Friday, January 16, 2009

Heading South

After a very busy two weeks, I am about to head south once again to the Campbell Folk School. I have had the pleasure of Norman Kennedy's company this week as a house guest, and tomorrow we will start our drive to the Folk School where we will be teaching a weaving class on 18th Century Household Textiles. It will be a lot of work and a lot of fun - many old friends are enrolled and I will get to meet two of Norman's friends from California who I have heard so much about. I'm looking forward to it.

I should come home with some nice new woven samples and a whole lot of photos to share with you!

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

My review

This is the current CraftLit book, and I realized once I started listening that I read this in high school, and that it was probably the first 19th c. English literature I read. I was trying to think what it would be like to read this book as contemporary literature, without already having the iconic theme of Jekyll & Hyde firmly placed. Think of all the cartoons you saw as a kid...those blackbirds?

View all my reviews.

Saying Goodbye

We had to say goodbye to our dear corgi dog, Rupert this week. He was 14 years old, and had been with us for almost exactly 13 of them.

In 1996, we had already had corgis for some years and bred a few litters, and one day the local animal shelter called to say that they had a grown female corgi and asked if we might know who it belonged to. I drove over to have a look at the dog and discovered a half-grown male corgi, bouncy and cute as a button, and I knew from the moment I laid eyes on him that he was My Dog.

I asked the shelter folks if they had had a look under this dog, because it was clearly male. I said that he was 6 to 9 months old and wouldn't bother lifting his leg to pee until he got a little older. Being so close to the ground, he didn't really see the point! I told them we wanted him if no one came to claim him as a lost dog, and then we had to wait 3 weeks before they would release him.

.I went off to teach & then take a class at the Folk School - it was a very long two weeks to be away from my young family and I worried that someone would come & take my new dog while I was gone. The family visited him and when I returned from North Carolina he came home to stay. The girls named him Rupert after the English cartoon bear that wears the yellow checked trousers - their English grandmother had given them several annuals of Rupert cartoons.

Rupert was the best dog in the whole world. He loved to ride in the car, and wanted to go with me everywhere. I brought him to work with me and he made friends with all the Bluemont staff over the years and with everyone who came in the door. We walked around the Clarke County park for exercise, we walked around Leesburg to run errands, he once climbed all the way to the top of Old Rag mountain with Peter & me. He was always by my side if I was upset or ill, wanting to offer comfort in his doggie way.

But he lost his companion Wiley about a year ago, and he was up in years for a corgi. He was in good form until about 6 months ago when he started climbing the stairs like a slalom instead of bounding straight up. He lost the spring in his back legs - I had to give him a power assist boost to get into the car. The vet said he had bone spurs and an NSAID helped, but he lost his appetite at the beginning of December and we had to tempt him with all manner of food and feed him by hand.

I knew he was getting ready to leave us, and when he refused food of any kind, we watched him carefully for several days. On Tuesday he wanted to come in the car with me but had to be lifted in, and when I got to work he didn't want to get out of the car. I realized that it hurt him to be moved, and that the time had come. I carried him into the office and worked until evening, and then I took him to our vet.

At the vet's office, I stayed with him and talked to him as we waited, and after they gave him a sedative I told him that we loved him and wanted him to have a good journey. I said this for every member of our family - Peter loves you and he says goodbye, Lily Rose, Hannah, Ruby, and then every other person I could think of who was dear to him - Tex, Nathan, Jill, Sue. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and surely one of the most important.

We love you, Rupert. We miss you. You were loved by many people. The cats are pretending that they don't care, but I know for a fact that they miss you, too.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Where everything is new again

or, le plus que ca change, le plus que c'est le meme chose...

Which is to say, the more things change, the more the stay the same.

Here we are at the turn of the year, and I wanted to take the time to write a post about the year behind me and the year I'm looking forward to.

My life has been really busy for the last several months, between increased responsibilities at work and an active teaching schedule. I haven't been able to find much time for blogging, although I know that if I didn't look through my friend's activity on ravelry every day, that would probably add up to a lot of blog posts! But it's such a great treat, every day - all that new knitting to look at!

On the fiber, music & family scene, this is what 2008 held for me:

In January, I taught a weekend Beam Me Up Scotty warping class for the local Blue Ridge Spinners & Weavers Guild and then I was a student in a spinning class with Norman Kennedy & Martha Owen at the John C. Campbell Folk School

In February, I taught a District Checks & Tweeds class for Blue Ridge Guild, and was a student in a 1 day Spinning New Fibers with Patsy Zawistoski.

I returned to the Campbell Folk School in March to teach a Knit to Felt class and then in April Peter & I moved his Mum into the Health Center of her retirement community - and I did a lot of knitting on the 8 hour round trip, three weekends in a row.

This helped me prepare for the May Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

I spent a very hot but productive weekend of weaving in June at Bill Leinbach's studio in Lebanon, PA.

We were very busy with the Bluemont summer season and then in the fall I had three brand new classes to prepare for - in September I taught Tartan Weaving - Lap Robes at JCCFS

and I also organized & attended a 2 day Spinning for Shetland Lace Knitting class with Elizabeth Johnston & Martha Owen here in VA.

October brought the annual Waterford Fair, in nearby Waterford VA where I have been selling & demonstrating with the Waterford Weavers Guild since 1982 and singing & playing music since 1985. It's the annual entrance into autumn for me and generally a great weekend.

I also taught a new Tartan Weaving class at The Mannings in East Berlin PA that focuses on the evolution of tartan design through a dozen traditional tartan setts.

In November I was the guest instructor at Carodan Farm's KnitXperience in Syria VA - I sang a program of old songs about weaving, spinning & sheep on Friday evening and taught an Aran knitting class and a Shetland Lace class on Saturday. There are some nice photos from the retreat here.

December brought a much anticipated event - our oldest daughter Lily Rose graduated from Virginia Commonweath University! We surprised Lily by flying her two sisters down from their college in Massachusetts for the weekend. We had a great time celebrating together. And then just last night on December 31st, I performed at First Night Leesburg.

Preparing for First Night this year was really challenging. Bluemont actually runs two events on 12/31 - First Night Leesburg & First Night Warrenton. The fundraising was very challenging this year, and we weren't sure the Leesburg event could take place until enough money had been raised. This meant that the contracting was done very late and we put in some very long days, working late on Christmas eve and then right back at it on Boxing Day. I usually have at least some time to relax at home and visit with friends & family over the holidays, but this year we could spare very little time.

We took Christmas day off and spent it with my Mom, my stepMom and her husband, and we made a nice holiday for them, but our immediate family celebration had to wait until Sunday evening when we took a few hours to light the candles on our tree, sing together and open some gifts. It was a very special time as always, but really shoehorned in between work. To top it off, Ruby & Hannah both had their wisdom teeth removed on 12/22 and were pretty much out of it for 3 days. It was crazy.

But our First Nights came together as a result of all our hard work - Peter, Lily & I and our small but dedicated staff and a host of volunteers & performers. It was a very cold night with high winds, so the crowds were light last night, but those who braved the weather got to hear some wonderful performances. And I was very pleased with my own part in the performances. I gotta tell you, it's very challenging to find time to get ready to perform in the context of so much work, but this is my favorite performance venue of the year.

I got to sing in the St. James Episcopal sanctuary again this year, two sets with Sine Nomine - an a capella trio performing early European music from the 11th - 16th century; and one set on my own - singing unaccompanied ballads & songs from Ireland, Scotland & England. Singing in this sanctuary is like playing a fine instrument as so little effort produces such a lovely and full sound. It was a delight, and I was pleased to be in better voice for my 11pm solo set that I have been in year's past. I sang some of my favorite songs, and a group of songs that I have learned most recently. I had a small but attentive audience and those lovely acoustics - it was great.

A wonderful way to close the year.

So - 2009 has these events coming up:


18th c. Household Textiles, co-taught with Norman Kennedy at the JCC Folk School, Brasstown NC


18th c. Household Textiles for the Blue Ridge Guild here in VA- there is still room for 1 or 2 more students in this class! You can find the workshop registration form here.


Modular Knitting at JCC Folk School

Acadian Weaving at WEBS in Northampton, MA - I'm very excited to be teaching a class at WEBS for the first time!

April will be spent preparing for the May Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival - my booth is Peace Weavers, 3rd booth on the right hand wall in the big building, since 1990!

Also in May will be our daughter Hannah's college graduation.

In June I will be teaching 2 workshops for the Albemarle Weavers Guild in Charlottesville VA.

Once the Bluemont summer season is over, I will go to Colorado in September to teach a workshop for the Pikes Peak Weavers Guild in Colorado Springs. This will be my first time teaching west of Ohio, and was set up through one of the students in the last tartan class I taught at the JC Campbell Folk School. They haven't chosen the workshop topic yet.

That's a lot to look forward to, not to mention a new President and hopefully the slow beginning of turning this nation and the economy in a better direction. I enter into this new year with hope, and the anticipation of hard work and good times in a better balance.

I wish you all good health, stable finances and a strong creative flow - and good luck working on maintaining the balance!