Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last night of SOAR

I don't have the time or energy to do a post that will do justice to my class this morning, so I will do a proper one at a later date. It was cochineal dyeing, with Demetrio Bautista Lazo - I do hope I have got that right, but if I haven't, I will do so next time.

This afternoon, I did a kind of "wild spinning" class with Jeannine Glaves, who is an old mate, and a hoot, not to mention a good and interesting teacher - and I have learned that I never want to spin Tyvek, old ties, old nylons, tinsel, kapok or Easter basket grass (don't ask....) Ever again. So, useful, eh? (I seem to have been hanging out with Canadians too much!)

We had dinner a deux in the bar, as we couldn't face the dining room food even one more time - marginally better, well, quite a bit really. Sigh.

We have acquired lots of lovely spindles (watch the website after we get back) and a bit more fibre for us. Now, there's a surprise!

And I managed to brave the noise levels and socialise a bit tis evening, which was fun. But now I have crashed, so have come back to our room to start on the packing.

We are off to Minneapolis tomorrow, and then back this-aways for four nights. We have a few fun things lined up, but I hope to get one or more blog posts done whilst it is all fresh in my mind.

I like this tribe.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Good things: SOAR 3

Yesterday, I shopped. The SOAR market is always a good one, although quite small. This year, it seems larger, with some vendors new to me as well as old favourites. I stuck to my plan to buy larger quantities for more "serious" projects, and thus far have some utterly delicious merino/silk in a green they call "Spinach"; some mauve, lilac, purple stuff; and - some cormo! (Blue-greens) The very pleasant vendor not only is happy to ship internationally, but takes Paypal, so I now have a supply lined up. I am happy.....

We also each bought two huge pottery mugs decorated with a sheep and a spindle. Even the DSM, who does not understand my crockery obsession, agreed that they were too good to miss. No photos as yet - I will do a big catch-up at some point.

Today, I had my first class, and what a humdinger it was. I own and really like the dvd by Jacey Boggs; now I have done my first class with her, I am totally a fan. She is an excellent teacher, explains things very concisely and clearly, and as many times as you need. Then she leaves you to do whatever it is whilst she moves around the room checking on progress and being very encouraging. We are lucky to have such wonderful young teachers coming up - and, she is likely to appear in the UK some time, so rush to sign up when she does.

When she has time, she tells stories. Not necessarily for those of a nervous disposition! Seems she was teaching in Amsterdam. Seven months preganant and accompanied by her mother, she decided to visit a live sex show. She gave enough of a description to make the thing seem vivid....and as she herself said, weird The things you learn at SOAR!

After that, things went downhill a little. Lunch was more of a disaster than usual, as he person serving soup admitted that it was made with a chicken stock. And whilst I have no problem with a cheese roll from time to time, every day gets, shall we say, monotonous. Even the carnivores are getting disgruntled with the same lunch every single day. There are no vegetarian entrees, except for pasta with a tomato sauce that has appeared twice. I would say that I am amazed that a place considered fairly upmarket could have so little understanding of special dietary requirements, but I know that the origin of the problem almost certainly lies elsewhere. But we don't want to miss meal times because the company is so good!

The other downer was, as expected, the Open Studio. Although it is possible that things might pick up, as the DSM stayed on when I bailed, and has not yet returned. But it was basically a spin in, for which we paid a retreat class price. The lack of interest was obvious - only around half of the possible number actually attended.

Ah, well - I have cochineal dyeing tomorrow. When I get around to posting pics, there will hopefully be one of the gorgeous little rug we bought from the mentor. The results from the workshop were spectacular, but they were using alum at 20% as mordant, which is double what I use. But then, the goods have to survive in the Mexican sun, rather than the West Yorkshir Pennines!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


So, here I am at Day 3 - which would normally be the last workshop day, but in my case is the last day of a rather splendid mini-vacation.

Each day has taken more or less the same form. Get up insanely early with the DSM, drink a pretty foul cup of tea, go to breakfast, which is probably the best meal of the day, come back to room. Wave bye bye to the DSM, read a bit. Toddle of to pool, where I doggy paddle around for half and hour or so, back to room, make pot of coffee, read, knit spin.

I had intended to walk the grounds, but we have had a lot of rain one day, and extremely high winds every day, so I have marched the endless corridors instead!

Go to meet the DSM for lunch, then afterwards more of the above. Lunch is probably the second best meal of the day, supper generally the least satisfactory. The arrangements for non-meat eaters at this SOAR are strange, and we nearly bust a double gasket on the first evening when there was only meat and vegetables and sald. The salad is good, but identical every day, twice a day. Most strange - the best quality food in ages, but absolutely no notion of how to treat vegetarians. But this is Wisconsin - which means cows......

In all other respects, this location for SOAR is brilliant. All under one roof, comfortable rooms, lots of nooks and crannies with comfy chairs for gathering. It would be nice to think that we might be returning in future years, but for one thing, the resort is in receivership (!!) and lli8kely to close; for another, massive change, SOAR is moving to a chain hotel in a city next year.

For now, I stay silent on the matter.......

Today, though, I varied my routine and went a-visiting some of the workshops with my camera. Not easy to take good photos at SOAR, the classrooms are not usually well-lit. But I got a few, and chatted my way happily around the place.

This is the DSM and the famous (or should that be infoamous??) Denny, both taking the bast fibres class with Stephenie Gaustad. It looks to have been a brilliant class.

This was on the wall of Deb Menz's classroom. Please note the letters in green! Love our little ole fibre world.

Then I visited Sara Lamb's silk ribbons class (hope I've got the title right!) I appear to have given her a halo, but that is probably appropriate!

After that I did have a little wander outside, because the sun was shining. There was intersting tree bark - this is an unfamiliar variety of oak with humungous leaves most of which have now blown away in the gales

And I couldn't resist the red fire hydrant in the flower bed.

Tomorrow, the market opens. Need I say more? The intention this year is to by larger quantities of fewer fibres, to try to avoid the "problem" of having four ounces of something pretty to fit to a project. And there will be spindles........

Friday and Saturday, I am taking classes. More on that after the event.

Monday, October 25, 2010

O Frabjous Day!!

Firstly - so much for all my good intentions of a post a day while at SOAR. Ah, well. A resume.....

More than reasonable trip over, enlivened only by someone thinking that she had lost her passport somewhere in Dublin Airport. Ooops. In my defence, we had thought that we had loads of time to make the transfer, but when we arrived at Security, we were told that they had made the last call for boarding for our flight, so we were all of a doo dah. We were fast tracked through security and rushed to the gate, where I realised that my passport and boarding card were no longer in my hand. The DSM did not freak out, and rushed back to see if I had left it in Security which seemed the most likely thing, but - no. When he returned, it was only then that it dawned on me that I could have put them in my carry on when I replaced the Kindle after screening,,,,phew.

Anyway, we had not realised, but you still go through US Immigration at Dublin, so even though that made us last but two on to the plane, when we arrived in Chicago we just had to pick up baggage and go through Customs and we were done.

The other slightly enlivening thing was having two female pilots (both petite blondes, I saw them). I know it should not be a surprise, in this day and age - but it is. They were great - most informative on the flight, and a brilliant landing.

We picked up our car, and had an easy drive up to Delavan. Immediately bumped in to a friend, so we had a meal together before I crashed.

Saturday morning, we bumped in to another friend going in to breakfast, so we joined forces and after eating went off on a trip to pick up our loaner wheels and do a little pre-market shopping. Had a super lunch in a creperie! and then went back - and crashed. And I know, this is all meals so far, but we gathered a group up for dinner and had a lovely time before - you guessed it - crashing.

Sunday morning, the weather was frightful - there had been torrential rain during the night and it was still heavy in the morning. But we had to do a little shopping for essentials (like tonic to go with the gin) so after a nice breakfast in Delavan itself, we checked out the nearby malls. And this is where the blog title comes in.

I have very few ambitions in life - one was seeing the Northern Lights, which happened a few years ago; but another was to see/visit something read about in books or seen in movies.

Wait for it........

I don't think that think that I really and truly believed in their existence - I mean to say, how can a supermarket have such a ridiculous name? But there it was, and we shopped there to prove it. SOAR and this too - how did I get to be so lucky?

And SOAR and all its madness has started, and we have met up with the tribe. Class began this morning for the DSM - I have been swimming, walking, reading, knitting and chatting. Bliss.

There will be more later.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Can I draw breath now, please?

Oof. If I say that I am actually, really, truly looking forward to being on a plane tomorrow, it might perhaps give a clue. Sometimes life is a tiny bit too exciting - oh, nothing mega-dramatic, but all the same.....

Where to start? Well. For all of this year, I have been a bit constrained about some of the things that I might have wanted to write about in this 'ere blog. That may (only may, though!) go some way towards explaining why I haven't popped up quite as often as I would have liked.

The truth of the matter is that the DSM has been off sick from work ever since Christmas, apart from a few days in the summer when he attempted a phased return. No need to panic - let's put it this way, it was his psyche that was playing up rather than any vital body part. In other words, stress and anxiety. We don't really know why - does one ever? (Well, yes, obviously sometimes, and I don't mean to be flippant.)

At the time of the attempted return, he had the ghastly news that the office was relocating back to Lytham, increasing his drive time to around an hour and a half each way. After a few days of denial, telling me that it would all be fine, whilst I felt sick as a dog, we quietly acknowledged that it wouldn't - but what to do. Voluntary redundancy reared its head. We then had a lengthy period of time not knowing what was going on - would they, wouldn't they - and twice, they didn't. And some time during that process, I quietly pointed out that, actually, we could cope just fine if he never went back to work.

There was a bit more shilly-shallying, and I still felt that I couldn't actually say publicly that he had "retired"; but suddenly, voluntary redundancy was back on the table, and I really felt that this time.......and they did.

So, on Tuesday - which was our wedding anniversary - we had a day out to return a lap top, and collect a few personal belongings; for him to say goodbye to co-workers; and for a rather sweet little ceremony of speeches and a card and a gift. And that's it. Oh, officially he is on the books until the end of the month. But it is all over. Now he gets to do the art, and the spinning and the weaving and the teaching that he has not had time to do alongside a demanding day job. So it is all good. Strange, and will take some adjusting to, but good.

To prove we were there, a couple of seaside pictures. We had a lovely celebratory lunch after the office visit, and then a walk along the prom.

(I loved these two - not such ugly ducklings, eh?)

Then there was the drama with my mother. My mother the uber-drama queen. She had reported a health problem that had caused me some concern, and had promised to phone on Monday. I wasn't too concerned when she didn't, but then my sister rang mid-evening on Monday to say - as I thought - that my mother was "in hospital". We had little idea why. I started having emergency thoughts about cancelling holidays and so on. So anyway I phoned her Care Home the next morning, and was told in no uncertain terms that she was actually in her room. Oh. I ring her number. I had got the wrong impression from my sister, but I know how it happened, and don't need to go there now. The lady had indeed been taken to the hospital, but I have absolutely no idea why, other than it being a problem with her vision. She has to go back for treatment - I don't know what, or what for. Blood tests have been taken - again, no clue. I did eventually, in a slightly raised tone say that it really would be a most excellent idea if questions were asked. Sigh.

I seem to remember that Hilaire Belloc wrote a tale.........

Yesterday, I had my own visit to the Eye Clinic, but only for a check and all was well. Yippee! Plus, the nice consultant had a test done to measure the thickness of the front of my eyeballs, and apparently the fact that they are thicker than normal may well mean that I do not after all have high pressure in them, which would be good. She has ordered a couple more tests just to check things out. I have been under the impression for years that I could be at risk of glaucoma, but apparently this may not be the case. A nice surprise.

Today, my hair turned, in parts at least, bright red with the shock of it all.

Golly. I have maundered on and on and on about all of this. I apologise! I have, however, a small FO, to return the subject to fibre work.


And after, felting:

As you will notice, I have treated myself to a Kindle, largely for travelling. Covers are an outrageous price, so I crocheted and felted one from some Polwarth S-spun singles that I just happened to have to hand. Not a great work of art, but functional, I hope.

And that's it for now. Possibly foolishly, I'm off to Coven tonight. You can never see fibre friends too often.

Have fun, kiddies, I intend too.......

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mea maxima culpa

Too much gadding about! Book groups, knitting groups, lunches, theatres, visits to the mater, visits from people. Even spent an afternoon sitting out in the sunshine; therapy, I tell you. It's no good. Won't get the baby a new dress.....

(One of those many phrases from my childhood that I never really understood. What did that wretched baby need a new dress for - sorry, Pennie!)

I have been working, on all sorts of projects, but I don't have all that much exciting to show or tell about any of it. I have got a picot edged sock in Wollmeise to the point where the edging is done, so it can be airplane knitting; the latest simple lace shawlette is coming on quite nicely after a few froggings due to operator stupidity; and I am on the umpteenth sample for the "Volcano" colourway wrap because I can't come up with a pattern that looks all right other than plain vanilla stocking stitch which even I think might be a tad boring. I may (may!) even try a crochet sample, I'm getting that desperate. Or, alternatively, end up doing a waistcoat instead!

Tuesday I should have been going to the dentist, but had to cancel as it was the only day available to visit my mother in York. Nothing remarkable about the visit, all seems reasonably well, as far as one can ever tell. It was somewhat enlivened by her asking me to bring her some more cotton knickers back from the States as I did last time, and to make plain which ones she is talking about, she flips up her skirts a la Can Can, and shows me the ones she is wearing........


We had errands to run in the city after that - oh what a shame. So we had a nice lunch and then scooted on over to the Minster, because I had seen that as part of British Wool week there were folk there doing spinnery and sheepy things.

It was great. A very nice display, sheep being shorn, people spinning, petitions to sign.

A somewhat bemused gentleman.

Ditto sheep.

And some of their fluff, that was well interesting enough to have brought home with me, if only we had had a large plastic bag with us, and didn't still have several shops to trail around.

And some very competant spinning on a great wheel, which made me want to get my own out.

Alston tomorrow, which will be nice. A very large group again, apparently. Then Guild on Saturday. And after that the final countdown to SOAR. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to not doing a workshop! This may seen heretical, and a terrible waste of opportunity, but there wasn't a class I burned to do, and I did so fancy three entire days of pleasing myself with the added bonus of the company of spinners when I chose. There is an indoor pool at the resort, so I am planning to pack the cossie; I have a primed and ready to roll Kindle, my iPod will be in a similar state and - well, what a suprise! I have projects to take.

I'm even quite looking forward to the flight, outwards, at least. I have lots of folk songs downloaded from iTunes that I want to listen to, and a lot of stuff to get my head around by way of courses and projects various to plan. Seems quite a good opportunity - after all, I have to endure the flight, might as well make use of it as well, no?

I may or may not find something to blog about before we go, but the netbook goes with me, and we have wifi everywhere we are staying, so there may be the odd bit of travelogue.

Definitely getting excited!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Round and round

This took longer to bring to the blog than I had hoped, because the weather has been appalling. Not just raining - deluging down. And the light levels in the house were useless for photography, so I had to wait.

In fact, going in to town with a friend yesterday to what was billed as a "Rag Market", we could hear the flood warning siren sounding, most alarming. The town escaped, I think, but both up and down the valley there was some flooding.

People often ask us if we are not afraid of being flooded where we live, but although we do indeed live just at the confluence of two small rivers, both are in deep stony river beds just here, so I cannot imagine it (fortunately!) happening. We do sometimes get rain water cascading down the lane if the fall is very heavy - as it was yesterday - but we are in no danger even from that.

But today, although it looked potentially ghastly first thing, the sun soon broke through and it has been a superb day. So, I was finally able to take the finished (ta da!) circular throw outside.

And here it is. I love it - I will love it more when it has been pressed. I've already washed it. I'm hoping that the ridges will not then be quite so pronounced. But perhaps that is just me being picky.

This long-awaited completion promptly led to a mini bout of startitis. I may already have mentioned the Wollmeise socks; now I am playing with the yarn spun from Freyalynn's fluff for a stole. My Jaywalker idea didn't seem quite right, so I spent some time this morning going through a few books and found a Shetland lace pattern that I think will adapt to what I have in mind. Of this, more later.

Then there is this:

I spun this yarn so long ago that I can't recall what it is. When I had spun it, I felt very disappointed with it, both the colour and the spinning. I think it is either from the Yarn Yard, or from Natural Dye Studio, bought at Woolfest. There certainly should be no problem with any colour from either of those - and there isn't. Digging it out, winding the ball, swatching - the yarn is lovely, and the muted colours look fabulous. I must have been having an off day.

The pattern is a simple triangular shawl from Fibrespates. If I don't get it finished, it will be small enough to be travel knitting, along with the other stole on the needles and a sock. Or two. I'm not doing a workshop at SOAR this year - I'm going to hang out and spin and knit for three days.

What's not to like.........

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Word

I'm brewing up a proper blog post, but just want to do this.

I have not (I think?) mentioned UK Knit Camp, not being involved in any way other than knowing people who were. And having concern for them! There have been a few posts from those who were involved previously, but now Deb Robson has published a very full, articulate (now there's a surprise...) and hearfelt post that makes for painful reading.

If you already read her blog, you will already know how interesting it is at any time, and always worth a visit. If you don't, well go there now for the Knit Camp post, but revisit in happier times.