If you guys don't mind, I'm going to give you a short overview about my time at SOAR and then go back to do more detailed posts. I figured, if I waited until I had everything written in detail about each of the days, you would never get any recap about SOAR!
Let me just say, it was soooooo much fun. I'm definitely planning on going next year. It is in Wisconsin in 2010 so much closer for those of us in the midwest! I had a great time meeting all of the people, sharing tips and tricks, and taking classes. I didn't expect to know as many people there as I did. It was funny that I had already met everyone there who was from Ohio (OK, fine, there were only a couple of people there from Ohio but still!). I mean, out of all of the spinners in Ohio and all of the spinners at SOAR? That's really good odds. It was a lot of fun to sit down at random tables at meals and start to get to know people.
I had some fantastic classes. The first session I had was that spinning for next to the skin. If you ever have the chance to spin Polworth, TAKE IT! Gorgeous stuff. Sarah, the teacher, had some already cleaned fleece and had us try different preparation methods. One bit we combed, another we carded. She also had us try different kinds of fleece to see how differently fine wools could be. The man who raised the sheep whose fleece we were using was there in class. His wife was attending classes and he decided to sit in ours. He was able to tell us a lot about the science of breeding, the history of the breed, information about breeding on a large scale (think 200 head) and much more.
The next session I went to was about using hand combs. I can't even tell you how glad I am that I took that class. I have a set of combs but haven't felt that I've used them to their full advantage. The woman who taught the class makes the St. Blaise wool combs so she definitely knows her stuff. She had many different samples of fiber for us to use. She started with wools: fine, medium and long. We then moved on to llama and Churro, breeds that definitely need dehairing. Then on to exotics like alpaca, mohair, angora and one other that I can't recall. Then we played with blending fibers using combs. It was a lot to pack in one 3 hour session!
The third class I was in was spinning for socks. I don't think I've spun anything so fast in my life. We had to spin enough singles for a small amount of 3 ply and a 4 ply cabled yarn. That is a lot of spinning! The teacher talked a lot about different fibers and which things were good for socks. She had us spin a normal BFL then a superwash BFL. The superwash definitely felt slick and seemed to spin faster than the normal BFL.
My final class was about working with silk. Let's just say that, after a week of stewing silk cocoons, that room was pungent. We did a lot of hands on things and was really fun. He had us reel silk and make silk hankies. I have some of the silk we reeled before it was degummed and after it was and the difference is amazing.
The only bad part of SOAR was that probably a third of the people there got sick. Everyone thought that it had started at Rhinebeck. People got sick there then the illness had enough time to really get going before they came to Oregon. From there, the people who were there all week got sick. From there it passed on to all of the people who came in for the second half of the week. One of my roommates was one of the unlucky and came down with what was going around. I hope she feels much better soon! The other roommate and I had both gotten flu shots prior to traveling so, as of right now, neither of us came down with anything. All of the travel and time in airplanes is definitely an assault on your immune system!
OK, my next post is going to have a more detailed breakdown of the trip and pictures. I think that you will get only a few days in each post just so you don't have to read forever.