Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Good news, sad news

I'm almost at the end of my brief two-day sojourn at home. I'd meant to post earlier, but things got in the way (more on that in a minute). I leave for Sock Summit at you've-got-to-be-kidding o'clock tomorrow morning; I'm bringing my computer along on this trip, though, so with luck there will be some posts from the field.

The Golden Gate Fiber Institute was fabulous. I wish I had another word for it, because that seems rather pale compared to how I really feel about it, but there it is. I had so much fun, in such an intense way, that I took not a single picture. Nary a one. So I have very little to show from the actual institute. If there is any picture sharing from those more organized than I, I will be sure to post them, but in the meantime, I have little in the way of visuals.

As I drove home from the airport very late on Sunday, I kept trying to think of how I was going to describe this week, what to say to at least try to convey what it was like. I looked for words. They weren't easy. "Humbled" came to mind. Not in the sense that I thought I had mad skillz and had to find out that I don't (I have learned just enough over the last several years about what there is to learn to know that I have a long way to go)(I like that fact, by the way, it's exciting). That word, though, along with "grateful", does describe how I felt about the tremendous generosity of spirit I felt from all of the teachers and organizers, as well as from the other participants. It seemed to me that every single person there had more experience at their craft, was more engaged with their craft as art, than I am or have had a chance to be, and every one of them was willing to share their experience and love of their chosen craft, unstintingly, and, in turn, to learn whatever they could. So I spent the week surrounded by willing teachers, by astonishingly creative people, by beautiful textiles, and all of that on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

Also, someone else cooked every single meal and did the dishes to boot.

I say that as if it were funny, but it isn't. Not having to think about stuff like that is incredibly freeing. One day, I spun for the three hours of class plus the extra hour before dinner, and then went back after dinner and spun for three more hours. That's just craziness. In the best possible way. And both of my teachers taught in ways that exactly match my learning style. Jeane deCoster was challenging and funny and so willing to be sure that each student got what they needed from the class; I know that I certainly did, in ways that I didn't know I needed. And Judith Mackenzie McCuin is one of those teachers who is completely convinced that a student can learn anything, which is nice to lean on in those moments when the student (that would be me) isn't so sure of that and has her fingers tangled in the flippin' cotton yet again. I think that she's also lived at least six lifetimes so far; she knows so much, and about such interesting subjects, from bison to bagpipes.

I learned so much that my brain hurt, and I dreamed all night every night about everything I'd heard and learned. I challenged myself to try new techniques in spinning (can you say "long draw"?), and I challenged my own image of my body and how it looks and works. It was intense. I also saw Grandmom and Rick's cousin and her new baby, and I saw a knitting friend for a lovely and peaceful hour of knitting on the beach. I'm pretty darned sure I'll be back next year.

I did end up getting a new wheel, one that I hope will be portable enough that I can start finding and attending spinning events closer to home. It's a Lendrum, and I love it.
Thanks to Morgaine's generosity (she of Carolina Homespun, and one of the two organizers, along with Judith) I was able to try several folding wheels before making my choice. I dithered until the last minute, because I had somehow set it in my mind that I wanted a wheel that I could put in an overhead bin on an airplane, but my gut knew which wheel I was getting from the moment I sat down with this one. It works just right for me.

I tried all kinds of new techniques and worked with an insane range of fibers; you can see some of the results here.
I spun worsted, semi-worsted, semi-woolen, and woolen; I may not like spinning all of them, but I now really understand, in theory at least, how and why to do it. I learned to cable, and did so, quite happily, on silk top hand-dyed by Kristine at Curious Creek.
That's the cabled silk on the left, and a silk/alpaca blend spun from the fold on the right (another first).

I also learned to create a nice, worsted-spun, three-ply yarn for socks, and am going to spin up some socks for myself; those plies are silk, silk/cashmere, and wool.
I also bought some spinning fiber.
(Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks, silk/wool blend.)

And won some fiber.
(Capistrano Fiber Arts, baby camel/silk blend.)

And I both bought (right) and won (left) spindles from Spindlewood.
These may come to Sock Summit with me.

That's the good news, and as you can see, there was a lot of it.

I came home, though, to the sad decision that the time had come, sooner than I would have hoped (but I don't think there was ever going to be a time that wasn't too soon), to put my beloved Kia Ora dog to sleep. We did that yesterday, and I think that right now there isn't a lot I can say about it except that I miss her terribly, and that there is a very large hole in our home that used to be her place.


Bea said...

Oh Jocelyn! I'm so so sorry to read that Kia is gone. Big hugs for you all.

(All the stuff you got at your spinning trip looks excellent. I like my Lendrum too.)

Carrie K said...

The Golden Gate Institute does sound fabulous. What other word describes all that?

And oh no. I'm so sorry to hear about Kia. My condolences. It's so heartbreaking.

Willow said...

I am so sorry for you about Kia. I know the hole...

I love love love my Lendrum!

I so very much want to learn all you learned at GGFI! How I'd love to go sometime!


Sorry to hear about your pup. We are doing the same for Buster tomorrow. Very big sad.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I'm sorry to hear about your puppy, but all your yarns and fibres are lovely!

Miss 376 said...

Sorry about Kia, I know how hard a decision that is to make.
Sounds like you had a fabulous time and you seemed to have achieved a lot while you were there

Dawn in NL said...

Jocelyn, It is always a hard decision to make. My thoughts go out to you and your family. I hope you can take time to remember the good times.

The fibre stuff was so inspiring you almost got me thinking about trying it.

All the best,

EGunn said...

I'm so sorry about Kia. But you're right that it will always be too soon, and less suffering for her is better. It's an awful hole, though.

Golden Gate does sound wonderful! The fiber is beautiful, and the Lendrum is a good choice. I've been thinking about a new wheel for a long while now, and the Lendrum is very high up on the list. And those spindles? It's a good thing shipping to Germany is expensive, is all I can say.

Have a great time at Sock Summit!!

ruthee... said...

You made such a hard decision. I hope the energy you collected at GGFI helps you get through this sadness. My heart is genuinely sad for you.

Mary Lou said...

My condolences on Kia - your description of why you love walking with her opened this non dog person's eyes. On the bright side, I'm looking forward to giving you a condolence hug in person verrrry soon.

Geri said...

Hey sister, here's a big HUG
(((( )))))

Go have fun at the summit

Jodi said...

Oh no, I'm so sorry for your loss. Saying good-bye to a beloved pet is always difficult.

Gwen said...

Life is a rollercoaster, to use a handy cliche. I'm so so sorry.

(I like the look of those spindles)

kristina said...

I'm so sorry about your dog! sending hugs <3

Helen said...

This seems to be a bad week for dog-owning knitters, yours is the third sad tale I've read :) Hugs.

Alwen said...

Aw. Even when you know it's the best and the right decision, it is so hard. Hugs!

M-H said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your kiwi-named dog. It's never easy but it's always right.

But the institute sounds wonderful. Thanks for the great report and the pictures.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about Kia. That's always such a hard decision.

The fiber institute sounds amazing. And I hope you're having fun at the sock summit. I just got back from camping, and that was fun, but I'm still dreaming longingly of the summit and your west coast fun.

Take care.

twinsetjan said...

I'm so very sorry to hear about Kia. He knows how much you loved him. I hope the summit was able to give you a chance to share stories about him!

Rachael said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Kia, it's so hard to lose those fuzzy little pure souls.

I hope you've had a great time at sock summit!

twinsetellen said...

I am so glad we connected at SS and we got to share thoughts on our dogs and life. And so the (spinning) wheel turns.

I imagine you will often think of Kia when you sit down to that new wheel.

Sheepish Annie said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss. And equally sorry for taking so long to get to your post. The loss of a pet is one of the most difficult things to experience and made even more so by the fact that we so often have to make hard decisions in the process. "Doing the right thing" doesn't always feel right even when we know it is the kindest thing.

I'm glad you had a nice experience prior to the sad one. It doesn't balance the scales or fill that hole, but it helps to indulge a bit sometimes.

KnitNana said...

And you know. What I feel.

AlisonH said...

I'm so sorry you lost your pet and your friend. And so glad you got to go and have a good time.