I’m going on Sunday with my friend Karen: New York State Sheep and Wool Festival (popularly known as Rhinebeck, after the town it’s held in). I’ve been once before, and I’m looking forward to going back. I’ve recently been picking up my knitting needles again, so it doesn’t seem such an extravagance to consider buying yarn or patterns.

Rhinebeck is comparable in size and variety, by the way, to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.


I’ve had a month of not always knowing if I’m coming or going. It started off the second week of May with a visit to Fry Communications, which prints and mails UU World, to meet our account rep, see the magazine on the press, and get a tour. Fry is located in Mechanicsburg, Pa., so I flew to Philadelphia, had a lovely visit with my friend Barbara and dinner at Vortex House, then drove west. The press visit started early and went right up until I had to start back to the airport.

As interesting as the press tour was (and yes, I guess I really have become a thorough magazine editor, because I did think it was fascinating), the best thing about the trip was the countryside. It’s nothing like what I grew up with, but from my first visit to Philadelphia I loved the countryside of SE Pa. The rolling hills and plentiful open space and vistas raise my spirit. There’s a lot of hayfields and cattle, which supply two odors from childhood that somehow make me feel like all is right with the world. And mechanicsburg is a small city. All in all, it renewed my disattisfaction with living in a city.

The weekend of that week was the biannual Lavender Country and Folk Dance (LCFD) dance camp. It was at a new place for us, a YMCA camp in Connecticut. That was the weekend there was so much rain and flooding in Mass. It was pretty wet at the camp, but not terrible. It was on a lake, lots of trees, very picturesque. I didn’t do a whole lot of dancing, but there was a fantastic hambo workshop where I really got the woman’s role down–not with everyone I danced with, but with three of the guys especially. I also finished a good book while there. Very satisfying weekend.

The I went back to Pa. (by car) to facilitate the Quaker Workers Gathering the following week. It was held at Kirkridge, an ecumenical retreat center in the Poconos. I had had mixed feelings after having accepted the invitation, but it was a good experience. And the participants liked it, too, so that turned out well.

And then the next week I was at a two-day Certified ScrumMaster training. (You may now say “sir” when you address me.) Scrum is a management method used in software development, but my colleagues and I will be giving it a try with magazine production. (We started our first sprint on June 1.)

Then the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair was a must-do on Memorial Day weekend, combined with a visit in Amherst with my friends Jan and Ken. I tried (briefly) a spinning wheel at the fair, but ended up buying two more drop spindles (so I can have more than one spinning project at a time, of course!), some raw fleece (because I’m curious to see how it spins. I’ve felted raw fleece and loved it.), some laceweight yarn, and a locker-hook rug kit (because you can never have too many hobbies).

Jan and I also went to the National Yiddish Book Center (ייִדישע ביכער-צענטראַלע), where I bought a great yiddish alef-bays poster and several books. (Sonja and I have agreed to learn yiddish together.)

For those keeping score, that adds up to the coming week being my first full week in the office in a month!

The Artful Teapot

Yesterday I went with Bob to see The Artful Teapot at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. It was very entertaining. Some of my favorites were not the art teapots or the examples of high design. There were two English teapots shaped like a cauliflower and a pineapple from I think the 18th century (maybe 19th). There were also two examples of a very clever kind of teapot: Simple Yet Perfect, which allow you to brew more than one cup and leave the tea in the pot without it continuing to steep.

There were also some lovely art teapots and lovely or clever sculptures made in the form of a teapot. Here’s one of my favorites, from the PEM webpage for the exhibit:


Knitting Retreat at Woolman Hill

In a previous post I described the knitting retreat I’m leading at Woolman Hill Nov. 4–6. (You can download a flyer with registration form there.)

I don’t have a very firm plan yet, but it will probably go something like this:

Friday evening:

  • collecting ourselves in the present with some silence
  • invite people to take out their knitting (if they haven’t already)
  • introduce myself and the retreat center, outline my plan for the weekend
  • ask each person to tell us what they like to be called and share one thing they hope for from the weekend (I’ll encourage people to go slowly around the circle, giving space between each person’s speaking to really hear what they share. This is pretty standard Quaker technique, and I expect to encourage it throughout the weekend unless it turns out not to sit well with the participants. I will have some discernment time after the session to consider any adjustments to the schedule based on people’s hopes.)

Saturday morning session 1 (optional, 1/2 hour, no knitting):

  • brief introduction to Quaker worship<
  • Quaker worship

Saturday morning session 2 (knitting and conversation):

  • as we knit, go around the cirlcle and tell what we’re working on
  • break
  • show and tell our resources, ask for help on any knitting problems we’re trying to solve

Saturday afternoon session (knitting in silence):

  • ask people to knit together in silence for a period of time (I’ll need to get a feel for how people feel about silence in order to decide how long. 1/2 hour to an hour.)
  • break
  • discussion about what it was like to knit together in silence (probably encourage them not to knit; perhaps split them into small groups)

Free time Saturday afternoon

Saturday evening (sharing our knitting):

  • ask people to reflect and share on what about knitting is (or isn’t) spiritual for them
  • break
  • ?? encourage people to seek out one or two others they’d like to talk with and move chairs into small groups
  • ?? closing silence or epilogue (prepared reflection, maybe a song)

Sunday morning: meeting for worship (optional) 1 hour

Sunday morning session (knitting together, content tbd)

Knitting retreat

I’d like everyone who reads my blog to know about this retreat I’m leading in November. It’s open to anyone who wants a knitting retreat. You don’t have to be a Quaker to come.

A Weekend Knitting Retreat
November 4–6, 2005

We’ll have time for uninterrupted periods of knitting, both with conversation and in silence, as well as time for worship, individual retreat, and recreation. The fields and woods of Woolman Hill’s lovely 19th-century farmstead will be open to our use. While not providing knitting instruction, this retreat will provide a setting for sharing stories, techniques, and problem-solving ideas. All skill-levels are welcome. Participants should bring a current project (or projects); journals, sketchbooks, and other devotional materials; books and resources to share. Crochet, spinning, or other handwork that fits in your lap is welcome.

I’m a long-time knitter and crocheter. A member of Beacon Hill Friends Meeting in Boston, I am an experienced workshop and retreat leader. I works as an editor for the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

For registration information see this flyer (pdf)
or Woolman Hill New England Quaker Center

Two Sweaters for My Father by Perri Klass

Two Sweaters for My Father: Writing about Knitting satisfies on several levels, and is amusing on another (unintended, I’m sure). This is a wonderful collection of essays, mostly published in Knitter’s Magazine. Perri Klass writes about an experience I share: Knitting can calm the mind and help it to be fully present in the moment–including being present to a speaker or other activity. This satisfied me as a knitter and as a religious person.

The unintended amusement is mine as a magazine editor. This book is so obviously the product of magazine publishers. There is the inevitable repetition of essays on a common subject collected from a variety of original settings, which is to be expected in any such collection. But it’s the design that strikes me as odd. There’s a title page, but no half title page, no publication page (it’s in the back, and more on that later). The table of contents has tiny little type, and then each essay opens on a page with the same even, grey “color” as every other page.

The crowning touch is that publication page in the back, where you finally find the copyright and ISBN, acknowledgements and credits, and, of all things, a masthead!

But I quibble. This is actually one of the more rewarding books on the subjective experience of knitting I’ve read.