Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Spa Knit and Spin 2007

We spent last weekend in Portland, Maine, at the New England Textile Artists' Fifth Annual Spa Knit and Spin. We've been home for a couple of days now and while I was working, I've been trying to figure out exactly what was my favorite part of this fantastic mini-vacation.

Was it the knitters, spinners, crocheters, needleworkers, felters, and fiber artists of all kinds filling every nook and cranny of the Doubletree Inn for 2-3 days? Was it the informality that encouraged beginners to folks with advanced skills to mingle and share and just have a good time together, exploring their chosen fiber art and perhaps dabbling in some new ones? Was it that two strangers enthusiastically volunteered to untangle Jesse's ball of yarn so he could continue on his first knitting project, or the way the male spinners (Scott, Bart, Doug, Lars, and eventually Jesse) bonded as a jovial group within a group? Or the way somebody could plop down at any time to ask all about your current project or to get some help with a skill, and you could do the same with anybody else there, so everybody had something to offer and everybody had something to learn?

Maybe it was the vendors. No doubt about it: this was was a top notch group of vendors assembled for the weekend. Our trunk was overflowing with spinning fibers and yarn. Leah was given the gift of a beautiful shawl clasp from Leslie Wind...just because. We won a Friendz Blendz Hexi-Hat kit from Friends' Folly Farm and a most spectacular bag of merino for spinning from Sereknity. Leah says it looks like strawberries and peaches. I think it looks like a bouquet of deep red roses with pale peach accents. Our friends won goodies too, including a pound of fiber. Definite highlights included chatting with Jackie Fee, who wrote The Sweater Workshop, and her equally pleasant daughter, who sought Leah's opinion on spinning wheels for kids; Scott going nuts at the the Grafton Fibers booth (as expected); and pawing more handpainted rovings at Friends' Folly Farm (where he just about wiped them out of one colorway so they threw in the remaining few ounces and the sample skein as well). Or buying a traditional hooked rug kit from J. Conner Hooked Rugs and having Janet then spend over an hour teaching Emma and Leah how it's done. Or the folks from Circles, who were enthusiastic enough about the stitch markers we were giving away (over 50 of them!) that they asked Scott to make more to sell at their knitting salon in Jamaica Plain.

Yeah, I liked all of that, but more too. There was the live music and the vibrant storytelling. There was the swimming and the spa services and the fun meals. There were the free shuttles to area yarn stores and brochures for upcoming events and area guilds. There was charity knitting and fundraising. There was a fashion show, in which Leah modeled the hat, poncho, and slippers she knit, enjoying a strut down the runway with Emma, who was also wearing her own handknit beret, as well as a poncho by her aunt and slippers by her mom. And then there was the free cake to go with the cider that Jesse enjoyed throughout the weekend.

But above all, there was laughter and learning, history and handcrafts, community and camaraderie. It was the kind of weekend where the whole was waayyyy greater than the sum of the parts.

(You see those spinnerguys up there? They had so much fun spinning together that they've decided they need to learn to knit so they'll have a reason to spin more yarn. And Jesse's just about ready to ply the bobbins he's been spinning lately too, but there will be a little delay because he's also working on creating an electric spinning wheel made out of K'nex. :-)


Blogger Elaine said...

I went to SPA as well and had lots of fun. I live in South Portland, but never heard of it. I remember seeing Jess there. My husband came with me and knitted as well and it was funny how many people stared at him with a smile on their face.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Audrey said...

Oh yeah! I forgot that SPA was this weekend! I was thinking....oh where oh where is Debbie? Whaddaya know....THERE you are! It looks like such a fun weekend. Maybe I'll convince the Grumpster to come with the Monkey and I next year...

Glad you all enjoyed yourself so much. See you soon!

5:41 PM  
Blogger LauraJ said...

Hi! I enjoyed encountering you and your family at Spa. There's a picture of Doug, Scott, and Bart on my blog. The K'nex spinning wheel looks formidable, and I hope Jesse gets the bugs out of it. He might enjoy the MAKE magazine site<

8:24 AM  

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