down simultaneously by glacial runoff. The Mississippi stretched from bluff-top to bluff-top back after the last Ice Age. I look up or down the river sometimes and try to imagine that huge expanse of chill flowing water, with all the (now) river towns at the bottom of the river. The mind boggles.

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OK, one more picture. The light was wonderful.

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Back into the car and up the river, to meet up with my fellow knitters who graciously gave me a ride the rest of the way, (so’s I could sit in the back seat and knit, of course).

You know what was on my lap:

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(At this point, I didn’t really need the stitch markers to keep track of the pattern, but they helped me know that I was making progress on my 612-stitch rounds.)

On the way, we stopped at a knitting shop which I highly recommend:

Bonnie’s in St. Cloud. It’s next to a tattoo parlor, way cool!

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Friendly and knowledgeable owner, great yarn selection, as well as buttons, needles, and so much more. (Roving, too.) I would not have even stopped on my own, thinking it was all about spinning. Some intriguing sale yarn and beaded knitting kits may have snuck into the back seat with me to keep me and the shawl company.

So we finally got to our destination on this gorgeous day, and after some hanging out and knitting, we went to dinner at a most excellent local restaurant at-the-black-and-white.jpg

and returned to knit some more. (The shawl, of course, went with me to the restaurant. We were inseparable, I tell you!)

There were a few bottles of wine that fulfilled their destiny that night and the next. (Unfortunately, I had to strictly ration my wine or the lace would suffer. And I DID NOT have time to frog and reknit!) There was more knitting.

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(Through attempting photographic documentation, I did discover that when we knitters are all concentrating on our knitting, and not actively drinking wine [there’s only one empty bottle in the picture], we look rather serious. No wonder we intimidate some people. )

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Some important knitting questions were answered:

Like, how big is your head?

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There was a yummy potluck. More knitting. Spaghetti dinner fundraiser. More knitting, more wine and hors d’oeuvres. A White Elephant exchange (with some of the nicest White Elephant fiber gifts I’ve ever seen, including [my winnings!] Deb’s warm-up handspun and Colinette afghan, her afghan knit before Lizard Ridge!, as slightly revised by Toby and Paco).

These guys look pretty pleased with their White Elephants!

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and door prizes (I won one! door-prize.jpgThanks, Louise!). More gift exchange fun: cool-octopus-sock-dryer-thing.jpg shadow-knitting.jpgmore-white-elephants.jpgwhite-elephant-fun.jpggifts.jpg Perhaps a bit more wine. And more knitting. Some knit early, some knit very late. A few naps were taken (guilty as charged!). A few intrepid spinners spun.

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Deb S. on the left sure does NOT look like she just learned to do this, does she? And look at Marge:

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Yes, I know, cool shoes, but I mean look at her spinning:

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It’s like cobwebweight, people, and She’s Talking and Isn’t Even Looking At It!

There was wild fiber. (Is this a batt? Is that right? I’m pretty much a spinning ignoramus.)

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An available hot tub got some of the knitting kinks out. Jeanne was overcome with emotion because she had to leave Saturday night.

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(Or maybe it was the yarn. Or the wine.)

Some more knitting Sunday morning (with an extra hour of sleeping or knitting time with the time change!). (Guess which one I did; I was on a deadline, people!)

Weekend FOs and AFOs (Almost Finished Objects) were proudly displayed, but I missed photographing most of them, because (believe it or not) I was knitting virtually all the time and didn’t take many photos! For a few more FO photos, see Chell’s account of our rather — umm, exciting weekend.

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But here is Paula modelling Louise’s Viking cap, which really is a little cap for a rather smaller person. Stockinette stretches, you know?

Michelle’s Marvelous Moebius; I so love these colors. (She doesn’t think she looks good in pictures, but I disagree. Especially accented by the lovely scarf.)

fern-moebius-scarf.jpgmoebius-scarf.jpg And there were wonderful baby sweaters, done and almost done, cardigans and sweaters, hats, scarves, felted clogs, bags, you name it. (I think I was the only psycho trying to knit a lace shawl at the retreat, given that that was not compatible with imbibing and relaxing.) Most everyone had 3 or more projects going. (Women after my own heart. I only brought two, but that’s because I couldn’t afford to be seduced away from The Shawl.)

Then back with the (Spinning) Wheels on the Bus back-seat-still-life.jpg, and a couple detours (no more yarn, but some Christmas and ‘missed you’ presents), and back home to the outside world.

I think I got at least 16 hours of shawl knitting time in. The only way that would have happened at home is if I got a hotel room by myself, turned the phone off and knit all weekend. But there would have been no wine, no giggles (Giggles? Try Snortles, Guffaws, and Wet Your Pants!),

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no potluck, no door prizes, no fun.

I liked this way a LOT better.

9 responses to “Total Knitting Immersion (And Travels on the Mississippi)

  1. I really enjoyed this entry.

    Great pics. Loved seeing the spinning!

  2. I’m glad to see that somebody was taking some pictures. Having gone to school in Winona, I love that drive along the river. The bit south of Winona is even better, but I didn’t get to travel that as often. I hope I get to stay the whole weekend next time. Leaving early was hard. *sniff*

  3. Hi Cathy-Cate
    ….this is hitherandyarn from Ravelry…first thanks for your nice email about my using your blog name on Ravelry. I still feel kinda bad about that….and unfortunately I haven’t found a way to change it.

    Where was this retreat held???? I live near Alexandria, about an hours drive west of St Cloud on I94….OK see that it was in Little Falls, I used to work in LF about 10 years ago, it’s a nice town.

    I love, love, love, Bonnie’s shop in St Cloud. That tattoo parlor next door has been enticing me to get a knitting tattoo one of these days!

    Looks like the retreat was a blast….
    Brenda

    PS Your Pi shawl was just fabulous!!! I am knitting a lace stole for my nieces wedding next summer, actually I keep looking at the yarn and need to really start it!

  4. i think spinning is the next natural step from dyeing, don’t you think? Are you tempted?

  5. I’m so glad you got to come and play with us! It was a blast! Next time you’ll have to bring the garter stitch project so you can imbibe with the rest of us.

    Wonderful pictures of the colors and lakes along the way. Very impressed with your photography skills. As well as the knitting skills, cuz that shawl is beyond wonderful!

    Hope you can make the next retreat.

  6. Note to self: sign up for this retreat next year. Meet many knitters, some more bloggers, knit my little heart out. ::pumping fist::

    Great post!

  7. Whoa! Looks like you had a fabulous time. Great pics along the river, the sky is stunning in them.

  8. That looks like fun! I’m going to St. Cloud next weekend, so thanks for the tip.

  9. Great retreat post– thank you!!!

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