Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

I have a lot of Deep Thoughts coming away from this year’s Squam Art Workshops, but that’s sort of what Squam does to you. Some of those might find their way into this post in one form or another — I’ll see what happens as I write — but if you really just want to know what I wore, feel free to scroll on down, that’s cool! “Whatever makes you happy” is sort of the number one rule of Squam, so go with it.

(Bob came in and started talking to me just then. I said, in apologies for shushing him, “I’m trying to write about what I’ve learned about myself in the last five years.” He said, “Wow. It’s a good thing you got a nap.”)

The simple summary of the trip is: I had the best, most peaceful time imaginable. I flew to Boston the night before and met my longtime online friend Felicia Semple for the first time at the picturesque Squam Lake Inn in Holderness, NH, near the old camp where Squam takes place. We had dinner and talked each other’s ears off, and the next day we drove an hour and a half to visit the Harrisville Designs mill and take the tour — my first time watching yarn being made. (I couldn’t get a cell signal there, so I’ll be belatedly putting all the images and videos into my Instagram Story today.) New Hampshire is so pretty it feels like you’re in a movie set: Every little general store and fire station is picture-perfectly adorable, and Harrisville is definitely no exception. But even without the scenery and the mill tour, I cherish that chunk of time I got to spend with Felicia, yammering like mad and making observations about the ways we talk about ourselves or our endeavors. As they say, it felt like I’d known her forever, but she’s that sort.

Wednesday evening we checked in at camp and got our cabin assignments. I had the good fortune to be bunk mates with my hilarious sprite of a friend Mary Jane Mucklestone (who I first met taking this class from her four years ago) and two people I’d not met before: the warm-hearted dynamo Anne Weill (who I’ve admired since her graciousness in the face of this snooty post I wrote in 2015) and Camille DeAngelis, who was teaching the writing workshop and is a lovely, gentle soul. We were assigned a fantastic cabin on the tip of the spit of land with the widest view of the lake I’ve seen so far — we couldn’t see another cabin from our dock, just water and trees and the greenest hills — and my teaching cabin was right next door. So yeah, off to a great start.

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

The dining hall that night was full of old friends, heroes and new faces, and my hermit heart was racing a bit, in a good way. Everyone was asking me how I felt about being there to teach for the first time, and honestly I was feeling pretty chill about it. I had what I thought was a solid plan and good notes, plus I was already under the lake’s spell and still high from the whole Harrisville adventure. I was a little shy at dinner with my class that night, but by breakfast felt entirely relaxed and ready. Then I ran into our fearless leader Elizabeth on the way to the wooded path toward class and she gave me such an intense pep talk that it got my heart pounding! But that gave me a funny anecdote to open with, so thank you, Elizabeth, in a million ways.

I could go on for days, but what I want to say is it went fine. Better than fine. My students were lovely and relaxed and determined, and nearly all of them even finished their hats! (Note to beloved students: the Debutant pattern is listed on Ravelry, please link your projects!) On the whole, I got to spend several days surrounded by so many people I already loved, so many more I loved getting to know, and many moments just sitting quietly on the dock, gathering energy to rejoin the happy-noisy crowd or teach the next session.

What this all has to do with what I’ve learned about myself in the last five years is this: I’ve spent my whole life telling myself I’m inept at making conversation with people I don’t know. That I’m better in writing than in person. That I prefer solitude to crowds. All of that is true of me, but it’s not the whole story. Since starting Fringe, I’ve forced myself to challenge those notions. I showed up at the trade show the first time without knowing a soul, and now each year it’s a sort of homecoming. Likewise, I’ve traveled to events and workshops and retreats (Squam included) with a few friends and come away with new ones every time. I’m part of a community I value so much, and am so honored to be involved in, and I’m blessed with these friendships and opportunities because I’ve dared to show up and to not sit in the corner. (At least, not the whole time.) I’ve learned that yes, it will take a lot out of me, but it’s beyond worth it and I’ll sleep that part off when I get home. Somehow all of this was amplified in those woods last week. And discovering that I’m perhaps not a half-bad teacher was a whole new level of the process.

There’s more in my head, but that’s the part I feel is important to share here: Please don’t believe all the things you tell yourself about yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.

So this is a love letter and thank-you note to everyone I’ve met, been befriended and/or challenged by these last five years. I’m awash in gratitude. And yes I got that Dottie Angel “I am a W.I.P.” shirt (and tote bag!) at the fair Saturday night and feel it more strongly and proudly than ever.

. . .

So what did I wear? Here’s what was either on me or in my little carry-on suitcase, along with a box of teaching materials, an umbrella, two headlamps, my travel dryer and toiletries:

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

white linen shell
black hemp muscle tee
– grey Everlane linen knit muscle tee
– black silk Elizabeth Suzann artist smock, which I LOVED wearing with jeans and sneaks
– secondhand chambray shirt
– old flannel
– purple J.Crew boiled wool pullover from a few years ago, which I finally got around to taking the waist elastic out of and newly adore, wish I’d gotten to wear it more
black linen-wool cardigan
camel cardigan
– J.Crew made-in-LA jeans
– black linen Elizabeth Suzann pants (with added pockets)
– old cutoffs
– my heaviest/warmest LL Bean tights for cold nights
– dirty old Chucks for tromping along wooded paths
grey Orlane shawl

And here are all the ways it went together, from travel day through return-travel day:

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

In addition to Squam life calling for a lot of changing of clothes (for example, Saturday was teaching in the morning, knitting on the dock in the afternoon, boiling hot art fair setup, the fair itself, and a chilly night back at the cabin), the NH woods in early June are an unpredictable place, weather-wise (e.g., Friday morning we were on the dock before breakfast, basking in the early warmth, but were huddled around a fire in the living room by mid-morning). So it requires versatility and layers.

Not pictured are the rain boots I wore only the first day (on the plane and the drive up) thanks to the predicted rain being replaced by mostly unseasonably warm weather, and the sandals that never came out of the suitcase. My grey shawl also stayed in my bag the whole time, since I flung my black cardigan around my neck when needed. Pretty much everything else got worn more than once, but I could have gotten away with just the sneakers, one cardigan, the pullover, and I believe in having both the flannel and the chambray. Notes for next year, as I’m hoping there will be one!

Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

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43 thoughts on “Squam 2017: Reflections and outfits

  1. Thank you for such a beautiful post. This was my first Squam and you elegantly captured the magic and growth many of us experienced. And I do hope you publish debutant–several of my cabin mates were in your classes and I’d love to knit one with the osprey languishing in my stash after seeing their lovely finished projects.

    • I haven’t had a chance to think that through just yet, but I’m grateful for all the enthusiasm! And I’m glad your first Squam was magical.

    • Travel size blow dryer. I rarely have to take it anywhere these days, since hotels and inns and such all have them in the room, but definitely not at camp!

  2. You rocked it all – teaching, wardrobe and chatting warmly with us strangers! It was a pleasure to meet you! I love my hat! Thank you!!!

  3. Wish I was there. Looked so relaxing/fun/beautiful!
    Love this blog…learn something new every time I read it. Thank you. 😘

  4. I’ve not attended a Squam workshop, but I have been spending 1-2 weeks at RDC for the past 34 summers. It is a magical place. I look at your photos and I see places that are near and dear to my heart, loaded with memories, wonderful family memories……and all of the craft projects I’ve worked on while staying in those charming cabins. Thanks for the beautiful pics: we head that way for a 2-week treat soon, so you’ve wetted my appetite!

    • Oh, you’re one of those lucky families we’re all always wondering about! What an amazing blessing to get to go there year after year like that. Have fun!

  5. It was great to meet you; you were quite gracious to a fan-girl (I’m sure I looked all cool and calm, but that’s a front – hah), and I think you encapsulate here what a lot of us experience at Squam. This was a second Squam for me, and once again, I experienced being seen without having to perform (e.g. when you tell someone you’re a writer, a knitter, an artist, what-have-you, and they want you to prove it). That kind of affirmation is priceless. Next year, for sure (Elizabeth has said on her blog that it will continue under someone else’s guidance). Have a happy reentry. Don’t lose the buzz.

    • I loved meeting you, Claudia! You’re an even more stunning presence in person, and I didn’t get a whiff of fangirl from you! ;) Hope to see you again—

  6. Love the dock photos. Next time please photograph the inside of your packed carry-on. That seems like magic to get all that in!

    • I have a new carry-on (purchased before Paris) that’s smaller than my old one. This lot definitely tested the limits of it, and unlike my old one, it doesn’t have that unzip-to-expand function if you need extra room on the way home! Which I suppose is a good thing — forces me to keep it limited.

  7. I have never been to Squam (it’s on the bucket list) but I live in Maine and have been to NH and when I looked at the clothes you brought I thought “I bet she wore them all piled on top of each other for some part of every day” Layers are the way to live up here where the weather changes every few minutes. :-) Sounds like you had a wonderful time and are really growing and expanding your horizons. Yes, being in a group like that is SO HARD for introverts, but it almost always is worth the effort and the long sleep required post-event. :-)

    • On the way up, I was really worried that I hadn’t packed warm enough clothes. (Before we landed, they were saying it was 48 degrees and pouring in Boston.) I even thought I might have to grab a coat while stopping at Target for bug spray. But it turned out just the opposite — I’d start the day in a cardigan or pullover that was off by lunchtime. In the end, I had more warm stuff than I really needed. And thank god I didn’t buy an emergency coat!

      • Oh, glad you didn’t buy a coat! and you had a couple of sweaters, so you could just pile them on if needed. We have left the oven and are now back in the cooler – it was low 50’s this morning, and the air is so fresh and dry! We are back to normal for this time of year – cool mornings and warm (not hot) days, and dry air. Wonderful! Come on back!

  8. This made me tear up. Thanks for sharing both the exterior (beautiful scenery and clothes) and interior parts of your trip. I feel honored to get that glimpse of how you’ve noticed your capabilities grow–what a wonderful thing to realize about yourself.

  9. “Please don’t believe all the things you tell yourself about yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.” This words hit a chord with me today. I have had the privilege of attending Squam on and off for the past 10 years and this quote is my biggest lesson . Thank you for sharing.

  10. I can’t begin to tell you how moved I am. YOU are a hero forever and always. You are a gift to us all as the way that you share the thoughts and reflections behind the choices that shape/create your life open up worlds of inspiration and creativity. I feel SO lucky to know you and am so deeply grateful for the kindness and generosity you show me (as I know you give to so many). I must echo my beloved Sue Greene above and say that what you wrote: ““Please don’t believe all the things you tell yourself about yourself. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.” is just the most powerful message and what I hope each of us makes true. BIGGEST hugs to you– XO

    P.S. and big hugs to DG who is just such a bright light and I am so glad you got him to come north with you. :)

  11. You are the Wonder Woman of packing! I need you to come to my house and help me get it figured out. We’re leaving for 2 weeks in the UK and I have, of course-as always, overpacked! You have impeccable taste!
    Squam seems like an incredible retreat for the mind, body and soul.
    Please publish the Debutant pattern you taught at Squam. I love the relatively simple cables and the texture above the rib. It is just a very sweet hat!

  12. This was a lovely post, Karen. Thanks again for sharing. As for “I’m perhaps not a half-bad teacher,” I found you to be patient, kind, funny, curious, and of course, a fantastic source of knitting knowledge and experience, tips and tricks, that you were eager to share. In my book, those are all trademarks of a wonderful teacher. Don’t sell yourself short and consider teaching more often.

    As for Squam itself, this was my first time and I signed up without knowing anyone else who might be going. (Except maybe for my Verb buddies who I knew would be busy teaching.) Like you, though, I quickly learned upon arriving at the camp that everyone there could not have been nicer and or more welcoming. It was overwhelming at first, especially in the dining hall, (thank god for assigned seating the first night!) and my nature is not to put myself out there too much to meet new people, but I went with the intention to make new friends and I’m so glad I did. I will treasure the experience and the new friendships and am reminding myself daily since then to keep the magic alive.

    I’m also glad that I stepped forward to speak to you in the market on our way out of town on Sunday. Off of what Claudia said, I feel like there is a fine line between wanting to be friendly and appearing to be too much of a fan-girl, but you were sweet and I hope to see you at the next Squam.

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  16. Such a pleasure to meet you too, Karen—I’ve been ruminating on what you said about wanting to wear fabrics the color God made them. I want to start paying much closer attention to where my fabric is coming from and how it’s being made. <3

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