Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nose the the Grindstone

Once again, I am on the verge of becoming a Delinquent Blogger. 

It's not that there hasn't been anything to write about.  I have wanted to tell you about the contract that I signed with a small local gallery to sell and exhibit my work.  I have wanted to rave on about my current obsession with corespun yarns. I have wanted to share my musings on the end of summer and the smell of fall in the morning air.  I've intended to blog all of that, and more.

But it seems that every time I sit down at the computer, there is another email in the inbox.  The end of August brings another major event into my life: the deadline for Fibre Week proposals.  This means that the hard work begins today.

For those of you who haven't heard, I am the Fibre Arts Program Coordinator at Olds College's Fibre Week.  What this glorified title means is that I am the one who chooses the workshops that are part of the event each year.  This is a volunteer position, and, let me tell you, it's not as easy as it sounds.

Every year for the past four years, I have received a stack of workshop proposals from fibre artists and teachers in every discipline imaginable.  And every year, I have the unenviable task of sorting through these proposals, attempting to predict which ones will draw the most people to Fibre Week.  I have to look a year into the future and try and predict whether or not the same people who came for spinning workshops this year will take another spinning workshop, or if they have suddenly developed an interest in basketry.  I have to attempt to balance the travel costs with class sizes and potential enrollment as the price of gasoline bounces up and down like a kid on a trampoline.  I have to weigh marquee names and experience against the risks of nurturing a new instructor and giving up-and-coming artists a chance to share their knowledge.

All of this feels like an enourmous amount of pressure at times.  Inevitably, I cannot please everyone.  I will have to disappoint marvelous people who have submitted proposals that I just can't fit into the schedule.  I will have to disappoint a student who requested a specific instructor who is simply not available.  I will have to turn down a topic or an instructor that I find personally fascinating because of financial considerations.  And, somewhere along the line, someone will corner me and express their disappointment in no uncertain terms. 

On the other hand, I get to bring a wide variety of classes to our humble little event.  I get to be in contact with artists and teachers who are doing things I never even imagined possible, opening my imagination to new possibilities.  I get to hear from aspiring spinners, weavers, knitters, feltmakers, dyers, shepherds, and doll makers about what they are interested in.  Strangers email me with their dreams and their passions every day.

There is so much possibility in the world of the fibre arts, and I see it all.  I wish I could make each and every possibility a reality, but, sadly, we only have so much space and time.  And, of course, there is also the unpleasant matter of money. 

But that possibility is still out there.  There is hope and inspiration to be found in each and every email that pops up in my inbox at this time of year.  I do this job, not for the big money and the glory, but because I want to share that hope and inspiration with everyone who comes to Fibre Week, or dreams of coming to Fibre Week.  I hope that, in spite of the little disappointments, that hope and inspiration is what comes through in the final schedule that I will build for next year.

And now it's time to roll up my sleeves and get to work!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ain't No Cure

...for the Summertime Blues.

No, I'm not gonna raise a fuss, I'm not gonna raise a holler.  I'm just immersed in a world of blues.  The colour, that is, not the emotion.

So much has gone on since my last post.  It's been another month of whirlwind travel, bracketed by various plagues and pestilences.  There has been garden upkeep, and the madness of Fibre Week planning for 2012.  There has been SOAR preparation, and the first of 4 local workshops.  There was a kidney stone (ouch!), and a knee injury (ouch again!), and a really nasty cold.  But in between the chaotic moments have appeared wee moments of spinning, knitting, and dyeing.  And it seems that the colour of choice is blue.

First, though, the travel.  I turned the big five-oh last month.  When my family asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told them that I wanted to be with them.  That's all.  So they put their heads together and came up with a plan to whisk me to Vancouver, where my two older children live, then take a family trip to Gibsons.  It was FABULOUS!

We spent the big day out on the ocean, kayaking around Gibsons and Keats Island...

...and I had my 4 favorite people in the world with me.  (The fourth is wielding the camera for this picture!)

We may have been a little silly...

...but it was just what I needed.

And now I'm 50, and I've got the Blues.

Blues like this one...

...handspun Blue-faced Leicester/silk blend, mordanted with copper and dyed in logwood.  Logwood usually gives purples, and you can certainly see the purple cast in the yarn, but the copper sulphate mordant darkens it to a stunning navy blue.  (The mordant also serves to make the notoriously unstable logwood a little more colourfast.)

I'm currently transforming this yarn into Sivia Harding's Harmonia's Rings Sweater... what passes for free time around here these days.

The blue theme continues onto the spinning wheel...

...with this lovely little yarn.  The fibre is a batt that I purchased from Lynne Anderson of West Coast Colors at Fibre Week, and the blend is 60% Merino, 20% yak, and 20% silk.  Yes, indeed, it IS as yummy as it sounds, and Lynne's batts are a wonder to spin.  (In fact, I relieved her of a few more while I was out on the Coast!)

Then there is a little novelty yarn that was inspired by Jacey's workshop...

I really love coils, and this fibre just called out to be coiled.  The blues lean toward aqua, but, hey, blue is blue.

Then, there is this today's little distraction...

...a lovely little batt from Atomic Blue.  (Blue by Blue!)

So there you have it.  From sitting on blue seas... sitting under blue skies...

...spinning and knitting with blue fibre, I clearly have a case of the Summertime Blues.