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Archive for August 20th, 2003

A Tale of Allegan, part Two

Wednesday, August 20th, 2003

Brian says that I didn’t mention what I did during the day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Well, I mostly knit. On Thursday I was on the road a lot going to Lansing and back, so that took a lot of the day. But I basically prepared meals, ate meals, and knit. I sort of liked that kind of luxury during the day. I had my neato chair with sun umbrella and I got to work on my froofy stole with Yarn for Ewe yarns. But there isn’t much to write about my daytime hours for at least the first two or three days. I guess on Friday there were vendors so I checked out a few booths after lunch. I tried to stay away so that I wouldn’t overspend, as much as possible.

I also might have made it sound like I was a bad sort of lonely. It wasn’t forlorn or sad, it was just less social than I had wanted it to be. I am OK with being alone finally (when I was younger I couldn’t stand solitude) but I just had gone to the event eagerly awaiting companionship. That’s the kind of lonely it was.

OK, so where was I? Oh yeah, Friday dinner. With Sue and Mary from Marshall. I did enjoy that a great deal.

After we got back from dinner, Sue and Mary needed to start wrapping up their night. They both keep animals and Sue at least has a job that requires her to be at work very early by my standards, about an hour from her house. So they are just accustomed to sleeping early and I was again a bit alone.

I decided that maybe there would be fewer mosquitos if I could find a lit building where I could sit and knit. So I went over to the building where they have the contests, and the lights were on and there were chairs I could sit in. It was basically deserted but the doors were open so I went in and sat so that someone could see my knees and legs peeking out if they decided to lock up.

At that point a vendor went by and said hi. I mentioned to her that we seemed to be the last of the living again, and it was only maybe about 9pm if that. She said she had three more boxes to unpack for her booth and did I want to keep her company? I thought that would be great. Finally someone to meet and to chat with. We went into the vendor building which was attached by hallways to the contest building, and we chatted while she unpacked her boxes. The lights were on, we were talking, it would be pretty hard to miss us if you were looking for us. But we were basically alone.

When we got ready to go (the vendor had to get back to a hotel room in another town) we realized that the barn-type doors to the connected buildings had all been shut while we were in there. Apparently whoever locked the doors just assumed that nobody was inside, without checking. Whoops! Fortunately we found a little person-sized door where we could get out! Whew!

So then I was alone again but it wasn’t all too early to go to bed since I had a workshop to take from Merike Saarniit on Saturday all day. I went back to my tent, knit a little flat on my back again but was pretty wiped out and fell asleep fairly easily, even at that early hour.

The next morning (Saturday) I woke up realizing that I had set the time for my alarm but not turned the alarm on. I had about 20 minutes to get dressed, eat breakfast and make it to class. I did get there a little late but I’m sort of amazed that I woke up at 8:40 without an alarm. Clearly the two nights before, going to bed earlier, was a real asset that morning! (Picture is the class. I was in front here, with my partly-overdyed sweater on the table… Nancy Eggleston at front left.)

The class was just great. I learned a lot of tips. I tried a new kind of dye for me (Country Classics, they are powdered dyes which contain acid so you don’t have to do as much measuring). I found that I really liked the purple, especially. On one of our breaks I went down to Ellen Minard’s Half Pint Farm booth and bought three colors of those dyes, including the purple. I’ve had a really hard time with purples since I started working with dyeing fiber, so that was a big gift to find that.

Merike talked about procedures but also about fibers and avoiding feltmaking in the dyeing process. She talked about color in her usual intensely-focused way. I mean, she makes sure to let folks know that dyes do not work the same as opaque paints or polymer clay. With transparent dye colors, purple plus green makes a wonderful blue. I’ve heard her tell that truth more than once, and people have a hard time grasping it, so she brought yarns that she’d dyed with a combination of purple added to green. And they were the most gorgeous shade of blue you could ask for.

Merike gave us some mini-skeins of yarn where there were I think 5 different yarns, each of them two or four yards long. We dyed those first. Each yarn felt and looked slightly different after dyeing. (Picture is Merike, wish she were smiling as she does so often, but that was the best shot I got since most of the time she was moving too much. In the background are my friends Leslie and Terri who come into the story in a few paragraphs.)

Also we learned how to work with rovings in rectangular pans which are microwaveable. I don’t have any containers that would work yet, but it was a great way to avoid touching and felting the fiber while dyeing.

Then we started playing. I dyed a small skein that Susan, the woman sitting to my right (from Chicago), gave me to play with. It was mohair boucle/loopy yarn. Then I dyed a full 100gm skein of wool/mohair two-ply yarn and it turned out fine. A little lighter after dyeing than I expected, but fine. I first thought I’d redye it but I ended up leaving it alone for at least a while. It’s growing on me. The lightness allows sunshine to enter and it really glows.

Then I had fun applying dye to an old sweater I brought along. I soaked it and then applied dye with a spoon on all surfaces. I wrapped it in plastic wrap and microwaved it to set the dye. And the next day I rinsed it out and it looked fine. But it was still predominantly lavender, and that is not a color I look good in. Later I took it home and did another layer of dye on it, more turquoise and purple, and it looks pretty darned good. Not perfect, but very good.

I really enjoyed the class. It sort of freed up my worries about being more perfect than can be controlled. After all, it’s just wool, right?

Our class got out at 4 pm. Vendors were to close at 6pm. So I wandered around the vendors and found some lovely things, some just to admire and a few skeins of yarn to take home. I got some mohair/merino single-ply worsted weight, and some really beautiful sportweight alpaca in several colors, that was a very good price. Then I wandered over to the barn where Sue’s booth was. I knew I was going to meet my friends Leslie and Terri for dinner at 6:45 so I had time so socialize a bit.

I didn’t even get to Sue’s booth before I found Tony. You know, Tony was definitely the missing piece in this adventure up till that point. I almost never go to fiber events without Tony! It was great to see him. He showed me some books and a tool he got to make cord. Fascinating.

And then while I was talking to him, someone came up and said: “Lynn?” Of course she had me pegged… it was Theresa, the Keyboard Biologist (blogger) from the Chicago area. She was with Bonnie Marie Burns, of Chicknits, and then Julie, BoogaJ, was also there. Three Chicago folks I’ve been corresponding with online. Very exciting. Picture is Julie, Theresa, and Me… Bonnie was buing her cormo yarn.

I was so glad they found me. It turned out I’d said I would be hanging out at Sue’s booth so they asked Sue if she knew where I was… and Sue saw me walking down the aisle so she pointed them my way. How cool! (Picture of Sue knitting itty-bitty socks in her booth.)

We were very close to closing time at that point, so Bonnie Marie rushed off to make a purchase before it was too late. However, we convinced Tony that he should take a picture of the three of us bloggers who were left. Thanks, Tony!

After some chat, I set off to meet Leslie and Terri for dinner and Tony decided he could join us, after all (he said no the first time I asked but I didn’t have to twist his arm too much.) We went to an “English Pub” in Plainwell, about 15 minutes from Allegan, where they have some Indian food as well as English and American selections. We had to wait a good long while but the food was good and the company was wonderful. Two strolling musicians tried to catch our attention but we just wanted to talk to one another so we weren’t the best audience for them, I think.

By the time I got back from that dinner of quite good Indian food (Tony went back to Lansing), I was actually ready to go to bed. It had been a long day. I mostly spent time with people I already knew before I got to Allegan, but at least I had good company.

I’m so tired, I’m falling asleep at the keyboard typing this. I’ll have to do a final installment of the story tomorrow. Good night!