Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Sunday, March 28, 2004  




That is for yesterday - 7 hours of studio time at Stony Mountain Fibers with Barbara's Babes - 8 other fiberistas spinning, knitting, touching, talking, perusing and shopping. Beautiful Barbara Gentry threw open her studio again and let us play with her toys. On the mountain side we gathered, starting the day out with pumped high energy, but slowly melting into that pool of mellow relaxation that the gentle whir of wheels, the soothing swing of hands and the murmur of voices imposes on the most wound up crowd.

I took one of my students with me, B - a notable quilter and returning knitter. She is such a joy to teach because her mind grasps concepts, shapes, fundamentals so instantly. She comes armed with such a wealth of fiber and color knowledge that I don't have to explain so much as point out. We got there first, and a tad early, so I had the pleasure of watching her face as I ushered her into the studio. I'm grinning now, just remembering. She had the same reaction I had - of stepping through the mirror into MagicLand.

Color. First there is color - heaping mounds of cascading color tumbling down, like some volcano of fairy lava, from a tall stand. It's Barbara's collection of Interlacements yarns. Then you sense, before you see, beautiful wooden tools. You may not even realize what they are, but if you turn your focus towards them you see at your knees a clutter of spinning wheels - not all of her wheels, but perhaps 6 of them. And then you realize that those large pieces to the right and beyond the color-volcano are Looms! And beyond the looms are more bins of color - milk carton sized bins of Ramboulet roving in every color there is - 6 different reds - that kind of selection!

At this point you begin to shake, stretching out your arms and flexing fingers because you realize this place is for your senses - for absorbing - for touch - for soaking. In fact, it is an overload that first time you go. It was good for B to have some alone time - even alone from me, for I went to tell Barbara that we had arrived - so that she could float through space while she made contact with her surroundings.

We had about 10 minutes for her to find her bearings before the second carload of BBs pulled up - with Jen and L and A. There were hugs and there were smiles and more hugs and such gladness. A had the hat she'd made from the yarn she dyed at my house last week. It was gorgeous - so richly full of colors - as she said - like the forest floor in autumn. It was stunning. She said she barely used half - which delights me since I have another skein of the un-dyed stuff. Mittens and hat for me.

B wanted very much to experience spinning - spindle first, then wheel - A was champing at the bit to try a wheel. Barbara set up a Joy for me to experiment with and a Fricke for A, while I sat with B and showed her how to use the perfectly balanced Schact spindle which she'd chosen from among the bins. Wow - that is a good tool. A true bargain, at something like $13.00. Within 15 minutes, B was drafting out a creditable yarn - quite evenly balanced, fairly overtwisted as is most beginner's yarn, but usable.

By noon, R had arrived, with her girls in tow. There really is nothing like having compatible women with beautiful fiber in an environment where pretty much anything you wanted to try was available. Barbara had had a custom blend of merino top created out of a green and two blue tops - and had a 3 foot tall bag full of the stuff. It is an ethereal pastel blue of such beauty my eyes glued themselves to it the moment I saw it. I took an ounce to practice with on the Joy. It is quiveringly beautiful. 6 further ounces came home with me to spin up fine into a beautiful piece of lace for my mother. It is Easter and blossoms and perhaps even fairies-singing blue. It makes my eyes tremble. Barbara called it a swirl blend - I hope she has ordered more for Md. Sheep and Wool - for she will sell out of it the first morning.

How does one describe such a day. Once, when I was telling a male friend about going to the KRRetreat he commented, "Oh, a coven." At the time I was offended because it sounded so midevilishly judgmental - as in "get a bunch of women together and they'll brew trouble." But a comment from B on the way home put that statement in a different light. She pointed out how earthy spinners are - how much more in touch with the origins, the organic base of our fiber craft, we are. Her quilting friends, because they begin their art so much further along the manufacturing process, miss out on this birth experience, where we begin with the animal or the plant and gather the barks and blossoms and stir up the potion to dye them and then comb out the tangles and then whir the fibers into yarn and then loop or weave them into the fabrics. If all that isn't the good witch's purview, I don’t know what is. So I feel much more in charity with my friend's appellation and even rather smug about it.

We broke up around 5, R to return to her farm chores, but the rest of us to head out to dinner. Of course, we all completely forgot what 6 o’clock on the first beautiful spring Saturday evening would be like at any restaurant. The wait, we were told, would be about 45 minutes. I'll confess, had it been just B and I, we should have gone to Wendys and picked up a salad and gone home, but the others were much more determined and it was out of the question to part from them. Still, sitting in a crowded restaurant foyer after all that fiber pleasure was more than my psyche could endure, so I went out and got my drop spindle, with the half-ounce of EasterBlue and plopped myself down in the corner.

Whirr Whirr Whirr It provided entertainment for all, through the long wait. One little boy with huge eyes came to stand right beside me. I doubled back a small sample and broke it off. "Give this to your mama" I urged him, as he seemed unsure about taking something from a stranger. She kindly let him keep it. I had, in fact, a suspicion I would garner some attention, but as soon as the man beside me began asking about my spinning I forgot about the crowd, till his name was called and I looked up to see fascinated eyes staring. Well, I confess. I am an E of the entertainer sort, and I do love to put on a show. Besides, it's good business for Barbara, since I told everyone who asked that of course they too could learn to do this at her studio. Who knows - there may be a budding artist a-borning this very day.

Good food, Good friends, Good fiber - rich goodness. The long drive home was so much nicer with a friend - especially a friend who doesn’t mind driving. We were back at my car by 10, and I was home by quarter to 11. Tired, but floating, fat with the memories of the day and the knowledge of a week of more beautiful home days ahead. With books and fiber and some brown dyes and 3 books and a bottle of Euclan. Oh - and some sock yarn. Heh. Well. After all, one can't spend a whole day in a yarn shop without buying, now, can one?

posted by Bess | 7:56 AM