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I’m back from a truly magical week at Squam, and this week on the podcast I have tales of the workshops I experienced, the projects I worked on, and details of some of the treasures I brought home. This week also brings us a new pattern from The Handmade Sock Society, so I have the Cliff Walk Socks to introduce, as well as a bit of help for Society Members who may be confused about how to get onto the secret mailing list.
Our third pattern of The Handmade Sock Society Season 2 was released this week!
Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to Episode 266. This podcast is all about crafting a life of happiness and creativity. I’m your host, Helen, and you can find me on Ravelry as Hell’s Bells, and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes on my website at curioushandmade.com
Hello, and I hope you’re well. Welcome to the show. I hope you’ve been having a good week, and I will catch you up on my week and also last week when I was at Squam. I got back to London Monday morning this week, and have basically been catching up for most of the week, I think. It’s been a little bit of a blur, slightly jet lagged, and just sort of catching up on lots of admin and doing a little bit of planning because now the countdown is on before we move countries and head off down under to Australia. So yes, I’m looking at a matter of weeks now and thinking I need to use my time wisely. So spreadsheets have been created and lots of lists are being made.
I’m trying to not spend too much time obsessing about all the details, and just also try and crack on with some of the actual work. But I have to admit that it’s been a little bit slow this week. I have been enjoying the inspiration that I drew on at Squam, and it was a really lovely week. I flew over last Tuesday just in time for the start. Sometimes I go a little bit earlier and spend some time in New York with my friends, but time was at a bit of a premium this time. So I just went over just before it started, and it started off not very auspiciously because the plane that I boarded, we sat there for nearly three hours and they decided that they couldn’t fix the fault in the plane, so we all had to hop off, and shortly after getting off the plane, I got a text saying that the flight was canceled because they could not fix it.
So luckily, I was able to get on another flight about three hours later, so I spent the day at Heathrow and arrived into New York quite late in the evening, but it was okay. I was just really happy to get there that evening, and then the next morning I met my lovely friends Bowen and Stewart, and they came and picked me up from the airport hotel I crashed in that night, and we drove all the way up to New Hampshire and Squam. I think it’s about a five hour drive. We made a little stop on the way for some food and stocking up on snacks and beverages, and we also stopped at a little antiquey secondhand shop, which was really cute, quite close to Squam, in a town near there. So that was the first evening, and we did the usual chicken procedure and found our cabin.
We were staying in a cabin we’d stayed in before and it was just lovely. The cabins there are fairly rustic. They’re not rustic in the sense that there’s electricity, and there are decent showers, decent water pressure. They’re nothing fancy, but there they’re fine and the beds are really comfy, and it’s all quite cozy, and there’s always a fantastic fireplace, and there’s always a great porch, which is part of the routine to sit on the porch, and they have rocking chairs and a lot of time is spent sitting, and knitting, and eating the snacks, and drinking the beverages.
This time the highlight for me, well one of the highlights, was the weather. The first evening we arrived, and there was a big thunderstorm, and so it was raining and it was just really kind of romantic with the rain falling, and falling asleep to heavy rain was really nice. And then the whole rest of the time we spent there was just glorious. It was blue skies, sunny and not too hot, not too hot or sticky, just perfect. It was so nice, and the only downside to that was the bugs. There was a ton of mosquitoes, there were just swarms and swarms of mosquitoes, and there were also lots of ticks, so that was slightly off-putting, but it was okay. We managed to stop up most of the holes on the porch from all the bugs and lit fires, and created enough smoke to keep them away in the cabins.
But whenever you ventured outside you would get bitten for sure. It was a minor thing compared to the beautiful scenery and weather we had. I did two classes, which is the sort of standard thing to do. The first class I did was creating a sketchbook practice, and the teacher was Abigail Halpin, and she is an illustrator, mostly of children’s books. She’s just illustrated a version, a shortened version of Anne of Green Gables, and she’s on Instagram as Abigail Halpin, which is H-A-L-P-I-N. She has a really beautiful Instagram feed of her illustrations mainly, and just also other interesting bits and bobs that she’s thinking about or being inspired by, some posts about her travels and where she lives in Maine. So have a look at her feed. She taught us mostly how to use watercolors for a sketchbook practice.
It was really interesting and enjoyable. I haven’t been much of a sketchbook person. I have never thought of myself as much of an artist, but yeah, I would, I would consider it. I actually purchased three little sketchbooks from the Squam Arts Marketplace on Saturday night with the intention of perhaps using that to have a little sketchbook diary, and I bought one for each of the girls as well because they were really cute. While I’m talking about it, the vendor I bought the sketchbooks from is Purplebean Bindery. So that’s Purplebean Bindery at Etsy, and all the books she makes are unique and they’re just really beautiful.
They’re just handmade, handmade sketchbooks. That was quite inspiring, and then on the second day, which was the Friday, I took a class called Heart of Collage with Hollie Chastain, and that’s H-O-L-L-I-E C-H-A-S-T-A-I-N, and that’s also her Instagram name, and she also has a very inspiring Instagram feed. So as it says on the tin, it was a collage class, and a Hollie was a really wonderful teacher and she was one of these teachers that just lets everybody kind of do their own thing, and then helps and supports them to try and execute their vision. I went in kind of quite stuck.
I didn’t have any plan and I hadn’t brought any materials. Some people have brought paper and old letters and things that were meaningful to them and I hadn’t prepared anything, and so I kind of sat there feeling quite blank for a while, and Hollie suggested I just paint the background of my board in a color just to get started, and it worked. So I kind of had the idea of doing a quote, an inspirational quote. I have, I don’t know if you call it a board, a tab in my Instagram. You can save posts on Instagram, you can create boards with sort of names, a bit like you can on Pinterest, and I find it a really, really good feature for saving things to come back to later.
If you don’t know about that, it’s really, really handy, and you can save them by, when you’re looking at a post, just underneath the picture there’s icons on the left where you like and comment, and then on the right there’s a little sort of banner and then it says, it’s a collection, so it says, “Save to Collection,” and then when you click on “Save to Collection,” you can choose a collection and create a collection. So I decided to go through my quotes collection on Instagram, and while I was looking at that, I saw a picture of Frida Kahlo, which someone had posted with a quote attached to it.
The picture itself was a self portrait of Frieda. I don’t know the name of the particular painting, I’m sorry, but it had sort of lots of lush tropical foliage in the background, and she has a cat sitting on one shoulder, and a monkey on the other shoulder, I think, and so I decided to use that as my inspiration. I basically spent the whole morning making the leaves for the background, and some of her face, and then in the afternoon I finished off her head and her face, and I did some embroidery as part of it and was really, really pleased with the end result.
I have a little Frieda keeping me company on my desk at the moment because I haven’t figured out where to put her just now. That was what was really, really good, and I think that might be something that I would do as an activity with the girls. Holly has a book, it’s called, If You Can Cut, You Can Collage, From Paper Scraps to Works of Art, and so I’ve ordered that book because I saw it when she had a copy there with her at the class, and it’s just got lots of information about techniques, and inspiration, and ideas. So I’ve ordered that thinking that it might be a summer holiday project that I do either for myself or with the girls on our summer holiday camp, which will be transcontinental probably.
Then, Saturday was a completely free day. There were some extra classes offered, but I did not partake in any of those, even though I sort of wanted to, but I wanted to relax and knit even more so that’s what I did, and in the evening was a wonderful art fair, and as I mentioned, I purchased the sketchbooks. I purchased some lovely things from Linen and Spoon. That’s linenandspoon.com and they’re two makers, husband and wife team. He carves beautiful objects including spoons from wood, and she makes beautiful items from linen. I bought a small wooden tray or platter as well as a gorgeous drawstring linen bag. She labels it as a bread bag, but I think it’s going to be a project bag. So that’s so tactile and gorgeous.
I had bought a spoon from them before and it just reminded me that I need to find that. I think it’s in my photo props box. I also bought A Deck For Wonder-Walking, and this is by Amy T. Won, who was one of the teachers at Squam, and she had this deck of cards and I asked if it was a Tarot deck. I don’t really know how to use a Tarot deck, but she explained it’s a walking-deck and I’m not sure if this is a concept she’s developed herself or whether it’s a thing, but she has this absolutely gorgeous deck of cards with different prompts on them, and then a little booklet to explain what the prompts mean.
The idea is that you draw a card to get an idea and then go for a walk and then look for that thing. For example, I drew The Woods, “Enigmatic, mysterious, and full of life. The woods is for exploring the unknown within and without.” So when you’re walking you can just think about that prompt and maybe put a little journal or a little notebook in your pocket and make some notes about that or just sort of meditate on it while you’re walking.
I thought with my walking streak, that would be a way to make it a lot more interesting, and they’re just beautiful works of art in their own right. While I was determined not to buy any yarn, I did buy some yarn because I couldn’t resist some yarn from Wing and a Prayer Farm, who does breed-specific yarn from Beloved Flocks in Vermont. I met Tammy at the arts fair last time I was at Squam two years ago, and I kind of regretted not buying some of her yarn then, and so when I saw her there again, I had to get some.
I got some of the hundred percent Como wool, and I got two skeins of natural, and two skeins of, I think it’s avocado. It’s a pink, pinky skein and it’s so squishy, and it smells really good. I keep sniffing that because it’s sitting on my desk. It’s so nice, and then before we knew it, the whole experience was wrapping up. Sunday morning we said goodbye, and my lovely friend, Elizabeth, gave me a lift back to Boston and I made my way home. It was a lovely, lovely time. I saw lots of friends there and it was a joy to spend time with my cabin mates. Every time I go, since the first time, I have stayed with Stewart, and Bowen, and Elizabeth Doherty, who is Blue Bee Studio, and this time we also had the lovely Natalie, Susan, and Ann staying with us.
We spent most of our time when we weren’t in classes, or eating, which is another big thing at Squam. We just chatted and sat on our porch knitting, and I got a lot of knitting done. So that was really, really good. I got a lot of work done a design, which was very good, and I also worked on the neckband for my Clio with Elizabeth’s guidance, and bound that off. So I got that done. Now, I have made a little bit of progress on that, and am going to finish the body and then start working on the sleeves. I am up to the ribbing on the body. We decided that it was long enough in the pattern, and I could start the ribbing. So I’m pretty excited about that, and we’ll continue that rather epic project. But it’s definitely on track to finish before the end of the year, which was one of my goals.
So thank you to Meg, and Elizabeth, and the Squam team for putting on such an amazing event, and just very, very grateful to be able to go to that and to have had such a relaxing and restorative week away. I’ve come back with more energy and just feeling a lot more relaxed, so that was exactly what I was hoping for and I’m very grateful to have had that time.
Coming back into reality, this week at Curious Handmade HQ, we have the release of The Third Socks in the Handmade Sock Society yesterday. The Cliff Walk Socks. I knit two samples of these. The first sample is knit in The Yarn Tart’s sock yarn, and the colorway that she developed, especially for these socks is Just You and Me by The Deep Blue Sea. It’s a gorgeous deep blue. I also knit a pair in House of A La Mode sock yarn. I’d just like to read you the description for the pattern as written by my lovely copywriter, Amanda.
Breathe deeply. The air is salty and clean. The light is soft and magical. Seabirds wheel and cry here at the edge of the cliffs, they are as likely to be below you as overhead. There are almost three hundred miles of breathtaking Cornish coastline. You could walk your legs right off if you wanted to. There’s so much to see, so many places to explore, and centuries of history and romance to ponder. Hidden coves and mysterious sea caves, legends of smugglers and tales of ghosts.
Evocative names like The Devil’s Frying Pan, Mousehole, and Tintagel. Climbing up the winding footpath, you may find yourself completely alone, looking out over the water, keeping company with your own thoughts. There’s a peculiar kind of privacy at the top of a cliff. You can see for miles, but who can see you? You’re just a little dot on the horizon, hidden in plain sight. If it’s lonely up here, it’s the very best kind of lonesome there is.
Time spent in this landscape holds a constant reminder of what is possible. It’s a place to get perspective. The scale and wildness of the ocean find a counterpoint in the very small and very fragile. These ancient limestone cliffs may look sheer and forbidding, but they are home and shelter to a huge community of little lives. Rugged wildflowers and grasses set their seeds in the rocky crevices and cling, blossoming courageously just out of the salty spray.
The birds who make their nests and lay their precious eggs on narrow ledges are braver still, or maybe just silly. Their name, Fulmar, comes from the Dutch for foolish gull. But this is life, and the creative life most of all: dizzying heights and humble, hard-fought corners, and a knowing that beauty can spring up even in the most unexpected and inauspicious places when you’re willing to take a risk.
The Cliff Walk Socks are the third pattern in this season of the Handmade Sock Society. All-over lace makes them seem a little fancy, but look closer and you’ll see that the cushy stitch pattern makes these socks perfect for pulling on with a pair of boots and heading out over the dunes. The wavy lace brings to mind the ocean swell crashing into the cliffs. A simple twisted rib cuff, my trusty heel flap and gusset, and a comfortable wedge toe round out the details. Like all the Handmade Sock Society patterns, the Cliff Walk Socks is easy to customize and includes three sizes, so you can find your perfect fit every time.
So I hope you like this third pattern in the Handmade Sock Society, and you can still join in any time as a member. I just wanted to make a little note about both societies, the Shawl Society and the Handmade Sock Society, that if you are a member and you wish to get any secret emails that I might send out about yarn coming up and the next design, and any notifications about patterns coming out, then you need to join the email list for that specific season and that specific society.
You can find where to sign up in your information sheet. That is the first document, not pattern but document in the collection in Ravelry. For each of the societies there’s an information sheet in Ravelry where you find your patterns, and in that is a URL to sign up to the email. It’s a little bit complicated. We used to just sign people up, but now with the GDPR laws in the EU, we’re not allowed to do that anymore. You have to sign up yourself, and so I just wanted to make that clear if there’s any confusion.
I think people get quite confused about the emails. I have my main email list that is just newsletters and news about everything happening, but if you want to find out specific news for the society for the current season, you have to sign up to that particular list. So thank you to everybody that has, and I hope you’re enjoying it, and if your are a member of either society and you haven’t, and that’s the way to do it if you’d like to. There’s no obligation of course, but it’s mostly just information about upcoming yarn, and yarn hints for the next pattern coming out.
That’s all the news I have for you this week. Thanks for tuning in. I hope you have a wonderful week. Happy knitting, and I’ll talk to you again soon.