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November 05, 2005: Sticks and yarn

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It occurred to me, at some point this evening, that when my older sister called earlier today I should have suggested meeting her at the mall. She was off on a solo shopping trip to find shoes and pants, and I too need shoes and pants, and lately it seems as if I rarely ever see her anymore, and this would have been a perfect opportunity. But when she called I'd been home less than an hour. I was tired from my most recent trip; tired of driving and being stuck in a car, and I surrounded by a small cluster of cats who were doing their best to convey just how glad they were to see me again, since I had gone away and left them for years and years during the past 72 hours and for even longer during that three day workshop earlier in the week. So the last thing my mind was capable of was pondering getting back in the car so soon. I have a little regret for not considering it sooner, and maybe next time I will remember this and it will click in my head that meeting my sister at the mall to look for shoes and try on pants and commiserate with each other in the dressing room, and possibly also stop for ice cream or at least share a side of fries in the food court would be a far better use of my time than collapsing into a chair in front of my computer and plowing through 72 hours worth of email which turned out to be mostly spam anyway. Oh well.

But the reason I was so tired was at least a good one. A friend at one of the knitting groups I attend had mentioned in passing several months ago that there was a knitting retreat being planned up in the Medford / Ashland area, and after a very short time of considering it, I decided it sounded like too much fun to pass up. I also tossed the idea past my knitting mom, and so the two of us made plans to drive up together, share a hotel room, and spend a weekend with a bunch of other women doing one of our favorite things - playing with sticks and yarn.

There were a few bumps in the process over the past few weeks. The trip to Red Bluff last week was originally supposed to be from Wednesday through Friday, which meant we started working out to get her up to Red Bluff so that the two of us could then continue on to Medford together (since Red Bluff's about halfway there), but then the workshop dates changed, so I came home Thursday instead of finishing Friday, and even though I was home less than 24 hours, still it was vastly preferrable not getting to come home in between at all.

It was grey and cloudy most of the weekend in southern Oregon, but it really didn't matter. There were 30 or 35 of us gathered into one hotel in Medford, and we all crowded together into the too-small conference room above the lobby the first night to knit and get acquainted and take a class, and knit some more. I found it pretty amusing that the Solano County contingent was the largest one there - I think there were likely a dozen of us from that area. The rest of the attendees came from Washington, Oregon, other parts of California, and there was even one woman who flew down from Juneau, Alaska.

We had a wonderful time. There was an incredible dinner at a steak place in downtown Medford for a small group of us who already knew each other. There were field trips planned to knitting stores in Medford and Ashland, and the stores greeted us with smiles and hot drinks snacks, since we were, after all, 30+ women descending on their stores with the sole purpose of buying great quantities of nothing but yarn, yarn, and more yarn. There was a class in shadow knitting on Friday night, and a class in Continental knitting on Saturday. A small group of us skipped the Saturday class since we already knew how to knit that way, so instead we sat in the lobby in the couches by the fireplace and talked and knit and talked some more. In fact, that was pretty much most of the weekend - knitting and talking and a lot of laughter and sharing of stories, some to do with yarn and some having nothing to do with knitting at all. There was enough time left between yarn shop field trips and classes for those who wanted to to explore the area (and in fact some of the attendees discovered yet another yarn shop in Jacksonville and did even more yarn acquisition).

My knitting mom and I were, for the most part, quite restrained during the weekend when it came to buying yarn. I've been trying to be good about only buying yarn for specific projects, but when faced with the giant display of sock yarns in both store - colors and brands and patterns that I've never seen before - well, there is only so much restraint a knitter can take. So aside from picking up six balls of cream and black wool blend (for a specific project), I did allow myself to splurge a little. In Medford I picked up some Wildfoote sock yarn in gorgeous bold red colors, and when we left the store in Ashland I came away with three more skeins of sock yarn that simply could not be left behind, plus a few free patterns from their stash in the back, and a list of books that I think I may eventually need to buy.

I learned a nifty new technique - shadow (or illusion) knitting - during this past weekend (go see Knit One, Purr Too if you want pictures) which was cool because it was something I'd wanted to learn anyway. I got to know a few of the others from some of our knitting groups better (and yes, I do appreciate the irony that it took driving over 500 miles away from home to be able to bond with people who live in just the next town over). And I got to spend a deliciously relaxing weekend hanging out with my knitting mom, and a whole group of other women who, while they are all different ages and come from all different backgrounds and locales, were instant friends just because of a not-so-crazy addiction to sticks and yarn.

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