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Travels [with Knitting] #2 – From the time when every stitch told a story to the Present –

Even though I saw my first Gansey over two decades ago, it wasn’t until I went to Alaska last year that one actually landed on my needles…

In the Summer of 2014, I was part of a wonderful gathering put together by Dorothy Widmann, owner of the Net Loft in Cordova. Over the course of a week, her retreat, Fibers and Friends, was an incredible mingling of teachers and students in the breathtaking beauty of Prince William Sound and the Copper River region.

cordovaAerialView

At the end of the summer, Dotty told me about an idea that had been percolating for awhile that she was going forward with: another retreat with the emphasis on Knitting and Fishing traditions.

It was called the Cordova Gansey Project and it grew from the intersection of village fishing life with her family and the fisherman sweaters of old.

net-boat

Early in her marriage and to this day, Dotty was part of a all-in, hands-on family fishing crew. Between catches, Dotty mended the nets she and her husband Bob used out on their boat in the Pacific to catch salmon. This took place at a bunkhouse they called the Net Loft.

Fast forward a few decades to 2014, where, during a trip to Scotland and a visit to a Gansey Exhibit, she saw pictures of young women alongside the fishermen: “My mind drifted as I studied the display and looked into the eyes of the girls in the photos, and in that moment, I wished I could go back in time to share and exchange fishing and knitting stories. I felt such a commonality to their lives and lifestyle. They had no idea the part they played in the passage of patterns and design.”

She brought home an idea to mingle that knitting history and meld it with the contemporary culture of fishing life today.

The Cordova Gansey Project was born and my New Traditions for Fisherman Sweaters 2- day workshop, as a part of it, took place for the first time in the last week of June 2015.

Chic Knits Fisher Lassie

…from the my workshop description
“We who’ve learned at grandma’s knees know that one of the most satisfying aspects of knitting is its bond to all the knitters who’ve gone before. Join us to reach back through the decades and reveal cherished connections – the enchanting stitch patterns, the community, the stories told THEN learn how to bring that kindred fabric into our current craft.”

Ganseys were worn by the 19th century fishermen of the British coastline communities. On the boats, on the docks, to church, even by a groom at his wedding, according to knitting historian, Richard Rutt: “The real values of the knitted shirt lay in its comfortable fit, its warmth and its splendid appearance.”

But for me, it was form following the needs of function that really set this style apart. Knitted fabric works in two very interesting ways. It can be snug for warmth – and at the same time – be flexible for Movement.

This was ACTIVE WEAR.

Hard working people wore ganseys. And wherever there were Fisher Lads –

there were Fisher Lassies.

Chic Knits Fisher Lassies

The Lads caught the fish and the Lassies barrelled ’em.

Even after a back-breaking day of cleaning and barreling, later – at their huts or at the docks – the Fisher Lassies knit…

Chic Knits Fisher Lassie

Their effervescent spirit infected me and inspired by the folklore of the Gansey stitchwork my work began.

I’ve been dreaming about this type of sweater for quite awhile and now the timeline between the old and new was ready to intersect as

the Fisher Lassie Sweater

Here is a cardigan style that embraces the old with its gansey stitch patterning telling a story but whose shape is designed for the modern woman’s active life.

It features an elegant top-down construction with set-in sleeves, a built-in button band, a shawl collar and a slight trapeze body shape to mirror today’s woman’s physique in a very flattering way.

Ease of wear is balanced with pleasing decoration making the Fisher Lassie a cozy, pretty cardigan for all your adventures, on land or sea, indoors or outdoors.

click here for all the details & the pattern

And I’m happy to announce that the Cordova Gansey Project 2016 will be offered this summer during the week of June 24th through July 3rd, 2016.

Stay tuned to the blog for all the details and registration information

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Travels [with Knitting] #1

One of my favorite things about this time of year, is its natural path of reflection.

As winter deepens and it gets harder to move outward, it irresistibly becomes easier to move inward.

I love this time of musing and remembrance.

It’s a lovely setting of the stage for what’s to come while being a fond travel through the experiences just gone by.

Gathering these January thoughts, means I’ve been day-dreaming a lot about my near-past travels.

Branching out to more far-flung locations to teach and intersect with fiber folk has been a real desire of mine since I moved to Portland, and one of my dreams came true this June on a great Pacific Northwest adventure.

The record of this trek popped up here and there online while I was on the road but never made it into these journal pages.

But here is the January all ready to embrace the June…

The main event? Something called Fiber and Friends, put together and hosted by the lovely Dotty Widmann and her Net Loft tribe in Cordova Alaska.

Chic Knits Knitting Blog Bonne Marie Burns

Here, in a place only accessible by plane or ferry, was a gathering of teachers and crafters and the most incredible landscapes.

Cordova is home to the Net Loft, which is an incredible knitting and craft store, nestled under an even more incredible “hill”.

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I cannot begin to describe the color Green as crafted by the Cordova sky and sea but suffice to say I was speechless (and grinning) a lot of the time I was there just by virtue of what I saw walking around.

Myself and a cast of teachers spent our days work-shopping in town – here’s the lovely students from my Pick-Up-and-What? class – and I salute their excitement and game!

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We also had mini-classes for kids – in mine, we made friendship bracelets.

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Midweek, we took a trip out the Copper River to the glacier area and once again, I was speechless.

In fact, my heart almost burst from my frame (click the picture to explode with me)…

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Glacier-3

 


 
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Mary Jane Mucklestone and I are thrilled to be out on the Copper River!

Later that week the Fiber and Friends Retreat ended up with a big party out by Eyak Lake

Chic Knits Knit Blog Bonne Marie Burns

where we were feasted with the best grilled salmon I’ve ever had and serenaded by Belle Mickelson and bluegrass friends in what was one of the most magical afternoons of all…

Chic Knits Knit Blog Bonne Marie Burns

All in all, from the wonderfully welcoming knitting community of Cordova, to the feisty and most excellent curious students in my classes, to the magnificent landscapes and vistas, I fell head-over-heels with Alaska and can’t wait to visit again!

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