Friday, June 19, 2009

Spinny Tour 09 Stop Three: North Carolina

I was beginning to wonder if I would get the chance to finish blogging about my last set of adventures before I set out on the next one when a Higher Power apparently decided I should sit down and rest. As I was packing and sorting, supervising 3 dye pots, doing laundry and redesigning a sock pattern yesterday, I somehow got distracted and tripped. My little toe kind of hurt, and upon examination, turned out to be sprained. It is quite surprising how much one little sore toe can slow you down, but it does give me an excuse to sit and blog...
So here we are, up to the last stop of leg one of the summer of spinning, Greensboro, North Carolina. I was there to teach Level 3 of the Master Spinner Program, and I have three words to describe the week: A. Ma. Zing!
I arrived in Raleigh late Sunday afternoon and was met by coordinator and student Mary Ann, who drove me half-way, then handed me over to Carl for the rest of the drive to Greensboro and handed me into the care of Tina, with whom I would billet for the week. I knew from the minute that I met Mary Ann, Carl and Tina that I was going to have fun with this group, and did I ever! (Shout out to Mary Ann, Clare, Teresa, Mary, Carl, Tina, Tammy, Deb and Maria. Holla!)
I knew I would love it in the South, too the minute I saw...


I will freely admit that I am a total tourist when I go to a new place, and I have never been to the South before. I have, however, read Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird, which, of course, means I know all about the region. Okay, maybe not, but I'm always eager to learn!

We held classes in this building...

...the Carriage House at Blandwood. I walked the grounds, but never got into the main house, of the pre-Civil War governor of North Carolina's home. Beautiful and, well, just plain old! Coming from a community that has a rich history dating all the way back to the 1920's, it was astounding to me to wander amongst buildings that had been built on a piece of swampland in 1846. As I said, I'm a total tourist.

Inside the Carriage House, there was much spinning going on. The class was comprised of an amazing group of individuals, who kept me on my toes!

Reece the Wonderdog, on the other hand, was very content to just relax and enjoy the air conditioning. Reece was my doggie-host and attended classes every day, and somewhere out there, someone has a picture of Reece watching me attentively while I teach. (Send me a copy!) Reece is a yarn doggy, working at Gate City Yarns, which is owned by his people Tina.
So we did the dreaded tpi math, we spun cotton, and we...

...sorted skeins for dying. We had wonderful results from the dye exercise (using mordants and modifiers to get 25 colors from 1 dye bath) and I do not have a single picture. Hmph!

While dye pots simmered, punis were made and we attempted to spin cotton on support spindles. I was reminded that this was a skill that I need to brush up on a bit, much to my chagrin. And I discovered that my favorite little Tahkli was bent. But my students persevered and were spinning quite nicely by the end of the week.

We made our own mawatas on Thursday, with well-scoured silk cocoons, which is always fun--though there were a few in the class who were pretty sure that they would not be repeating the experience in the near future. All in all, I think the class went well, and everyone seemed eager to go home and perfect those tpis! Right gang?

Of course, there is always so much more going on than just the classes. In this case, it seems that what was going on! I was pretty determined that I was going to experience Southern cuisine at it's source, and my hosts and students were happy to oblige. I ate a a Cracker Barrel, had biscuits and gravy for breakfast and was introduced to the delights of Chick-Fil-A(mmmmmm...Chiiiiick-Fiiiiil-Aaaaaa....).

I ate my first Moon Pie....

,,,and real North Carolina Barbecue (complete with slaw and hush puppies!) There was great debate over whether this was the best barbecue or not, but let me tell you, it worked for me!

And then there were the deep-fried pickles...not a regional thing, but the specialty of Fincastle's in downtown Greensboro...
..not the prettiest dish I was served, but waaaay tastier than you would think they should be!

I had the opportunity to explore Greensboro a bit. Downtown Greensboro has an event they call First Fridays, where merchants stay open late and provide entertainment and so forth to draw people to the area. Gate City Yarns and my hostess Tina participate in the event, so I went along. I wandered up and down Elm Street, taking in art galleries and antique shops, along with funky little shops selling locally-made crafts. I also sat in the yarn shop, spinning a bit of a yarn on the floor model Ladybug. There were a few curious visitors who tried spinning, too, which was great fun! In the end, there were 30 yards of this yarn...

...Ashford Merino top in Tangerine and Bean Sprout and some dyed BFL locks. It was such a relief to spin a novelty yarn after all that tpi talk!

Saturday was a bumming around and shopping day, then I got to attend the block party in Tina's neighborhood. Her husband, Larry, was one of the organizers, and they had a rather ginormous turn-out. I got to sample a local beer and had another amazing meal. And then the week caught up with me. Early to bed and a deep sleep before Sunday's adventure.

Sunday, I began my trip back to Raleigh via Chapel Hill. I met up with two members of the class, Teresa and Mary Ann for a spin-in at Yarns ETC, where we shared the space with a lively bunch of needlepointers. Teresa and Mary Ann worked on acheiving tpi...

while I got to play with some of Mary Ann's fabulous painted BFL top...

making a gorgeous yarn with a few overplied spots. I blame Teresa and her questions about tpi. Apparently I cannot think and spin at the same time. I had to bring some more top home, along with a wee skein of sock yarn. Yummy colors and loverly fibres, the perfect combination!
After yet another fine meal, Mary Ann took me to her home at Three Waters Farm and gave me the Grand Tour. There were beautiful Blue-Faced and Badger-Faced Leicester babies, a herd of crazy poodles...
...and Potter the goat. Three Waters Farm is a busy place, with a soap factory, a dye studio, and a bakery on the premises, all operated by Mary Ann and her family. And in the evenings, the fireflies dance in the fields and among the branches of the tree outside of the bedroom I slept in that night. All in all, a magical place.
And the next morning, before Teresa drove me into Raleigh to fly home...

...breakfast came with a beautiful view of a misty morning across the fields.
I was eager to get home, but sad to be leaving North Carolina and the amazing people I had met there. There were flight delays and mayhem at Canada Customs in Toronto that added to the wish that I had stayed, but in the end, I got back to Edmonton, then home.
Being home has been wild--unpacking and re-packing in preparation for Fibre Week. Getting the garden tidied up and finishing the planting. Puppeteers came and went. Junior high concerts, exams, and farewells. The usual go, go, go.
Now that I am sort of being forced to sit still, maybe I should attend to those UFOs languishing in my knitting basket. Especially with all the goodies I just brought home calling my name! I guess I can't complain--how often does life offer you an excuse to sit still and get your knitting caught up?

1 comment:

  1. OK a sprained toe actually hurts longer than my burned foot (scalded with a super-hot cup of tea). Maybe I won't trade you. Though sounds like you had a wonderful time in the Land of Deep-Fried Pickles! Hope the ouchie feels better soon.