I knit. And I cook, write, take pictures. All for one low price.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Contemplative Knitting Retreat at Sky Lake Lodge, Jan 25 - 27, 2008

Right off, I must tell you that I am struggling to find just the right words to describe what happened this past weekend.

I had been invited to co-teach a Contemplative Knitting retreat with Elaine Yuen.

I'll start with the place.

Sky Lake Lodge:

View from my window:

People. Here's Elaine and I (I have the strong urge to crop myself out of this picture. Somehow I do not look happy. I want to tell you that I was very happy.)

Inside. This is the shrine room where we went for meditation every morning and evening.
Elaine's soothing yet strong voice led us gently through the practice.

Our circle of women.

The workshop.
We are gathered around our table. Everyone had been asked to bring a bunch of leftover yarns. This exercise was about letting go of old patterns, literally and figuratively, by letting go of these yarns. We remembered what they were used for, one by one, and put them in the middle. We heard stories that were very moving, and funny, and long, and short, all equally important. Most had an easy time letting go.
Time to reflect, time to break up old patterns, and get ready for a new adventure.

We are sorting and selecting, regrouping the yarns, gathering them in a new order, and are trying to think what to do with them.
There will be no pattern that will tell us what to make. I only make suggestions. Everyone is invited to ignore what I suggest.
Some made crazy balls, some made small butterflies of yarn, some gathered whole balls of yarn in unusual combinations of texture or color.

Gretchen's beautiful handspun next to a piece of fabric. We saw many convergences like this: the yarn had a long story, the fabric was bought last minute. By someone 200 miles away.

We have cast on. My stipulation was to cast on 50 stitches.

Hand Made.

I need help with that - can you show me?

Once everyone got used to the project they cast on, I had every knitter pass their project on to their neighbor. We were practicing non-attachment. It was a powerful experience.
We not only switched projects and yarns, we also switched needles and needle sizes.
Elaine made sure we stayed grounded and reminded us to come back to our bodies and our breath.
Hands that know just what to do.

Second day: unfortunately, we had to wrap things up.
Here are some results of non-pattern, contemplative knitting. I want to encourage everyone to do this at least every once in a while, in between projects that demand strict adherence to a pattern. It is amazing what happens.

Connie was the picture of joy when she completed her piece!

All the pieces together would make a really cool ....blanket? Wall art? Dog bed?

Handspun next to cotton with lycra next to a different handspun next to...and more interesting things to be revealed by the crazy ball.

I'll take your suggestions for naming this one! Mohair, shetland wool, ribbon, eyelash...who said it can't be done?

A lot of creative juices at work here! Lizzie came up with a new yarnover pattern.

Happy campers.

Thank you everyone for participating. I had the most amazing time. Thank you for letting me be there with you, thank you for sharing your stories, your yarn, your creativity.

Thank you to the organizers: Barbara, Dina, Elaine, Gretchen, Patrice. I feel truly blessed to have met you.

Be well!


Anonymous said...

Karin, it looks like it was a great experience. It reminded me of an art project I had when I was in college a million years ago. I'll tell you about it someday if you'd like. Thanks for jogging my memory! See you on knit night next Thursday, I hope. Beth

AmyS said...

That looks like an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing so many great photos and details about it. I'm glad you got to take part in something so special.