A week away

Following the Colorado Art Ranch artposium over Memorial Day weekend, I was offered the blessing of a place to remain longer in Salida and get some (relatively) uninterrupted work done.

I've done this before, while working on the book portion of The Project. (The Project continues, by the way; it's just finding its next expression.) Since the book has just been released, my work needs to flow into new vessels, and my "concentrated time" lacks the strict (nearly rigid) focus of previous retreats. This is more challenging, and I feel less productive. So at the end of the week, I took stock.

I'm going to interleave a few more photos from the workshop I took with Dean Dablow, along with some more normal images later in the post. I had a great time in that workshop.


Week's planned tasks and accomplishments, completed:

  • Article for PieceWork on four rare sheep breeds that are still around because of the actions of one or two people, 2500-3000 words. Due 7/15, finished and submitted at 3331 words, plus supplementary info. I will trim later. The concept is complicated and will include four accompanying projects that other people will design and make, and my contributions include source recommendations for yarns, leads for photos, and ideas for appropriate projects (an extra 977 words). That's a lot of moving parts and the editorial folks need the lead time to get them all synchronized, so I scheduled the basic writing early. The combination of pieces is slated for the November/December issue. Pays on publication.
  • Short back-page essay for Spin-Off about writing the book, focused on supplies needed to get through all the associated tasks, 500-700 words. Due 8/1, finished and submitted, 676 words, with photos. Got a jump on this because I have another article due the same date that requires more prep work. Pays on publication.
  • Some ukulele, mostly pleasant chord practice just before bed. I had a Homespun video by Jim Beloff out of the library that I listened to and practiced with (I see there's a second in the set to consider for the future; I may buy both, because I'm not proficient with the skills on #1 yet). I should probably not think of how long I've been using Homespun resources for independent music-learning. First there were cassette tapes, then CDs, now DVDs. The medium changes. The message has been constant.
  • A bit of reading in Ensouling Language: The Art of Nonfiction and the Writer's Life, by Stephen Harrod Buhner, a book I found by chance one day at the Tattered Cover—one which needs open yet protected mental space to discover. There is nothing like browsing in an independent bookshop to bring a person in contact with treasures that wouldn't have been encountered otherwise.
  • A smidge of narrative writing toward a book I've been working on for about eight years now.
  • Blog post on Artposium.



Planned tasks started but not completed:

  • Article for Spin-Off on qualities of wool, 2000 words. Due 8/1; sketched concepts and wrote 1300 words, but that's only a brief coverage of 2 of the 10 or so topics I figured I could get into the piece, out of 30 or more that might be included, although there obviously isn't room. I will need to keep going on the writing, see what ideas seem most pertinent and will fit, and then cut a lot. Pays on publication.
  • Information sheet for Explore 4 workshop that I'll be teaching next year. Overdue, as is my blog post about this event (March 11-16, 2012). I created the file and got the text about 90% drafted out; layout not started.




Planned tasks not even started:

  • Author/client introductory questionnaire for editorial business. Way overdue. It's close to done, but I didn't touch it. (I did get another idea for what it needs to take it to the next level. I keep getting "take it to the next level" ideas on everything. It's both blessing and curse.)
  • Article for Spin-Off on Lincoln Longwool sheep, including a project (due 11/1), 3600 words. I didn't even start research—this will involve a lot of work, including spinning yarn and making something. At least I have bought the fiber. Pays on publication (income reduced by cost of fleece).

Unplanned tasks:

  • Connected with The Book Haven about possible signing in November 2011.
  • Talked with Organization 1 about teaching there in July 2012 (likely not a fit, but we're still discussing).
  • Negotiated with Organization 2 about teaching there, with a potential add-on at a neat-sounding shop nearby, in July 2012. My final schedule may include Organization 1 or Organization 2, not both, because my workshops take a huge amount of prep work (finding, cleaning, and organizing fibers) and I can only do a few a year. Maybe neither of these will actually happen, if the details can't be worked out, but #2 is sounding promising. Pays/reimburses after completion of event.
  • Came across an idea for another book that I might want to write, and made initial publisher contact to assess potential interest. (I might publish it myself, if they aren't interested and I don't want to let go of it. Too early to tell.) If someone else wants to publish it, there's an advance (likely small, but everything helps).
  • Trip to Buena Vista, Colorado, to visit Serendipity, which has wonderful yarns and all sorts of intriguing stuff to look at. This was totally self-indulgent, but I met Mikki and Joan and it was fun to show them the book. I may do a signing there when I'm in the area again in November. Mikki took my picture with owner Tami's camera, which appears to work although I look a bit stiff . . . I'm not great at posing, and the book is heavy  . . . and then she wrote a blog post, thus revealing that I went shopping in the middle of my work week {grin}. It was fun, and I definitely needed the change of contexts.
  • Lots of back-and-forth about a book I'm working on publishing (Nomad Press), including receiving essential files in an obsolete format and figuring out how to convert them when even the nearly-always-reliable OpenOffice refused to open them. (Zamzar rocks!)
  • Talked with another writer about her multiple book ideas and helped her focus and prioritize them—a highlight!

Interleaved with:

  • Yoga and meditation, daily.
  • Visited the Salida Bread Company for the first time (and the second . . . would have visited more, except it took time to eat the bread I bought).
  • Lovely dinner visit with Susan, Richard, Kerry, David, and Little (Little is a delightful cattle dog; I got to pat Little on both visits to the Salida Bread Company, too).
  • A few bike rides and walks. Nowhere near as many as I would have liked, but getting stuff done requires staying inside and doing it.
  • A bit of trash picking along the stream adjacent to where I was staying—I mostly removed plastic bags from the water, plus some old newspapers, a bunch of cigarette butts, and a soda can.
  • Keeping up with a smattering of online networks, including stopping in at Ravelry once and answering messages.
  • A little knitting of samples to use in teaching yarn/fiber workshops.
  • Pleasantly simple meals, a number of them consisting of salads . . . with avocado, which my daughter prefers not to eat.
  • Tea and a visit on the last morning there with Sherrie and David, since we'd barely seen each other because everyone was working so hard and it's silly to have traveled that far and be that close for more than a week and not get in a visit.


Biking interlude

Here are a few photos from my bike ride at the end of the afternoon on the day before I left. It had been hot, and several of the days the air was smoky from the big fires south and west of us, in Colorado, New Mexico, and even as far as Arizona. This day ended quite clear.

This is one of the county roads, with a bike trail next to it. Even when the county roads in this county are paved, they mostly don't have shoulders. (Some are dirt two-tracks.) That's the smooth, straight bike path leading to the west. On this particular day, there wasn't much smoke from the wildfires to the south. Or there was, but the wind blew it on past.


Deer hang out all over. This one was in a subdivision, between the houses and a church. There were three more hunkered down in the shade on the church lawn.


They're pretty acclimated to humans, and eat people's gardens, both flower and food types. If you're driving on the highways or county roads in the area, stay alert. They may cross the road in front of you at any time, often in groups of three or four. That wasn't a concern when I was on my bike.


Hey! A project really completed!

On the day I got home, the new issue of Spin-Off (Summer 2011) had just arrived.


It contains the article I wrote way back in January on Soay sheep (there was more to say than we could fit in The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, even though we included a lot there).


That sweet ewe on the far left is demonstrating the molting, or natural shedding, of her fleece.


Small samples of several types of Soay wool.


And lots of words. I like words. I also like pictures! The photos in this article came from varied sources, including my own camera, Interweave's studio shots, and Steve and Priscilla Weaver.

So nice to see a piece in print. (And since it's been published, I get paid!)



11 thoughts on “A week away”

  1. Caroline, you could buy single issues. Or subscribe for one more year {grin}. I've got summer, winter (two), and spring articles coming, as far as I know, although I can't guarantee that the articles will appear as planned. I just meet my deadlines, and I know firsthand how many things can happen on the editorial and production end to shift schedules. When I edited the magazine, the absolute bane of my existence was being able to predict when pieces would appear. My approach to editing and the variables I was dealing with were a good deal different than they are now. I'm guessing the pieces will be published as scheduled.

  2. Loved the article on Soay! Thanks for it. Husband loved it, too. I’m the spinner; he’s the Anglophile. It worked for both of us.

    I have The Book on order and am looking forward to reading it.

    I’m on the Seminars Committee for, um, “Organization 3” (shall we say), and I’m hoping I can persuade others to invite you to do a workshop (2 days? 3 days?) on Rare Breeds. Since I’m a rookie member of the committee, I don’t know if anyone will listen to me, but I’ll try.

  3. So glad you liked the article. Your husband, too! I love having the opportunity to bring thoughts together.

    Let me know about your seminars committee for Organization 3 {grin}. I do one-day, two-day, and three-day workshops. They take a LOT of prep work! Because the breeds are, by definition, rare. In order to gather the materials, I have to start at least six months out, preferably more, and know exactly how many people to expect. (There’s usually a maximum registration, and the sessions usually fill.)

    Once all the materials are ready, we all have a wonderful time discovering them. I talk a lot (I’m an introvert, but I keep thinking of interesting stuff I’ve learned about these sheep), and I have slides and handouts, too.

    If the idea moves forward, you can reach me here or through http://www.drobson.info or http://www.nomad-press.com. I will be teaching in Washington state in March 2012. Four days; all wool; some rare breeds. More information to come.

  4. Yes, it's an odd image, Diana, but the longwools can make durable socks, spun so they're smooth! (And for the right person. Some folks would adore them. Some prefer cushy but far less wear-resistant Merino.

  5. I just got your book from our local bookstore and it is so much bigger in all meanings of the word. So so fun….I get “Polwarth” from Montana. The first fleece I got was an older Ram and quite coarse but since I have had lovely soft white and colored. I get my Perendale from Macarthur out by Mt. Shasta, but it is a very different animal from the Perendale I used to get 30 years ago from NZ which was so silky and long. Then there is my divinely shiny Gotland fleece that now I ‘m so glad is in fleece condition rathter than top albeit supremely dirty and I am afraid to wash it unspun any more.

    You have so many lovely obscure fleece types I have never heard of that I must not go crazy and acquire some. Speaking of crazy, I became concerned for your mental health with your long list of projects right after this immense project. Anyway thanks so much. I’ll get my Lendrum right out.

  6. I loved Spin off in the 80s and read those all the time but cannot imagine letting my subscription lapse.

  7. Thanks, Anna, for your concern about my sanity. I do think it’s warranted {grin}. I just got back from The National Needlework Association’s trade show. Fortunately, I’ve done enough trade shows that it was fun. I focused on the people, and had some great conversations. Mostly about wool and/or publishing.

    Enjoy all those fibers! It’s very interesting to see how qualities change over time. I’ve noticed that it’s exceptionally hard now to find handspinning flax of a quality that we took for granted forty years ago.

  8. Your book is arrived in Belgium. It looks wonderfull. strange to me, it is cheaper than the dvd, but far much more precious, much more information.
    i hope Spinoff sends you ones to Belgium to descibe our typical Belgian sheep (none of them is mentioned in the book but don’t tnink i blame you for that).
    greetings, mieke

  9. Mieke, I'd love to include Belgian sheep, and other sheep from continental Europe! We ran out of space in the book. Oh, and time. But yes, I have the start of notes on sheep in your part of the world. Thank you for letting me know you have the book, and for your comments.

Comments are closed.