Saturday, February 21, 2009

Welcome to Madrona!

After the flight from Hell, I finally made it to the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington. There was a Huge Banner that announced that I was finally in the right place at the right time! From the stories I heard, the hotel was in renovation last year, and it was a mess. It was really quite lovely this year. Tacoma is a mecca for glass artists, and the hotel supports that art. Everywhere there was glass art. In niches, hanging from the ceiling, or statuary. These were huge boats, I assume Viking-est.
Every little seating nook held knitters. I mean-everyone was knitting, knitting, and knitting. I was astonished that people were knitting large, difficult pieces while sipping drinks, talking, and visiting friends. In the restaurant, there were knitting going on while people were waiting on meals or afterwards while having coffee. By Saturday, the local folk were bringing in spinning wheels, and a coupla nooks held spinning circles. There were spinning classes also. I did notice a few riggid heddle weavers, but by Saturday I saw someone set up a small loom. It looked like a Baby Wolf from the distance that I saw it.

There were 25 floors of rooms, and I got the Breast Floor. Every floor features a different artist. These are from a woman in Great Britain. There is framed photos along the walls with the artist in her studio. My room had a drawing of a female nude torso.

I had really good classes. I enjoyed the way the teachers presented the information. I learned some new tricks, and I was reminded why I created certain habits in my knitting. It is no secret that we all lean towards whatever makes it easier and faster. I had to reacquaint myself with some techniques, but it was fun.
We had programs Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. Thursday night The Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) convinced me that if I keep on challenging myself with my knitting, I may not be so demented in the future. Evidently there are several scientific studies that show repetitive visual spatial tasks increase neuron activity in the brain. Knitting also can induce the Theta state, and that is where most of our creative ideas are born. Friday night Cat Bordhi demonstrated with a skit that knitting could actually be older than the experts claim. She also showed us beautiful knitting and her grandson Charlie. Both women are so funny, and it is hard to tell the jokes. You just had to be there.
Saturday night we had a sit-down banquet, and of course, we had salmon. During dessert and coffee, Elsabeth Lavold was the guest speaker. She showed slides and discussed her process of creating the Viking knitting series. I cannot imagine walking out my door, and there is a huge Rune Stone. But they are evidently all over Sweden where she lives. She did show slides of some of the Rune stones that she got design ideas.
And of course, there was the Market. If one does not have fiber lust before Market, just walking through the door creates it. I did buy some camel/merino roving, some yak/merino roving, a merino superwash roving that is in colors of turquoise, greens, blues, and white showing. It will be gorgeous yarn. I bought some skeins of Socks That Rock-lightweight-because I had never seen it before and I wanted to try it. It is a regional yarn, but is sold all over. Everyone there was lusting after STR, so I pushed myself in and got some. I also bought a skein of Malabrigo to make socks also. I bought other little things, but for the most part, I was careful with my money. I had to budget my meal money.
I had to buy a tote bag in the hotel gift shop to get all my loot home. The fiber took up a lot of room. As you can see, Baby thinks it is just the right size for a kitty cave. Airport security was suspicious of my tote bag, and I had to empty everything out and they had to examine everything. I mean, do they think fiber is bomb material?

Since this was my first Madrona experience, my impressions will not be that important. But I think it is always good to go to other regions to see what people are doing in the fiber world. I was impressed with the knitting that people are doing. I watched people knit, and for the most part I felt competent to be among them. The styles are different, and lots and lots of shawls. Nice, light, lacey, feathery shawls. And people wore them like everyday sweaters. Here they are more fancy and dressy. But they are the same patterns, but people wear them differently.
I learned a lot just by watching, talking to locals, and talking to shop owners at the market. I would say the economy is healthy in fiber arts in the Northwest. There are shops everywhere. Not just knitting, but crocheting, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and other fiber arts. Oh-felting. There was one vendor that had huge sheets of felting to use. And lots of fibers to felt.
Also, Tacoma being the art glass place it is, there was a vendor that had glass needles and crochet hooks. And they were beautiful and functional. Of course, they had glass buttons. Everyone carried glass buttons. Just beautiful. I did buy one little glass marker because I had misplaced mine. I didn't want to buy a whole pack of them, and there were some odd ones in a little bowl.
I walked around one day just to walk and get some air. The downtown is striving to be the theater/arts part of town, as far as I could tell. I didn't meet anyone from there. I found north of the hotel was more theater places. And then south I found a huge art supply business near the Tacoma Arts Center. I did find a thrift store, but they weren't open. Shucks! I love to go in thrift stores in other towns.
If I were to consider doing something like this again, I certainly think 4 days was too long for me. I was really tired by Sunday. I think I would try to get some classes on two days, and only spend 2-3 days at most. I cannot imagine what the teachers were doing to keep sane. I did talk to Vivian Hoxboro, and she said she was going to go home on Tuesday. Mainly because she could get a ticket much cheaper on Tuesday than Monday to Denmark. That would also give her a day to rest, walk around some, and just be by herself a while.
So now I am back home. I am finally getting back to routine. I spent two good days this week cleaning up debris from the yard, raking, and filling up my raised beds with dirt. I am determined to get my gardening started in March. Every time one moves, dirt has to be made. I start with good topsoil, then I amend it with manure, compost, and Miracle Grow. I wasn't ready for manure last Fall, so this year I will just start with good topsoil and Miracle Grow. This Fall I will get a load of horse manure and winter it over. That will help next year.
Just listened to WeaveCast on ITunes. It is a really good podcast. Must go now. CJ is coming over to knit and see all my loot and to hear about the trip. Want to finish some spinning before she gets here. Have a good weekend.

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