Madrona 08

I arrived home yesterday through a serious of minor miracles. I was sure I was too tired to wake up in time for the 5:30 shuttle (despite a patented “triple alarm system” I use whenever I travel) I was sure I didn’t have enough time to get through security when I saw the queues, then felt positive that the weather would cancel the flight. I squeaked through all of that by the skin of my teeth, it seems, and I’m home and so tired that I’m surprised my teeth and hair haven’t fallen out, just because they can’t be bothered to hold on any longer.

I sort of screwed up at Madrona too….suffering my first real case of “camnesia” (was that Mamacate who came up with that? I think so.) where my camera stayed in my sock bag no matter what happened, and plenty happened, let me tell you. (There was a rumour that a knitter got on the horse statue in the lobby bar. I was long gone to bed, but I don’t find this at all surprising, since I feel that there is a certain inevitability to the combination of knitters + alcohol + party atmosphere + wool fumes + a whack of your friends + a full size proper horse (his head was a lamp) in a BAR that can only result in an Annie Oakley and Target sort of episode. I am certain the hotel sensed this.)

Madrona is one of my favourite events all year, and it is (all horse rumours aside) that way because of the fabulous atmosphere. It’s a great place to teach, a wonderful place to learn and the whole time I’m there I feel as though something really important is happening. At SOAR, Jeannine had this tape she’d woven that had all of these wonderful expressions woven into it, and one of them.. the one that has really stuck with me is “When an elder dies, a library burns to the ground”. So many people in this world, the fibre world, really are elders (no matter how old they are) and having an opportunity to learn from them is phenomenal. Books and blogs and all the ways we use to pass on what we know about knitting and spinning is a wonderful thing, but there really is no substitute for the incredible opportunity to sit at the feet of an elder (Metaphorically. Madrona has chairs.) and watch and learn. Since what we do so involves touch and feel, what you can get from being in the actual presence of the stuff and the teacher is very valuable. It’s sort of moving, especially having the honour to be on the teaching end sometimes. To make the most of this, and because I was teaching and speaking and learning and had the opportunity to see friends that I only see once a year….I may have attempted to put more hours in a day than is strictly possible, or wise. I’m so tired that…. I’m so tired I can’t think of how tired I am. Here’s what I do have pictures for. Forgive the fragmented thinking today.

1. A parade of great minds:


Doesn’t this look like a bunch of ordinary women on their way out to dinner? It’s not. That’s Kathryn Alexander, Lucy Neatby, Janine Bajus, Susanna Hansson, Margaret Radcliffe, Anita Luvera Mayer, Ruth Sørensen, Myra Wood, Jean Wong. Nancy Bush and Judith MacKenzie McCuin. The molecules in the wake of these women walking are educational. (Canadians…note the green grass just sitting there looking like it’s not a miracle.)

2. I took a class with Ruth Sørensen on designing with self striping yarns.


I learned a great deal and had a wonderful time, but the highlight of that class for me was seeing Ruth’s work in person. It’s very interesting and beautiful and right after I saw this skirt?


I went straight to the market to buy yarn. STRAIGHT THERE. (Shut up Denny. I do too wear skirts.)

3. I took a class on how to spin yarn for socks from Judith. As always, I now have a rampaging case of “Judith-itis” and shall drive my friends mad for some time to come saying “Judith says…” and “When Judith does it….”

We created cabled yarns, which while they seem like they would be too bumpy to make a good smooth sock yarn, are apparently ideal. Very sturdy, very elastic…and the bumps on a cabled yarn (Judith says) fit together in knitting fabric like interlocking driveway stones and make a very beautiful, very smooth surface. (I have not swatched to prove this, but Judith has never lied to me about anything else.) We started with a two ply…


That was pretty easy. I make a two ply all the time. (Even when I should really make something else.)

Then we added extra ply twist to the two ply. (As a chronic underplyer…..this gave me entire fits) and then plied those two plies together in the direction of the original singles. It makes a really beautiful yarn that looks almost beaded to me.


My first attempt was so horrible that I had to have an entire do-over. When Judith says “add more twist” in the first ply, she is not fooling around. I had to add twist until nausea overtook me, then go back and run it through the wheel to add more. There is still not quite enough. I got the hang though.

This is the same yarn but done with a ply of merino/silk and a ply of yak (de-keratinized, so it’s white.)


Look at this though. This yarn is my new best friend. The only thing stopping me from making a sweaters worth of this right this minute is that I don’t have the fibre and …. to be entirely honest, it took me about 30 minutes to make this half metre sample.


That little precious is two singles of pure silk and one of natural yak.


I’m currently using this wee strand for a bookmark and fighting the urge to eat it…. it’s that beautiful.

4. Since Ruth was there and since she’s the one who designed the Kauni Cardigan that so many of us fell for, Kauni’s were everywhere.


It was like a club.


I realized, as I snapped pictures and had other people snap pictures of all the Kauni’s that I had never posted pictures of my finished Kauni, so today I took a couple.


It’s super wearable, and I do wear it, it’s even been washed several times.


When I’m not wearing it, it’s hanging on the back of a chair somewhere in the house. It thinks it’s art.


(I agree.)

This concludes our interesting coverage of fibre people doing interesting things. We now return to your regularly scheduled blog programming. (That would be me, screwing up grey knitting while it snows. Try to control your enthusiasm.)