A small glimpse of Madrona

Violin practice – 45 minutes while Ed was visiting the neighbors
Dishes washed – 20 minutes
Laundry folded and put away – 10 minutes
Finally I can relax and write a new post.

Hard to believe that at this time one month ago I was eating Japanese food with others at Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I had met with Sasha Torres, The Spin Doctor, at six by the horse for an interview but understandably she was wiped out from an intensive day long class. I was relieved, my brain was feeling fogged and somewhat overwhelmed from the day. I enjoyed chatting with Sasha, meeting a couple of her Madrona friends and ended up being invited to join them for dinner at the Japanese restaurant just up the block. Sounded great. We were waylaid when asked to help compile books of dyeing examples for Judith MacKenzie’s class the next day.  About nine of us developed an efficient assembly line and had the work finished in a short time. Heading to the restaurant our group grew from 4 to 9 people. At that point I almost called it a night. Exhaustion and shyness almost edged out the desire to spend more time with Sasha and great food. (I’m chagrined that I felt too shy to take pictures of/with Sasha and of eating Japanese food.)

Ed couldn’t afford to take the time away from the shop to go to Madrona, in Tacoma Washington. After processing and taking several orders to the Post Office I was finally on the road about 11am. There seemed to be an early rush hour slowing traffic between Olympia and Tacoma but I finally reached Murano Hotel about 4, found a parking place right outside the fiber marketplace and took boxes with spindles to Carolina Homespun, Woodland Woolworks and Herndon Creek Farm (no website). Jim and Pam of Herndon Creek Farm had invited us to stay at their house in Tacoma. What a wonderful time we had together! Pam and I had always enjoyed talking during brief encounters but the extended visit confirmed that we’re kindred spirits. On the 3rd Wednesday of the month they take part in a spinning group at the Antiques Cafe in another part of town so we headed over there through big fluffy flakes of snow, ate a delicious supper and spent an agreeable evening chatting and spinning with the regulars.

Thursday and Friday Pam and I had leisurely breakfasts and practically talked the mornings away while Jim went ahead and opened the booth for the early morning crowds. I had originally planned to hang out in their booth spinning and demonstrating but they were set up straight across from Woodland Woolworks and while I’m sure Diane of WW wouldn’t have minded I didn’t want to create any conflicts of interest. I cruised the Marketplace and was totally swept off my feet at the Philosopher’s Wool booth. It’s almost a miracle that I didn’t come away with the kit for the Fall Jester Jacket. Charming Ann convinced me that it would be too much of a challenge for me. She said she’d rather lose a sale than have the kit collecting dust under a bed, or even worse, have me attempt it and give up Fair Isle completely from frustration. She guided me to a couple of more manageable patterns but trying them on it just didn’t feel right. My upper body is small and the style overwhelmed me. I dragged Pam over to get her opinion as I modeled the ones that Ann suggested. Pam confirmed my suspicions that they weren’t the right styles/cut for my pear shaped body. Still, I dithered about buying the Fall Jester Jacket kit the rest of the time I was in the Marketplace.  Perhaps someday. Ann tried to teach me how to carry a strand in each hand while knit rotating between the two strands. My right hand felt tight and clumsy – expected when learning new movements, I knit continental – and my knitting tightened up in protest. A man drifted into the booth and talked with Ann while I was struggling with the practice piece that Ann handed me. A while later I drifted past a table where he was preparing two balls of yarn to knit from. He saw me and motioned me over to sit down. He’d noticed that I’d had a hard time with two handed knitting and kindly offered to show me his technique. I am very thankful to Abbott (known as Blacksmith on Ravelry) for taking the time  as he was doing final preps for the class he would be teaching that afternoon. He showed me how he does it then let me try his method of running the two strands separately through my left hand. I’m eager to take up a Fair Isle project and put Abbott’s method into practice.

Madrona has a wonderful congenial and upbeat atmosphere. Not only are there great knitting, hanging out spots in the hotel lobby but there’s a large gathering area outside the Marketplace. People gather around the tables knitting, spinning, chatting or just relaxing and letting the brain recover from the latest intense class. I felt a bit out of place as a non-registered quasi-participant. Everyone else wore name tags, badges of belonging. My brain tends to freeze and stutter when I feel awkward or around lots of people. Names fly away and intelligent speech seems impossible, let alone any type of meaningful small talk.

A couple people who’ve purchased spindles from us suggested getting together at Madrona and that there was to be a gathering of kuchulu owners. We gathered about 50 Thursday afternoon – I loved meeting with them. What a special group of people. It would have been wonderful to have had a lot more time to hang out with these lovely ladies.  Thanks Ann M for making it happen!
Melanie’s very full kuchulu (check out her beautifully cabled sweater).
I’d been to the Tacoma/Seattle area several different times while on the volleyball team in college, it was always it was raining with low clouds. The first time I saw Mt Rainer and the snow covered Cascade mountains surrounding the area I was floored by the beauty and sheer magnificence of Mt Rainer. It is a majestic, immense mountain shouldering above the Cascade Range.  Thursday noon I met with my college roommate, Di, whom I hadn’t seen in almost 3 decades. We’d arranged to meet not too far from the Narrows Bridge since she wasn’t keen on driving into downtown Tacoma. It literally is downtown – the town climbs from a bay of the Puget Sound up the steep side of a large hill. It was good to see Di again after all these years, as is the case time slipped quickly past. As I drove back down the hill the clouds lifted and my heart soared at the sight. Mt Rainer! Traffic swept me along and the soon buildings obliterated the view.  Friday morning the sun was poking holes in the clouds so I asked Pam for the best route that would offer an unobstructed view. It seems that the builders of Tacoma are more concerned about building high than letting people see the mountains. Finally, a flash of sunlight on the frozen flank of fresh snow on the mountain appeared between buildings. Pam and I quickly walked up and down the street looking for the best place to take a picture. Unfortunately there was no place that had a full view of the mountain and the clouds were starting to descend. (If  only I’d known who had a room facing the mountain in Hotel Murano!) These were the best I could get, sadly they don’t do the mountain justice.
Southwest side:

Northwest side of Mt Rainer

By 10:30 Friday morning I’d said my goodbyes and headed back along I-5 through slashing rain the length of the 170 miles to reach home in time to grab my violin and zip over the ridge to strings ensemble rehearsal. Next year I would love to take at least one class, there were a number of excellent classes offered this year but one has to be quick to sign up before they’re filled. Or at least take Ed and go for a couple days. We both enjoy hanging out with Jim and Pam.


Author: Wanda J

I never dreamed my life would be entangled with fiber and the tools used to produce fibery items. When I bought a boat shuttle used in weaving Ed looked at it, decided to make a better one and the rest is history. For a decade he made shuttles, crochet hooks, knitting needles, until his spindles became so popular that he had to devote his time to making them, as well as Walking Wheels. Free time is spent reading, trying to coax food from the ground, and playing in the creek near our place. I love long walks and camping far from crowds. Playing a fiddle beside a stream or with good friends brings sweetness to my soul. Sundays are set aside for worshiping God with our small Quaker meeting.

5 thoughts on “A small glimpse of Madrona”

  1. Great post! I enjoy the Spin Doctor podcast and was delighted to get to meet her too. There just isn’t enough time at these wonderful events! And you’re right! I would NOT have minded you demonstrating at Herndon Creek’s booth! I had fun getting to know them a tiny bit better too.

  2. Oh, I think of Pam everytime I pull the little handspun drawstring closed on the muslin bag that holds my Herndon nostepinne!
    And I agree with Abbot! Hold both colors in your left hand. I took a class from Ann of Philosopher’s years ago, made a gorgeous sweater, and really liked the two handed weaving technique, but over the years, and as I dabbled with double knitting, I morphed into putting both colors in my left hand and really like it. My tension seems more even, and I hate throwing…sigh…
    I wrap color A around my pinky and up over my index finger, and color B around my ring finger and up over my index finger. I knit each color over and around the other as needed.
    Thanks for the great post!
    You are so good with words, I can’t imagine you struggling with shyness!

  3. I love the Herndons, too; such nice people! You DID pack a lot into the trip; glad you made the drive safely. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s ALWAYS rush hour from Olympia through Seattle….

  4. Oh man, I’ve GOT to go to some fiber festivals, curse this school/lack of $$ getting in the way! It’s so cool that you met Sasha. I’ve been listening to her podcast since the beginning and she mentioned you! The world just gets smaller and smaller… I’m still very much enjoying all my spindles though! I’m spinning the merino/tencel you gave me on my kuchulu. 🙂

Comments are closed.