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.