2015 – A New Year

It's 2015!

Happy New Year!

Every time a new year rolls around, it brings with it a period of reflection.  People use this time to reflect on their goals.  Goals relating to their bodies, careers, families, house, cars, friendships, hobbies, etc…  It is always an interesting thing to stop and take stock of where you are — and where you want to go.

When I was young and a lifetime looked like an eternity, goals were easier to come by and I set the next with the achievement of the last.  My driver’s license at 16.  Graduating high school and becoming an “adult” at 18.  Getting into college.  Turning 21.  Graduating from college.  Getting a good job.  Getting married.  Buying a house.  All of those were easy.  Set a goal, work towards it and the next one was always obvious.

What nobody tells you is what to do after those goals.  For a lot of people, the next one is have children.  But what if you don’t want to have children?  What goal do you take up after buying the house?  Life isn’t over and you’ve already stepped outside of the “conventional” expectation.  So what now?

It’s hard to work towards a goal you haven’t set.  R and I are comfortable and we are finally arriving at that confident place you reach in your 30’s where you like yourself and your life and no longer preoccupy yourself with what other people think.  We have good jobs, are building good retirement plans, have a little extra money to spend from month to month.  We love our hobbies and find knitting, the Tenntucky Fiber Arts non-profit, and Miniature Schnauzer fostering rewarding.  But we needed a goal.

About a year ago, we had a discussion about what that might be.  We decided we wanted to move to Europe while we were still young and unencumbered enough by responsibility to really enjoy it.  R works for the Navy and so it was a no-brainer that we’d look for a job for her abroad and last November she found it.


All of that to say, “We’re moving…             …again.”.

Moving to Sicily

Moving to Sicily

But this time, we’re moving to Sicily, Italy for five years.

It’ll be a slow and complicated process.  R will move sometime in March and I will officially move in December, but it is happening and it is happening this year, in 2015.

There will be more developments in the coming months but this has entirely absorbed our lives since October when she applied.

2014 was dominated by: [Personal turmoil, family injuries, the Tenntucky Fiber Arts retreat, and Sicily].

2015 will be dominated by our gradual move across the world and then ?  Who knows :)


I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a very Happy New Year!  I am looking forward to sharing our move with you all!


Happy Knitting!

Knitting Dreams

Knitting Dreams : A Guest Post from Mindful Magpie (MBW)

Today’s post is a guest post written by our dear Memphis friend and knit night companion MBW.  She has expressed more beautifully the retreat experience than I think I ever could, and so she agreed to repost here today.  Please enjoy her view of the first Tenntucky Autumn Retreat and if you like her style, visit her blog at mindfulmagpie.com .  We love you MB!


Knitting Dreams

Have you ever looked closely at that sweater you’re wearing, into the weave of stitches? Your sweater used to be skeins of yarn, which used to be bundles of roving, and before that, used to warm the backs of sheep grazing on a hill somewhere. A sweater is knit one stitch at a time. Loops of yarn form interlocking stitches. Stitches make rows, and in time those rows take on the shape of a garment.

I don’t know if yarn can talk, but I like to imagine that as it is knit together, each loop encourages the others to stay connected, but to flex when necessary, because in the end they must all work together to form something that has never been made before.

And then  there are the humans who knit the yarn. To envision a finished project,  to choose or design a pattern, to  be willing to join thousands of loops of yarn together into stitches and eventually into a garment takes a certain amount of risk. Knowing what the proper materials are is a job in itself. What if one chooses the wrong yarn, and one’s garment has the drape of a cement block? What if one does not adequately understand the directions, and one’s project resembles a long sleeved bra more than the sweater it was supposed to be? What if it is expensive? What if no one appreciates the hours of work and attention that went into the scarves one gave for Christmas gifts? Knitters perservere despite the risks, for the rewards are great.

pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-9

Dreams come to life in much the same way. All our lives we entertain mental pictures of what  we would like to do or make. So many times we have ideas, but get stuck in the wishing- we could- do- something- but- unfortunately- we- just- can’t- stage. But then there are those of us  who know what we want and are willing to gather the materials and to do  the work one single task at a time, investing emotionally and financially in an uncertain outcome.

Thanks to several stellar Memphis  knitters doing just that, I had the opportunity  this past weekend to participate in the inaugural annual Tenntucky Knitting Retreat at Lake Barkley,Kentucky. Three  remarkable people,  Ann, Joseph, and Rachel, saw a a creative black hole in our community and worked for a year to fill it.

I know this story because once upon a time I took a risk and showed up for a weekly knitting night, organized by the three above mentioned knitters, at a local restaurant. Let me say right now that although my knitting skills are literally laughable, I wanted to know other knitters. I wanted to feel the sense of community that comes from a gathering of folks looping yarn together one stitch at a time.

Despite my lack of skills, I was welcomed by a small group of knitters: older, younger, all more experienced then I was.  No matter what silly mistakes I had made, I knew I could ask someone at the table for help. Though I could not help anyone in return, I satisfied myself that at least my knitting foibles added some humor to the gathering. Over time I came to feel accepted for who I was, not for what I knew how to do.

With my clever listening skills  I learned that the organizers of the knit night had bigger goals in mind. They were going to organize an area  knitting retreat ALL BY THEMSELVES, and they had never done it before. Since this  Magpie is especially interested in big ideas and in what people can accomplish as a team, I was vicariously thrilled each time the Tenntucky Board accomplished another milestone in project planning.

Spots were filling quickly for the retreat. Surely I was coming,  the organizers said. Moi?asked I. I can barely knit! But as I was assured that all levels were welcomed I decided to take the plunge, and invited my sister to accompany me. Maybe, I pondered shrewdly,  HER knitting skills would prove as backward as mine, and I would not be the anomaly at the retreat.

This past Friday evening approximately fifty knitters from several states checked in to the lovely Lake Barkley Lodge.

Source: KentuckyLake.com

And so began a magical weekend which  included restful views,pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-30 opportunities to commune with nature,pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-7

time to reflect,

One with nature, even in windy weather.

plentiful food, friendly staff, informative classes, and color, color, color.pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-34

How delightful it was that our organizers  had thought of everything! All of their advance  planning, networking and plain old elbow grease came together just like a well knit sweater. I remembered snippets of conversation about vendors, goodie bags and the like. Now I would  benefit from the fruits of their labor.

pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-8

And the knitters? If you did not already know this, knitters are special people. They’re friendly and welcoming. They want you to sit for a spell and knit up a few stitches and share a story or two, or even sit in companionable silence.

pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-39Having never been to a knitting retreat I was unprepared for the exquisite l hand knit items worn by my fellow retreatants.  I asked if I could take pictures of their stunning work and they all said yes.That’s how special knitters are! Take a look:

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pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-19pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-21pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-2pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-4I CAN’T STOP!!!
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pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-20pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-11Whom did we meet? Why we met Kelly, who makes her own earrings out of knitting needles. And her brother, who surprised her with the gift of this retreat! We met Jo, who is studying to become a master knitter. We met Charlotte who didn’t learn to knit until after the age of 60. Charlotte wore a skirt she had knitted herself, by the way. We met the Haus of Yarn vendor who stayed up late Saturday night to felt our knitted slippers. No comment on mine, bet here are my sister’s:

pictures of retreat (1 of 1)I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone but I feel as though I did; that’s just the community vibe that exists among knitters.

On Saturday my sister and I took a gauge class and a crochet class.

Sadly I did not have the prerequisite skill  for the  crochet class, which was knowing how to crochet. Oops! Someone helped me anyway!

One of the teachers evidently knew  me, for she used phrases such as “the difference between homemade and handmade’, and mentioned how it feels to give disclaimers along with our knitted gifts. Here is  your sweater, Uncle Alvin. Just don’t turn around while wearing it.

After the classes were over we met for a rousing game of Last Knitter Standing.

pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-24Full disclosure compels me to say that my sister’s and my singing during timed knitting contests did not help anyone at our table to win. Anyone for a couple of verses of “Twist and Shout?”

Lake Barkley is one of those places where the whole time you are there you are planning your return visit, for there is more to do there than can be done in one weekend.  Every chance we got we sat in rockers on our balcony, gazing at the water and taking in the deep calming sounds of the natural world.

pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-28pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-32We just didn’t have time to do everything Lake Barkley  has to offer.  But we did manage to fit in some ping pong and pinball down in the rec room.

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Too soon it was Sunday and time to go. But not before we shopped with the vendors who had kindly visited us. Knitters patiently waited their chance to run their hands over luscious hanks of yarn and choose their own patterns.

pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-35pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-36As we drove away we exulted in the success of the weekend. From door prizes to pencils on the tables to write down gauge measurements, our organizers gave great attention to detail and it showed. Packed in the back of the car were our goodie bags full of free patterns, needles, and yarn. Some participants went home with stunning door prizes.We were inspired by what we had seen other knitters doing, and eager to improve our own knitting. pictures of retreat (1 of 1)-37

Our hearts were full of gratitude to the organizers  for having the wherewithal to do what many may dream about but never accomplish. How did this trio manage to put on this amazing weekend? I don’t have the slightest idea, but I suspect they did it together, one painstaking step at a time, connecting and bending as necessary, to form something that had never been done before.

P. S. : They’ve set the date for next year. Interested? Check out Tenntucky on Ravelry or contact Joseph at ACallToYarns. I don’t think he’ll mind my giving out his contact info. Knitters are neighborly like that.

Playing Catch-Up

Hey All,

It’s been quiet around here of late… Or, at least, it’s been quiet on the blog.  A lot has been going on since my last post.

Tenntucky Fiber Arts

©Tenntucky Fiber Arts

I can’t remember if I told you all that R, and our friend Ann, and myself have been planning a Fiber Arts Retreat for the Tennessee/Kentucky region.  We looked around and really couldn’t find anything similar in a 400 mile region that wasn’t related to a shop in some way.  So we decided to create our own independent retreat that was focused entirely on the regional fiber arts in our area.  We’ve called it Tenntucky and we all poured our hearts and souls into the planning of our first year.  It went off without a hitch (a major one anyway) and we had an amazing 42 attendees!  It took place at the Lake Barkley State Park and Resort in Cadiz, KY :

Copyright Lake Barkley State Park

Just look at that amazing place!  The semicircular building you see that wraps around the lake are the double storied lodge rooms!  Each room had a private balcony with rockers and a view of the water.  It was simply amazing.  A great time was had by all and there have been several beautiful blog posts written about it that would put anything I could write to shame — so I’ll just finish by saying that it was such a wonderful success that we’ve already booked our space here again for next year.  Mark your calendars if you’d like to come for October 23-25th!  I have asked our dear friend MB to guest post her beautiful blog here in the coming days to give you all an idea of what it was like to attend.  If you’d like to find out more information on the retreat, you can visit our website:  www.TenntuckyFiberArts.org 

Needless to say, that took a lot of time and mental energy.  The first year is the hardest as it takes a lot of time to come up with the website, materials, and correspondence format for such an event.  Unfortunately, I pulled a lot of that time and energy from this blog.  I’m hoping, however, to come back home here and reclaim a more regular blog posting schedule…

How’s everything else been going?  I’m glad you asked!  Work has been steadily heavy since I came on board and up to speed.  We’ve been running at full speed and getting further and further behind since December 2012.  It’s a good busy though and I’m still loving my job.  What.  A.  Change from CSC.

My beautiful wife, R, has been studying for her Professional Engineering licensing exam.  It looks like it’s going to be a bear of a test so if you have any good vibes, send them her way this Friday!  I know she can do it — I believe in you honey!

We’re still fostering schnauzers.  Right now we have what I would have to say is our most abused/neglected foster yet.  He came to us about a month ago (at my birthday — Oh yeah, I turned 31 this year… Ugh.) and I swear this poor dog has spent his entire life in a crate with no affectionate human contact whatsoever.  Note that I said affectionate contact — he appears to have been abused/beaten regularly.  In the past month, he has very slowly started to come out of his shell.  Although he still runs straight to his safety crate if you even look him in the eye, I have seen his tail wag on occasion and he does seem to be a good lapdog.  Please pray for this pup — he came to us with heart worms and ear mites and he’s got a long recovery road ahead of him.




That’s enough for tonight, I’ll try to log on again tomorrow or Wednesday to bring up my massive quantity of WIPS ;-)


Happy Knitting Everybody!

WIP Wednesday #27

Happy Work In Progress Wednesday Everyone!


I love to knit, read, and — although you wouldn’t know it lately — I love this blog. So each Wednesday I like to join the knitting community in sharing my current read and WIP…


Having just released her newest book, I am currently reading through the hilarious Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s, The a Amazing Thing About The Way It Goes. It was released yesterday and I’m happy for Stephanie that it sold out on Amazon the same day! Luckily we live in an enlightened age and I am not only to able to write this post from my iPad, but I can also read a digital copy of the book!


My current knit is the Retro Redux Shrug from Pam Allen’s Lace Style. I saw a store sample of this knit and I immediately wanted to knit it. This pattern is a luxuriously rich piece of knitting made up entirely of ribbing and the Brioche Lace Stitch. The yarn is Malabrigo’s Worsted in the color way Oceanos…


I would love to see what you are working on and reading! Post a photo on your own blog, Picasa, or Instagram and share it using the magic link below!


Happy Knitting — and Reading — Everyone!


Joining Ginny for Yarn Along and Tamis Amis for WIP Wednesday. Be sure to check them out!


Woolgatherings in February

Hey All,

Last year R and I decided to sign up for the Spirit Trail Fiberworks Yarn and Fiber clubs.  They were 8 month clubs and each month we received two skeins of hand dyed yarn and 8 ounces of hand dyed fiber.  It was a wonderful club and by the end we had amassed a wonderful variety of fibers and colors:

2013 Spirit Trail Fiberworks Clubs!

This year, I wanted to venture away from the tonal fiber colorways towards a more variegated dyed fiber.  I am wanting to try my hand at some new spinning techniques aimed at color control.  First among these techniques is that of the Fauxlag which I learned about from Beata over at Hedgehog fibers.  There is a wonderful tutorial on how she took a variegated dyed fiber and by separting it out into fauxlags achieved a single spun yarn with an amazing gradation which she used to great advantage in her Boo Knits Morticia shawl.  Great shots on her needles here.

 Woolgatherings Fiber Adventurer’s Club

So I reluctantly turned from this year’s Spirit Trail fibers toward a new club, Woolgatherings.  The Woolgatherings club is monthly with no start or end dates (it runs all year long) and though I joined in January, my first shipment wasn’t until February 28th.  Yesterday, I received my first shipment…

The packaging is cute — Kate does a good job here:


 What will it look like?



 With breath that is bated…




It really is beautiful isn’t it?  And at 100% BFL, it has a sensuously soft hand that just makes you want to run for your wheel right now…



 And I have two!…

 Spin Happy Everyone!