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SOAR 2011

I’ve been at SOAR the last week, which is Spin Off magazine’s big conference each year. It’s been an incredible experience and I haven’t quite finished processing everything that’s happened. Tonight is the last night, so there’s still a big spin-in, but my classes are all over and my shopping done and we’re starting to pack, so it’s beginning to feel like goodbye.

I took a three day workshop with Maggie Casey that focused on the basics of spinning. I’ve been hand carding and combing wool and learning tons about fiber prep. I’ve finally figured out the difference between spinning woolen and worsted and got a lot of practice with the various spinning methods. I learned to make an Andean bracelet and chain ply. She’s an excellent teacher and it was a real honor to learn from her.

I also took a class with Michelle Boyd on how to even out spinning (super helpful) and one with Robin Russo on camelied fibers, where I got to try and spin lots and lots of three toed animal furs. I’m still very much a baby spinner, but I’ve advanced a whole lot in the past week. Just watching master spinners and being around lots of people who are doing really excellent things with the craft is so utterly neat. I am feeling very inspired. And tired. I may have been talked into spending my rest day spinning for a vendor here, as he offered to pay me in alpaca. Lovely, lovely alpaca.

I may have also bought another wheel. Second hand, with lots and lots of perks and kits included, for hundreds less than it would have cost me new. It’s a fabulous deal and one I’m happy to take advantage of.

And one I’ll be even happier to take pictures of, once it gets here. It’ll be a few weeks left.

I haven’t given up on my Thumbelina, who I will be keeping, as the wheel is forty years old and deserves some respect. But the Rose will give me a lot more flexibility and is an easier wheel to work on, so I’m excited about the possibilities. And the double treadle. Oh god, the double treadle.

This is the first vacation I’ve ever taken where I get to focus on art for an entire week. I think it may be the first week of my life in which there are no distractions from my artistic side. I often feel really pressured to produce art and make a living at the same time. The latter is necessary and I know I’m blessed to have a career that is fun, lucrative and challenging. But it just doesn’t answer my need to have an artistic outlet, so it’s been awesome and inspirational. I can’t wait to put everything I’ve learned into practice.

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  1. Sounds like bliss, a whole vacation dedicated to fiber. Sigh. I’ve heard loads about SOAR, that it’s as much relaxation for the soul as well as a brilliant fiber event. Glad you had fun!

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