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


The more I read, the more I drool! Sounds like you had a *divine* time! Ah...but I get to go on a wee quilting retreat next month at a much-touted B&!

And now I know why I have 3 stashes -- it's part of the Virgo Personna! But sensual??? Never thought of m'self that way, I must admit...

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:49 AM  

Love, your class was excellent, and I was honored to be your helper elf! It sure seemed that many more than 5 people caught the spinning bug from you! YOur obvious joy was contagious, and lit up the room. I'm so lucky that you are my friend!!!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:05 PM  

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Thursday, November 11, 2004  

Saturday dawned cool and bright, but sleeping in a room with blackout curtains prevented me from knowing this. I woke when the alarm went off and Jen and I had less than an hour to get dressed. Now - the naturally beautiful get up, wash their faces, brush their teeth and hair and put on their clothes. Thank goodness for that, since it left me more time in the bathroom and at the mirror to prepare for the world.

Roomie Jen was feeling coldish so I drove her down to breakfast. The parking area is on a steep slope and the only place left was the steepest part of all. There was a trudge back up the hill to the lodge where we were greeted by the cutest border collie, rolled over on her back and sweeping the ground with her plume like tail. I never did ask the dog’s name, but she was the most shameless flirt you ever saw. And when she wasn’t begging for a belly rub she was herding the guests. If you’ve ever seen a sheep dog hunch it’s shoulders, preparatory to circling its charges, you can imagine the scene as folk got out of their cars and the little GML dog gently urged them into the dining hall.

What can one say about Graves’ food that hasn’t been said by everyone else. It’s lavish. It’s hearty. It’s fairly high on the carbohydrate counter. The dining hall is pretty loud - it’s a big open wooden space. The noise seems to generate more noise and crank up the personal energy level as the minutes tick by. Near the end of breakfast someone pointed over my shoulder and cried out "Look!". I turned and there was R, my dearest and only girlfriend from college days, making her way through the room. Up from the table, arms flung wide, we were hugging and laughing and bumping into other diners. R lives a scant 5 miles from Graves and had registered for the day. Not a sole complained about our jostling, because knitters really are the nicest people. Still, we moved on downstairs then, to giggle and talk and find seats for the chart reading class.

R has actually knitted for many years, but she is different from me. Where I have to dive into the whole vat of something if it ever peaks my interest, R goes precisely and thoughtfully from one project to another. There is no obscene stash in her house. There are not even any UFO’s. She gardens the same way. She has the most beautiful and lovely world, because she is a careful, thrifty Aquarius instead of a hoarding sensual Virgo. And we never quarrel and we each admire the other and count ourselves lucky to be in the company of such a superior person. It’s always been that way. Hardly likely to change after 33 years.

The chart reading class was really wonderful. Annie was hilarious, as usual, but also very clear in her drawings and her explanations. Best of all, there was a courtesy and eagerness around the room that made things feel both comfortable and productive. In such a big crowd there is always a variety of skill levels and those who had more skill were quick to murmur additional explanations to those near by. This has always been true at all the retreat classes so far and it carried over into Sunday, thank goodness.

There was a general hubbub out in the hall. I was sitting where I could look out the door and down to the other public space where the vendors had begun to set up shop. The activity proved to be too tempting and I snuck down the hall to see how things looked. Ooo la la - fiber, needles, and books, Oh My. Tools and jewelry and gifts! Oh My. But I didn’t linger and I was back in the classroom in time to hear the familiar rumble of furniture being shoved about in the dining room. With a Pavlovian response, my mouth began to water and I began to imagine what I’d discover for lunch.

The shops were wonderful this year, spread out in two rooms, making it easier to see what everyone had to offer. Carodan Farms had wonderful kits that made my mouth water and two of the Elizabeth Lavold books. Oooo so tempting. Jen had gorgeous fiber and some sock yarn I was not about to leave behind. Two skeins popped into my bag. Stony Mt. Farms had a beautiful stand with arching copper arms, like the branches of a tree, all hung about with gorgeous spindles! Beautiful balanced wooden spindles that glowed like so many live things, just begging to be picked up and twirled. I was riveted, entranced, and unable to tear myself away from them. Others responded the same way, because I was surrounded by a press of eager people, full of questions about them.

I just now realized that perhaps they were tempted as much by the spindle spinning I’d been doing the previous night. A brief digression here, to reiterate how I can’t really work on anything that requires thought when I am in a crowd of knitters. I’m too busy responding to the energy in the room to concentrate on the number of stitches in a given pattern. But I can spin on a spindle anywhere - in a crowd, alone, on a boat, in a car (when I’m a passenger, of course). I bet a lot of would be spindlers were prompted to give the craft a whirl (sorry) after watching me. Well - I don’t mean to sound stuck up - I just think seeing a demonstration encouraged latent desires.

Anyway, people were all about asking spindle questions. E even asked me if I would teach her to spindle spin and by the end of the afternoon there were far fewer pretty little spindles hanging from Barbara Gentry’s spindle tree. One of those beauties came home with me.

As for my own shopping, this was the most restrained I have ever been around fibers’n yarn, but the truth is, my brain is very much preoccupied with wedding dress plans and my pocket book is keeping it’s lips pretty tight as well. Besides which, I have all the yarn and fiber and patterns and books and tools I need to last me oh, perhaps a good half dozen years. So my purchases were few, but they were certainly quality.

As the sun began to slide down behind the apple orchard on the far side of the valley, we clustered in twos and threes with our purchases; stroking, casting on, admiring, planning. R had to leave before full darkness came on and we hugged and grinned and laughed about the fun we are going to have. Their annual post-Thanksgiving visit is barely 2 weeks away. Out on the porch, three dexterous women learned about the Magic of Twist. I can’t restrain the grin on my face, even now, as I cast my mind back to that glorious moment when those new spinners suddenly saw that twist, like a live thing, leap up the fibers and kiss their fingertips. Each time I see it I feel again, that moment when I first knew that magic. I believe that is why I so love to teach spinning. That Ah-ha moment that floods the body with sureness and knowing and wonder. That instant bond with all of humanity that forms when one understands a craft as old as civilization - that actually created civilization. You can never really be alone if you own one of the ancient skills.

After dinner I needed to go out to my car, and found it in a cloud of gasoline fumes. A note taped to the driver’s window said that the car was leaking fuel. Utter panic washed through me - oh god - 100 miles from home and not a gas station in sight and my car will blow up if I touch it and there will be an inferno sweeping through the valley and I’ll never get home and why didn’t I let BD drive me up here and what am I going to do and ... and on and on.

It was black dark outside. There was no way of knowing what had happened. So of course I got in and turned the key and half a tank was left. Hmmm. Nothing to do but petition the OneWhoDealsWithCars. BD was loving and reassuring and gentle and full of promises to be there when the retreat ended to take care of it all. I have no trouble imagining all the possible catastrophes in any given bad situation, but once I’m offered some solutions, I calm down fast. I promised him I’d look again in the daylight and call with an assessment. And then, R’s husband was only a few miles away. So long as some of my OnesWhoDealWithCars are near by I pretty much forget about cars anyway and go back to having fun - which is just what I did.

To save those who can’t wait till tomorrow to find out what had happened, evidently the car was parked at such a slope that gas leaked out of the vent in the gas cap. Once the car was parked on level ground it stopped leaking. I had no trouble getting home all on my own.

Two more spinners found their inner spindle after another gargantuan dinner, making a total of 5 converts. A good Saturday’s work, wouldn’t you say? I missed the felting workshop with Barbara Gentry, but truth is, we’d had a little fun session last winter when I was visiting her shop. I also ought to apologize to her right here, for getting a little noisy in my corner of the room, while I talked spinning with a novitiate. A good shushing quieted me down and nobody had to remind us again that a class was going on.

Back in our room, I asked Jen to read my handouts for Sunday’s seaming class. Although I could feel the first stirrings of nervousness down in my stomach, I determinedly ignored them and put my trust in some kindly goddess who would leap into my mouth and make me say the right things. So another day of the retreat came to a close with the two of us falling asleep almost the instant our heads touched the pillows.

posted by Bess | 8:48 AM