Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Books and yarn are piling up, which is never a bad thing.

There was a vendor fair the last evening of Squam where I happily picked up some wool from Kelbourne Woollens. It's hard to find in Canada, so it was a great opportunity. I got enough Acadia for a poncho project, and already I love the yarn. The colour (what's with purple these days?) is a bit risky for me, but the tweed effect makes for a great texture in simple stockinette. Immediately after Squam I was in Manhattan for a work conference. My one and only personal errand was to hop on the subway and visit Purl Soho. I could have stayed there all afternoon. Actually, I could have lived the rest of my life there. The wool, fabric and notion selection is straight up perfection. My limited time meant I had to make quick decisions, but I'm pretty happy with my picks. Linen and gingham, and yummy yarn choices - though ironically, four skeins are Koigu, which is totally Canadian. But that soft grey/purple semi-solid? I've never seen it on this side of the border.

On the reading front, I am way behind with my (really brief) reviews. This pile goes back to April but it also represents finishing up this year's Canadian Book Challenge. I met the author of Elephant in the Sky - such a smart, amazing woman! - and was eager to pick up her newest novel. Truthfully, I get a little distracted when I recognize location references because the novel is set entirely in Toronto, but the exploration of childhood mental illness is so heart-wrenching, the story just sucks you in. It's based on a true story, which makes it especially shocking and poignant. The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson was a little more slow-going. I really enjoyed Crow Lake, but this story took longer to develop and of the four books, it definitely took me the longest to get through. Little Bee by Chris Cleave kept my emotions on alert all the way through, and I actually put it down one night because I couldn't handle the possible outcome to a scary, missing-child situation. And the ending, well, I'm still numb from it. But The Light Between Oceans by M.L.Stedman was easily my favourite. It's been on my wish list for a while, yet I had to summon courage to tackle it. It's an impossible scenario - taking in a baby that magically appears, and raising her for a few years, but eventually realizing there is a mother mourning that child's loss. The storytelling laid the character's emotions bare, and it was hard to get through but entirely compelling at the same time. The story still lingers with me.

For more tales of knitting and reading, visit today's Yarnalong.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

squam love

I don't know how to be brief about such an amazing adventure. Where to start? What to share? How to truly explain the experience?

The idea of attending a Squam Art Retreat seemed fanciful, unrealistic, something other people did. For years my job had a direct conflict the first week of June, and anyway, who travels to New Hampshire alone to attend camp with strangers? Well, it turns out I do. 

With the job conflict out of the way, I decided that making the trek to Squam Lake was a great way to mark turning 40. The retreat sold out the day of registration but I put myself on the waiting list and magically a spot opened up. Then a carpool from Boston involving 4 women named Jen and a minivan fell into place. In the first awkward hours I met my roommate and realized that we were both there to celebrate turning 40. By the next day we were giggling about our identical, hand sewn wardrobe, comparing notes on knitting patterns and gentle sons. Our cabin was full of wonderfully warm and welcoming women, and together we spent the evenings sitting around the fire, needles moving, laughing at stories and the occasional knitting performance art video. There was canoeing, learning, drawing, great food, quiet moments on the dock, and most of all - this amazing sense of belonging. I was surrounded by strangers, but they felt like home.

As I hear myself telling people now about this recent adventure, it's clear how much of an impact Squam has had on me. Restorative? Oh yes. Inspiring? Absolutely. Full of amazing, talented people who are a joy to meet? Most definitely. There's a Squam high that I'm riding, and it's a feeling that I can't quite put into words.

But one thing is for certain: I've started plotting my return. Turning 41 is worth marking too, right?