Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SOAR Report 2: People

The people make the event.  Spin-Off Autumn Retreat  draws folks from many walks of life.  All have a love of fiber and spinning.  This was only the second time I’ve attended SOAR – and the first time as a “mentor” – so I was a bit on the reserved side when I first arrived.  But it didn’t take long to warm up to all the warm people.

I met so many fantastic people in the workshops that I taught.  Many were from the western parts of the country.  All were cheerful, engaged, open, enthusiastic, and interactive.  I couldn’t have had a nicer teaching experience.  (In addition to the fabulous workshop participants, I was in a terrific teaching space, the Aspen Room:  excellent light, plenty of room, windows, nearby bathroom and kitchen.  I felt like a queen.)  At the end of my 3-day workshop, I did get an earful from a few wonderful participants who chastised me for under-pricing my handspun yarns.  Lesson learned!

One of the very nicest things about SOAR is the opportunity to have meals with other attendees.  I got to have extended chats with some very interesting folks.  We talked about the weather, the World Series (as a Detroit Tigers fan, I had to take a lot of guff from a few very enthusiastic Giants fans), living out west, evidence-based practice in medicine, publishing, internet retail sales, socks, tablet weaving, Japanese quilting, felted lace, the creative process, dyeing strategies, raising chickens, the cost of hay, apple cider, dogs, and more.

By the way, the food was marvelous at each and every meal.  I will reminisce often of the Eggs Benedict, the salmon, the scallops, steak, roast duck, fresh tomato soup, sweet sweet sweet pineapple, chocolate mousse, tiramisu, and the cash bar!

It was especially nice to get to know a few of the other mentors a bit better.  My roommate was Joan Ruane.  She lives in Bisbee, Arizona, and she specializes in spinning cotton.  She gave me some pretty good advice about how to “revive” some older cotton that I have in my spinning stash (by putting it in a steamer for a bit).

I had a couple of very interesting conversations with Michael Cook.  He was teaching workshops on reeled silk.  And he knows his stuff!  He lives in Dallas, Texas, and had some fun stories to tell of his life there, including some wonderful chicken stories.  I now have a strong urge to try reeling silk.  It is so beautifully shiny!

Kate Larson  taught in the classroom across the hall from mine.  She’s from Indiana and she raises Border Leicester sheep.  It turns out that we’ve taught at other events at the same time, but this was the first time we’d actually met.  She’s a delight!

I had a couple of sock chats with Ann Budd.  She’s the editor of Sock Knitting Master Class.  As my travel knitting, I’d chosen a pattern from that book, “Slip-n-Slide”.  And I had a question about some of the instructions.  I mentioned this to Anne Merrow (editor of Sockupied), she passed on my concerns to Ann.  The following morning, Ann stopped by my breakfast table to, as she put it, “take the bull by the horns.”  Essentially she suggested that I follow my instinct.  I did.  Ann, by the way, has a wonderfully dry sense of humor.

I had a few conversations with Diane Gonthier.  She’s from Montreal, and she is a felt artist.  She’s recently started felting with yarns to make lacey looking art.  Amazing stuff!

If only SOAR lasted for two weeks!  Then I would have had the chance to chat with even more people.

This event went so swimmingly in large part due to the staff from Interweave Press:  Amy Clarke Moore, Liz Good, Anne Merrow, and Maggie Reinholtz.  They were fantastic to work with, so very helpful and gracious.

Gracious, too, were the staff members of the Granlibakken Resort, from the front desk, to shuttle service, to food service, room service.  It was all good.

Yes.  People make the event.  And what an event!

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