Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend in Jonesborough, TN

My dance calling 'career' gives me an opportunity to lead contra dances in communities in Western NC, upstate SC and in the East Tennessee-SW Virginia (Tri-Cities) area. This weekend I called a dance at Viginia Intermont College, a sweet school of about 600 students with and strong arts emphasis + horses. Yes, you can major in Equestrian Studies. The students I met were enthusiastic about the school and the dance and it was plenty of fun.

On Saturday, I called the Jonesborough dance with the world premiere of the Contra Cowboys, a solid contradance band with a western swing flavor. They played and sang to a terrific crowd of dancers. With LEAF in full swing about 75 miles away,it was a smaller crowd that usual, but that just meant we were able to do dances that require a bit more space than ususal.

Because the dances were a way up the road from my home in Asheville, I house sat for David, the TriCities dance booster. He has a lovely home in a gorgous spot as well as Lucy the dog and 3 charming cats. Because my truck refused to negotiate the driveway (2 weel drive Tacoma with a light rear end and a serious need for tires with actual treads), I took many walks both for Lucy's benefit and because I bought a number of fiber-related chores, we walked the property a number of times. This morning I had fresh raspberries for breakfast; yesterday I had a few delicious figs, grown just outside the back door.

Thanks David, for all you do for the dance community and for allowing me to spend a weekend in this lovely spot.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm dyeing here!

Of all the fiber-y things I do, I may like dyeing the best. There is a challenge to get the colors and combinations that I want and a fine line between safe and boring and mud colored. Hand dying requires that you know what your dyes will do, but still allow the serendipity to happen. I have recently gotten a couple of requests for special orders of hand dyed colors. Some colors (Bronze Green; Autumn Gold; Beach Glass) are semi-repeatable. I use the same dyes in roughly the same proportion, but they are only fraternal twins, not identical. If I wanted to go into production that was totally repeatable, I could. For sock yarns, I do. But for my roving I have chosen to keep as much magic as possible in my dye process.

I've also been calling dances all around the area. Last weekend I called a teen dance at a retreat that was lots of fun, but the real kicker was a Sunday afternoon Old Fashioned Barn Dance at a real barn. This was part of the fall festival at a Kingsport, TN organization called Pathfinders, a beautiful farm property that is being run as a camp for youth as well as a site for corporate retreats and team building exercises. There were lots of people there - truly an inter-generational dance. I called circles, squares, longways set dances, even a contradance (but it was a variant of Jefferson and Liberty, so don't get too excited).

This weekend I have 2 gigs again. The first is a contradance at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, VA. Mark Mueller and friends will be playing. On Saturday night, I'll be calling the regular Jonesborough dance with a new band, the Contra Cowboys. Both dances sound like fun and I'll be house sitting for David ( the energy center for contradance in East Tennessee) so I'm taking knitting, reading, papers to grade, fiber to weigh and photograph, even business paperwork to get entered in to the spreadsheet. Grading papers and knitting hats should be highest on the agenda, as well as dog walking!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Madison County, North Carolina Heritage Day

Last Saturday I made my annual entry into the craft fair world. Thanks to my Etsy shop, I don't have to stand around in the hot sun to peddle my woolly wares when the October temperatures are known to hover in the high 80's. Luckily the nights have been chilly enough to make people remember that winter will come again and hats will be handy.

Heritage Day is an annual event held on the Mars Hill College campus. I have had a booth for years in the educational area nestled among the student pottery sale, the Biology professor-beekeeper, 4-H clubs, a genealogy organization, and other equally high-tone groups. There are standard craft booths too: jewelry, photography, lots of food, etc. It is quite social with students and faculty, regular townspeople and tourists - plenty of live old time music. Nobody gets rich, but the investment is low and fun quotient is high.

I always bring my drum carder and let the kids card wool, I had my wheel and felting needles as well as plenty of yarn, roving and hats. As luck would have it, I sat down at the spinning wheel and the footman connector immediately broke. So, no production spinning for me-I just turned the wheel by hand to demo how twisting the fibers creates yarn. The days production - about 20 yards of very fine yarn. Instead I carded everything I had with me (about a pound of beautiful charcoal grey Romney) and made a sweet needle felted pumpkin.

As far as sales go, it was a sock yarn day, but I sold a bit of everything. I also had lots of fun, visiting with people I see only once or twice a year. It was also great fun watching my students come by and check out my 'other life' - one that has nothing to do with my education technology classes. If they only knew!

Sunday was another fine day. I ran the Locally Grown shop in the morning - spinning all my newly spun wool on the lovingly repaired wheel, then went to the English dance in the afternoon. Note to self: got to work in the website - but not til after SAFF - just 2 weeks away!