Saturday, February 19, 2011

Moments at Madrona

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.

Michelle and 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.

Glove by Sivia Harding

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 Booth, Madrona

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.

Tina from Socks That Rock

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 from Goth Socks

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.

Goth Socks...All Gone

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.

With Vivian Hoxbro

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.

Madrona 2011 Banquet

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.

64 comments:

mehitabel said...

My Seattle friend has been telling me I need to go to Madrona for years now. She's persuasive, but you're even more so. Time to start saving the pennies and the FFmiles for next year!

JelliDonut said...

You were an absolute kick in the pants, and the two classes I took from you were fantastic!

I didn't get any Goth Socks, so that is reason enough to go next year. That, and seeing if the next key note speaker can even come close to you. Thanks for making my first Madrona a memorable one.

... said...

Looking at the picture, I feel like playing "Where's Stephanie?" Can we expect a sitting chart for the panorama? I think that much talent in one room is illegal, or at least requires some sort of protection.

Kris said...

You said we would need to see if your presentation at the banquet was successful to see if you would be invited back to Madrona....
You will be invited back many times. It was wonderful and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for adding to a great experience. Both at the banquet and in class.

kate-the-enabler said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoy every one of your posts. Thank you.

Vorpal Knitter said...

I feel the same way about the Pocket Wheel. Jon says I have about 8 months to wait now that I am officially in line for one. It's going to be the best Christmas Ever!

I'm glad you had such a good time.

JoAnn said...

Your posts are so worth waiting for! Too bad Madrona requires such an expensive plane ticket. Wonder how long it would take a 63 year old, overweight woman to hitchhike? Start now?

Amanda Lyn said...

Oh I looooved the pocket wheel too!

Kathleen said...

Holy moley, does that sound like fun.

Rooie said...

It's wonderful to read such a happy post. Thanks for sharing a little of Madrona with us.

withmyneedles said...

Those gloves are amazing! I've been searching for a woman's cabled glove pattern to make for a friend for ages, and this one is perfect!

Peanutga11ery1 said...

I feel so lucky to know Steph (she's in my knitting and spinning group) and lovely to see you like her too! I bet the gentleman in question is my dear, dear friend Scott (cabledguy) who also attends the knitting group where our other dear friend Daniel occasionally drops by. Glad you made it out, and I am again regretting my shyness and wishing I'd hugged the stuffing out of you. :-) Maybe next time--be on guard!

Kitchen Mama said...

Thank you. I haven't laughed out loud while reading a post... ever. Love the "vagina" pattern.

sherecie said...

I am in the audience somewhere in the banquet pics! You were awesome. Thank you, Thank you!

mschoir01 said...

Oh, Lucky man! Oh, envious me...

CCK said...

Simply, thanks...

akabini said...

So nice to know that we share the bond of public nudity.
And that no one else knows.

Pretty Knitty said...

Love the post. . .feel like I was there. . .glad you were!

JK_in_KC said...

Thank you for such a warm witty description of Madrona. It makes me want to go.

sivia said...

Somehow the thought of you smacking me makes me ridiculously happy.

Anonymous, too said...

Wow. Just wow. From Faye to the banquet photo -- wow.

P.S.: Did anyone mistake Dolores for roving and attack her with spindle?

StringBean said...

I love Rainy Days and Woolly Dogs! I miss Madrona so much. Thanks for reminding me what I'm missing. May have to go next year.

...e... said...

looks wonderful! i have a friend, who was one of your fellows, who reminded me that i can get to anyplace i want to--and even showed me how!--so i won't say i can't ever get there. but since the very first place she opened up for me grabbed me so hard, i imagine i probably won't be going anyplace else very soon. otherwise, though? i'd (somehow) be there in a heartbeat! fiber teachers are fabulous. everybody else: don't say how? say go! you'll never regret going, only not:)

anne.landre said...

After enjoying your blog for years, it was wonderful to see you in person at Madrona. Your talk on Sat. night was thoroughly fun and smart. I'm already planning to take one of your classes next year.

cpeezers said...

Oh thanks for letting me experience some of Madrona! I want to knit the Sivia Harding gloves. Beautiful! And um, I'd not heard of Goth Socks. Going to go check that out now.

Sally said...

I LOVE the picture of you and Vivian! Two so tastefully bespectacled and accessorized individuals!

Ruby said...

I have been told Madrona is a great place to go. This year, I got to go, but did not know soon enough to get into classes. Only found out the week before that I was coming up to the corporate office for two weeks and would be there the weekend of Madrona. So I got to visit the vendor hall and sit and knit with old and new friends in the open areas. I loved it. I cannot wait to get a chance to go back and take classes.
Awesome.

TricotonRideau said...

That's it, I'm definitely going next year!! Lucky me, I am going to Denmark for work in a couple of weeks and I'll meet up with Vivian H! (love your photo)....she is truly lovely!

Anonymous said...

My painting teacher used to say, "If you want to improve your picture, put a dog in it."

Apparently it works for knitting classes, too.

FiberQat said...

Next year. I will be saving my shekels to participate at Madrona. You'd think my living so near would make it a piece of cake but not this year. I'm so happy you had a delightful time.

SusieQ100 said...

"...whose work makes my eyeballs knock together" - know that feeling! And as I'm such an envious b*tch it's a good job I wasn't there!!

Kayten said...

I keep lusting to attend a large workshop/festival, but most are beyond my financial reach.
I am, however, fortunate enough to own Pocket Wheel, which I got from the original maker about 5 years ago. I love it! That was back when people said, "But can you really spin seriously on it?" I use mine a lot, and can even use my Majacraft bobbins on it, as I got the brass extender for the shaft. It's a sweet little wheel.

Voie de Vie said...

That banquet photo is excellent. Glad you had such a good time (and I was thrilled to sit near Vivian at the Teacher's talk).

One, as spectator, can learn many things, if one is mindful. :)

The Bon said...

Here's the photo I took of you, the "rubber" chicken, scott and steph at the RDWD booth on Sunday.

jacey Boggs said...

dude, I totally have pictures!

anne marie in philly said...

thanks for sharing, hon. you look wonderful! and the retreat looks like fun!

Anita said...

I could kiss you simply for writing: "This is she". I love proper grammar.

Angela said...

I was in Seattle, driving to SeaTac, when registration opened, and so I missed it. Next year, I will sit by the side of the road, if necessary, to go to Madrona. BTW, I just got word from Mr. Pocket Wheel that mine is coming in a few weeks. You're welcome to come up an use it--we're only a couple of miles apart!

Lilm4105 said...

I don't usually comment but this post made me laugh out loud a few times. Love your recap, wish I could have gone but alas, I am a chronic East Coaster it seems!

Anne O'Nymous said...

This is one of my favorite posts on one of my favorite blogs. You, sir, have a lovely, gentlemanly way of offering praise and helping readers appreciate others' talents. You have a way of making me like human beings better.

When you tear the lock off the snark cage, it is almost always to belittle ideas or people who have chosen to make their spiritual and/or intellectual poverty public. The stupidities of private people may be named, but you leave the names out.

Just when I think you've earned as much respect as could be expected, under the circumstances, you go on to earn more. Wow.

May my verification word "witendi" never come to pass.

Renee said...

I read your blog religiously, enjoy your sense of humor, noted that in your profile photo you look like a total tough guy, but the man standing next to Vivian Hoxbro is beaming with the kind of joy and goo-goo-ness that is just lovely to look at. Thanks for keeping up the blog.

margaret in manhattan said...

THAT good, huh ;-D? word verification: oforn

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Franklin, for your energy and your intelligence and your kind teaching at Madrona. You made it pretty special for me, too!
(Marina, the lady with a bad elbow in the lace class.)

Jean said...

I don't care what you're going to be teaching at KnitNation in July but I am going to be in your class by hook or by crook.

KarenJ said...

Oh envy, envy envy!

@JoAnn, I'd meet you and two overweight 63 year olds could do it together! The problem is, first I'd have to swim the Atlantic.

Envy, envy, envy!

Eileen said...

...not only is your grammar lovely, you look swell in a tie. You do.

Gail (nosenabook) said...

I love to hear about your travels, especially when you have fun. It almost makes up for ME not being there.

LG said...

you met a straight guy that knits??

That's almost a mythological beast, right there!!

Renée said...

The only thing that could make that better would be if Rolando Villazon showed up to sing you to sleep that night!

Christina said...

Hi, my name is Christina, and now I feel all famous on account of how you photographed my torso in the Abstract Fibers booth. The rest of your post was hilarious too. Thank you.

Jenni said...

Sounds like a good time. The Goth Sock is intriguing... self-striping yarn that's worth knitting? Hmm... Well, until I can figure out how to get to one of these yarn festivals (Fargo doesn't have all that many, which is odd considering the cold).

Stephanie said...

Franklin - I wanted to send you an email to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for including me in your blog :) I can't find yer email addy tho...so this will have to do for now. I had so much fun meeting you and really enjoyed it. I am flattered you like my yarns so much! I am speechless over the kind words. You really are awesome. Thanks again!

KarenJ said...

I absolutely LOVE that no one there thinks it's rude to knit at the dinner table!

Patricia said...

Thank you for such a detailed and passionate post! I had to cancel my reservation due to lack of funds, and I've never been. Maybe next year. But it was so much fun to read your post. I feel like I was given a sweet taste.

And I second the need for a diagram of the view from the podium!

Patricia said...

Thank you for such a detailed and passionate post! I had to cancel my reservation due to lack of funds, and I've never been. Maybe next year. But it was so much fun to read your post. I feel like I was given a sweet taste.

And I second the need for a diagram of the view from the podium!

Rosi G. said...

Look at you all cute in your jacket and pink tie!

Aren't labs the bestedest? I have a black lab. She's half pony (she's my height when she stands on her hind legs). She knows how to dance with me on command (she jumps on me and I have no choice but to hold her front paws and dance).

And, when their tail wags near your legs, IT HURTS!

Glad you had fun at Madrona!

blindpurls aka Chelle aka Michelle said...

Thank you Franklin for your wonderful teaching and not kicking me out of your class because my vision is crappy. Faye enjoyed it as well. I love the picture you took of us! You helped make our Madrona experience truly fantastic.

@Rosi G. Labs are the bestest. Faye is actually a delicate little lab (55 pounds) and her tail is pretty gentle. It always shocks me after having a lab that would swipe everything of a table and bruise me with one wag of her tail.

Ellen in Conn said...

Gestosms, indeed! Add that captcha to your next novel! I wanted to say, Franklin, that in the knitted white cotton string coverlet department, you might look at the ones in the Mark Twain house in Hartford, if you get over this way.

KnittingInMind said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your photography class. I learned a lot. From you and from Michelle, I admit I was a bit confused by the seeing eye dog in a photography class.
I also messed up the auto settings on my camera enough that I was forced to download the user's manual from the manufacturer's website and actually figure out how to work the thing...enough to reset everything.
Well, at least I have the *notion* of optimizing the camera settings and resulting photos.

KnittingInMind said...

OMG, where do they get the WORD VERIFICATION words?
My first word was "actikack" and my second was "bushi". It sounds like and involuntary spasm and the thing it produces:
"I felt much better after I actikack'd a large bushi".

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'd be pleased to provide as your sherpa and bouncy for your Iceland trip. However, if you want to maintain my solutions for Dolores too, I have to get in touch with my lawful solutions.


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Sandra Gardner Benward said...

What a great recap of Madrona. I have not been yet but I am seriously thinking of going next year. Thank You. a friend from Sacramento