1A84D652-93E3-4291-9AB5-B597BEEC1C7EI spent the weekend with friends at the annual Madrona winter fiber retreat in Tacoma, Washington.  Four days of classes and vendors and hanging out with people who understand that knitting is an appropriate activity pretty much anywhere.

There were opportunities to see all sorts of examples of the crafts, from the stylish sheep in the pic above to even more intricate samples.


The inexhaustive options offered by yarn were inspiring.

The Murano hotel where the retreat is held is within walking distance of the Museum of Glass and the decor is all about glass – which is similarly inexhaustive in its varieties.

55CDAB07-5148-4A8D-B60D-620A4A5A9B0AOur favorite was the kind that came with a drink in it.  I highly recommend the Murano’s chai vodka sidecars.

I didn’t take classes this time and I didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon, but I learned a lot from my friends and spent time knitting and spinning.  I also spent a lot of time wandering the vendors.  So many beautiful colors and ways to display them!



I kept my head and came home only with a new bobbin for my wheel.

But I also found a pattern I loved that I had enough yarn for in my stash.  I cast on as soon as I got home Sunday afternoon, even managing to coordinate my tea mug with the yarn.


The pattern is a cardigan called Woodfords, and the yarn is Silky Wool.  The construction is very interesting — I’ve had to trust the pattern rather than understand it in advance and just dive in to each section as the sweater grows out in various directions.


So far I’ve cast on with long tail and provisionally, picked up stitches, knitted in three different directions in two different stitch patterns, and added a braid in what will become the upper back.  It all seems to be working so far.


Back to OFFF

Each year a couple of my friends and I get together and go to a fiber festival.  It used to be Blacksheep, in Eugene, but the spring pollen combined with the straw dust made it impossible for one of my more allergic friends to survive happily.  So now we go to OFFF each September in Canby.


I actually prefer Blacksheep, because the arrangements for viewing sheep judging and other displays are better for knitting/spinning while watching.  OFFF doesn’t seem to think that people might want to sit in stands for a while to watch the events – maybe they believe only the people showing animals will sit there for long periods?  There are little to no seating arrangements most of the time.  But I always liked learning what made a Romney or BFL a really good example of its breed, or why one bunny was top over another that looks equally fluffy to me.  The announcers were good at filling in the info gaps for those of us who could probably tell a sheep from a goat, but not always.  At OFFF, even the llama obstacle course was moved to the opposite end of the barn this year, away from the stands we used to be able to sit in to watch.  And the judges aren’t wired for sound, so it isn’t possible to hear much of what they are saying.


Also, I miss the evening parade of fiber fashions that Blacksheep had each year.  And the Shetland sheep costume parade.  And the wood fired pizza at the restaurant nearby.

Those complaints aside, OFFF is a good time.  We bring our camp chairs to the lawn under the giant shade trees, wander the booths and barns for two days, and always go for Thai food for lunch.  We knit and spin and shop and catch up, and then go back to one friend’s house on the river to talk and craft some more.

Last Saturday, my sister and niece came along to check out the animals, and later in the afternoon my husband and kids showed up to do the same.  The animals cover the range of fiber creatures, including angora and cashmere goats, tiny Shetlands and massive Romney sheep, alpacas and llamas, and the bundles of fluff angora rabbits.

The weather was also perfect – blue skies but not too hot, and nothing like the windstorm that blew vendors canopies away a couple years ago.  Speckle dyed yarn and yarn felting seemed to be the new crazes with a lot more booths devoted to them, and I spent a lot of time wandering looking at wheels, because despite the fact that I have a perfectly good wheel, I can’t help lusting after the beautiful alternatives I don’t need but still want.  I definitely have wooley winder envy!

There is also always a fiber craft project display.  My favorites this year were both felted octopuses (octopi?)

I was VERY restrained in my shopping this year.  That 27 pounds of fiber already in the stash stayed in the forefront of my mind, and I bought just two luxury spinning tops, one of yak and silk and one a combo of angora, silk and cormo wool.  I got only one skein of sock yarn, because those bins at home are also rather full and a pottery soap dish to replace the plexiglass one in my bathroom I’ve always hated.  For me, it was the equivalent of coming home empty handed.  I just kept reminding myself that I’d bought most of it before, it would be there again, and I have a very busy life and way too many hobbies.  It kept the credit card in my wallet.


Now there is nothing to do but rest up for next year.




I just finished a great getaway weekend with my friends.  I met up with two of them at an Airbnb apartment in Tacoma, WA, and we spent all of Saturday and much of Sunday  with the fiber crowd at the Madrona Fiber Arts winter retreat.  The retreat offers loads of classes on spinning, knitting, weaving and other fiber craft, and a marketplace that isn’t overwhelming in size while still managing to be absolute temptation.


The Murano hotel is right next to the Glass Museum, so it is filled with examples of art in different glass techniques, including very retreat appropriate representations of knitted glass.

Even the bathrooms had pretty glass.  And I had my brush with knitting greatness when I was washing my hands next to the Yarn Harlot.

I’ve taken classes in the past, but this time I just wanted to hang out with my girlfriends and catch up and knit and spin and shop the vendors.

And that definitely happened!

Lots of window shopping and yarn and fiber fondling in the marketplace.  Really bright colors everywhere.  Beads and blown glass needles and luxury fibers in abundance.

I spent a lot of time in the Churchmouse booth.  I really want to knit a sweater they had on display, but I couldn’t decide on a color – I like the dark jewel tones, but lighter is really better for showing off cables.

In the end I decided to mull it over a while.  2200 yards is a lot of yarn – I need to get the color right.

I was fairly restrained in my shopping overall. Reminding myself that I had just reviewed the 27 pounds of fiber I already have was a necessary bucket of cold water when I started to pile up the possible spinning purchases.  And my stash is definitely not hurting for yarn either.  I brought three works in progress for this weekend because I couldn’t decide which I would want to work on, and I have more waiting, half finished, in the wings.  So only one braid of fiber  (but yak/silk/merino – yum!) and some notions.  Self control wins one.

When we weren’t shopping, we met up with other friends as they came and went to their classes, and sat in the rotunda, watching craft demonstrations, knitting, and meeting new people.  There were also great meals in nearby restaurants. (Oh, how I’ve missed Indian food! There are no good Indian restaurants anywhere near my house.)

In the evening there was chocolate and wine and spinning back at the apartment.  A really great weekend.

And, a shout out to my husband, who took the kids out and about all weekend and didn’t utter a word of complaint that I was missing both our anniversary and Valentine’s Day.  He even had a bouquet of tulips and a box of chocolates delivered to the apartment!  I married so well.