Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spinny Tour 09 Stop One: HWSDA

Hey Y'all! I'm back! Just shy of three weeks on the road, I had 1500 km of driving, 4 flights, 7 different beds, and 60 0r so meals. And a whole lotta fun!

So much has happened over the last 3 weeks that it is all becoming a blur, so I'm going to try and blog as much of it as I can before the details disappear as I move on to the next thing...

Stop One on the Great Spinny Tour of Aught-Nine was the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers of Alberta conference at Olds College in Olds, Alberta. Going to any event at Olds is like going home--it is the old Alma Mater after all--so I was really looking forward to this conference. I have been in and out of the HWSDA for around 10 years now, and there are a lot of great friends, acquaintances and connections that I look forward to seeing there as well.

I set off on a sunny Thursday morning, May 21, with a car loaded with 2 spinning wheels, fibre, equipment, and clothes for 3 weeks. The drive was pleasant, with the sun shining and the road clear. For the first hour and a half. Then...

...I drove into what looked from the distance like a cloud of smoke from land clearing. Nope. Full-blown blizzard with white-out conditions and everything. Fortunately, the roads were just wet and slushy, and while it was careful driving, it was not too tricky. This lasted for about 75 km (45 minutes or so) and then it was...gone. Just gone, as if there had never been a cloud in the sky, let alone a blizzard.

A short visit and a sleep at my Mom's, and I was off to Olds the next day. As soon as I walked in, I felt surrounded by old friends. So many people to stop and chat with! I had a hard time spending my money in the vendors' mall between visits, but I managed to drop a bit of change.

The opening night consisted of dinner, the AGM, the Juried Show opening and and a wine and cheese. I scurried from one event to another.
The Juried Show and the Instructors' Exhibit were in a cozy little space that got rather warm with all those admiring weavers and spinners in there, but there was lots to look at and inspiration to be had.

The Fire Shawl had its moment in the spotlight. As I was waiting to take this picture, I eavesdropped on a conversation between two women I didn't know. It went something like this:

"How did she get that look?"

"I think it's knitted."

"Knitted? Why is there knitting here?"

"Because it's handspun yarn."

"Oh. Who did it?"

"Oooh. Michelle Boyd." This speaker then read the label to her friend.

"Who's Michelle Boyd?"

"I believe she's a quite well-known spinner."

"Hmm, well she must be. Nobody I know can spin this fine and straight. "

And they say eavesdroppers hear no good of themselves.

With my ego sufficiently stroked, I wandered off to the wine and cheese reception to sip a glass or two.

Our bartender was the lovely and talented Carol, who is one of my favorite people at Olds College (besides you, Otto!). She works in the cafeteria in the Land Sciences Building during fibre week and is always cheerful and helpful. Carol can brighten any day with a smile and a fresh pot of coffee!

I was in teacher mode, so I did not overdo it at the wine and cheese. I went to my condo, chatted with my roommates and off to bed.

Saturday morning was bright and sunny, so off I went to my classroom. It turned out that I had the same 4 students morning and afternoon, plus one more in that afternoon workshop. I love small groups, and I much prefer full-day sessions over half-day, so this worked out wonderfully.

In the morning, we did Wild Cards, which is a blending workshop. With the small group, we had a great opportunity to play around with different ideas, but they were most taken with blending on the hackles. There were some truly wondrous samples made that morning.

I took a picture, but, apparently, I flunked Flash Settings 101. Those 4 silhouettes are all spinning away at their colored blends, though.

The afternoon session was Super-Size Me, a workshop about making bulky yarns. We were joined by Ruth, who fit right in with the rest of the group, and we all had a swell time spinning fat yarns.

Saturday evening there was a banquet and a talk by Chad Alice Hagen, felt-maker extraordinaire. She spoke about her work and about the nature of being an artist--most inspiring! I do not make "Art" by the gallery definition, but her talk reminded me that the creative process is art in and of itself--and reassured me that chaos was part of the creative process.

Sunday morning I wrapped up the conference with a mad shopping frenzy and the popular lunch/open fashion show. These are some of Chad Alice Hagen's students modelling their Birch Bark Felt Scarves. Clearly, they had had a blast making them!

There were only about 60 registrants at the conference, which was quite an unusual experience. My overall impression of the conference was that it was small and friendly, truly intimate. I know that the lower registration was a concern for the organizers, but it made for a wonderful weekend for those of who were there. I hope that some of the factors that impacted registration this year resolve themselves, because this conference is always such a wonderful gathering of Alberta fibre folk. The more, the merrier! Keep and eye on the HWSDA website for details on their 2010 conference in Edmonton--well worth joining the guild for!

Somewhere over the weekend, I had decided to send my Kromski on to Spokane with Deb Turner, who was headed that way herself. So I kissed my sweet wheel goodbye, loaded up the rest of my gear and headed back to St. Albert to hang out with my Mom and Brendan. Three days of R&R, which, little did I know, I would really, really need in the days to come...


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