When the calendar turns to October, we know it won’t be long before we see our Sievers knitting friends. For them and for our dear knitting instructors, Sandy De Master and Mary Germain, knitting is always at the ready, but it’s even more so when meeting for the Creative Knitting Retreat and the Open Knitting Studio. Yes, it’s a time for knitting, but also a time for everyone to gather together. Some of those knitting friendships were made almost 20 years ago and each year there are always new friends to meet.
Both studios are filled with fantastic knitting projects in all stages. What a delight to see a combination of ideas transformed, projects started, completed, blocked and/or worn! Fair warning: some of this knitting is not for the faint of heart!
Knitters “in the house”!
Planned for one of the nights during the week was a fashion show of knitted garments along with a potluck dinner. Thanks to the students who put this in motion ahead of time via emails to both groups, along with some other special touches and happenings that week!
As a current or past Creative Knitting Retreat or Open Studio student, as a friend or acquaintance, each person had some connection to Sandy and Mary. We discovered two ladies in attendance who had been in Sandy and Mary’s Ethnic Socks & Stockings class in 2000, seven who had been in Sandy and Mary’s first Creative Knitting Retreat class in 2005 and another 21 who had come to that same class anywhere from 2007 to the present. What a wonderful knitting family that has developed here at Sievers! It’s a testament to Sandy and Mary and what they’ve brought as a team to their classes and to each individual knitter. Here’s how it started…
Knitting, spinning and raising Finnsheep in southern Wisconsin in the late 1980’s, it seemed inevitable that Sandy and Mary meet. Mary owned The Wool Works, a yarn shop in Milwaukee where Sandy taught spinning. Their story developed at Sievers when Sandy came as a student for the first time in Jean Hutchison’s Overshot Weaving class in 1994. Since then, she’s returned for classes with Deb Menz, knitting with Carol Huebscher Rhoades and Navajo Weaving with Betty Glynn Carlson. Mary joined her friend Sandy as a student in Deb Menz’s Combining Multi-Colored Yarn class in 1997 and has gone on to take classes in Rug Hooking and Metalwork Jewelry here.
Sandy and Mary shared an interest in ethnic knitting, inspired by a Latvian friend, which eventually led them to travel to Latvia and Estonia to study local knitting techniques. Together, they taught their first class at Sievers in 1999, Latvian Mittens, and they’ve continued to preserve and promote those knitting traditions through teaching and writing. As their friend, Irma Mezeraups Ciganovich said, “Ethnic designs in knitting mean something. At least Latvian designs do. The knitter uses the designs like a language for personal expression.” Imagine what is said in these mittens, representing a small sample of what they usually bring!
Since first teaching here in 1999, Sandy and Mary have offered five solo classes each and together they have offered 37 classes in Fair Isle Techniques and Design, Estonian Mittens, Ethnic Socks, Latvian Mitten Techniques and Design and Baltic Knitting, and since 2005, their Sievers-signature Creative Knitting Retreat.
Sandy and Mary share so much with their students. Their knitting knowledge and problem-solving, their enthusiasm, warmth and care. They have touched the lives and hands of so many through the years. We’re sure all the memories from those classes are knit together in their and their students’ hearts.
A new adventure awaits Sandy and her husband, who have decided to move to a place Sandy has lived before, Spain. They have visited there many times and it beckons them to return, so they’ll soon be making Torremolinos, Spain their new home. Our hearts will go with Sandy as will our deep appreciation for all she’s done for Sievers and her students through the years. What a privilege to know Sandy and Mary and to have them as friends, near or far.
“Now, let us take a deep breath and forge onto the future; knitting at the ready.” – Elizabeth Zimmerman