Friday, October 9, 2009

Reflections on a Week in Virginia

By Caroline and Kathleen

The first weekend of October is the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia and for the 3rd year I traveled down to VA to visit with Kathleen and her DH (and to attend the festival) (S'okay... I know where I stand...) . The weekend was just awesome. Plenty of sun but enough of a breeze to make sitting all day watching the Sheepdog Trials comfortable. Neither of us signed up for classes this year so we made a lazy start and arrived near noon. We picked our spots to watch the dogs and settled in (after we picked up some cider donuts, (yum!!!) of course ). We understand the competition better every year and this year Kathleen was explaining it to the newbies (It's really pretty easy to understand once you watch through a few times. The dogs run the same course pretty much so you get to understand where they missed something or went wrong. The trickier part is catching the fine points... how straight a line and how clean the run is.) . I am always amazed by the connection between the dogs and the handlers, even if sometimes the dog gets carried away.

I'll let Kathleen tell you more about the event (well, there really isn't much more to it... watch the dogs and buy some wool. Hehe... what's not to like?!); for me the weekend really boiled down to one thing: wheels. Kathleen had started me on the drop spindle last year and I had struggled with it to the point of thinking maybe spinning wasn't for me. I gave it a final shot in a class at Sock Summit and found that Abby Franquemont and Denny McMillan could teach a brick wall to spin (heh, no comment). But the spindle still didn't thrill me and I started thinking about wheels, in a vague, maybe sometime in the future kind of way. Friends brought their wheels into knitting and let me try them. I was awful but really intrigued. I got enough out of it to know certain things: I wanted a double treadle and I didn't like the tensioner that is a strap with the screw (can't remember what it is called) (I know the one with the spring is a Scotch tensioner...). Okay, you know where all this is going, don't you?

Buying a wheel was not part of my plan for the weekend; I was just going to look and gather up impressions for a purchase, maybe next year. We looked at Majacraft (a sheep owner gave Kathleen a lesson on Navajo plying (Well, I had done it before, but found it awkward. And she gave me some good tips... it helped a bit.)), I saw a Kiwi, the Ladybug, a couple really cool looking wheels from SpinOlution, and a few others. But the one that grabbed my attention was the Lendrum. Kathleen and I talked about it as we returned to watch the Sheepdog Trials. I wasn't sure that I was ready for a wheel, after all , I was only just understanding the spindle. Plus, my friend Kathy and I had talked about co-owning a wheel some day and this was beyond the price range we had considered. But, and this was a big factor, my little OCD heart loved that this wheel came with everything. Everything! It was ready for a beginner and would grow with you. I loved that! I gave Kathy a call and we talked about it; she was very supportive. Kathleen and I got on the computer and searched Ravelry for comments on this wheel (found nothing negative). Sigh, what a decision.

Sunday we returned to the festival. More sheepdogs (such an awesome dog!) and then time to shop. Each time we passed a wheel, we discussed its potential very seriously. Kathleen spun a little on the SpinOlution (I think when I'm ready for my next wheel I might look into the traveling SpinOlution. I didn't try it out, but I liked the feel of the bigger one, and the folding mechanisms on the traveler were amazing!) and then we came back to the Lendrum. This time, I sat down to spin and it just felt right. It felt good! Kathleen tried it out, too, but I just wasn't ready to decide. More shopping (yay) and back to the Sheepdog Trials and more discussion about this wheel. So, as you can guess, I bought the Lendrum . . . . the festival was over and vendors were packing up but our guy was waiting for us. Kathleen and I walked back to the car, holy cow, I had a wheel!

I just wanted to say that I hope I stayed neutral enough. I admit I liked the idea of Caroline spinning. I want everyone to love spinning and knitting too... But buying a wheel is a big decision and a commitment of money and time. I wanted her to be sure and to balance the pros and cons of the choice. I think I succeeded in staying objective. And she is still enjoying it so... win all around!

That evening, Kathleen and I sat down at our wheels and she started teaching me to spin. I was really bad (Uhm... yeah.). But I had fun and realised the learning curve would not be discouraging me. I continued to spin badly for the rest of the week but was happy every time I sat at the wheel. For the rest of the week, evenings were spent on the couch, in front of a fire, spinning or knitting, talking with Kathleen and Jeff and days were spent visiting with Kathleen at her work, dumping her CDs into my iTunes and running errands for her. It was so nice to have such down time; Kathleen, unfortunately, was having very little down time. It was a very busy week for her, which made it an interesting time to watch her work. It's very cool to see Kathleen out of her sister box and see her as teacher/manager/grown-up person.

And it didn't stop... in fact looking back now I can't remember what I was even working on because it's all starting to blur into one long unbroken length of busy-ness and stress.

One Friday I realized that I was doing laundry for our most recent show, fittings for one that opened in two days, having a production meeting for the one in December, and taking measurements for the big musical in February... on top of which I was making a shawl to match a wedding dress for Saturday. On Sunday I had a dance concert rehearsal in the morning , show strike in the afternoon and a dress rehearsal that night.

I love what I do... but I'm so tired right now. I can barely celebrate my newly finished socks (wheeee!!!)

Spring Forward in Socks that Rock Lunasea

Nancy Bush SKA Mystery Sock in Cornfed by Slackford Studio

ANYWAY... back to festival...

Caroline and I were pretty reasonable in our purchases I think. We both got some cool color changing cotton. I haven't decided what mine will be yet, but I wear a fair amount of scarves as accessories and I could use a nice light cotton (lace or other texture). And we both got a few bags of fiber. I'm using my pretty Creatively Dyed as a reward for finishing another skein of some boring, but useful, brown and white 2 ply. A few patterns, a couple bits and bobs, some gorgeous handspun and this was all our haul.

I got to watch a rehearsal, sort through costumes, and I even painted a wig. I continually marveled at the scenery around me . . . . Virginia is such a beautiful state. It was a great week!

And it was great to have Caroline here. Come back anytime Sis! Love you!

Almost forgot: for George T. . . . gratuitous John Deere photo. Enjoy.