highways and byways: lovely ligonier

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects, spinning and fiber

this weekend past, i had the good fortune to teach in ligonier, a charming historic town in the mountains of pennsylvania.

i was hosted at the spring fling retreat by kathy’s kreations, a shop that’s been in business for a very long time, thanks to the work of its brilliant owner, designer kathy zimmerman. i love kathy’s work, especially her sweater designs. they often catch my eye and stop me from turning pages in the many popular magazines featuring her work.

there she is on the left; she actually took my class!

i arrived on friday in the pouring rain and was instantly welcomed to the gathering around the knitting table at the back of the shop.

i got quite a bit done on my sculling cowl while we all chatted around the table. for supper, we had a delicious buffet of soups and finger foods AND sweets before heading over to the hotel where the workshop events were to take place.

we opened the weekend with a trunk show and talk by yours truly; i talked about my career and design work and showed a selection of samples from our archives, including mini collections of club knits and bare naked wools samples.

i was so busy running on and on about myself that i forgot to take pictures, oy.

but the next day, i came armed and dangerous. the classes revolved around chart reading and lace knitting, with a beginning lace class and a shawl project that extended over two days—plenty of time to get a new project started and the harder parts organized before taking it home to complete.

i promise these women are having a lot more fun than it appears in this photo . . .

i worked on my cowl some more and also on a secret project that they got to see and you didn’t.

no worries; it’s not going to be secret much longer and very soon you’ll get to see it, too.

saturday was our long day, and while we did some excellent work, by the end i think everyone was glad to leave the room, walk away from their lace knitting for a nice stretch, and head for dinner in town. we had a yummy meal that evening with no room afterward to visit the ligonier creamery, so we put that on our priority list for the next afternoon.

sunday dawned frosty and cold—boy was i glad i’d run back into my house to grab my gloves before i headed here. it was smart enough to pack some long tights as well and several shirts, so i was in good shape for an early run and looking forward to getting outside.

the sunrise was breathtaking in the park at the lower end of town, with frost lying everywhere. in addition to the cherry trees i showed earlier today, the pears and magnolias were also in full bloom and many other trees beginning to bud out.

of course, after the freezing temps of saturday night, many of them had browned by midday.

sugar-frosted tulips with bowed heads could also be seen, but i’m thinking these hardy flowers survived ok, along with the daffodils.

up and down every street i ran, sometimes more than once. i checked out fort ligonier from the outside and even though i couldn’t get not the grounds, i managed to get a few pictures through the chain link fence.

it took a good long while to warm up, but once i did, the running was excellent—my best times per mile this spring. i could have stayed out another hour, but i needed to head back and get ready for class.

as i ran back through the town square, the sun was just popping up over the courthouse roof. i love that the square has a big birdhouse, haha.

sunday class was a continuation of saturday’s project class—everyone is knitting les abeilles together, which is a terrific choice for a first-time triangle shawl. since it’s worked from bottom to top, it’s a little easier to see its architecture right away. the caston and hem rows are long, but before you know it, the rows get noticeably shorter and the rest whizzes by in a flash. i’ve knit half a dozen of these little gems; it’s my favorite go-to gift project.

anyway, we finished the morning off with a short blocking demonstration so that once their shawls were done, students could give them that final polish that transforms the piece into a true beauty.

after lunch we headed to kathy’s shop for a last bit of shopping, which was when i discovered that she carries lo lo bars. i am in perpetual need of hand lotion and cuticle moisturizer, so i stocked up.

kathy’s shop is large and full—she’s been in this location for a number of years, building a loyal clientele and a wonderful stock of knitterly goodies.

samples abound of shop favorites as well as kathy’s own designs

it was nice to see a full book section as well; so many shops don’t stock books any more . . .

every nook and cranny held a discovery; it would take days for me to see everything in the store, i think!

soon it was time for me to go—i was missing david and looking forward to getting home. after spending eight of the last eleven days away, i was ready. i’ll be home now for about four weeks straight and it sounds like heaven.

the night before i left, i ran out of yarn while binding off my bit o fluff cowl sample, so the first thing i did last night was to wind some yarn and finish that. this morning i put it on to soak while i went through my email boxes.

it’s been laid out to dry since mid-morning, but it’s going kind of slow—alpaca does not dry very quickly. people often ask how i would block something like this and here you see—i don’t really do much to it except lay it flat and straight the edges well.

then i turn and reshape very frequently, to prevent creasing and encourage the fiber to  bloom and regain its loft. i stretch and reshape several times at each turning; this works incredibly well for bringing that sparkling life back to the fiber and evening out the stitches. when seen in person, it produces a magnificent transformation in the appearance of the fabric surface.

seeing as it was a gorgeous spring day here, i stopped work at noon to take my bike out for a spin to shake off the cobwebs and get some exercise. more on that adventure tomorrow.

when i got back it was time for class. anne c arrived with the stonewall wrap sample she is knitting for us from our sample batch of chèvre mohair/merino blend.

boy oh boy, is she ever enjoying knitting with this yarn. and it’s a great pairing with this project, moving along very rapidly on a size 8 or 9 needle.

the texture is deLISH, isn’t it? and the fiber really glows. that’s the prize-winning NYS mohair at work; it fairly sparkles in the light, i swear.

must try to get david to list this yarn in the store so we can begin selling it.

i also have a brand new gnarled oakwoods sample in from our friend phoebe using our romney/merino DK and some new breakfast blend samples that i’m swatching as well.

many of you have asked why the breakfast blend is taking so long to restock; we’re having to change mills with that yarn so we are working very carefully to replicate it as closely as possible. so far, so good—i promise it will be worth the wait.

more on all of that next time—i must go now and get me some knitting done!

but if you are still looking for some reading entertainment, you’ll love looking at a new blog, tea and biscuits with k.d., written by my dear friend (and yours), katherine delores mcbride. it’s a must-see, highly recommended by helena.

11 thoughts on “highways and byways: lovely ligonier

  1. What a pretty town. And that shop…well, I could get lost in there! =-) I really LOVE that Bit o Fluff cowl design =-) And I can’t wait for that chèvre mohair/merino blend yarn…yummy! I just finished a quick cowl out of the Breakfast Blend DK in Morning Smoke…it is going to be SO cozy next winter! What a joy it was to knit with that yarn, so soft and cuddly.

  2. Ligonier looks like a wonderful place to get lost for a few days (or more)–what more could you need–lovely scenery, history, and a seriously awsome yarn shop. Your class sounded equally awesome.

  3. Looks like you had a great time. I really like the sweater pattern in the teal worn on the woman with her back in the photo. How to get the name or pattern?

  4. Thanks Anne, another lovely post. You are inspiring me to get more exercise, as well as knit.
    I am doing a Gnarled Oakwoods stole now, by the way. Despite the impression I initially had that the patterning would be intense, I am zipping along through the repeats of Chart A. Hope to still be in love through Chart B… Using some Cascade Heritage Fingering that I have had in my stash too long.

  5. A great weekend was had by all! Kathy’s shop looks wonderful. I love Lo Lo bars after getting one in a Clubhouse swap. I wish they sold them in the UK! The texture on the chevre knit is stunning. Can’t wait to see it all blocked out. KD is a scream, I can’t see Flo being impressed if I tried to dress her in a tiara, let alone a sailor dress!!

  6. I loved the time with you in Ligonier. It sure is a lovely little town, with great ice cream, and it was such a pleasure to take your class. Next time we can run together!

  7. It was a lovely weekend. I am enjoying watching the pattern of the shawl emerge. Your designs are wonderful!

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