Daily Archives: February 23, 2009

Musings from Madrona

First of all:

It’s all KT’s fault.

I’d heard of Madrona. I suppose first through the Yarn Harlot’s blog. It sounded special. But not something really accessible to me. I pictured rarefied knitting and spinning teachers drifting through pavilions of tinkling fountains and flowers, dispensing wisdom. Somewhere on the West Coast, I wasn’t even sure where.

Then I went to BMFA Sock Camp last year. And met all sorts of wonderful people. Many of whom live near Tacoma, Washington, where Madrona Winter Knitting Retreat really is.  And who actually go to it! Some of whom even help with it! (Not that I knew that then.)

Lastly, right before the lottery opened for a few classes that were expected to be very popular:  KT emailed me and asked me if I was going to come, because she thought it would be great if I did and would love to see me.

Well, now I knew exactly WHERE Madrona was and WHEN it was. In time for the registration deadline, even.  (Sometimes that doesn’t happen.) I had enough frequent flyer miles for a flight. And I had time I could take off work. So I decided that if I got a lottery class, and could swing the weekend off work, I would go to Madrona.

The rest is history.

My only regret about this whole experience? Which I’ll get out of the way right up front. That I couldn’t enjoy the very nice weather (as soon as I got there, the snow had stopped and the sun came out; I saw at least peeks of sun for the whole stay, and it only rained once lightly and briefly on the last day) and see some of Tacoma other than the wonderful view from my Hotel Murano window:


(this is how it looked the day I arrived)

and also the few blocks down to local restaurants for knitterly meals. I could have seen The Mountain (Rainier), but was never in a position to do so except on arriving and departing, as I showed you Friday.  (But I did feel the spirit of the mountain — or of the Cascades, at least.  On Thursday, after I arrived, I was at the desk in my room in the afternoon getting oriented and had poured myself a glass of ice water.  I noticed the water in my glass vibrating.  It did cross my mind that this might be a tremor, but then I thought, nah, it’s probably a truck or train or some sort of mass transit going by {back home, the train tracks are a mile and a half away, and at night I can sometimes be aware of the trains maneuvering}.  But when I was linking Mount Rainier the other day, I followed a link to recent seismic activity, and there was seismic activity recorded in the region about that time, when I translate the Greenwich Mean Time to PDT.   So maybe it wasn’t a bus!  (Of course, for all I know, it was a quarry blast or something; I can’t interpret the codes.  I didn’t feel anything; only my water glass knew.  All those seismologists that read my blog?  What does this mean to you?

2009/02/12 20:36:53.93  46.4077 -119.2860   0.03  2.20   Mc   32  86    2 0.18  UW

I’m guessing UW at the end is the University of Washington’s observation station, and the date and UDT (GMT) are self-explanatory.  Next is the latitude and longtitude of, I am guessing, the epicenter, which is not too far from Tacoma’s 47.25/-122.44.    Then an I dunno, then the magnitude (2.2), then a whole bunch of  I dunno…)

Anyway, seismological digressions aside, next time I’m in the area, I hope to see a bit more.  But there was SO MUCH to do inside!

So let me start to tell you about the wonderful people I met: some long-distance knitting friends I got to see again, some internet friends I hadn’t met in real life yet, and some new friends, as well as well-known knitters/dyers/authors (the idea of famous knitters still cracks my [non-knitting] good friend up, though my husband has adjusted well). In later posts, I’ll tell you about my classes, which were astounding. And maybe show off a bit of the yarn and fiber that is following me home (with a little help from the ever-gracious and kind Lisa).

I was going to go day by day, but it was getting WAY too long.  So today’s post will just cover the first day with pictures!


Which really started Wednesday night, as I pulled an all-nighter to get ready to go, having worked late, and needing to leave for the airport at 4 am, plus no dryer. So, with the aid of my extremely helpful parents letting me sneak into their house like a thief in the middle of the night (a thief with dirty socks and underwear) to dry my clothes in the wee hours, I got packed without, apparently, forgetting anything other than my camera cable. (Not too bad. But one of the teachers says she has a ‘travel drawer’ with everything she takes with her on trips in it; that makes a whole lot of sense! Except that the camera cable was plugged into the desktop computer as it usually is. But I could put the card reader that my tech-savvy mother gave me in the travel drawer….or in the laptop bag that I just got for my laptop, which I am still in love with and which I am writing this on.)

So, exhausted but having napped on the long leg of the plane ride (aided by, for once, having no one next to me),


and having tried to outfly the dawn,


I arrived at SeaTac (which, I know now, is definitely closer to Seattle to Tacoma….I learned a lot about PNW geography last year, but not nearly enough), got on the appropriate shuttle, and was deposited at the Hotel Murano, a paean to glass artistry.


(see the Bohus in the wild?)


I lucked out and they allowed me to check in early (it was late morning). Though the market called, I was running on fumes (I had only had 1/2 cup of coffee and no breakfast except a granola bar). So I drew the curtains and had a lovely nap.


Somewhat rested and refreshed, I woke up a couple hours later, drank about a gallon of water, and started to get myself together (debate: shower or no shower? Now or later?) Then KT called: she was in the marketplace, wondering where I was. OK! No shower! Down stairs I went, to register for the retreat, then head across the pavilion (where I saw this unfamiliar stuff that I mentioned before)

Green Grass! Hotel Murano plaza

Green Grass! Hotel Murano plaza

to the yarn and fiber market.

This is not Stitches (which I have not been to, but I have seen pics) nor is it Rhinebeck; the Retreat is about the classes, but the Market is a lovely adjunct open to the public. I loved it, and I regret a little (ok, second regret) that there were a few shops that I never got to really browse in. (Yes, I was there for 4 days; but socializing and class time really cut into shopping!) I walked around the market once to get the lay of the land, stopped at Tactile Fiber to pick up my Ravatar nametag (and while I was there, learned to spin from the fold, bought a spindle or two, and some merino/yak fiber….but not the camel/merino because, seriously, an allergy test once said I was allergic to camels, so I thought it was better not to test it), then was drawn as a lodestone to the North, to the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth, anchoring one corner of the market. (I’ll show you later what I got there, because there were a couple new yarns which are not on their website yet, which I thought were wonderful — especially after fondling — so those beg to be shared.) But it wasn’t (just) the yarn that drew me — I was looking forward to seeing my Blue Moon friends again.

When I got there, Tina was there and I got a hug. 🙂  That day and the next, I was so very happy to see and talk to her and Debbi/Cockeyed (look here for Tina’s great picture of Debbi and me) and Tammy and the other Sockateers. We missed Hot Flash who was having shoulder surgery (argh!).  (Here’s Tina’s post about Madrona — she took an awesome picture of the Shetland Seas Shawl too, which is in that post.)

And to complete the camp reunion, no surprise, KT and Lisa found me there.

After a multitude of hugs and lots of talking, as well as a bit of yarn and fiber purchasing, I had dinner with KT, Lisa and Karen.

Blurry pic of walking to the restaurant and the Hotel Murano facade (Lisa and Karen with awesome Lisa-sweater)


and KT modeling her almost-done sweater in the restaurant


Then “Charity Night” with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee talking, and knitters bringing items to donate for a local school-based charity, which especially needs warm things for kids. (Oops, another thing I didn’t get packed and really meant to — I have several knitted kids’ hats to donate, and couldn’t find them easily, then my husband went to sleep and somehow wouldn’t have been receptive to me turning on the overhead light to rummage around for the hats at 2 am.) So, when I couldn’t find the hats, instead I packed some PolarKnit (PolarFleece) yarn I had bought from The Loopy Ewe, meaning to make a hat or scarf.

Since I had slept all day since then, practically, I knit a kid’s scarf during Stephanie’s talk (hilarious as always, and I have no pictures since I had left my camera in my coat pocket in my room) and finished it before I left, leaving it on the table with the other lovely knitted items. (No photos, see preceding sentence.)

Digression for notes about PolarKnit yarn: surprisingly easy and reasonably pleasant to knit with other than requiring bigger needles which is a disadvantage for me (my hands don’t like them so much any more); the yarn is resilient and soft. But at least one of the two colors I was using shed like a bright blue Newfoundland dog. There were tiny little balls of blue ALL over my lap, my shirt, my chair, the floor, the inside of my knitting bag….

I have enough left to make a hat, when I have the proper needles to do so, but I will take precautions re: the shedding!  A towel in my lap comes to mind.

Anyway: this is where the Shetland Seas Shawl made its debut. When I first went down to the market, I was wearing my Joe Cool long-sleeved T (as in Tina’s picture of me and Debbi) and felt grubby still from traveling and sleeping during the day (no shower, remember). It was not the proper presentation for the shawl, you see. (My husband the former sous-chef, and the Iron Chef  TV show have taught me all about the importance of presentation, n’est-ce pas?) But I did a quick wash & change before the evening talk, and wore a simple white long-sleeved top to allow it to be seen.

Over the course of the long weekend, I’m sure well over a hundred knitters not only complimented the shawl, but stopped me and wanted to know more about the yarn and the pattern. (There were more with drive-by compliments.) I was requested to write down the website for several. (Sorry, fellow Twisted fans.) The shawl was personally petted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Cat Bordhi, and Tina Newton, as well as complimented by Elsebeth Lavold and many, many friends and strangers.  I love it very much myself, so was happy to show it off.

Last on the day’s agenda: collapse into bed, no playing with the new fiber or Greensleeves spindle I bought at Tactile Fiber (OH!  You should see the natural pigments I got there too!  But they’re still coming in the mail, I’ll share them later.)

Tomorrow:  Day 2, maybe more…. promise, I’ll try to be a bit more succinct.