SOAR report

Sorry for the absence dear ones, but the while there was heaps of wireless at SOAR, it all stopped working on my computer for reasons that are totally mysterious to me. Then there was no internet in Connecticut, so this is (probably?) coming to you from Bradley airport where I’m perched with a coffee ready to fly home.


(There seems to be wireless here. We shall see. I’ve been disappointed so many days in a row that my faith is shattered.) I’m hoping that it just all starts working again sometime soon. Since I didn’t do anything to screw it up, I labour under the delusion that doing nothing will fix it. (What got you in will get you out…right?)I started to write this in the airport in Reno…(There are slot machines at the gate…


Just out of sight on the right in this picture is a lady yelling “Just one more dollar” at a guy I assume is her travelling partner. Rough crowd. )

Lucky for me I’ve been so busy that I didn’t have time to need the internet anyway. The days and evenings at SOAR are busy, busy, busy, and when I’m not busy, I’m asleep. I’m learning that my sea-level living self doesn’t agree with these heights and I was sleeping huge amounts of time. Toronto sits at 347 feet above sea level and Lake Tahoe at at what my lungs clearly consider an astonishing 6225 feet. This altitude really leaves me breathless and gasping, and perhaps a smidge queasy. I actually considered putting my head between my knees when the world got a little dark around the edges after carrying my suitcase, purse, laptop and wheel up three flights of stairs while I was there. While I can’t show you what oxygen deprivation looks like, here’s some stuff from SOAR I can show you.


This here is an intriguing SOAR phenomenon known as “pine-henge”


Apparently SOAR participants artfully arrange the cones under cover of darkness. It is ever-evolving, and everytime I walked by it it was different. There was apparently a pyramid at one point, but it had complex structural difficulties. (These pinecones fall from tall trees above and Amy Clarke Moore and I were almost bonked severely on the head while obtaining the first picture. )

The Keynote went fine, though it was very scary. (I wasn’t sure about talking about spinning instead of knitting. It was a leap.) Lo….

the spinners of SOAR.



(Half of them are blurry. I don’t know why.)

That was Thursday. Friday I took two classes. The first one was with Alden Amos called “As The Wheel Turns” which was an overview of the technical workings of a spinning wheel. He had this HUGE flyer and bobbin that he had built just for SOAR to explain the relationships between all of the parts of a wheel.


Big eh? It was so big it was sort of shocking. (What was shocking actually, was that it was a working wheel. Not an elegant working wheel, but a functioning wheel none the less.


Rachel sure thought it was shocking. I had a fantastic time following her around. We made a beer and ATM run that was exactly what I needed. The woman is a fountain of joy to be around. I got her to hold the sock…


and Alden too. (He was….bemused, I think. At the very least he resisted the urge to tell me what he was thinking when I asked him to “hold my sock”, for which I am grateful. If you have met Alden then you must know how difficult that would be for him.)


We had lunch, I regrouped and spent the afternooon in a class with Judith MacKenzie McCuin


intriguingly called “Three Wild Downs”. The class was an introduction to spinning the down fibres of bison, yak and cashmere. I was a little worried, mostly because the last time I tried to spin cashmere I managed to turn the little cloud of fibre into my hand into a mass of twisted $30/oz craptastica… but Judith is a wonderful teacher, and once she tells you a few magic things (“relax” is a big help) it’s really wonderful.


We spun about 16 different samples of varieties and blends. Yak/silk? Yum. (After the class I went to the market and found the booth from The Fold and made an embarassment of myself to Toni feeling up little wee bits of very good things. We shall not speak of it.)

This was the spinner next to me in Judith’s class.


Nancy Bush. I Love SOAR. There is simply the finest collection of fibre arts teachers in one place that you’re ever going to find. Jeannine Bakriges, Stephenie Gaustad, Andrea Mielke...


Deb Menz and Sara “freakin” Lamb…the list went on and on. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was really wonderful, you wouldn’t believe the things I learned. Getting to go in exchange for giving a terrifying speech to some of the people you respect most in the world was totally worth it. Totally. The icing on the cake was the view from my room…


and the promise of seeing a bear…


which I did.

I’ve got way more to tell you, like about the breast cancer fundraiser I just did in Granby, or the way that the altitude in Lake Tahoe makes all of your pens explode on your knitting, or the gigs I’m doing later this week. Heads up Ontario, it’s Kingston November the 8th, Ottawa the 9th and Montreal the 10th. Details tomorrow. …but that


….is my plane. It’s not very big….is it? Someday we will discuss my irrational belief that big planes stay up better. I have no idea where I got my idea that something heavier was more likely to fly…but there you have it.