I'm invigorated... I returned last night from a very, very special 5 days with my very dear friend Cindy (theblueacorn: her Etsy site)(her blog) who introduced me to weaving --- oh so many years ago.
When we were young and foolish, in our early 30s, raising our children (3 for Cindy and 4 for me) in rural upstate New York, we often got together to spin. We joined spinning and weaving guilds and took several adventures including one very special trip to England in 1981 (30 years ago!) and even did quite a few craft fairs together marketing our handwoven goods (intricate coverlets for Cindy and handwoven rag-style carpets, bags and one-of-a-kind clothing for me.) We are kindred spirits... sisters... we compliment each other well.
Somehow over the years, life got in the way... and we didn't see each other much. Once the internet took hold, both of us being techies (Cindy analyzes and I play...) we jumped on board, we emailed and I often looked at her blog to see what she was up to creatively.
My hubby and I stopped in DC on the way South last Fall and Cindy went with me from her suburban home into the city to see the Ju Yeon Kim exhibition I had worked on (see previous blog entry) at the Women in the Arts Museum. What fun it was to explore with Cindy again, to see her beautiful home and her gorgeous jewelry! When we got back home to Savannah I heard from friends that they were going to the Carolina Fiber Frolic near Charleston, SC. I immediately thought about asking if Cindy was up for another adventure. I emailed her about it and she got right back to me saying that she'd love to come!
Cindy arrived in Savannah by train last Wednesday night. We explored a lot of the Savannah sites, ate lunch at the delicious Gryphon Tea Room with my neighbor Wilma and saw some of the exhibits at the SCAD galleries where I work part-time. What fun it was to see Faith Ringgold's amazing story quilts and dolls at the SCAD Museum with a fellow fiber artist.
First thing Friday morning we left for the Middleton Inn west of Charleston, SC where the Carolina Fiber Frolic was taking place. Our workshops were to start at 9am so we started very early. What a perfect place for a retreat! We entered the property passing the horse stables winding our way down to the main contemporary buildings which were surrounded by natural beauty along the meandering shore of the Ashley River. The aesthetics were inspiring... but then we entered the River Building and found our fellow Frolickers and met Jan Smiley whose vision, energy and enthusiasm made the Frolic possible... we knew we were in a special place...
Cindy took a beading in knitting workshop (that she could have taught) thoroughly enjoying Jane Pratter while I explored Micro Art Yarns with Beth Dinoff of WhorlingTides. Beth had prepared amazing fibers for us to spin in a variety of techniques that could be easily knit or woven into beautiful projects. Cindy and I loved her booth full of incredibly beautiful hand-dyed fiber. We decided that we needed to take Beth's workshop on batt building the next morning as it was evident she was a Master... and we enjoyed her and wanted to be with her!
Other vendors were Ann Potter from Pilot Mountain, NC who gave a wonderful talk after lunch about raising llamas, alpacas and angora goats. What wonderful fibers and yarns and finished triangular shawls she had from her fibers. Pat Johansson and Linda Phillpott of The Yarn Shop at Rainy Day Creations over the border in Pineville, NC near Charlotte were also teaching and selling. Pat had created so many new weavers with her workshop on Rigid Heddle weaving. My friend Cecily glowed as she took off her first real weaving! I learned a wonderfully creative way of warping the Ashford knitting looms she brought as the weavers were finishing their projects and anxious to start anew in the vendor/relaxation/creation room where spinners were spinning and people were browsing and buying and knitters were knitting, etc.
I fell in love with the most gorgeous spinning wheel and after about 30 seconds of thought... and encouragement from Cindy... I decided I had to have it! It's a Kromski Fanatasia... and its simple contemporary lines resonated with me! The entire weekend at the magical place with Bauhaus styled architecture was nurturing my creative spirit and this was a wheel that epitomized that energy! My trusty Ashford that I purchased with my Ithaca Black Sheep Handspinners Guild about 35 years ago, has served me well, but this beauty is a castle wheel with double treadles and different sized whorls to provide faster and slower ratios... and I was in love! It was quite affordable at $363 with NO tax and shipping to my home in 10 days was included -- how could I resist? And I had my checkbook with me... so... I'm anxiously awaiting my new wheel to spin the delicious fibers I created in batts and bought from Beth. I can't wait!
I almost cried as I left Cindy at the train station in North Charleston for her trip home to DC after breakfast Sunday morning. I miss her so much already! We vowed to come back to this magical place again next year!
Frolic organizer Jan Smiley didn't leave a detail unturned from arranging delicious meals, to door prizes both days for one and all (I was so delighted that Bertyl a lovely German woman received my door prize donation -- my book Woven: a Bauhaus Memoir!) to check in several times during each and every . workshop. She saw a need... took it on herself to organize and make arrangements and provided this incredibly special nurturing opportunity for the 28 fiber artists who attended this year's retreat. The intimate gathering touched us all! Bless you Jan! See you next year!