Ah, the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat, in Tacoma, Washington--every Presidents' Day weekend you can count on this "retreat," a word that probably doesn't conjure an event held in an upscale hotel decorated with glass created by some 20 designers, attended by some 900 people (not including those who come just to spend time in the marketplace and the demonstration area of the Rotunda). It didn't start out this way, but Suzanne and Cornie, Madrona organizers, work hard to keep the family feeling.
Suzanne asked me to give the Friday night talk at Teachers' Night in addition to teaching two new classes and an old favorite. Well, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do many months ago, but as the time approached I became more and more worried. I put off event after event for weeks beforehand, saying, "I've got to work on THE TALK" in ominous tones. John wanted to hear it, but I felt embarrassed giving it to just one person. However, I was able to practice on the Snohomish Knitters' Guild the night before Madrona began (thank you, Marion and the board members for the invitation and the wonderful meal at The Cabbage Patch in Snohomish), so although I was nervous I also felt confident when I looked out at the room where 400 people filled the chairs—an odd combination of feelings!
Friends in the audience.
And the room begins to fill! You can see the teacher display tables in the background—on Friday night teachers can display their work and answer questions about their classes.
Dale handles all the audio/visual technical issues that arise—I walked up to the podium to the tune of Day to Feel Alive by Jack Reese, and walked off to Two Little Feet by Greg Brown (I'd requested the former, but he located the latter when he saw that I used some lyrics in my talk!).
My online chat group friends, and my Knitting Camp friends, and my students, and my teachers and co-teachers, and the members of the Seattle knitting community, and the many people I've seen in Madronas past—it felt like a large, supportive family. My talk was entitled "My Life in Technicolor OR Learning to Say Yes OR It Takes a Village," and it was a privilege to share the story of my evolution as a designer: the desires, the support, the successes (and failures), and the ongoing challenges are universal.
Afterwards I was overwhelmed by people thanking me for articulating the feelings they'd been having. Did I say it was a privilege? Yes, indeed, a privilege and I don't regret for one minute the time I put into preparing for it.
I used many slides in my talk—many of these contained inspirational quotations, and I promised Lisa and Cari that I would share them here (thank you for the gentle reminder!):
How do I define a creative life? Any life that is guided more strongly by curiosity than by fear. ~Elizabeth Gilbert
Your sweater should be an expression of you. It’s a self-empowerment deal and it spills over into the rest of your life. ~Meg Swansen
Why should we all use our creative power? . . . Because there is nothing that makes people as generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, as indifferent to fighting and accumulation of objects and money. ~Brenda Ueland
John Muir walked away into the mountains,
in an old overcoat, a crust of bread in his pockets.
We have no knowledge and so we have stuff.
Stuff without knowledge is never enough to get you there.
It just won’t get you there.
~Greg Brown, from the song “Two Feet”
What's the hurry? The satisfaction of one good thing thoroughly made and enjoyed for decades is immeasurable. It's what counts. ~Sarah Swett
To create a world beyond fashion is to summon an emotion or a cherished memory. ~Ralph Lauren
Usually when we say we can’t do something, what we mean is that we won’t do something unless we can guarantee that we’ll do it perfectly. ~Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
... Beyond this, it’s advisable
to have a skill. Learn how to make something:
food, a shoe box, a good day.
Remember, finally, there are few pleasures
that aren’t as local as your fingertips.
~Stephen Dunn, from “How to Be Happy: Another Memo to Myself”
I took a break to take a class (I LOVE taking classes!): Cowichan Spinning from Judith MacKenzie. This iconic knitwear has fascinated me since I was a child, so I appreciated the chance to explore how the spinners create bulky but light yarn. I also (ahem) found time to purchase 4.5 pounds (wait, that can't be right) of painted roving. I was also give 8 ounces of painted roving. I plead the Fifth.
Some other images:
This is Michelle of Toots Le Blanc, purveyor of beautiful natural yarns—she had recolored the Starry Night sweater into natural shades and she moved the motifs to suit her. Such a beautiful sweater—there's something about it that makes me want to steal it from her!
A lovely student in my Fair Isle yoke class (and I apologize for not remembering her name!!!) wore the Dicentra Sweater perfectly!
The plane home flew between two cloud layers...