Wow. What can I say about SOAR that hasn’t already been said several times over on the blogosphere? (For a sample, go here, here, here, here, and, of course, here, just to name a few.)

I am exhausted. But that may also have to do with the early morning cross country flight, 3 hour drive to attend a 1st birthday party for a pair of twins, heading back to the cottage to pack up the cottage, and then the multi-state drive back to California through rain so hard that you can’t see 3 car lengths ahead of you.

Nope. That’s not it. It’s SOAR. I still remember the feeling that if someone fed me one more piece of information, I was going to explode. And it wasn’t going to be pretty. They will still be finding pieces of me all over the bunny slope this winter and the golf course next spring.

Let’s start with pictures of the view from my balcony.

SOAR - view from balcony

That’s the bunny slope you see down below me. Heck! Even I can ski that one. (Me. Skis. Not a pretty picture.) And over yonder? That’s Lake Bellaire. And the gorgeous colors in the trees! I wanted to capture all those colors in a sweater. Wouldn’t that be gorgeous? I snapped these in the wee hours of the morning, around 7:30 AM (4:30 AM for those of us on the West Coast), before I ran off for breakfast.


My 3 day workshop was with Carol Rhoades on Handcarding and Woolen Spinning. (Aside: The resort decided to re-do Interweave’s schedule posters, and renamed our class as “Handcarving” instead of “Handcarding”. We immediately demanded knives.) I chose this class because I took a workshop with Carol last winter and she made handcarding seem so easy and effortless, with beautiful end results. We carded and we carded. By the end of the first morning, I was able to produce beautiful, light, fluffy rolags. Carol’s rolags could make you cry with their perfection. Mine? Noils. Unruly ends. Rolls that perpetually threaten to expand and lose their shape. But they were mine. And I didn’t have to gnash my own teeth as the teeth of my handcards were gnashing against each other. Instead, I heard soft, gentle sound of a hairbrush, running through hair — wool, in this case.

All zen-ness was lost that afternoon when Carol taught us to spin our beautiful rolags with her signature long draw. Really, it’s simple. Just a little twist of your wrist/forearm. Yeah, right. Tell that to the knot that was growing in my left shoulder.

Rest of the 3 days was spent reinforcing what she taught during the first day. More rolags with a variety of fibers: Shetland, Corriedale, Polworth, Merino, Romney, Camel, Alpaca, Mohair, Cashmere, Cotton, Silk, blends, color blending and not blending, just to name a few. We continued long-draw, traditional/English vs. American long draw. We discussed worsted, woolen, semi-worsted, semi-woolen spinning techniques. We played with knitting with our spun yarns as well as unspun from our rolags.

Yeah, you get the picture. That’s a lot of information packed into 3 days.

Wednesday night was the show-and-tell. It reminded me of those parent nights that the grade schools had, so that the parents get to see what Johnny and Suzy have been up to.

This is what they did in Sharon Costello’s Needle Felted Animals class. The sheep on the right was made by Shirley of Lambspun.

SOAR - needle felted tiger SOAR - needle felted sheep

I was too busy oohing and aahing over the work that I didn’t take many pictures. But I did take some pictures of Margaret Stove’s lace work.

SOAR - Margaret Stove circular lace shawl SOAR - Margaret Stove painted tussah

Thursday was a day of rest and shopping. But I will remember it as the day of tatting. No, I didn’t tat that day, but I talked to 3 different people about tatting and how I really didn’t enjoy it. I was convinced to give it another go. 3 different people, 3 very different tatting methods. It was all very serendipitous. I admired some beautiful Lacis wood shuttles at Carolina Homespun, and lamented that it was too bad I didn’t like tatting. I decided to give it another go. More on this in a separate post.

The next 2 days were a blur of half day retreat sessions. I took Margaret Stove’s Spinning for Lace, Robin Russo’s Hand-combing, Sara Lamb‘s Inkle Loom Weaving, and Kathryn Alexander’s Entrelac Knitting.

In any case, I now can use my hand cards, hand combs with more confidence. Expertise will come with practice, but at least I will have some basic reference point to work from.

As a result, here are some new tools that I’ve decided I needed: inkle loom and regular hand combs. I have the Forsythe mini-combs, but I need something a wee bit larger to process more fiber. Of course, I will see if my newly acquired knowledge will allow me to process with more ease and speed.

And the people I’ve met at the retreat were amazing. The talent and energy was astounding. Everywhere you turn, there are incredible people doing incredible things. It was truly inspiring.

The most important lesson learned was that nothing is impossible. You are only limited by your imagination. And after a week with these talented people, I found that my scope was way too small. I need to expand my horizons.

Here are some pictures of the spin-in, on the last night of SOAR.

SOAR - Meg Crowther There was singing. Meg Crowther sang an Irish Spinning Song. In the foreground is Cyndi Lair of Schacht Spindles, spinning on a spindle. That’s the back of Sara Lamb’s head. She’s wearing one of her gorgeous handwoven jackets.
SOAR - Duck Soup There was music, courtesy of Duck Soup.
SOAR - dancing There was dancing. That’s Kathryn Alexander in the foreground, wearing one of her wonderful hats.
SOAR - drinking And there was a little bit of boozing. Here is the result of the hotel room cleaning and sharing of the remains of the larder, so to speak, for the last evening together.
SOAR - broomstick crochet Oh, and there was a little fiber activity mixed in all of that. Here is Jan Van Stralen (?), demonstrating broomstick crochet. (Get your head out of the gutter. That’s a knitting needle.) She normally uses a regular broomstick/dowel that reaches down to the floor.


There were two ladies that have made a huge impact on me personally. I want to thank Myrt Naylor for some very wise insights on widowhood. And Charlotte Quiggle for sharing her experiences for work and lifestyle changes, and her encouragements that I am doing the right thing.

(Yes, that Charlotte Quiggle. I even got to pet the original Ribbing is No Yoke Sweater. In cashmere, no less.)

Now, I leave you with a sunset picture from my hotel room. I’m exhausted from just revisiting all those pictures.

SOAR - sunset