Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Madison Was Marvelous

I got home yesterday from teaching at the Madison Knitters’ Guild Annual Knit-In. I drove to Madison (Wisconsin) by way of the Upper Peninsula. Total drive time one-way was about 12 hours. I’m just not up to making that drive in one day. So, I broke up the drive.

One would think that spending nearly four days driving and only two days teaching would be a bad thing. Not in this case. Going over the Mackinac Bridge and into the UP is always a pleasure.

My trip started early Thursday. Even before I crossed the bridge, I experienced a Close Encounter of the Eagle Kind: a Bald Eagle was munching on a large carcass on the right side of the road. As I drove nearer, it took off and flew right in front of me across the road. A fantastic view! And a harbinger of a good trip. Ok, so it snowed most of the drive. At least there was no accumulation and the roads were mostly free of traffic.

I made a brief stop in Naubinway. King’s Fish Market has fantastic smoked fish. (Now, in the UP there are shop signs and billboards for smoked fish every few miles. Other classic UP signs also include lottery tickets, liquor, jerky, cheese curds, and – of course – pasties.). I bought some cherry smoked salmon and some black pepper crusted smoked salmon. They also had several other smoked salmons, smoked whitefish, smoked trout, and smoked chub.

Let me tell you the Tale of the Tumbling Man. Near Gladstone, maybe 5-10 miles east, I saw a most baffling event. There was a car stopped on the right side of the road. As I approached, the car slowly started moving and something tumbled out of the right side of the car and onto the shoulder of the road. I quickly realized it was a human being with a bag, maybe a backpack. It was as if the man – maybe woman (who can tell when the person in question is in winter gear) – had been shoved out of the car, or willingly jumped tuck-and-roll-style out of the car. By this time, I’d passed the car and they were behind me. I slowed down, thinking of stopping, but then I watched in my rearview mirror as the tumbling man got up in what seemed a nonchalant fashion, picked up the bag and calmly walked across the road and up a driveway.

How weird is that? The car in question continued on its way for a bit, then turned into a road, stopped, and seemed to be about to go back to the “scene of the crime”. I had continued driving and at this point I lost sight of what was happening. I would like to think that if the tumbling man had appeared injured I would have stopped, even though I was by myself. I guess I could have used my phone to call or take video or pictures. But the guy seemed fine. What a puzzle.

That first day of driving took me to Valders, Wisconsin, where I stayed overnight at the home of Carol and Paul Wagner of Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill.  I gave them the smoked salmon, and they treated me to a dinner of leg of lamb, salad, perfectly steamed asparagus, and mashed potatoes. A memorable dinner. And the conversation was good too!

Before dinner, I was given the honor of helping feed a bottle baby: one of a set of lamb triplets that the mom seemed not to “like”. This adorable lamb was black, and one of Carol’s friends dubbed it “Blackberry”. Carol told me she plans to keep this one. Who wouldn’t?

I got to Madison the following noon with no hitch. The ever helpful Mary Jo Harris, the coordinator for the classes, stopped by my hotel room to give me a Knit-In bag which contained pertinent info for the Knit-In as well as a fantastic notebook: 5”x7”, hardcover, spiral bound, with a magnetic closing, a pen, and several sizes of post-its. A very useful gift.

The Knit-In was held at the Alliant Energy Center. Knitters were not the only folks at the center. There was also a state gymnastics event, and a doll show. And at the hotel, there seemed to be other folks who were part of the state high school basketball playoffs. A happenin’ weekend. Of course, we knitters had the best time. All the folks in all my classes were engaged and enthusiastic. Madison really has some awesome fiber folks. Maybe there’s something in the water.

Because I was teaching, I didn’t have much time to take advantage of the market. In fact, I didn’t buy ANY yarn or ANY fiber. I did, however, make two impulse buys, both from the same booth, a potter from Madison, Jenny Blasen Pottery . I bought a tiny little shallow bowl (maybe for tea bags or a spoon rest), and a small mug. Could. Not. Resist.

My drive home included a couple other impulse buys: some more smoked salmon (for me, this time), a UP bumper sticker (also at King’s Fish Market), and some irresistible peanut brittle at Kilwin’s in Petoskey.

I’m still not completely unpacked, but I did manage to do a load of laundry. By tomorrow I hope to start tackling three projects with fast approaching due dates. Maybe I’ll also finish unpacking.


  1. I always enjoy your blog posts. :) Tumbling man- weird.

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  3. Cute small bowl...maybe for a supported spindle?

    1. I don't think so because the "sweater" makes for an uneven surface.

  4. What a great trip and, um, interesting drive up :-o.