Monday, December 13, 2010

Spinny Tour 2010, Part Three:Sedalia Master Spinner Class

It's been a long cold month since I came home from my last spinning tour, but the warm memories still linger.  And some of the best memories are those from Sedalia, Missouri.

I went there the first week of November to teach Level One of the Master Spinner Program for Olds College.  I thought I was pretty well prepared, but there were a lot of wild cards in the mix.  New material to teach (I'd never taught Level One before), unknown surroundings (a church basement in a city I'd never been to), and mystery supplies ( I had ordered fleeces from a MSP student in the area, but not seen them yet).
And I had a co-teacher, the lovely and talented Coleen Nimetz, which was new for me, too.  AND I was staying in a haunted hotel!

The beautiful and historic Hotel Bothwell is located in downtown Sedalia, and is on National Geographic's list of the 10 most haunted hotels in America.  I checked in on Halloween, and the desk clerk, Donna, was only too happy to regale me with ghost stories as she took me up to my room in the old, original elevator...

The room was lovely, with a great big bed and a bathtub that looked about as old as the hotel.  Even after watching The Walking Dead and hearing the stories of the hotel ghost, I slept like a baby.

The next morning, I was up and off to work.  Level One, for those of you who are not familiar with the Master Spinner Program, is fairly basic.  We work with wool, starting with the fleece, sorting, washing, and prepping.  Then we move on to the differences between woollen and worsted spinning.  Throw in a little spinning wheel mechanics,  some nature dying, and an introduction to blending with silk and there you have it.

The 16 students were from all over the US, including Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, and Texas.  They were split nicely into two classes of 8, with Coleen teaching upstairs and me and my rowdy bunch in the basement.

We started out Monday morning with sorting fleeces.  Time to find out what I had bought.  It turned out I had ordered...

...magnificent fleeces like this Romney, supplied by Lorry McDonald at BlackWater Treasures.

My class could hardly wait to get their hands on it either...

... sorting the fleece into 6 sections and grabbing samples to use in their homework.

We also sorted a gorgeous Merino and an equally lovely Icelandic fleece.  Then we did a little spindle spinning and washed some fleece to work with the next day.

Tuesday morning, we carded for worsted and woollen spinning, then started to spin...

...with everyone making a lovely, balanced skein on their very first try!

We continued on spinning through until Wednesday, when we began to prepare for our natural dye day.  We tied and labelled skeins, prepared our alum mordant, and soaked a few of the dyestuffs that needed to be prepared in advance and left our skeins to do their thing while we went home to rest up.

And that was the night I was visited by the ghost.  I had gone to sleep with my iPod plugged into my ears, as I do when I travel, and was sound asleep when my TV went on.  There was nothing on the TV but snow, even when I changed the channel.  I  thought that I had maybe hit the remote in my sleep, so I turned it off, then on again.  The channel I had been watching before I went to bed came on, even though I had been changing the channels on the remote, which seemed odd to me.  I'm afraid that I was a little skeptical that this event had been caused by a ghost, and laughing at myself for even thinking it, I turned off the TV and plugged my earbuds back in and snuggled into bed.

The damn TV turned back on.  To snow.

I sat up and said, "Thank you for visiting, but I have a big day tomorrow and need my sleep."

And the TV turned off.


When I told Donna the story the next morning, she told me that that was one of the ghost's favorite tricks, and that she must have liked me to turn the TV off, because she is known to keep turning it on all night.

(Insert Twilight Zone theme here...)

Ghost or no ghost, there was a natural dye day to run.  Coleen and I had decided that I would run the group, with her floating and troubleshooting, so I started barking instructions and got the group going.  We created pairs, one from each class, and assigned them a dye material.  In all, we had 8 teams and we managed to dye and modify 32 skeins per student, for a total of 512 skeins.  The colors were amazing...

...clear and bright. (Except for some rather disappointing Brazilwood liquor that had gone over)  The students all worked together... it hardly felt like I was working at all.

Everybody went home tired and they managed to drag back in on Friday morning for one more day of spinning and blending.  And then, it was over.  Just like that.

Group photos were taken.  Email addresses were exchanged.  There were hugs, and tears.  And a new crop of Master Spinners have started their homework.

I enjoy every classs that I teach, but the enthusiasm of this particular group was absolutely infectious!  I, of course, conducted myself with my ususal dignity, and commanded the respect of each and every student...

Coleen and I treated ourselves to a lovely dinner in the Hotel Bothwell, in the very restaurant where Harry Truman was convinced to run for President, and a good night's sleep before we were shuttled off to Kansas City for more adventures.

By the way, Jacey has been blogging about her experience here.  She was in Coleen's class, but the two classes pretty much did the same things, and we came together for dye day.  Those are her arms above, modelling the lovely colors, and here she is, respecting my authority as her teacher...

...Yeah.  Just you wait.  I may just be teaching you someday.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Procrastination At Its Finest

So...I've sat down to blog the rest of Spinny Tour 2010 a couple of times, but I appear to have the attention span of a dyslexic bonobo on meth right now.  I am finishing and sending out proposals for 2011 teaching gigs, I am wrapping up Fibre Week work for 2011 and laying groundwork for 2012, I am baking cookies and making gifts for an event that is still 2 weeks away.  In short, I am living in the future in my brain, making it hard to focus in the present.

Today is the day I try and bring myself back to reality.  So far, not working.  I wrote all morning, then, somehow, deleted the whole thing.  Nothing wrong with the post, just gone.  Poof!

I thought I could remedy this situation as my cookies baked this afternoon, but that is not working out for me either.  Can't sit still long enough to see a thought through to the end.  Because the oven timer keeps buzzing, no doubt.  I am sure it has nothing to do with the sugar rush brought on by my enthusiastic sampling. (A good cook ALWAYS tastes everything before feeding it to others.  I'm just  doing my job.)

Still, I feel the need to blog.  So I'm stealing this meme thingy that seems to be making the rounds again amongst many of the blogs I read.  It's supposed to be all revealing and stuff, but really, this is the internetz, people!  I'm not about to go into really creepy detail.  Besides, my Mom reads this blog.

101 Things You May Not Know About Me

1.  I have a really high I.Q.  Like Mensa, creepy nerd high.

2.  I secretly like math.

3.  And I'm pretty good at it.

4.  Ditto physics.

5. Using these two disciplines, I have been working to expand time so that there are enough hours in a day to get everything done and still get a good night's sleep.

6.  I am failing miserably at this task so far.

7.  I am remarkably stubborn and not easily discouraged.

8.  I often fail to recognize a lost cause.  (See #7)

9.  I almost never make snap decisions, even when it looks like I do.

10.  I also believe that decisions have to be made.  Debating your options can only go on so long.  More that two shakes and it's playing with yourself, so to speak.

11.  I have a very juvenile sense of humor.  Talking about shafts and orifices, butts and tips,  or saying puni all make me go tee-hee-hee inside.

12.  I swear a lot when I spin and knit.

13.  I swear more when I weave.

14.  When my kids were little, I tried to teach myself not to swear because I did not want to be a bad influence.  I substituted words that started with the same sound, like sugar, and mother...fathersisterbrother!

15.  Some of those substitutions still slip out today, even though my kids swear more that I do now.

16.  I admire my kids.  A lot.  They are, each in their own way, all remarkable human beings.

17.  I take full credit for the fact that my kids are, each in their own way, all remarkable human beings.

18.  I love being a mom, even though my kids are all adults, or close enough to count.

19.  It's harder being a mom when your kids are all adults, or close enough to count.

20. My children made me who I am today, and I know that is a better person.

21.  I could still be a better person than I am.

22.  I try very hard not to be judgemental, no matter how awful someone seems at first glance.

23.  Having said that, I must confess that a fashion Nazi lives in my head and makes comments about people and their fashion choices.

24.  I like nice clothes.

25.  I chose clothes based on fibre content, comfort, style, and price.  In that order.  (Except for the notorious yellow sweater.)

26.  I am frequently annoyed by how little most knitters and weavers know about string.

27.  I often suspect that Ravelry is a tool for evil.

28.  I often feel the same way about the whole interwebz.

29.  I sometimes long for a simpler time, with no TV, no computers, no cell phones.

30.  I know that I would not adjust well to that lifestyle.

31.  I sometimes turn everything off and light some candles and spin and pretend that I have adjusted to that lifestyle.

32.  I would go crazy without music.

33.  Music today is not any better or worse that it was when I was a teenager.  There was crappy music then and there is crappy music now.  Likewise, there was awesome music then and there is awesome music now.

34.  I like rap.  Not hip-hop.  Rap.

35.  I love opera. 

36.  I miss grunge.

37.  I consider Leonard Cohen a minor deity.

38.  Christmas carols often make me cry.  Not sure why, they just do.

39.  I love Christmas for the lights, the pine trees, the cookies, the knitting, the coziness.

40.  I hate Christmas for the pressure to socialize with people you do not see any other time of the year and the whole "perfect present" syndrome.

41.  I make most of my Christmas gifts.

42.  I will not go into a store or mall on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday in December.

43.  I don't like stores or malls much, anyway.  They are full of stuff that people don't need and usually can't afford.

44.  I suspect a rabid Marxist lurks not far beneath my small-l liberal surface.

45.  I believe in moderation in all things, therefore do not allow any portion of my personality to become rabid. 

47.  I like the path of least resistance.  That doesn't always mean I take it.

48.  I am basically very lazy.  I will spend hours trying to find the easiest way to do something.

49.  I am very patient with others, except for the idiots that always seem to get into the self-checkout line right ahead of me..

50.  I am very impatient with myself.

51  I love to cook.  And I'm pretty good at it.

52.  Baking calms me down and focuses me.  You can tell I've had a bad day if there are suddenly a lot of muffins around.

53.  I don't really like muffins all that much.

54. I do like cupcakes.  Cupcakes make everyday a party!

55.  I think everyday should be a party.  I always find some little thing to celebrate, even if it is just getting through the day alive.

56.  I intend to live to 103.  I do not know why I chose that age, I just did.  It seems like a good age to live to.

57.  I do not intend to ever grow old.  I may, however, become decrepit.

58.  I do not trust modern medicine.

59.  I have had 6 surgeries and 11 broken bones (mostly fingers and toes, 3 of those at Fibre Week!).

60.  I need to have surgery on my knee and probably would have had it by now if I trusted modern medicine.

61.  I don't really trust any institutional system.  It is my humble opinion that they are designed to be non-functional in order to keep the  management busy and employed.

62.  If I ruled the world, systems would be efficient.  I cannot stand waste, duplication and redundancy.

63.  Also, if I ruled the world, the people who do the actual work would get paid more than the management.  Teachers, nurses, and day-care providers would be the most highly-paid professionals on the planet.  Next to plumbers.

64.  I appreciate plumbers more than anyone else on the planet.  I have spent a lot of time with them lately.

65.  I have lost any respect I may have once had for roofers, though, now that I know that they shove their garbage down people's sewer vents.  And that some of them pee there, too.  Ewww!

66.  Witnessing bad parenting makes me sad.  We all have our different styles, but whacking your kid or calling them names in a supermarket is not a style choice.  It is bad parenting.  Actually, it's bad parenting where ever you do it.

67.  I do not believe there is ever an excuse for cruelty.  It is not funny.  It is not taking control.  It is not cool.  Be excellent to one another.

68.  I also do not appreciate holier-than-thouness.  Especially when it is founded in false beliefs and bad information.  I'm looking at you, PETA.

69.  I do not understand reality television.  Why is it entertaining to watch people behave badly because they think it will make them famous?

70.  I do not understand why people think being famous is a reason to behave badly.  I miss positive roll models.

71.  I love clothes, but I hate the way the fashion industry treats women.  Any industry that consistently tells you how inadequate you are to sell you shoddy, overpriced merchandise has got a few issues to work through.

72.  I am a feminist. 

73.  And I think that feminism has failed women.  And feminists.

74.  I believe that the traditional gender-based work that women have done for the last 20,000 years is what has led us to civilization, not the wars, machines and get-rich-quick schemes of our male counterparts.

75.  I tend to get really worked up about this topic.  So much for moderation in all things!

76.  I tend to randomly change topics when things start getting intense.  It is my subtle way of heading off ugliness.  Most people do not consider it subtle.

77.  I like to read, but have only read 1 fiction book in the past 5 years.

78.  I do a crossword puzzle every day.

79.  I prefer to do a cryptic crossword puzzle every day, but the Globe and Mail is so damned expensive!  And hard to find.

80.  I love Mexican food.  Real Mexican food.

81.  I also love Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese food.  Asian in general, I suppose.

82.  I could live on nothing but sushi and avocados for the rest of my life.

83.  I would require the occasional medium-rare steak to supplement that diet.  But otherwise, I could do it.

84.  I do not have a favorite color.  I love them all!  (Okay, maybe yellow not so much, but we could still be friends.)

85.  I do not think that It's a Wonderful Life is the greatest Christmas movie ever made.  I try to avoid watching it.

86.  I also do not like the Harry Potter movies.  The books, yes.  The movies, no.

87.  I loooove horror movies.  Even bad ones. 

88.  I enjoy being a woman of a certain age and experience.  I would not go back to 20 again for anything.

89.  Okay, I do miss the knee I had when I was 20. 

90.  I will be 50 in July of 2011.

91.  I intend to celebrate all year long, doing one thing I've always wanted to do each month.

92.  I picked the first thing after a couple of glasses of wine:  January's thing is going to see Cher perform in Vegas.  She is leaving Caesar's Palace after February 5, so this may be my last chance.

93.  I should never do things after a couple of glasses of wine that will cost me $3,000, but I occasionally do.

94. I am still in love with my husband.  He's a nice guy, when he isn't snoring.

95. My life has not been perfect.  I kind of like that.

96.  I am a perfectionist, but I understand that sometimes perfect comes in unexpected forms.

97.  I am grateful for the wonderful people that string has brought into my life.  Some of my best friends are string people.

98. I don't really mind doing the laundry, it just pisses me off that I am the only one who ever does it around here.  C'mon, people!

99.  I used to be afraid of spiders, but now they are my personal totem.  Hey, anybody who spins is okay with me.

100. I have a terrible memory.  I honestly can't remember what I wrote for number 1...

101. ...but I have 8 dozen cookies, 2 pans of squares and a blog post to show for my afternoon! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spinny Tour 2010: Part 3, The Faces of SOAR

The best part of any trip for me is the people I meet.  There are always so many wonderful people out there, some of whom pass through my life in a few minutes, some of whom have become life-long friends.  And many of those latter, I have met at fibre gatherings.  SOAR was no exception, so let me introduce you to some of the extraordinary people I met there.

Some of the first souls I met were SOAR veterans Pete and Carol Leonard, who travel each year from Great Britain.  There are quite a few SOAR regulars, all of whom went out of their way to make a newbie like me feel welcome, and soon, I felt quite at home.  So many new faces, and so few photos!

So, who did I get to know?  And who was I clever enough to take pictures of?

There were, of course, the fabulous mentors, some of whom you have already met...

Demetrio Bautista Lazo...

Deb Menz...

Margaret Stove...

and Stephenie Gaustad, here with Jacey Boggs.  (More about Jacey later.)

I spent much of the week with Kathryn Alexander, who posed glamourously for me...

... and who makes remarkable garments from yarn and does unnatural things to fibre with stunning results...

There were my classmates in the workshop, who were all wonderful to hang out with for 18 hours in a dim cavern, doing unnatural things to fibres ourselves...

There were a lot of spinners there, of all levels of experience, and with all sorts of different styles.  We hung out in clumps, under the elk...

and out in the sunshine, when there was some!

I met the lovely Linda Ligon, founder of Interweave press and fairy godmother to scholarship recipients such as myself...

I got to sit at breakfasts, lunches, and dinners beside the mentors, all of whom are fabulous people, discussing the weather and craft and survival with Deanna Dailey, cracking cold weather jokes with Bobbi Daniels (who hails from Alaska).  Sharing lunch with the camera-shy Sara Lamb, Deb Menz, Kathryn Alexander, and Gord Lendrum (yes, that Lendrum).  Eating dinner with Jacey Boggs, who shared with me her secret desire to take this interesting little fibre arts college program that they offer in Canada.  Oddly enough, I knew where there was a US off-campus class being offered by that Canadian college, which turned out to be half-an-hour from Jacey's home.  So, with a little contemplation and a great deal of family juggleing, Ms. Jacey was able to join our little Master Spinner class in Sedalia.  All because she sat beside the wrong woman at dinner one evening!

And I made a new BFF, my roommate Sarah Wilson...

The minute we met, literally in our hotel room doorway, we hit it off.  Sarah is, well, relatively extroverted and has a sneaky, though occasionally lowbrow, sense of humor.  She is also in love with color and texture and string.  And she lives somewhere where she would rather not live.  I cannot imagine why we get along, with so little in common...

And just so you know, Sarah is Miss June in the Spin-Off 2011 calendar.  I was in the presence of a calendar girl!

We sat together at meals, and hung out in the evenings, sharing stories of families and exchanging opinions on yarn and the world in general.  I'm so glad we got "stuck" together.  In fact, Interweave book editor Anne Merrow called us "the best SOAR roomie match since Abby and Denny", whose pairing lives on in infamy.
The notoriety of  Michelle and Sarah was confirmed on the last evening of SOAR, at the Farewell Spin-In.

'Twas the night before Halloween, and there was a costume theme in the air.  While many did not dress up. I had taken my felted Medusa costume, and Sarah had made some preparations, too.  When we showed up together for dinner, there were many questions as to our theme.  Since we didn't have one, and both being naturally inclined to make something up on the spot, we came up with...

Prince Charles and Camilla!  (Maybe you had to be was HILARIOUS at the time!)

On top of that silliness, we plunged headlong, so to speak, into the Batts to Hats challenge at the spin-in.  The challenge was to spin and create a wearable hat in one hour.  We had to provide our own fibre, come up with a plan, and a strategy, then make the hat at the spin-in.  There was some highly un-technical spinning...

...along with some frenzied knitting.  Margaret Stove sat beside us and cheered us on, along with many other fans of speedy spinning.  One spinner even lent me her wheel when mine started snagging the fat, furry yarn I was making!  In the end, we had a hat that looked like a pumpkin, which was awarded Most Organic and Most Seasonal.  Our prize, a 2011 Spin-Off calendar, was given to our champion, whose name I'm pretty sure was Elizabeth, for coming to the rescue with her wheel.

There were others who were into the Halloween spirit of the evening, including Sharon Costello... her felted spider web, and Jeannine Glaves...

as St. Distaff.

There was also a coven of witches across the room....

...and a lovely angel who travelled around the room passing out chocolate! 

It was more fun than should be legal.

Those of you who are spinny types may have noticed that there has been a ridiculous amount of name-dropping in this post.  That is the glory of SOAR.  You get to meet all sorts of people, from brand new spinners, to the high priestesses of our craft like Judith McKenzie and Maggie Casey.  They are all there, mixing an mingling with the common folk.  I also met Sheryl, and Toni, and Annette, and Carol, and so very many others, far too numerous to name one by one.  I have heard that SOAR has lost some of the intimacy it once had, because it has grown so popular, but I was very impressed by the sense of comraderie that existed with almost 300 people coming and going.  People brought their babies, sat next to strangers at meals, and chatted with each other when they met in the ladies room.  There were no barriers, and we were all one tribe for those 6 days and nights.

And then it was over.  The next morning was full of tearful goodbyes, and promises to keep in touch.  And I was off on the second leg of my great adventure...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spinny Tour 2010 Part Two: SOAR, The Retreat

So, I survived the first three days of SOAR.  On to the retreat sessions, three half-day workshops over Friday and Saturday, plus an open studio.  But first...

...just for fun, a quick workshop in yarn painting with Sara Lamb and Deb Menz.  Deb shared with us a few tips on mixing colors...

...and painting Merino skeins. 

Deb ran the steamers, serving as "short-order dye cook"...

...while Sara provided inspiration and support for those who needed color advice and cleverly evaded my camera.  The class was fast and furious, a true study in organized chaos!  And by the time the steam had cleared, I walked away with two lovely skeins...

Friday morning dawned bright and crisp...

...and I went off to my first actual retreat session.  Cochineal Dying with Demetrio Bautista Lazo from Oaxaca, Mexico.  Demetrio gave us a crash course in preparing and dying with cochineal...

...using lime juice and baking soda to change the pH of the dyebath for a wide range of colors...

I barely had time to catch my breath and grab lunch before it was time for retreat session number 2,  Spinning Fine Fibres on a Takli with Stephenie Gaustad, who was a gentle yet enthusiastic teacher who was gracious enough to even crawl under tables to help students out...

Stephenie had us spinning Merino and silk on takli spindles, which are usually used for cotton and other short fibres, which was a bit of a challenge.  She also gave us spoons to use as spindle bowls, which proved equally challenging.  Those suckers slipped and slid, and there was no way to hold them in your lap.  Until one clever girl unvented...

...the strap-on spindle bowl!  Tucking the spoon into my knee-brace was actually a stroke of genius, and from that point on, spinning longer fibres was a breeze!

Supper, wine, and sleep, then up and at 'em on Saturday morning for the Open Studio.  I'm not too sure what the organizers had intended this to be, but this particular session was really just a spin-in where you could mix and mingle with some of the instructors, though there was a rather interesting little panel-style discussion between Margaret Stove and Judith McKenzie on body mechanics.  It was a good way to regroup after the mad pace of the last couple of days, and it did give me an opportunity to chat with some of the greats in our wee community for a few minutes, but there was not a lot of new information.

This turned out to be a good thing, though, because after lunch, my last session was with Margaret Stove.   Margaret turned out to be a gentle, but thorough, instructor who put us through the paces of washing Merino locks...

 prepping them for spinning...

and spinning super-fine cobweb yarns in a very short 2 1/2 hours!  I like to make fine yarns, but, holy cow!!  Margaret shared some of her work with us, and told us the stories of the design process, as well...

...and just totally rocked my socks.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, concluded the learning portion of my SOAR.  I am still processing and sorting information.  I can't say that I learned anything that I didn't already know, but I did take a fresh look at information and techniques that had gotten a little stale.  There was a lot of  "Oh, yeah, I never thought of it that way" going on in my mind, and I was clever enough to take copious notes, so I can make sense of what I did, eventually.  I hope.

You may have noticed that I have written very little about the people I met, the things I did outside of class, and the infamous social events that happen at SOAR...

You know what they say:  "What happens at SOAR..."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spinny Tour 2010 Part One: SOAR, The Beginning

Slaughter the fatted calf!  The prodigal blogger has returned.

A month of organizing, packing, travelling, and living in hotel rooms has left me weary but full of tales to tell.  If I tell them all in one post, I will be typing for days, and you will be reading for equally as long, so I'm going to try and break things into smaller bites.  We shall have to wait and see if my attention span in long enough to share the complete meal with you.

Let us begin with the epic journey south and east to Spin-Off's Autumn Retreat, also known as SOAR.

 I woke up bright and eager to hit the road on the morning of October 22, had my coffee and a bath, packed up the car, and headed out.I got as far as the top of the parkade ramp before I realized there was something wrong with my car.  A quick zip into the visitor parking lot for inspection showed me what the problem was...a flat tire.  No problem, think I, I know how to change a tire.  Except that the lugs would. Not. Budge.  No way, no how.  Still no problem, because I belong to the CAA and I can call a tow truck.  A tow truck that took 3 hours to arrive.

Long story short, there was a wee bit of grit in the threads of the valve that had caused a slow leak, and thanks to the very sweet young man at the service station, I was finally on the road 5 hours later.

I could not help but wonder if this was a sign of things to come.

The next day was a flight from Edmonton to Milwaukee, with a lay-over in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  I passed through customs and security without incident, got on the plane, which took off on time.  So far, so good.  We land in MSP and start to taxi, and part-way to the terminal, stop dead in the middle of the runway.  And we sit.

After about 10 minutes, the pilot's voice comes from the speakers to inform us that we are sitting because President Obama is flying out of the airport and all traffic has to stop until after Air Force One takes off, which it did about 5 minutes later.  In the runway right beside us.  I waved.  No one waved back.

I grabbed a bite to eat, then got on my plane to Milwaukee, which is about a 45 minute flight.  Arrived in Milwaukee, encountered a very surly cab driver, checked into my hotel.  The next morning, I was up and pacing, waiting for my ride to the Lake Lawn resort and SOAR.

Lake Lawn Resort is a lovely place...

...right on the edge of Lake Delavan.  The resort is essentially a giant letter C, wrapping around the side of the lake.  I was placed in a lovely room at the very far end of the C, which made for a great deal of walking to get to meals and workshops, but was well worth it when we got to sit on our patio with a glass of wine and stare out at this...

I met my room mate (more about her and our many adventures to come in a future post), went to the welcome and dinner, then tried to sleep.  I was so keyed up, thrilled to be there and looking forward to my workshop, that sleep was hard to find.  Turns out that this would be the pattern for the week.

Monday morning.  Day one of a three-day workshop with Kathryn Alexander in working with energised singles.  The day started out with an exploration of twist in singles, and what happens when you add water.  The concepts of neutralizing twist, resting twist, and activating twist were all poked into.  Then we knitted.  Knitting with S twist and Z twist, knitting with different wrapping techniques, knitting with garter stitch and stockinette.  Simple concepts, really, but looked at from a rather different angle that made them very fresh and exciting for me.

Over the next two days, we spun singles, then knitted them in different ways.  We got all sorts of different cloth.  There were bumps and swirls and peaks and ribs in all sorts of unexpected places...

...and twisty yarns galore...

On Wednesday evening, after the last day of our workshop, we participated in an event called the Workshop Showcase, which is an opportunity for each workshop group to display their work from the previous 3 days.  There were angora bunny samples...

...and suri alpaca...

There were fine lace...

...and funky, chunky art yarns...

There were recycled fibres...

...and alternative materials used in fun ways...

There were blended fibres...

...and bast fibres being twisted into ropes...

There was also a table of naturally dyed fibres, colored with cochineal, chamomile and indigo that I neglected to get a photo of, along with the lovely thick yarns from another workshop. I was clearly distracted by those rowdy rope-makers, of whom I have far too many pictures...

So, with visions of twisty singles and active cloth dancing in my head, I wandered off to bed.  The next half of SOAR was about to begin, and I needed my rest...