Welcome to the very first post from our My Place project! We’re kicking things off with a designer who I’m sure is already familiar to many of you – Virginia Sattler-Reimer. I’ve never met Virginia in person, but I feel like I’ve “known” her forever: she’s one of those people I eagerly followed back in the early, halcyon days of craft Flickr, and I’ve always admired her work. Whether it’s a colourwork hat or a pair of intricately textured socks, everything that Virginia creates seems to proceed from the same creative place, and to somehow combine the same qualities of warmth, balance, and precision. I think her colourwork is utterly amazing, and that, as a designer, she really has a particular talent for what Shetland knitters often refer to as “blending”: that is, the elusive ability to bring different shades together in a palette and to really make them sing. This talent was definitely in evidence in Tettegouche – the stand-out pattern Virginia designed a few years ago for our Milarrochy Heids collection.

Tettegouche, from Milarrochy Heids

Tettegouche was named for the State Park on the North Shore of Lake Superior and this favourite landscape has also inspired Virginia’s contribution to our My Place project. When Virginia showed us the tubular scarf that she’d created, combining all the blues and greens in the Milarrochy Tweed palette to such stunning effect, we were absolutely thrilled with her distinctively Minnesotan take on the project! Since then, Virginia’s gone on to accompany the scarf with a gorgeous tam and pair of mittens, making a truly beautiful matching set. Here’s Virginia to tell you more about these designs, and about Gitchi-Gami: her place.

Virginia and her Gitchi-Gami collection

Driving up from the Twin Cities to Minnesota’s North Shore is a process of leaving behind the stuff of everyday life. I’m not sure what it’s like for those fortunate enough to live on the shores of Lake Superior, but when we visit, that feeling of relaxation starts to descend as soon as the lake comes into view.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest great lake, and largest freshwater lake by surface area in the world.  The Ojibwe word gichigami means “great sea,” and for someone living in the Midwest that is exactly what it is. Stretching to the horizon, it’s vastness immediately reminds me of my insignificance. 

around the North Shore of Lake Superior

For me, the North Shore evokes not only the beauty of the lake, but the ruggedness of it’s shores. The memories I have of hikes taken are so vivid, I can easily bring to mind the resinous smell on the fresh, cool air, hear the wind, waves or waterfalls, see the trunks of birch trees against the blue sky, with the music of their leaves in my ears. I can bring to mind the feeling of sitting on cold boulders along the shore, and tracing lichen with my eyes. Most meaningfully, the memories I have of those places are of the sensation of stepping out of time as I normally experience it. Perhaps it’s the glacial remnants all around or the experience of wilderness, or maybe it’s just being on vacation in nature, but in those moments I feel the fragility of my life, it’s briefness, and it’s preciousness. Those moments are transformative treasures to be called upon when the stuff of everyday life starts to make me forget.

Perhaps it is because I have visited the North Shore to mark so many significant times in my life that it comes to mind when I ask myself what is “my place”. We went there for our honeymoon, celebrating and planning the first steps of our new life together, when the future felt as expansive as the lake, and that our days, like the waves, would be endless.  We have rented cabins for birthdays, and toasted our years over fires on the beach. We have cozied in on Christmas with just the lake and ourselves for company. I have given those waters my grief of loved ones lost, and they have given me comfort.

This collection of designs is inspired by those hikes, along the Gitchi-Gami State Trail and through the parks that line the coast. To me, the colors evoke the birch and aspen trees, their spring leaves, the blue sky, and the depth of the lake. My hope is that they will remind you of moments in wilderness, as they do me.

Gitchi-Gami Scarf

The Gitchi-Gami Scarf is named for the trail, and this piece is an engaging knitting journey, knit in the round from one end to the other. Like the desire to reach the next view on the trail, the promise of the next new motif will keep you knitting and you will soon be wrapped in the cozy warmth of this statement piece.

Gichi-Gami scarf

The Gitchi-Gami Tam is also knit in the round and depending on your preference, this hat can be stretched and blocked over a plate to create a relatively slouchy tam or blocked into a beanie.

Gitchi-Gami Tam

The Gitchi-Gami Mittens complete the set, featuring a deep ribbed cuff and matching motifs.

Gitchi-Gami Mittens

The Gitchi-Gami patterns are available from Ravelry or my Etsy store, and you’ll receive a 15% discount on any pattern in the Gitchi-Gami set until January 31st (Sunday) by using the code HIKING when checking out.

Thank you so much for taking us along with you to the north shore of Lake Superior, Virginia, and for your stunning contribution to the project inspired by this wonderful place! My Place will be back next Wednesday with another design (and designer).