Laura Ricketts Designs

"She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands..."

Laura Ricketts Designs is a personal and business website for Laura Ricketts, hand-knitwear designer, author, teacher, crafter, mother and wife.

Finished Objects

Before I talk to you about my other big teaching event last month, I want to share some of my finished objects with you.

In November, some people are committed to writing their first novel by writing a chunk each day (please see Nanowrimo.org). Others on social media are sharing one thing they are thankful for a day. Me? I have a nasty case of finish-itis.

This house is just packed with projects and piles of good intentions. Too many, too much. It's been getting to me, and as a result, I have been hammering away at the pile and getting some items finished and ready for their greater reward.

Today, I finished a hat and a bobbin lace pillow. The hat was made from handspun, trickily given to me by a nun friend of mine (long story). And the lace pillow was a wonderful project I started just last week with a lace expert friend of mine. 

We started with construction insulation, repurposed advertising foam board, poster board, a saw, bread knife and rasp, wool, flannel, needle and thread. 

IMG_4243.jpg
IMG_4245.jpg
IMG_4257.jpg
IMG_4282.jpg
IMG_4362.jpg

Hmmm. I took a picture of the completed project and it has vanished. I guess I'll have to add it tomorrow. I am so glad to have this piece of equipment, though. A lace pillow is used to make bobbin lace, like what I viewed in Belgium this summer. The pattern is pinned to the center bolster and the bobbins full of fine thread are twisted left and right to make a specialized lace, as outlined by the pattern, or "prickings." 

I have an instructional book and I'm waiting for my bobbins that I ordered. And, of course, the final picture that proves I did this today...

Au revoir, Grand Marais

As we say "until we meet again" to Grand Marais, let's remember some of the beautiful things of the North Shore.

IMG_3784.jpg

Great students in a wonderful workspace.

 Moose viewing offshoot of Gunflint Trail

Moose viewing offshoot of Gunflint Trail

The trails and nature of the north.

IMG_3776.jpg

Sunrises over Lake Superior, and the voyage of discovery that lies just outside your door.

IMG_3807.jpg

Lastly, this image is the artist's wall in the main North House building. Last year, they put a call-out for any former teacher to make 6 x 6 inch square depicting a class that an artist has taught there sometime in the last 20 years. Isn't it beautiful?

IMG_3862.jpg

Here's to 20 years more!

 

North House, Grand Marais, Minnesota

So, I started up the North Shore and stopped at a couple of places I love in Two Harbors, Minnesota. The first was the silversmith Brad E. Nelson's shop. He built it himself in an old Norwegian style called stabbur -- a kind of Norwegian log cabin. Such a beautiful building! And, inside, he features Scandinavian objects of many kinds. But he makes the silver jewelry and some other types of jewelry, too. And his mom helps out as a saleswoman. This visit, he had glass bottlenecks he had fashioned into earrings and necklace baubles. He said, "everyone says Two Harbors is such a bottleneck. I thought I'd make something out of them!"

The other place I like to visit is the Lake County DAC, or Developmental Achievement Center. It is a workshop for adults with disabilities. Some fabulous people there have put together a paper making workshop and a rug weaving area for the adults to train on and have a job. I love the fact that it is creative. I like to see the work that they have done and have purchased a few rugs from them over the years I have visited (and the paper, too). 

Here is a picture of their cloth wall for the weaving.

IMG_3602.jpg

Isn't it fabulous? All this has been donated for the purpose of making rag rugs. If you are in the area and have cloth to donate, contact them first. Then, stop by and see the rugs in production.

Further up the North Shore, past beautiful state parks and lake vistas, is Grand Marais. North House is one of the first things you pass on your way to downtown.

IMG_3606.jpg

Grand Marais itself is only 1351 souls, as of the 2010 census, but it is a vibrant community with great restaurants, music, and artistic workshops. This is most likely because it is in such a gorgeous spot and hundreds of people swarm up in every season to take advantage of the beautiful locale.

North House itself is a collection of about six buildings on this beautiful lakeside site. It has been around for 20 years and features artisans teaching the crafts of the north. One can go there to learn how to make a canoe, log-framed building, outdoor pizza oven, case your own sausages, knit, spin, felt, make moccasins, turn green wood... Really, the list is non-exhaustive, as the coordinators are always adding teachers and events.

 Sunset over Lake Superior from the North House Folk School beach.

Sunset over Lake Superior from the North House Folk School beach.

 panoramic view of North House grounds from their dock, early morning

panoramic view of North House grounds from their dock, early morning

The class I taught was on Skolt Saami mittens. The following are some pictures of my students at work. A wonderful class!

IMG_3786.jpg
IMG_3785.jpg
IMG_3783.jpg
IMG_3790.jpg

Fiber people are the best, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with these ladies. Each had such different tales to tell, and all were great needle women.

Cheers to you as you continue on your fiber journey!

Early October

I taught at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota the beginning of October. I remember picking the date thinking I'd see the beautiful fall colors during that time. Well, fall is late this year, both where I live and in Grand Marais. So, while I did get to see the beginning of fall color the day I hiked in Superior National forest (away from the warming effects of Lake Superior), I still loved the birch trees and beauty of the lake.

Here are some pictures from the travels.

Almost everything is easier after skirting past Chicago. I knew I was in the north when my stop for gas revealed this:

 I drove up through Wisconsin, where the tackle is always kept close to the liquor. 

I drove up through Wisconsin, where the tackle is always kept close to the liquor. 

They have their priorities in order, or at least, an order to their priorities.

My next stop was at the wonderful, magical Schoolhouse Press in Pittsville, WI.

IMG_3584.jpg

Schoolhouse Press is home to Elizabeth Zimmermann's mail order knitting business. She established the business in 1958 and it has come to include mail order yarn, books, patterns and some other items.

For us knitters, EZ (as she is known) has come to represent an intelligent, warm approach to knitting that lays aside fears and failure, takes up the needles and makes wonderful garments. EZ has passed onto her greater reward in 1999 at the age of 89, but her daughter, Meg Swansen, is at the helm now, with her son, Cully, a joint partner in the business.

And so, I stopped there on the way to the North Shore, having made an appointment with Cully to show him my work with an eye to Schoolhouse Press carrying my patterns.

We spent a delightful couple hours together. I was able to meet Meg and discuss my work, and I am thrilled to say that we are planning to collaborate.

After my show and tell, I shyly asked if they would pose with my newest child's sweater. 

 the Tomten sweater

the Tomten sweater

This is one of Elizabeth's well-known sweaters. She loved to make garments out of the workhouse garter stitch. This sweet thing has a clever arm-insertion. I loved doing the contrasting i-cord edging, incorporating clever buttonholes with its application. The bodice is fully-lined with complementary quilting material I bought on my jaunt to South Dakota in August.

It was a joy to meet both Cully and Meg, and it really made my trip a delight from the start.

From there, I went to Duluth. As I arrived over the bridge from Superior, Wisconsin, the sun was setting above the hills of Minnesota. It is such a pretty city! I spent the night there, and the next day met with my friend Karen for coffee, and Marlene for lunch. Marlene is chairman for the Sami Cultural Center of North America in Duluth -- definitely worth a stop for any Minnesotan or traveler.

 Sunset over Lake Superior from Duluth, Minnesota

Sunset over Lake Superior from Duluth, Minnesota

My next post will tell about my time in Grand Marais.