I've been a very fortunate and busy girl for the past two weeks. I was very lucky to be able to attend SOAR this year again for the second time. This year it was held in the "U.P." otherwise know as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I flew in on the last flight with Judith MacKenzie McCuin out of Chicago. When we landed (late!) in Traverse City I discovered they had decided to leave one of my bags in Chicago because the plane was over weight. Better my one of my bags than one of Judith since she was teaching the next day. Thankfully the front desk had an extra toothbrush and toothpaste so I would be able to talk with people then next day.
My room was down the hill from the Main building and this was the view as I walked back up the hill. Isn't the fall color beautiful? When we first got there it was in the 80's and humid by the end of the week it was down in the 50's and 60's. Much better for all the people wanting to wear their handknits.
On Monday we started our three day retreat classes. This year I took a fiber preparation class with Robin Russo. For the first day and half we focused on combs starting with hand combs ad then we moved on to English and Russian Paddle combs. For each different tool we used a coarse, medium, and fine wool and then spun a thick, medium, and fine sample. After that we worked with exotics such as qiviut, mohair, alpaca, angora, and llama. We then moved on to color and fiber blending. For the second half of the class we did the same fibers on the drum carders. We ended the class doing "designer batts" as Robin calls them where we had free reign with the fibers and she pulled out some silk and silk noil to use as well.
On Wednesday each class put together a table full of examples of what we did in our classes. That is Sara Lamb checking out our class table at left.
On Friday morning I took entrelac knitting with Kathryn Alexander. She is a lovely, energetic teacher. I am still working on turning my sample into a little bag.
On Friday afternoon I took lace spinning with Margaret Stove. She started out by talking to us about how to set up our wheel for super fine lace spinning. She then moved on to showing us her lock by lock washing method. At one point she scrubs the lock of wool vigorously on a bar of soap all the while never letting go of one end much to the amazement of all her students. I don't think anybody believed that it wouldn't felt until they did it themselves. The picture at left is of a handspun and hand knit shawl by Margaret herself.
On Saturday morning I took a long draw class with Maggie Casey where we spun both carded wool and cotton. I think that for a lot of people that was the first time they had spun cotton comfortably. She uses the carded pima cotton from Cotton Clouds and swears that it is "magic cotton" because it spins so easily.
My last class was inkle loom weaving with Sara Lamb. Inkle looms were the one type of loom that I had yet to weave on so I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity for a little exposure. Weaving a simple band was a great way to wrap up the week.
I'm not quite up to admitting what all I bought at the vendor's area yet but I will show you a picture of the new Forrester Spindle I bought from French Hill Farm. I love this spindle and spun on it all the rest of the week as well as while I was walking around Rhinebeck this weekend. It spins like a dream. Next to it is pictured the singles that I spun from all the samples that came in or SOAR goody bag this year. The Forrester has a tapered end that allows you to fit a straw over it and slide you singles onto the straw for easy storage and plying.
All in all SOAR was great again this year. I love going because it is a wonderful combination of learning from fabulous teaches, meeting new people, and catching up with friends. Unfortunately I seem to have come away with the same SOAR bug that Stephanie is sick with and boy has it been a humdinger. My voice, which is low on a good day, has been approaching life time smoker low and gravely off and on for the whole week. I'm finally beginning to have moments where I feel almost normal so I am hoping that this cold is on its way out.
Maia, Rachael, and I are on our way back down to NYC this morning after having a blast at Rhinebeck but that will have to wait for the next update. Right now I must pack so we can get to the train station!