Part of why it’s been quiet here on the blog

I have many half-written posts. Getting one finished is a challenge right now. Here's an inkling of why:

Well, rats. The photo I need is on the other computer. I'll add it later. (I wonder if one of the advantages to Apple's new Lion operating system may be the ability to sync photo libraries, and their labels and keywords, between computers. Haven't had time to find out. Haven't upgraded yet; no time. Mostly I keep files accessible to both computers through Dropbox, which is a blessing, but loading all the photos up there hasn't seemed feasible.)

SOAR preparation

Here's that photo I wanted to find:


I'll be teaching at the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat in a little under a month. I'll teach a three-day workshop, a one-day workshop, and four retreat sessions (half days). All are on rare-breed wools.

  1. I've made up the handouts, three separate versions for the three separate formats (one handout is in the middle of the picture). I've sent the PDFs to Interweave, and the very on-top-of-it SOAR coordinator Maggie Reinholtz has already duplicated them and has them ready to ship to New Hampshire and deliver to my workshop space!
  2. I prepared files for, and had printed, additional materials that I'm supplying instead of asking SOAR to prep. These items require more than straight photocopying. The photo shows just one stack; there are 18 more just like it. I've packed the box and it's ready to ship (20 pounds / 9kg), as soon as I get information on when and where to send them. Other boxes of materials will be going, too.
  3. There are also 900 (yes, nine hundred) fiber samples to be prepared for workshop and retreat participants, representing 19 (nineteen) rare sheep breeds listed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Folks in the three-day workshop will get 15 breeds; those in the one-day workshop will get 8; and those in the retreat sessions will get 6. (Longer workshops get larger fiber samples, more background information, and more time to get to know each fiber. EVERY session will get a solid grounding for future explorations, and a carefully chosen selection of fibers that demonstrate different qualities.)

We'll be shipping between 35 and 40 pounds of wool to use in these workshops. Every bit of that has been acquired from a shepherd who keeps rare-breed sheep. Every bit of that has been washed—a bunch of it by hand, and some of it at a fiber mill. Every bit has also been measured and packed into a labeled bag, ready to be distributed in class. (Prepackaging improves the likelihood that fibers will be divvied up pretty evenly, and . . . if we didn't prepackage, we could easily spend two-thirds of our workshop time on administrative matters, rather than discovering things about wool and spinning.)

I could not be doing these workshops at all without the amazing help of

Before I agreed to teach at SOAR, I contacted both of these wonderful people and asked if they'd be on board to make sure we had the right fibers in the right quantities. When they both said "yes," so did I. We've all been working since last December to coordinate all of that prep work. (We warmed up by doing the same set of tasks for the Conference of Northern California Handweavers in May, which involved one two-day workshop, a dozen breeds, 12 pounds / 5.5kg of wool, and 192 packets. Everything went beautifully. Now we get to ramp that up by more than 5 times.)

So there's that.

Fibers are being prepared and shipped. Somewhere between $1000 and $1800 has been invested in materials and their preparation. ( Do I want to know the precise totals right now? No. Do the materials fees people pay to workshop facilitators matter? YES!) Boxes are packed. Handouts are ready.

Now I'm working on the slide shows. I like pictures. So I have pictures of sheep, and pictures of wool, and pictures of places where sheep live, as well as some different ways of looking at the information on the handouts. (All the nitty-gritty numbers people would be tempted to try to write down while I'm showing them pictures are already printed on the handouts, so they can make personal notes but don't need to transcribe the basics.)

Lots of the components of the slide shows are already in my files, but I'm upgrading some of the sheep photos (which involves finding alternatives and writing to request permission to use them). I've also discovered that a few photos of locks are missing, so I've pulled out my samples and taken snapshots.

As you might have gathered, there will be three slide shows, one for each format. . . . They work off the same basic material, but it's selected and combined differently.

By the time October comes around, I'll be close to ready.


Knitting Daily TV

SOAR is still a few weeks away. Sooner than that, however, I'll fly to Cleveland to tape three segments for Knitting Daily TV (KDTV).

Although each segment is only 5 to 6 minutes long, the day requires significant preparation. There's the segment outline, defining the key concepts to be presented and how they will be made to work for the camera. There are the samples to gather and prepare (more raw wool to be found, locks to be washed, sometimes yarns to be spun, and definitely swatches to be knitted or woven). There are the clothes: We're supposed to have a different "look" available for every segment, along with a couple of backup options. Detailed specifications guide clothing choices: no white, red, or black; jewel tones and pastels are good; no stripes or large patterns (basically, solid colors); garment design must accommodate a microphone and must go on/off without messing up makeup. My daughter suggested that I not wear exactly the same one or two outfits for all the DVD and TV appearances that I ever do. I thought it was a good idea because it would be much simpler. I've been to the closet and to the resale stores. I think I have some possibilities, although I haven't had time to really try them out.

I wish I had time to knit a bunch of alternatives. Last year I tried to get that done, but didn't have time. No time this year, either. The kinds of things required aren't in my usual knitting repertoire, although there's no reason they couldn't be. Except then I'd want to use the same handful of options repeatedly. . . . There's something to be said for radio and podcasts, at least in terms of wardrobe requirements. . . .


Add to list: steam out wrinkles, and/or press, and carefully pack. (I have already washed all the clothing to freshen it up.)

This afternoon I need to wash a few locks of wool for one of the demos. That's today's step in making progress toward this event. After that: wind four more skeins into balls, and knit a few more swatches.

For one of the segments, I had planned to knit a demo object but the yarn hasn't arrived, so I need to figure out Plan B for what to show on camera to make the point. The positive side of this is that I don't have to iron the shirt in the background of the photo just above (it shows up at the lower corners), which would have gone with that now-nonexistent idea.


There's more . . .

but I'm not thinking about it right now. I did go for a bike ride this morning, to get to the coffee shop that was open on this holiday and could accommodate some writing time (most of this blog post).


Now it's time to wash wool, make sure the bank accounts are all okay, and do some freelance work.

It's not boring around here!


8 thoughts on “Part of why it’s been quiet here on the blog”

  1. Wow! that is indeed a lot but I’m not surprised: you always seem to have a lot going on, right?

    What does surprise me: not a single handspun/handwoven/handknit garment to wear on KNITTING DAILY?? For shame! And I know you own some appropriate pieces.

  2. Thanks for all the good thoughts! I started knitting the final (I think) set of swatches this morning. Still need to wash those locks. . . .

    Dina, I have a closet full of handknits. However, none of them meets the color/weight/makeup-avoiding criteria of the clothing specs for the show. Those that are okay on color and openings (to ease on over the makeup) are too heavy to be comfortable in the studio lights.

    I *do* have yarn, a pattern, and a garment started from my thoughts last year that I could get at least one item made. It isn’t going to be finished in time for this year, either. Other emergencies keep taking precedence (well, and I didn’t know that KDTV was going to ask me back).

  3. Hey Deb, I’ve lost your email(dead computer), but wanted to see if there is anything that you will need at SOAR that a person nearby might bring…drum carder, extra wheel, anything?? let me know. I am only there for the first 3 days as we have a big craft show on Columbus day weekend, but I could come back and pick stuff up on Monday.

  4. Well, I’m relieved that you’re not bored… Kudos on being close to ready for SOAR–and surviving the prep work. Special kudos on being invited back for Knitting Daily TV–that’s really cool! I know you don’t have time, but it surely is great exposure. And I love the photo of the prickly-poppy flowers with the very green, not-at-all-camouflaged grasshopper. Talk about standing out! Remember to breathe…

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