It has taken me fully a week to recover from the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
It may be premature to speak of "full" recovery. I may never recover fully. I know I have been changed by the experience. I'm not sure I want to change back.
The retreat hurtled past with such velocity that I find myself unable to offer a fluid narrative. All I have are a sprinkling of moments, and a handful of dreadful photographs. (I know my limits. I can be a participant or I can be a decent photographer, but not both. I chose to be a participant. Carpe diem.)
Herewith, a small selection of the memories (sweet) and the photographs (otherwise).
Funny Moment: Meet Faye
I was prepping the classroom for round two of "Photographing Your Fiber" when I heard a student come through the door. I turned to welcome her, and was startled to meet a lady in dark glasses being led by a Seeing Eye dog.
Now, I've had students who've forgotten more about lace than I will ever know show up for my "Introduction to Lace" class, and I've managed to show them a good time; but I confess to a moment of panic at wondering how one teaches a blind lady to capture true color.
The lady in question was Michelle, and Michelle's guide was Faye.
Happily, Michelle can see well enough to knit and to make photographs; in fact, photographing objects makes them easier for her to encompass visually.
Faye, on the other hand, hadn't brought a camera. She settled herself under the table at Michelle's feet, with her furry derrière sticking out from under the cloth. Occasionally, while I was speaking, her tail would thump delicately against the floor. Or during a pause, I would hear a gentle complaint from her squeaky pony.
I'm thinking of re-writing my classroom requirements henceforth to include a desk, a flip chart, four thick markers of different colors, and a puppy dog.
Personal Note to the Universe Moment: Pocket Wheels
I rode on one of these and I @#$*!! WANT ONE. Just putting it out there, Universe.
Guess Again Moment: Mystery Knitting
A lady in my "Antique Patterns" class held up her half-finished mystery project and asked me, "Is it a vagina?"
No, it is not a vagina.
She's Pretty and Talented Moment: Sivia
I stopped by the Abstract Fiber booth and Jasmine showed me a glove design from Sivia Harding, so new it was still bleeding.
It's simple, yet intriguing. It's energetic, yet elegant. It's perfect. It's typically Sivia. If I didn't like Sivia so much, I would want to smack her.
Excuse Me for Drooling on Your Booth Moment: Retail Therapy
Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.
Socks That Rock.
No further explanation necessary. Moving on.
Sometimes It Pays to Have Puppy Dog Eyes Moment: Goth Socks
The night before everything started I got to peek around the marketplace and saw an entire booth of hanks by a dyer whose work makes my eyeballs knock together, Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs. This is she.
Steph dyes the increasingly famous Goth Socks–including the only self-striping I've seen in years that I truly want to knit with, if for "want" you read "lust with the fiery passion of a thousand guys fresh off a six-month deployment on a submarine."
By the time I got to the market the following morning, during the first break between classes, this is what all the shelves in the booth looked like.
Gone. Gone. That's not a rush, that's a feeding frenzy.
I grew despondent, until a gentleman to whom I'd just been introduced–the friend of a dear friend–took pity on me and insisted on sending me home with his own hank of Goth Socks "Dark and Twisty." And he's straight! He didn't demand sexual favors or anything!
The kindness of some human beings is not to be believed.
Sock one is nearly complete, and it is to die. Pictures coming soon.
Getting to Know You Moment: Karen and Jacey
At the teachers' dinner I sat between Karen Alfke and Jacey Boggs, and amidst the lofty talk and low (but delicious) gossip going on around us, we shared our personal experiences of public nudity, both first- and second-hand.
That's all I'm saying. And no, there are no pictures.
Lord, Let Thy Servant Depart in Peace Moment: Evelyn
During the Teachers' Gallery event at which we displayed the patterns we'd written, Evelyn Clark came to my table, picked up Sahar and said, "This is absolutely lovely."
Fanboy Moment: Vivian
I got seated at the banquet next to Vivian Høxbro. It turns out she has to eat food, just like a normal person. I always figured her to be the type who lives on pure mountain air and ambrosia.
I asked if she would mind having a picture with me. She did not mind.
Jeepers Moment: View from the Lectern
Anybody who goes to Madrona will tell you that among all fiber retreats, it is Different. The reasons for the difference are legion, not least the organizers' insistence on treating the faculty with enormous respect and courtesy. (At some events, the employer/teacher relationship is closer to that of, say, Pharaoh and the Israelites.)
When the teachers are happy, everybody's happy. We all came together–students, teachers, organizers, vendors–for a merry banquet on Saturday night; and I had the honor of addressing the company.
This (if you will tip either your head or your monitor to one side) is what I saw when I looked down from my perch.
It's enough to make a guy choke on his angora.
The warm energy in that room was enough to sustain me through about 365 days of swatching, ripping, re-charting, re-writing, re-ripping, re-knitting and answering e-mails with the subject line "I Think There's a Mistake in Your Pattern."
But I still don't know how I'm going to wait until it's time for Madrona again.