Thursday, October 31, 2013

The end of a long road

So, we were barely back home from Shetland, than we were off again.

I had been intending to wait until I had some photographs for this post, either borrowed from the DSM or taken of my shopping haul, but then I thought, no, get it done.

I took no photographs myself. Well, only one or two with the iPad. I actually find this really interesting. I think, in hindsight, that I just wanted to be right there in every moment. That worked well, too. I had a wonderful time.

The DSM and I did have some rest time whilst classes were going on, for a couple of days at least. We used the little pool - very nice and relaxing. Sat around with our knitting chatting to whoever walked by, got to meals early for long lunchtime chats, joined one or two groups for pre-dinner.......nibbles.

We did have a bit of a blip on Wednesday, when one of our compatriots was unwell, and we went with her to Urgent Care. We still got to knit and chat! We had some small experience of the system, which was a help.

Thursday, of course, we shopped. Not the best market ever, but the places I wanted most to see there were, so I have come home well-equipped with Fiber Optic and Abstract Fiber fluff. Both of these do fabulous rich saturated colours, and FO specialise in graduated colour preps. We also got Muga and Eri silk preps, not available in the YK as far as I know. And fresh supplies of Socks that Rock yarn.

And we bought a Hansen minispinner. We had not intended to do that, the thought had never crossed our minds, but somehow we ended up with one. The thinking went, probably, a bit like this: we are not getting any younger; one day one of us might need an electric spinner; buying it in the US had to be cheaper than having it shipped; it would fit easily in to our luggage. Done! I will report further at a later date.

Both of us really enjoyed our Retreat sessions. Finally someone got me to understand the threading and weaving paths of a weavette/ZoomLoom, by patient teaching and a really neat teaching aid. And the nuno felt scarf class was super. Nicely paced, just the right amount of instruction to actual felting time, and a great, useable product at the end.

Before that, though, on the Thursday evening, we had a lengthy session chaired by Anita Osterhaug, editor of Handwoven. A very, very brave thing for her to do, I must say. No one was aggressive, but there was not surprisingly a certain level if, shall we say, hostility. Fortunately not directed at her, but at F&W, the new owners.

It seems that the plan is not after all to end SOAR, but to reinvent it in a new and improved format (sounds like one of those old soap powder ads!) maybe hotel accommodation, no meal package, lots of classes with no preset number you have to take, and not in the Autumn. (Spot a small problem right there!). We were asked what we would like to see. Well, um, everything that SOAR already us, including time of year - duh. Lots of time spent on...well, I forget the buzzwords.

Call me an old cynic, do. I am not feeling sanguine about it. For a start, it is extremely unlikely that anything will be arranged for 2014, so impetus will be lost. For a second, diluting the spinning focus, as we are told will happen, will lessen to attraction to many. For a lot of us, spinning is the primary devotion - we know we need to actually do something with the yarn we create, but we love being with our spinny kind. Yes, I do quite accept that things change, things come to an end, there is a natural evolution. But I suspect that this is more of an execution...........we shall see.

Then on Saturday evening, we had the Fashion Show. Sometimes of late years, this has been a bit of a tame event, but this year, stops were pulled out. There was a feeling, I am sure, that tribute had to be paid to what we were likely losing, so many did retrospectives, included the event itself in their scripts, all sorts of things. It was lovely.

Followed by the not so. Warning, I am going to be negative, and I know that not all will agree with me. We had a talk and a slideshow given by Linda Ligon, the founder of Spin Off, and hence SOAR. And for that, we owe her a huge debt. But what she gave us that evening was essentially, her holiday photographs, with very little commentary. These were, to my mind - and this may be a cultural thing - slightly voyeuristic. Interesting in a way, but we learned little or nothing of the real lives of those depicted, or how the old textile traditions (which should be respected, cherished and supported) blend with everyday, more modern and changing lives. And she did not mention, even obliquely, the fact that SOAR, a textile tradition, even if only of thirty one years standing, was coming to an end. I found this....very strange, amongst other things. Ah, well.

Am I glad I went? You bet I am. It was a great week. It ended with sadnesses, of course it did. Some of those people I spent the last week with, I shall never meet again. But I have had the chance to add a few new memories as well as talking over old ones, and to make a few new plans for replacing something lost with something found.

And to replenish my stash a bit.........

Before I finish, there is one more, very sad, thing to say. The very first time I went to SOAR, I met a woman - and I can remember the moment now - who became one of my friends outside of SOAR. We visited one another, went to Convergence a couple of times together, talked on the phone. Whilst in St Charles, I learned that during that very week, she died. So, my blog commenter 'anon', or 'me', one last spooky coincidence, eh? Rest in peace, finally, lady. I shall miss you.

(Because she never wanted to be public on the internet, I shall respect that here. Some of you may know who I am talking about, or contact me if you wish. CarolL on Rav will find me, or info at

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