Thursday, February 6, 2014

Alaska: Workshops and Windshields

I got to teach my workshops in a marvelous space: a conference room in the ConocoPhillips building in Anchorage. Karen Williams works for them and she was able to arrange for the use of this space. Here’s a picture of some of the spinners during Sunday’s workshop:

I must say that the Anchorage Weavers and Spinners Guild is a swell group of folks. Among workshop participants, there was a wonderful range of spinning “ages”: from a month to multiple decades of spinning experience. Enthusiasm, generosity, friendliness, and sharing were in abundance in this group.

I got several requests for information regarding sources of the fibers that I brought along with me. I thought I’d provide that list here too:

Cormo combed top: Riverwinds Farm 

CVM (California Variegated Mutant) combed top: Fiddle Knoll Farm 

Coopworth carded roving: Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill 

Corriedale/silk roving: Handspun by Sefania 

Handpainted targhee combed top: Abstract Fiber 

Did I miss anything?

I have to share a funny Anchorage-specific story. When I arrived in Anchorage, I was picked up at the airport by Karen. She drove me to Sandra’s house. I noticed that Karen’s windshield had a crack in it. I was polite enough not to mention it. The next day, when Sandra took me to the Musk Ox Farm, I noticed that she, too, had a crack in her car’s windshield. I said not a word. I was trying really hard not to generalize about Alaskans based on a sample size of 2.

A few days later, Sandra and I were comparing winter road strategies for our respective locales. I mentioned the use of sand and salt here in NW Michigan. She pointed out that in her area of Alaska they use pea gravel, and then she said, “That’s why so many people have cracked windshields.” Well then! We chuckled about this for a bit while I was privately feeling justified in my urge to generalize. On the last day of workshops, for some reason the windshield issue came up in my mind. I whispered to Sandra, “Is it ok if I ask the group about windshields?” She said, “Sure!” So, I mentioned my notice of the windshield issue and asked the group, “How many of you have a cracked windshield?” I was expecting maybe one or two folks would raise their hands. My eyes practically popped out of my head when more than half the folks there rasied their hands. I’m still chuckling about it.

I flew out of Anchorage very late on Monday night. So, I had a chance to see a bit more of Anchorage before my flight. Sandra was teaching a class that day, so another guild member, Carrie Ziecina, toured me around. We tried to visit the Anchorage Art Museum  , but it happened to be closed on Mondays. As we drove by the Far North Yarn Co. yarn shop, Carrie asked if I’d like to stop. Sure! But, I told her, “I have promised myself not to buy any more sock yarn until I knit up more socks from the ample stash that I already have.” So, what did I buy? That’s right: sock yarn – a lovely Rowan yarn of merino wool, kid mohair, nylon and silk. I do not feel guilty. Not one bit.

I rounded out my trip to Anchorage with a delicious salmon dinner at Simon & Seafort’s Saloon & Grill. Mmmm.

One more thing: Sandra Cook, who housed me during my stay, is a talented potter in addition to her fabulous fiber work. She works mostly with slab clay. As she showed me around her studio, I was taken by a “brick” she’d made using a rhubarb leaf to create the texture. I had to have it. We made a trade. I got the rhubarb brick and I offered to send her a box of dried cherries. I put the cherries in the mail on Monday. I hope she likes them. I sure love my rhubarb brick.

My flight home was marked by a couple hour delay in Anchorage – which gave me some time to knit – but all other connections were on time. I left a wet and warm Anchorage to arrive in a very cold and snowy Michigan. While I was gone, nearly 2 feet of snow had been added to the already loaded landscape. I got several days of shoveling workout from that.

And it’s snowing now.

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