4509 Tolt Ave, Carnation, WA
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Blog / Camp Tolt

  • Knitting and the Outdoors by Anna Brones


    The outdoors is where I go to disconnect, to remove myself from the world of obligations and to-do lists. More importantly, there’s rarely cell service. Amongst the trees, in the mountains, along the coastline, there are no inner voices calling out to me telling me what I should and should not be doing. Instead, it is quiet, peaceful.


    Knitting is the same. The rhythm of the movement of my hands is calming, meditative. Being occupied, they also can’t pick up the phone to check the latest message or news item. It’s an activity that pushes me straight into the present moment and keeps me there. Distractions fall away, time passes without me noticing.


    Knitting outside means breaking everything down to the simplest moment. It is you, your work and the sound of the wilderness, the smell of a campfire. Perhaps there’s a mug of tea or cup of coffee next to you, maybe even a nightcap of whiskey as you knit through dusk.


    Knitting and camping; I find that the two go quite well together. Knitting is after all activity that’s both simple and complex. The end result - be it a hat, a sweater, a pair of socks - is a combination of small actions, all based on those two basic elements: knit, purl, knit, purl. While the end product might be a source of excitement - a new sweater! - it is the act of making, the entire process that gets us to that sweater, that is the most important, much like the end destination of a day on the trail might be a lake or a summit, but it is the journey created by every step along the way that brings that destination its true meaning.


    Sitting outside with a knitting project in hand, life feels like it scales back, reduced to the bare, essential elements. Ingredient lists for meals are shorter, but even the easiest of culinary combinations are the tastiest. A piece of grilled bread slathered in goat cheese and drizzled with honey. A morning cup of coffee. A bowl of oatmeal with freshly foraged blackberries strewn on top.


    I am reminded of a Terry Tempest Williams quote. “To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”


    In the midst of a maddening world, I crave that connection; we all do. We need more wild. So here I am knitting a sweater with no real pattern, using up lovingly handspun wool gifted to me by my mother. I think of how it too was once wild, in the form of an animal. There’s still a hint of lanolin, to remind me that it came from a living thing, not a product extracted from the ground. The morning sunshine rises above the treeline, hitting my face. It’s quiet now that the campground elk have gone on their way. There’s no real goal to this project, or even the day, just being present in this time, the now.


    Here I am, whole, connected to the place around me and to the fibers that I hold in my hand.


    Anna Brones is an artist and writer and the author of several books including the forthcoming Best Served Wild: Real Food for Real Adventures.
  • Why We Love Cestari

    We love Cestari yarns.  Cestari's Traditional 2-ply is one of our absolute favorites for its woolly goodness and workhorse durability.  Garments made with Cestari Traditional 2-ply wear beautifully over time.

     Cestari Traditional 2-ply in our Camp Tolt Hyak Sock pattern

    We love Cestari's Virginia cotton, the story of how these fields are so rich, creating a wonderful cotton, that while not organically certified, are, grown totally naturally. The Old Dominion Collection is 100% Virgina cotton.

    Cestari Ash Lawn in our custom colors, Elderberry, Natural and Red Raspberry

    We especially love the Ash Lawn Collection which is 75% natural Virginia Cotton and 25% US Wool.  For this year's Camp Tolt we requested some custom colors to be featured in our new pattern Bandera.

    Bandera, Ash Lawn Collection, custom color Spinach

    We love the fact that Cestari is a family operation, Francis' children and grandchildren contribute to the business. Anna, Rachel and I were lucky enough to meet Tristan with his grandfather when we were East for a business trip.

    Tristan with a lamb at the Chester Farm

    We love that Francis Chester is so willing to work with farmers and yarn shops to bring US Fibers to fiberfolk.  Cestari has an initiative "Let's Grow Together" that is all about the success of the US fiber industry and local yarn shops. 

    Francis with his wife Diane

    Francis Chester will be coming across the country to visit our shop, with every color and yarn that Cestari has in production, along with US Wool throws and sheepskins.  He'll be here on July 23rd all day, doing a special talk at 1pm. We hope to see you there!

  • Camp Tolt Knit Night

    This past Friday we had our first Camp Tolt fireside knit night.  We had a great time in the Pacific Northwest twilight. Lots of wonderful knitters came from near and far to spend the evening with us at Tolt McDonald Park, a 500 acre campground right here in Carnation, WA.

    Rachel knitting her Bandera Kerchief in Cestari Ash Lawn (75% Virginia Cotton, 25% US Wool)

     We have two other Camp Tolt Knit Nights scheduled for July 22nd and August 19th, at which Linda Rostad will do a special talk about her knitting and mountaineering adventures. Linda is an avid knitter and has been backpacking in the Pacific NW for over 50 years, including completing the entire Pacific Crest Trail over time.

    We hope to see you around the campfire with us and out adventuring with your knits on your own!


    Knit for adventure!


  • Creative Pursuit and Public Lands

    I woke up to a cool and foggy morning here in the Snoqualmie valley, autumn is here.  Although summer is full of fun, outdoor adventures, I do look forward to cooler days spent outside enjoying the changing leaves, rivers full of spawning salmon, and the sound of migrating Canadian geese.  I hope you continue to take your knitting with you on your fall wilderness adventures and be sure to share them with us on Instagram #knitforadventure and #CampTolt

    We are thrilled to have Sara Bateman here on our blog sharing a bit about her life as a park ranger, photographer, fiber artist and knitter and to share with us some of her favorite spots to enjoy fall in the North Cascades.


    Middle Fork Hat at Park Butte


    Art making was what originally led me to a life lived on public lands. Studying photography as an undergraduate, I was enamored by photographers that captured the American West, from the renowned Ansel Adams to contemporaries like Mark Klett. I spent a large portion of my college years focused on a growing love for large format photography and a dream to live in Yosemite National Park.


    At the age of 23, I made that dream a reality. I gave away everything that would not fit in a backpack and bought a one-way bus ticket bound for California to live, explore and create in a national park that had been captivating my imagination. To this day, I have continued my love affair with public lands, spanning a career spent working in both the arts field and as a park ranger.


    As I explored my backyard in places including Big Bend, Zion, Mount Rainier and North Cascades, I became interested in craft artists and the innate relationship they had between their creative practice and the landscape that surrounded them. Of the crafts I came across, it was the work of fiber artists that captivated me. From the beliefs held in the strips of cedar forming a Coast Salish basket to histories told through a Navajo weaving, the connection fiber had, both in material and story, spoke to me in a way I had not experienced since first learning photography.


    At this time, my mother had been knitting for well over a decade. While I had always admired what she produced on her knitting needles, it was experiencing the full circle connection between material and landscape that made me want to begin my own fiber journey. From a beautiful skein of Navajo spun yarn found at Arizona’s Hubbell Trading Post to the Methow Valley Romney wool produced at McFarland Creek Lamb Ranch using predator friendly techniques, the tactile nature of the material and its connection to the place I was exploring drew me to this creative practice.


    Hyak Socks at Park Butte

    Ptarmigan Ridge Trail


    With my mother as my fiber mentor, I have delved into the trial and error, fascination and joy that encompass learning a new art form. And the best part is having found my new favorite hiking companions – knitting needles and a beautiful skein of yarn. This past summer, whether I was day hiking in the North Cascades or backpacking Mount Rainier’s Northern Loop, my pack was almost always carrying a knitting project. The beauty of honing one’s creativity in the natural world was something I discovered years ago and the meditative practice of knitting in the wilderness has deeply added to this experience. 
    Mount Baker

    Want to knit on the trail this fall? Here’s this park ranger’s top recommendations for exploring fall time in the North Cascades and getting your own wilderness time to #knitforadventure:


    Blue Lake: Located on the eastern slopes of the North Cascades in the Okanogan National Forest, this sweet little hike leads you to a gorgeous alpine lake, passing meadow areas and granite cliffs along the way. With an inviting rocky area on the lake’s edge, you’ll have a beautiful spot to work on your knitting. Keep your eyes open for golden larches and mountain goats. 4.4 miles round-trip, 1050 feet elevation gain.


    Easy Pass: If you are not familiar with larches, then make this autumn your first experience. Larches are a coniferous tree with deciduous needles that produce a stunning golden fall display not typically associated with the conifer family. And Easy Pass has no shortage of larches come fall. A demanding hike, bring that knitting project to give yourself ample rest breaks along the way. 7 miles round-trip, 2800 feet elevation gain. 


    Ptarmigan Ridge to Sholes Glacier: Want to knit at the edge of a glacier? Then this hike is for you. Beginning from Artist’s Point on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, this trail takes you face-to-face with Mount Baker while wandering through a fall color display of fiery red mountain blueberry and sedges glistening in bold yellows. 11.8 miles round-trip, 1470 feet elevation gain.


    Park Butte: Does knitting on the porch of a historic fire lookout sound like a great way to pass an afternoon? Then head up to Park Butte, a 1932 fire lookout located in the Mount Baker Wilderness. The meadows you’ll pass on the hike to the lookout are currently alive with fall color and the lookout itself puts forth a display of peaks, with Mount Baker stealing the show. If an overnight adventure is of interest, the lookout is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  7.5 miles round-trip, 2200 feet elevation gain.


    Enjoy knitting in the wilderness and remember to follow Leave No Trace ethics during your adventure!

  • Summer Adventures


    A week ago my family finally had a chance to get away together on our first family trip of the Summer.  Last Sunday the six of us loaded into the jam packed car and headed north to Whistler, B.C..  The five hour drive was a perfect time to finish up my first pair of Hyak socks!  The first day at Whistler the kids did a morning rock climbing camp, my husband got to ride in the bike park and I was able to going on a gorgeous hike on top of the mountain.   We all met up in the afternoon and spent the rest of that day and the next riding bikes and enjoying the beauty of Whistler.  

    On the way home we stopped at the Britannia Mining Museum and the kids got to pan for gold and we all went on a tour of the old mine.  On the drive back to Carnation I finished the socks and worked on another Middle Fork Hat (my third!).


    We were only home for one night before loading up the car again to head down to central Oregon to visit my sister and her husband.   The drive from Carnation, WA to Prineville, OR is long but stunning.  I cast on for my second pair of Hyak socks (this one is for my little boy) and was over half way done by the time we reached my sister's house.  The kids were great on the drive down but were anxious to get out and run around.   The next day we took them to the High Desert Museum in Bend (I highly recommend it) where they had a great time acting like pioneers and viewing animals of the high desert.

    The next day we had a party at my sister's house and found out that she will be having a baby in February (baby knits!).  It was sad to leave the following day but we all caravanned out to the Painted Hills where we said our farewells before heading our separate ways home.   The kiddos were tired and quiet on the drive home and I was able to finish one of my son's Hyak socks and do a little more knitting on my Guernsey wrap.


    I can't believe school will be starting in a few weeks.  It's always nice in the fall to get back to a routine but I will definitely miss the relaxed and easy going days of Summer.  I plan on taking advantage of these last few weeks with the kids home from school and get outside as much as we can.  I love the Camp Tolt knitting patterns, they have been the perfect projects to stuff in my backpack and knit on all of our Summer adventures.  

    We love to see what you're up to as well, please share your outdoor adventures and Camp Tolt knitting projects on Instagram #knitforadventure #camptolt.

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