Road Trip Weekend!

May 6, 2013 - 10:01 am


Over the weekend David and I drove down to Eugene to visit our friends Tom and Tracy at McTavish Farms. I have a lot of photos to process, but above is a teaser. I also picked out the wood for my wheel, which will be built early in 2014, if the stars align. Walnut and Dogwood. I can’t wait!!

I got advice from Tom on how to pack a wheel for shipment, so I should finally be able to get this wheel that’s been gracing my living room since Madrona off to its owner.  Yay!

We drove home with a detour down the Columbia, then up through the Dalles and Yakima. David hadn’t known there was an area so similar to Texas so close to home. He was happy to see the desert and scrub.  I think he’s a bit nuts, but hey. We fit well together. 🙂

I’ve added Pilates to my daily workouts. 20 mins of PT, 20 mins of Pilates, 5 mins meditation. 45 minutes a day to better physical and emotional health.  Woot!

Tonight is the first Hack Your Clothes Night at Metrix. Gweep!

We also have tickets to Cloud Cult, one of my favorite bands. At the same time as the Hack Your Clothes Night. Dammit. David and I both missed the conflict until it was too late to delay the HYC night, so I’m planning to leave Metrix about 9 and catch the end of the show. I can’t miss it, nor can I bail on my new event, so I have to figure out doing some of both.

Today’s goals:

  • Plant the front bed with succulents- maybe. This could wait a day.
  • Read the rest of $100 Startup
  • Write up the notes on the ap David’s building
  • Illustrator class!
  • Shut down mini. It will come up one more time when we’re doing the Glacier backups, then be decomm’d.
  • Hack Your Clothes night!
  • Cloud Cult concert!


Rejoining My Tribe

February 16, 2013 - 7:38 am

For the past week and a half I have been by turns deeply engaged in conversations with knitting designers, working flat out at my job, and collapsing unconscious. I’m full to overflowing with inspiration and ideas, and the intention to carry this forward into action.

First was the Visionary retreat on San Juan Island with Cat Bordhi and twenty-odd knitters who were drawn together by her for the better part of a week. We discussed our individual ideas as well as plans for collaboration in the upcoming year. It was intoxicating; I may hav OD’d on creative inspiration.

The time was made even more amazing by the Lakedale Lodge location, and the cooking of Deb Nolan. The only way I can thank these people for my time in that place is to follow through on the work they have enabled and inspired.

Anyone who wants to make or take a retreat in the Pacific Northwest should consider Lakedale. It’s sumptuous, with a delicious breakfast and a variety of accommodations ranging from hotel-like with fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs to detached cottages with full kitchens, fireplaces, and a shared hot tub to (I understand, though I haven’t seen them) tent cabins and camping spots.

It’s just disconnected enough to make access to the outside world inconvenient. Email gets through in the lodge house, but web surfing is extremely slow. It’s possible to take care of essentials in this connected world, and access needed online resources, but in the inviting surroundings and amazing company the lure of the Internet dims to a minor annoyance. Perfect for a retreat.

There is a lake, with swans and diving ducks. There are the beautiful towering trees of the Pacific Northwest sheltering the enchanting mosses and plants of the understory. Walking, or just being outside is a sensory delight. I gush. I drool. I dribble. Would that I could spend a week a month there.

Deb’s cooking. If you ever have the chance to experience it, say yes. She delights in cooking food that is not just delicious but also healthy and nurturing for the people in her care. She is mindful of dietary limitations, and makes sure there are delicious options for all; in fact most of the meals she prepared were gluten free and largely vegetarian to support those of us with limits, but she fed us in a way that didn’t feel limited. Beautiful and delicious food that drew raves from everyone. Again with the gushing and the drooling. I wish I had thought to take photos of some of her meals.

Cat is inestimable. Many knitters have had the pleasure of taking classes form her; probably most of the knitterly folks who will see this post. She is a dynamo of inspiration; she spins through the world throwing off sparks that set fire to imaginations. I have been feeling a bit dull and drab for months now, without ideas or even desire to find ideas. I stopped writing in my journal, stopped spinning, all but stopped knitting. I felt empty.

Now I am awake and alive and in touch with my creativity again. The only words that come close to expressing how that feels are: “Thank you.” Dearest Cat, You have returned me to the core of my self, lit and nurtured my creative spark, and turned me out into the world inspired to share the light you’ve awakened in me. I didn’t know how much I needed that this year. Thank you, thank you.

And let me not forget to thank the generous and inspirational yarn donations from Claudia’s Handpaints, Blue Moon Fibers, and Vain. I will need to blog about them later, but I’ll add one teaser pic. I have a new mitt pattern completed and mostly written up from Claudia’s yarn, two more in development, and one from Blue Moon. Did I mention overflowing with inspiration?


But the Visionary retreat was only the beginning. After a few days being distracted by that work I do for money, it was time to come to Madrona.

I’m writing this on Saturday morning from my hotel room, with two more days of wonderful awaiting me. I will be taking spinning classes from Sarah Anderson and Amelia Garriopoli; sadly I will not be taking my scheduled classes from Jacey Boggs due to a death in her family. I’m looking forward to learning wonderful stuff, and having my spinning inspired as well as my knitting.

Right now though, the classes feel like a distraction from the community I’ve been savoring since Thursday night. Being with my tribe is something hard to explain. I suspect those of you who have communities that come together for gatherings a couple times a year understand. every moment is precious. Sleep is an annoying distraction. There is not enough time, there is never enough time. Things are left unshared, connections missed, plans fall through and time is so short. I have two days left and it doesn’t feel like enough; I’m already thinking forward to Black Sheep, and maybe Rhinebeck this year.

But it is enough, and more than enough. I’m full to overflowing with plans and ideas. I have found my heart and center again, and am determined to follow through. I’ve set some goals and they feel attainable.

Last year I was gifted with a Surprise! sabbatical immediately after this time, and the opportunity to do whatever I wished for a while drew me away from my plans to create in fiber. I learned about 3D printing and met a local community who have become my friends and had glorious adventures, but I lost this. I am back now. There will be more. Fiber is where my heart lives, and this community is my tribe.

La Push retreat with Judith MacKenzie

April 1, 2011 - 10:29 am

On Sunday after brunch I left for this retreat.  It’s now Friday, the official retreat is over, and I’m here on my own for a day, expecting Zack and David tonight.  To say I’m missing them would be putting it mildly.  I kept rolling over in bed last night expecting the weight of a cat on the covers, expecting David beside me, and feeling little jolts when neither of those things were true.  It’s a good vacation in the sense that I’m definitely ready to be heading home.  I love my everyday life, and I miss it.

The weekend should be lots of fun, though.  There are many things to explore here on the reservation, and other places to go on the Peninsula.  There’s a wood carvers studio, and some other tribal arts centers I expect Zachary will appreciate.  The opportunities for stunning photography should please David.

The drive out here was so much fun!  I carpooled with Heather, who makes a wonderful companion.  She is wheat and cow dairy free, so my gluten free needs are easy for her to understand.  We also seem to be able to talk and talk and talk and laugh and talk some more, and never tire of each others company.  Five days of togetherness in unfamiliar and intense surroundings is challenging, but we were as delighted with each other at the end of the trip as at the beginning.  I’m so glad she’s moved here, so close to me!  I look forward to friendship and fiber arts collaboration for years to come.

She and I stopped in Port Gamble at the Artful Ewe on the way, and had tea at the Tea Room.  I purchased some tealy green locks from a local Romney cross sheep to spin.  Heather walked around touching things and cooing.  We pet Grace, I gave Heidi lots of hugs, and we got back on the road to La Push.

The retreat has been fascinating.  There were delightful people, good food, and of course lots of spinning!  I spent most of the week working on my woolen spinning, with occasional breaks for some “comfort” spinning of fine worsted yarn.  I spun several hundred yards of silk for the progressive yarn project, and I’m looking forward to making more so I can start the plying.

I learned the yarn I want to spin: fluffy, airy, diaphanous woolen yarn, is best accomplished with down breed sheep.  The first time I sat down with Judith on Tuesday to talk about what I wanted to work on I showed her a little sample that was the closest I’ve ever gotten to what I want, and she said, “Oh!  You’re using wool form the wrong sheep!  Here, try this,” and handed me a length of Columbia roving.  The sky opened and the clouds parted and five minutes later I had a sample of exactly what I’ve been trying fruitlessly to produce for several months.

I also confirmed that I’m really really allergic to lanolin.  I spun some of the locks I’d picked up from Heidi, working on making the “wolf yarn” on Judith’s A Spinner’s Toolbox video, and after about 15 minutes my forearms were red and splotchy.  No more lanolin for me.  🙁

It was an interesting exercise, even though I had to quit.  If I work further on this yarn, I will focus on spinning the fine core yarn, and add fluff where possible, rather than focusing on the fluff.  Even though the fluff is the goal, the fine yarn core is the structure of the yarn.  Spinning it from the back of my hand as Judith demonstrates is HARD!  I believe that will be the key, however.

I do not believe wolf yarn is on my quest for fluffy diaphanous yarn.  I like the order of the Columbia far more than the chaos of the wolf yarn.  I need to spin and knit enough of each to be certain how it looks in the finished product, but I’m virtually certain from what I see in the yarn.  It’s an interesting, challenging exercise, however, and worth pursuing for that reason.

On Wednesday, Judith gave us a length of Rambouillet mixed with Mohair to spin woolen.  I hated this.  Hate hate hate with the heat of a thousand suns.  It was difficult to draft, and nearly impossible to join when it broke, which was frequently.  I persevered, however, and by dinner time I had a hundred yards or so of finished woolen yarn.  Ugh.  It was No Fun.

Just before dinner on Wednesday, we started lichen dye pots.  This was nifty!  I love the colors that were produced.  Judith put in samples of her Rambouillet, and I tossed in the Columbia and Rambouillet/Mohair blend as well.  She pulled out little skeinlets every few minutes as the dye bath started simmering so we could see the progress of the dye.

At the end of the retreat yesterday, Judith sent me home with all the samples, which was a delightful gift!  The downside of this is the icky factor.  I do not like icky stuff, and the slimy yarn matted with lichen definitely twigged my icky nerve.  Heather is happy to dye me up more, however, should I wish, and no one else at the retreat seemed to mind handling the finished yarn.  I believe this is my own personal foible, and reinforces my belief that while I am intellectually interested in how dyeing works and I very much appreciate the product, I have zero interest in going through the process myself.  I am so glad there are folks who want to dye!

The other highlight yesterday was spinning bison down.  Judith had some bison roving, and oh was it delicious.  We had also spun up a sample of bison/silk.  I hope I have enough of these, perhaps plied up with some plain silk, to make something.

This is far from all we did and saw during the retreat.  Judith had many things for us to sample, including several different silks and cashmere.  Mmmm, cashmere.  She showed us yarn from paper, and some finished products and swatches from the yarn.  One of the participants taught folks traditional cedar weaving.  We saw whales on the last day, while sitting down for breakfast with one of the tribe elders.  I look forward to the next time I can do something like this!

The Oceanside Resort itself is a mixed bag.  The setting is amazing!  My room looks out over the ocean.  The view is spectacular, and it’s certainly a secluded retreat.  My room is decently appointed, with a usable kitchen.

For the money I’m spending, however, I expect more service than is provided.  I’m on my sixth day here, and have not had any maid service in the room.  I asked one of the room cleaners for clean towels yesterday, and was sullenly directed to a service building at the other side of the retreat.  I walked around the building until I found an open roll-up door to a sort of garage room, and had to shout to get someone’s attention, who was not at all friendly about the towel exchange.  I had to give her my room number to be allowed to take extra towels beyond the two provided so that the three of us can all shower tomorrow.

The walls seem not to be insulated at all; someone checking into the room next door at 11 or so last night, not being particularly loud, just walking back and forth getting stuff up from the car and settled, kept me up for the better part of an hour.  Folks who had rooms on the lower floor complained that they could hear everything going on in the room above.

The office is only open from 8 am to 8 pm, and that’s the only place on the resort property with access to a phone or internet.  Outside of those hours it’s necessary to drive a 40 minute round trip to Forks.  This would not be so bad if there were cell phone service, but there is not.  I do appreciate the solitude of the setting, but would still like to be able to check in with the folks I care about to make sure they are ok, and have some way for them to reach me.

I have most of today on my own.  I’m hoping to get more rest, to make progress on a Secret Knitting project, and to at least get a good start at spinning the Abby Batt “Peace Flag.” First, though, I’m going to head over to the office to check email and post this entry.  I’ll add pics and links next week when I have better Internet access.

All Will Be Well

January 9, 2011 - 8:36 am

This song captured me yesterday.  We were driving home from a visit to the Peninsula, in the dark and fog, trying to hustle to beat the threatening snow, after a beautiful, happy, and fulfilling day, and I was struck by how happy I am.  All is well.  Truly.  Life is good.  As Gabe says, I am practicing my purpose once again.

We got up and out early, and raced onto the ferry. Z & David practiced for Z’s latest role; he’s the Music Man in The Music Man at school.  I knit on my silk purse project bag, and listened, helping to prompt Z as I could, and explaining bits of the plot to him.  Giving him context, explaining a bit about grifting.  All of us being happy, and practicing things that bring us joy.

We had a delicious breakfast at a cafe in Bainbridge, then drove to our friends in Port Townsend, arriving around noon.  Chris and Patty have 20 acres of woods and fields with creeks and critters, and it’s always so beautiful and inviting there.  We hung out a bit, until Chris took the boys out on a tromp through the forest and fields, and David, Patty, and I headed to Port Gamble to visit with Heidi.

Heidi’s studio The Artful Ewe was gorgeous and inspirational as always.  I gave her a moment of stress when I said, “I brought back my wheel;” she thought I meant I was trying to return it!  but then we sat and spun, and helped Patty with her socks, and put a spindle in her hands, which seemed to go well.  She and Heidi hit it off, as I had hoped they might.  Now Patty can help Heidi with shop chores, and Heidi can help Patty with knitting and spinning and dyeing.  I love introducing friends who should know each other!

We had wanted to have dinner with the Ferry’s, but the threat of snow sent us scurrying for home.  We stopped in Poulsbo, though, when it was clear that we were beating the storm.  Had mediocre Indian, but found ice cream at Mora that rivals our beloved Capo Giro in Philadelphia.  Z & D ran through the script again on the boat home, while I worked on a Secret Project.

The what of the day wasn’t as important as the how, though.  We were happy.  We were productive.  We were with friends in a beautiful place.  We were all looking forward to practicing our passions, and were supporting each other through it.  Our relationships are deepening, and it feels so good.

This is my life.  I have a comfortable job, and home.  I have a lover who is a friend, a son who is a delight, a craft that brings me pleasure and fulfillment.  I am making good friends, who enjoy each others’ company.  My life is good.

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