Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Workshop

Bast Fibres, sorry, Fibres. We were the noisy ones, so noisy that Jacey came to find out what we were doing. Several times. Sometimes we were pounding fibres - the flax strick needed only hackling to be ready to spin, but pounding the finished skeins with the beautiful wooden mallet on a chunk of the tree that fell on the studio softens and polishes the yarn.

Sometimes we were singing. But most of the time we were laughing. Monday and Tuesday AM were flax; on Tuesday we braved the storm (there was a tornado warning!) to boil our skeins. The Event Organisers were not completely happy allowing us to play with matches, but we did not burn the place down (we did borrow Jacey's sign to use as a windbreak, though).

Tuesday pm was hemp, retted strick and decorticated top. Some of our handspun became rope: 12 singles became 3 strands became one thin but incredibly strong cord.
The singles are twisted into strands

The strands are twisted into rope

We spun on Balkan spindles, which have two whorls to contain the unruly flax singles; when the whorlsnare
removed ( they slide off), the spindle is used as a weaving shuttle.

We learned about other bast fibres: we spun ramie, we pounded soaked ganpi until what seemed was thick white fibre opened into the most amazing mesh

We showed our work at The Workshop Showcase on Wed evening; not the most packed or
most colourful table, but again we were noisy - we demonstrated pounded ganpi and flax ( as quietly as we could), and we, ah, encouraged people to come and watch our rope-making.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday is Flax Day One

And no photos on my phone, only on the camera and no way to transfer them here. In short: Stephenie summarised the characteristics of bast fibres as a group, talked about the cultivation of flax (including the story of an abortive DEA raid on one of her 4' by 8' flax plots (lush, green, what else could it be? Flax???). And then we learned about prep. Retting, rippling, breaking, scutching, hackling. Dressing a distaff or, in our case, broomstick (housekeeping was bemused). Spinning tow and line, dry and wet. My first attempt was Terrible, as I fought to overcome the longdraw habit. My second was marginally better. After dinner I returned to hackle and spin a third skein. Much better. Practice makes perfect and we've got flax again this morning. The rain and wind (tornado alert at 0630!) may delay the boiling of our skeins, but that gives us more time to spin.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some of the fun

Lake Lawn is a maze of glassed-in corridors connecting residence blocks and various function centres. Having spent Friday learning the layout I knew where spinners were likely to congregate; I headed for the well-lit tables in the window alcoves by the deli (coffee and hot chocolate). And as if by magic, spinners appeared. Old friends and

new. We sat and spun and talked and knitted until the deli closed, then drifted away until we met again at Registration. Stetson is here! And diJeannene, and Jimbobspins, and, and. Sara Lamb and Deb Menzies exhibit awesome teamwork (did you know Sara is a grandmother? :-)

The afternoon passed in a blur of words and hugs and attempts to match real live people to Ravatars. After the Official Welcome, dinner. The Spin-In. My first Swill (that stuff is disgusting and yet strangely attractive. But pink, so I can resist).

The light in the Great Hall is poor for spinning, but Stetson was prepared :-)

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, October 24, 2010

SOAR 2010: fun begins...

The view from the balcony at 0730 this morning.

Breakfast was a cinnamon-pecan thing from Panera; while stuffing goody bags yesterday pm, someone mentioned there is a Walmart just 'over there', about 10 minutes walk. So I walked, out of curiosity. Never been to Walmart before: it was huge, full of stuff, but
not the fabric sweater (fibre) storage bags I was hoping for. I did buy a 'Texas' muffin tin, though: English muffin tins (actually English
muffins don't need tins) are intended for fairy cakes, which are cupcakes by another name. There was also a Panera, smaller but stoked with much more desirable stuff :-)
Now, breakfasted, walked and wide awake (I crashed at 2000 last night), it's time to see what everyone else is up to.

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Morning

The long day may have been worth it: I woke at the usual 0500 this morning and faffed around for an hour (the upstairs(!) tv(!) doesn't work) before essaying my morning constitutional. It was dark. Lake Lodge has a lake:

Eventually the paved path becomes a track through trees:

I found a sign:

Faced with the task of taking a photo in the dark, the iPhone does its best to emulate a flashy thing from MiB. I decided to stop torturing it.
Not far from that I found the boundary fence and a busy road. On the way back I wondered what trees I was walking under (I wish Lynn were here), spotted wildlife: grey squirrels, and what could be the Lake Lawn Monster sporting on the lake

Sadly, better light revealed not only waterfowl, but fishermen. Several boats-full. At 0700. What are they after?

Also large flocks of starling-equivalents grackling in the trees, then swirling across the sky

It's as well I started with the lakeside path, as the other option isn't

Now back to my room to scrub my hands. I bought what may have been the last orange at the deli, and the oil from the skin dissolved the black plastic disposable knife as I peeled it. I'm saving half to wars off scurvy later in the week, but it and I are smeared with black gunge.

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, October 22, 2010

The road to SOAR 2010 II

Sitting at the departure gate for the flight to MKE I turned the phone on to check my email and noted the time: 2240. Given I lay half-awake in bed from about 0400, this feels like a very long day.

GO Shuttle does what it says on the tin: after 15 minutes, just time to buy replacements for my lost-but-unmourned headphones, Amy and another UK SOAR attendee were assembled. Arrived at Lake Lawn 0030 UK time. *nice* shower. Lights out 2200 local. It WAS a very long day.

-- Post From My iPhone

The road to SOAR 2010

Started at 0734 today, as the road from our house led to the M25

and that led to Heathrow. As usual, allowing 30 minutes for delays meant fewer delays than usual; I spent about 2 hours in the airport time warp before the gate was announced. I love liminal spaces, the desire to move made concrete. Now, after a movie and a hot meal - it was hot, but the bright yellow gravy was rather startling; I decided it was intended to cheer people whose holiday was over - I sit over the North Atlantic knitting, listening to Handel and inserting photos into a file to post on the Internet. And hoping 90 minutes is time enough to clear US customs in Toronto :-/ Isn't technology amazing?

Technology or magic: which is more likely to be responsible for what seems to be a tortilla wrap filled with lamb in tomato sauce, served hot in a sealed cardboard box, having an expiry date of 06OCT2011? Frozen in bulk? Or a Spell of Preservation?

Let's see if Toronto's free wifi works...

-- Post From My iPhone