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


What a beautiful story about your weekend. I loved your description of your drive to Bedford. You see. I grew up on Rt.15 just south of Sprouses Corner and went to Maysville Presbyterian Church right there in Buckingham Courthouse. It is a lovely drive.
I am sorry that I did not get to meet you. I was in the classroom during the very latter part of your class. I was trying to be very quiet and not disrupt what you were doing but I did have intentions of slipping back in to introduce myself. But the yarn called and I did not make it back into the school.

I have updated my blog with some pictures of the festival.I will add more during the week.Thanks for showing interest in seeing them.

By Blogger emmy, at 12:45 AM  

I loved your weekend tale. Can "grownups" hear your new story, too?

By Blogger Jane, at 6:44 AM  

I wish I had been able to go to Sedalia, but I know I will next year. And I am glad your ARE real!
The gift of storytelling is wonderful.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 7:21 AM  

Oh, Bess you would have loved the Storytelling Festival that my husband and I went to on Saturday. It was at the library school (that one) with students telling stories. It was great, there was even one that referred to a woman carding her wool. I loved that one the most and the girl who told it even had the movement down quite well.

It sounds like you had a fantabulous weekend. I can't wait to hear your story!

By Blogger erica, at 9:56 PM  

What a perfect description of the drive west -- all those thoughts were going through my head as well during my drive, but certainly not expressed so eloquently. What a gift you have!

You may have to turn your spinster story into a children's book. And I know an illustrator! :-)

I had such fun at the festival. I'll be blogging about it later this week, as soon as I get my camera back from my brother (left it at their house on Sunday). Jane tells me that you drew my name for one of the raffle prizes -- how cool is that??? :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:12 PM  

What a lovely weekend!

And yes, if I ever get enough roses I might try peonies, although there aren't many types that do well out here. Some of the tree peonies do, but we don't get cold enough.

Honeysuckle might be next. I really miss honeysuckle and heliotrope, while lovely, just isn't the same!

By Blogger Diann, at 11:13 PM  

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Monday, April 10, 2006  

I know there won’t be time tomorrow to write a post about the festival and I’m so afraid if I don’t write it down now, some of the freshness will be lost and surely some of the details. So I will try now, to capture the excitement of this past weekend.

I left home around noon on Thursday, for the drive is pretty much due west and I didn’t want to be on the road and staring at a setting sun. I had two Modern Scholar lectures to wile away the time - one of them on signature cases in American history and one on fantasy literature. I also had Bette Hochberg‘s little book Spin Span Spun, with the few lines of reference she made to spinning in fairy tales. One in particular, The Golden Spinning Wheel, had been pricking at my creative root and as I pulled onto 295, heading for the new James River Bridge and the intersection at Rt. 60 I began writing a better version of it. Or rather, I began telling a story out loud and as I worked on the plot details I’d retell the passage, and then the story again. By the time I was in Bedford I had something that satisfied me almost completely - though, I suspected the story would be a long tale.

I have 50 years of fairy tales and folk tales and jack tales stored up in my memory and the formulas and clichés of the genre are almost second nature to me. I have always loved best the stories where the magic was either a reward or only offered the slightest bit of help to the clever and the good. I have a lot of plans for story telling in the coming months and years and I want a much richer store of spinning and weaving and knitting stories than I’ve got at the moment. I’d never tried to write a story by just starting to talk. I wasn’t exactly sure it would work, but it was completely satisfying, it beguiled me so that I was in Bedford before I realized it and it was successful enough to entertain a classroom full of [decidedly well behaved] 3rd graders and an audience of about 25 children and some assorted adults.

I’ve got to do more of this.

Virginia is just waking up from it’s winter nap. Spring is coming very late this year. Branches are bare, grass is spotty in fields and yards, days are cool as often as they are warm. The redbud is in full force though, it’s purple blossom skirting forests and edging lawns. As you drive west, the rolling landscape gets fatter and rounder and the views seemto hold more secrets, down little valleys, across rills that wend through thin copses of trees where cattle can sip cool water and butterflies can spiral in their mating dances. It’s always a thrill for me to drive up and up and up from my flat marshes with their tooteling blackbirds and cooing doves and silvery carp and mud shad splashing in the tide pools left behind twice each day. Everything is gradual till all of a sudden you see it - a mountain! That first one, just past Buckingham Courthouse on Rt. 60. Then it’s a tree tunneled cut across the landscape to 460 just outside of Appomattox and you are on the wide road west to Lynchburg, Bedford and Roanoke. I’ve never been to Roanoke and Lynchburg just looks sort of like a city to me, but Bedford is the small town you always dreamed of - the one you would move to in a flash if you could only figure out how to make a living. It’s full of Victorian homes and child sprinkled yards, sidewalks that actually take you somewhere and a downtown with a shop in every building. I’m proud that some of my very own cousins have been a part of keeping that beautiful little town alive. If I couldn’t live on my beloved flats, that is where I would move.

I got to the cousins’ around 4, when I’d thought to be lucky if I got there before 6. There are two teens still at home and everybody was busy with after school activities. Mama is the teacher and had lesson plans and meetings. Papa was on his way home from work and in cell contact with the two soccer victors - both teams won! Dinner was venison steak and fantastic baked potatoes, red wine and house guest candy.

I plotted with Cousin C about when best to visit her class and we decided that I should arrive at 12:30, while the students were at lunch. I would be the reward for a week of hard work and good behavior. She went to get them from the playground and I sat in the room spinning. As the other classes came back I heard little voices whisper awe filled comments and saw some come back for a second look. And then CC’s kids were filing into the room and taking seats in a semi-circle around the wheel.

I began with a little introduction to the wheel - what the parts were called, asking them if they could see any simple machines in action. They quickly identified the inclined plane, the wheel and axle, the pulley. I asked them if they knew any stories with spinning wheels in them and they all knew Rumplestiltskin. One little girl told the class the whole plot - perfectly. That let me ask them some of the questions about that story I always had - like ... would you have married that nasty king who threatened to cut off your head? Ever? And I also asked them - what would the queen do if he ever decided he wanted more gold? It was a great segue into the story of the 3 aunts and from there we went to Sleeping Beauty and then to my new story which I call The Spinster who was worthy to be the Bride of a Prince. A long story deserves a long title.

After story telling we did the spinning craft I brought them - Friendship bracelets made from yarn and spun with a stick rolled down the thigh. I've used a rock on a string in the past, but lately, the idea of a dozen unknown children with rocks on stirngs has given me some nightmares. The whole program took an hour and a half and afterwards the children wrote in their journals or drew pictures or listed the steps to making bracelets. It was a super experience, put me in serene confidence for the story telling I was going to be doing in Sedalia the next day and altogether felt just perfect.

My favorite comment by any of the children that day was "She’s good! Is she real?"

I left CC doing up lesson plans for next week, making a detour past the new yarn shop in Bedford, Yarn Theory. I am still successfully keeping to my January No Fiber Oath but I managed to snap up a copy of Yarn Harlot’s 2nd book.

Huge storms blew in that night, which was Delicious Pizza Night at the cousins'. The next morning it was damp and cool and drizzly, and the drive north towards Big Island was just wet enough to require windshield wipers. I got to Sedalia by 9:30 and had plenty of time to set up and with wonderful help from Sherry who was friendly, helpful and oh so useful. I could not have taught the class without her cheerful assistance. There were 13 students registered and 2 more asked if they could join at the last moment. It’s soooo hard to say no to a future spinner and in the end I said yes, though fortunately for me, 1 student didn’t make it. I know now - for a 1 hour class - a very rudimentary introduction to drop spinning (and plying) the maximum must be 12. More than that, some folk get sort of missed. With 14 students I really lingered on another 30 minutes - and really - I’d rather stick with 12 students and an hour and a half of class.

Fortunately, all but one student made yarn - 2 ply, wet set. Some had a good sized little skein. Some had only enough to make a necklace. I suspect for the most part all were very happy. I know one succumbed to the lure of a wheel! Very very exciting for me, since teaching is as much fun for me as actually spinning! Each time I teach a class, I learn as much as the students. One thing I learned for sure is to remind people at the beginning to SHOUT OUT! if they are having trouble. Some folk are too soft spoken and shy to do so and it’s very easy for the teacher to be captured by the more vocal. Fortunately, I noticed in time and was at least able to get one-on-one with the spinners who needed it. Even more fortunately - several only wanted for the slightest instruction. They were natural spinners who just had to see the steps first. I was pleased and enough folk said they were too to make me feel successful.

There was less than an hour between the morning and afternoon session so I just got an apple from my car for lunch. I was very strict about keeping to the time table because I didn’t know how may wee ones would need help with their craft. In the end - almost none did, since the smallest ones had parents with them. There were so many beautiful mothers and handsome papas and lovely nanas and precious children I just floated on the high of doing my mostest favoritest thing - talking to other people. I did the same program with these children as I did in CC’s class, with fewer "instructional moments", but with the same ideas and thoughts. The Spinster story went over just as well as it did with the more contained audience - and I had a chance to time it - it’s fully 20 minutes long. But there was no lack of interest, it’s a good story even if it is long.

It was hard to gauge much about the fair as a whole, because I was indoors so much of the time, but I saw plenty of people walking away with bulging bags of fiber - that oh so familiar sight at fiber festivals. There were lots of vendors for a first year fair, alpaca, llama, some of the long standing favorites of mine like Stony Mt. Fibers and Misty Mountain Alpaca’s. Laurie’s Lane was there with her gorgeous NeedleBooks and yummy bags. The truth is though, after doing three "shows" in 25 hours - I was pretty fuzzyheaded. I’m still a little tired and it’s now Monday evening - but it’s good tired. Rich, surfeited, self satisfied tired. Tired after running the whole race. Tired knowing that you’ve grown from your efforts. Happy tired. But oh oh yes. Tired.
I didn’t try to buy anything except ice cream. I patted some gorgeous llamas. I helped the most bold and serene lost 6 year old I’ve ever met find her nana and poppop. I met lovely lovely people, I saw gorgeous fiberwork, heard a great all girl music group, and helped with the raffle drawing.

Going to a fair as a vendor or as a teacher is so different from going as a shopper or student. Both ways are fun. I can’t decide which I like better, but I know which one is more true to my soul - the teacher/story teller. For sure I came to discover how deep the yearning is to be back on the stage and to be telling stories instead of playing a violin. My dear friends are always so kind to me when I begin one of my lengthy stories, but it’s much better if I do it from the dais, not from the back seat of the car.

Over the next few months I plan to develop this program in several directions and as at least two different types of presentation - story telling and living history. Yes. I still will make that costume. And when I’m done, why - who knows, I just might be telling stories at a fair, or a library or a yarn shop near you!

posted by Bess | 6:18 PM