Knitting, beading, creating on the North shore of Lake Superior
About the Designer
Hi - you will know me on these pages as 'gmyarnlady' and I am almost never without a knitting project about my person.
I learned to knit when I was six years old. My mother was my first teacher (thanks mom). I remember looking at the loops on the needles and then what happened to them when they were knitted off the needles and became fabric.I delighted in watching that fabric getting longer and longer.It was magic to me. It still is – now I marvel at how one basic stitch and one non-stitch (yarn-over) subjected to a seemingly infinite variety of actions can take so many different forms. They are shape-shifters: when the knit stitch is approached from the rear it becomes a purl; when we poke it front and back and front and back and add a ‘knit together’ it becomes a bobble; when we pair it with it’s buddy the yarn-over we can make infinite lacey patterns; when we knit them out of order they twist into cables. Add color to the infinite variety of texture and you’ve got a lifetime of exploration.And here I am – well over 50 years into the journey and still awed by it all.
I work primarily in natural fibers: yarns, rovings and all the stuff in between. (See my natural fiber related story below). I love to felt and to create beaded things with needle and thread: bead embroidery, jewelry and beaded embellishments for knit and felted pieces. I now spend most of my time processing, sometimes natural dying and then blending and spinning those raw fibers into yarn. My interest in raw fiber has led me to learn more about heritage sheep breeds and the importance of supporting farmers who are working hard to preserve those animals, some from the brink of extinction.
I am not at all interested in the latest in fashion trends. I occasionally pay attention to them, and sometimes I find that they coincide with my interest, but up here in the far North Country our garments need to be practical.I like to create things that are useful as well as beautiful.Above all I like to create things from material that will last at least one lifetime.I guess I am confessing: I am at heart a traditional knitter.
I LOVE color - sometimes bright & cheery - sometimes rich & deep - almost always inspired by Nature and the depth of color we can see in earth, trees, sky, the Big Lake and the warmth of fire tones. I enjoy visiting the same natural places at different times of year and watching the play of seasonal lighting on those places. Yarn, alas is not paint, but I do my best between the beads and the fiber to capture those moments so I might carry them with me.
I have done a limited number of commissioned works and so far the experience has been good. If you'd like something unique for a very special occasion, let me know and if the project sounds interesting I might take it on.
Why natural fibers? I have 2 stories to tell that explain my trust in natural fibers. Story # 1: I am canoe camping in the Quetico. We are miles and miles away from what people call 'civilization'. It is early summer and it still gets cool here in the evenings and of an early morning. I am on a portage, carrying our packs - its is early morning and it is WET. I step into what looks like it might be the more solid ground of all the choices present and I am up over my boots to my knees in cold wet muck. My boot is instantly filled with it. I am wearing woolen socks. I can't stop to change my gear. I slog on. In fact I slog on that way for most of that day, only washing the socks and the boots and continuing on. Had those been cotton or acrylic socks I would have been looking at sore and blistered feet for the rest of the trip - and that is at best miserable up here. . . at worst it could be dangerous. Sore infected feet have put an end to more canoe or hiking trips than I'd like to think about.
Story # 2: I am watching my friends take their kayaks out into some pretty gnarly water on Lake Erie. You can see from the shore that the currents are quite unstable, but my friends are whitewater freaks and just have to check it out. Sure enough, they dump. The guy who wore wool came out shivering like the others, but he felt warmer a whole lot sooner than the others did. I swear by wool in all seasons - it keeps you warm when wet and it keeps feet comfy even in summer. Not only that, but if you heat with wood, at least wool won't melt and cling to your skin. Like I said, we're a practical people up here in the northland.