THE necklace I wore all day on Sunday, thanks to Beth Wilson!

my schedule for the weekend

Well, here’s where I was all weekend … up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, as close to WV as you can get with out actually leaving Virginia … and having a blast of a weekend with fellow fiber fanatics!

The weekend was a wonderful event — the rain held off in our part of the world (altho dh said it rained all weekend down in these parts) encouraging good crowds. It’s always fun at these fiber festivals because you’ll never know what you’ll see … at Shenandoah, as I was getting ready to teach my first class, Knitting Basics, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a camel going for his morning walk ….

this guy generates lovely (and expensive!) fiber

But back to the festival: my first class was only four people — a mom and her three grown-up daughters who all wanted to learn knitting. By the end of our three hour class, they could cast on, knit, purl, rib, and bind off. Not bad, eh? And they were such fun to get to know!

knitting basics class

The interesting aspect of teaching a group of family members is the occasional surge in sibling-rivalry and teasing — with lots of humor and love and encouragement keeping the tone light and fun.

My afternoon class was three lovely ladies … another mom-daughter duo (altho this daughter was 13) and a just-retired-from-the-real-world knitter who learned all about designing. Of the three, the most interested/knowledgeable was the 13 yo; she reminded me so much of me at that age, altho now it’s amazing how much more information is available at the click of a mouse button. She went away with lots of info for getting her designs submitted and (hopefully) published some day; her mom and the other lady found lots to question about how to make designs that really fit and going beyond the pattern page. Saturday evening, my lovely assistant Kit and I were able to check-in to the Hotel, make it to evening Mass at Sacred Heart (what a GORGEOUS church) and grab a quick bite and relax in the hotel — all by 6:30 p.m. I was exhausted and ended up falling asleep by 8:45 (didn’t even WANT to knit … yep, I was that tired).

my lovely assistant for the weekend

Sunday morning found us bright and early back at the fairgrounds, ready for two more classes. Beth Wilson, the coordinator for the education programs, delighted in letting everyone know on Saturday that my semi-centenary was on Sunday. To make sure folks had heard, she had this sign and a gaudy Mardi-Gras-esque “older is better” necklace for me to wear all day. She also still mentioned it to all passing everytime she saw me. It made me feel quite loved. Here, Kit is showing the banner hung in our classroom. As you can see, my “classroom” was a small event tent — perfect for small classes at a fair ground. We could open the sides for air if need be or close flaps if the rain/wind kicked up (which didn’t happen the whole weekend).

My morning class, Fiber: not just for breakfast anymore, was probably my favorite class of the weekend. A mom (from Burnsville, NC) and her adult daughter (from Talahassee, FL) joined me and Kit in discussing everything about fiber …characteristics, tendencies, chemical construction, blends, etc. These two ladies were wonderful to chat with for the three hours. The mom is a quilter, not a knitter, but really enjoyed the discussions and added to them by mentioning the differences with quilting and adding fibers to her creations. The daughter is a knitter and really loved finding out why certain yarns work for designs and others don’t, how best to substitute yarns in a pattern, and a greater understanding of the properties of protein, cellulose, cellulosic and synthetic fibers. She mentioned that it was actually her husband who had found out about the festival and encouraged she and her mom to attend — isn’t that sweet (he loves the Civil War, so it was a good excuse for him to come up and Civil-War-it). By the end of the three hours, these ladies felt like family … she’s already “friended” me on Ravelry and I’m encouraging them to come back up next for Montpelier (where her dh can really be steeped in Civil War-ness).

drop spindling as soon as possible

My final class, a tips/tricks/techniques class, was fun with yet another mom-adult daughter duo and one of the lovely “staff” of the SVFF. We enjoyed swapping ideas on how to better our knitting … better ways to join, tuck in yarn, increase/decrease methods, etc. These three ladies were experienced knitters so the smallness of the class, and the ability to really discuss each tip/trick/technique made for a very fruitful discussion.

I hope it works out that I’ll be able to go back up again next year … this was such an amazing experience.

After a two-hour drive through some of the most lovely of the Virginia countryside, we arrived home — home to a lovely, perfectly barbequed steak and other yummies from dh (AND the boys had cleaned the house while we were gone). Once dinner was cleared (and bday gifts/cards opened), Kit sat right down and began using her “salary” from the weekend of helping: she chose a wooden drop spindle and a 4oz bag of Blue-faced Leicester roving (dyed purple) and has already spun quite a bit (see it just below the whorl on the spindle?)

The only thing I brought home from the festival … besides the amazing memories and new friendships … was this lovely limited-edition print from Joan Arnold: could I have found an artist to sum up my favorites better than this talented woman? I’m hoping she’ll be at other fiber festivals so I can start collecting her prints (although I did find that she has a website where I can “shop” at anytime) This particular print is titled “I’ll be back soon“.

Not a bad way to spend your 50th birthday, eh?

Two of my favorite things -- wool and Christmas

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