Madrona 2012: A Very Fine Birthday

Last year, my birthday sucked. I was saying a final goodbye to my dreams of making a living in the fiber arts. It was poignant, because I spent the whole weekend teaching at Madrona, a wonderful fiber conference, surrounded by everything I was giving up. The day after Madrona, I would start full-time work again. A daunting prospect after being self-employed for ten years. My husband was sick and couldn’t be with me. I felt like an utter failure and spent the evening sobbing in my hotel room.

This year was the antidote to last year. I taught at Madrona again, with a room full of lovely women who shared my passion for things that glow and blink. It was a mellow and peaceful class. They gave me permission to blog about derby and non-weaving things. I don’t have to words to explain why that was important (or rather, I do, but it would take about 10,000 of them) but it was huge to me. I’m an eclectic, shy, multi-faceted person, and it’s hard for folks like me to feel 100% accepted, and in that moment, I did.

I had lunch with a friend and mentor, and that was a wonderful treat.

Class continued. We wove. Things lit up. We turned off the lights and there were moments of illuminated beauty. I had a great time, and I hope they did as well.

Eric and Kai came down that evening and injected some family pack bonding into the evening. We ate Mexican food, tussled on the bed, made bad jokes, and I fell exhausted into bed and slept well.

The next day, my actual birthday, I spent taking a class with my favorite tapestry weaver in the whole wide world: Sarah Swett. (I can say this only because I consider Mary Zicafoose a rug weaver.) Sarah combines both being a hoot-and-a-holler as a person with amazing technical skill that takes my breath away. She doesn’t teach often and I consider myself lucky to have gotten into her class.

We wove tapestry bags. Tapestry is something that makes my brain hurt. I’d taken a class with James Koehler, and was blown away by his mastery and technique. But his brain worked very differently than mine, and as soon as I stepped away from his class, his teaching fell right out of my head. Sarah’s teaching settled into my brain like a faithful dog and curled right around my cerebellum. I came away from the class with an enthusiasm for tapestry and a belief that I might actually be able to weave a tapestry I was happy with one day.


Oh, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka: the yarn harlot) is considering taking up an affair with a bad-boy loom. A loom with its brake smack in the center of the warp. With a tricky warp tensioning system that is just waiting to unspool her warp all over the floor. A handsome fellow, dark and mellowed with age, something rare and fine, but temperamental… I worry for her weaving adventures on it. Though I suspect a swat team of Canadian weavers is likely to descend on her if things get out of hand.

Several people asked questions about my unfinished projects, some asked kindly, some more pointedly. Here are the answers, in case you’re wondering, too.

What about WeaveCast? Will there be more?
I don’t know. I hope so. Between more-than-full-time work, family, and doing the things that keep me happy and sane, I haven’t found the time to edit audio. I’ve got several episodes recorded that I’d like to produce, but I don’t know when I’ll get to them. There’s another fibery concern that’s considering doing a weaving podcast–a group that’ll likely do a much better job than I ever did–so even if I don’t get around to it, you still have hope.

What’s the status of the birthday blanket?
The first 13-yard warp is woven. The second 13-yard warp is lying on the floor of my studio on lease sticks, ready to go through the raddle. I really, really, wanted to get it done in time for Madrona 2012, but two other time-critical projects got in the way. One was my producing Linda Ligon’s memoir This is How I Go When I Go Like This as an audiobook, the other is still under wraps. I feel mortified that the birthday blanket isn’t done yet, and I promise that it will be done before I am. My other worry is, now that I have a smaller presence in the fiber world, how will I get the word out when it’s done?

I came away from Madrona 2012 feeling like the fiber arts world was welcoming me back. It won’t be what it was, it’s scaled back from when I was trying to make a living publishing weaving content. But you know, the things that drew me into the fiber arts are still there: the love of making beautiful fabrics, the friendly people, the meditative work.

A lot has happened in the past year: I’ve gotten a new career. I watched my friend Selah birth her son. I took up roller derby and played in a game in front of 300+ spectators. A long-time chronic health issue that has plagued me my whole life was diagnosed and addressed. I’ve let go of a lot of expectations.

For the first time in my life, I don’t know what I’m working towards. I don’t have a master plan. It’s strange to be like this, but also peaceful.

8 thoughts on “Madrona 2012: A Very Fine Birthday

  1. Getting the word out? That’s what word-of-mouth (or twitter or facebook) is all about. Just say the word (type it?) and it will be done.

    So looking forward to seeing you in a month! Wish I could have been at Madrona, but life just kinda got in the way. 🙂


  2. It’s a long and winding road, and you have miles/decades to go. And you have covered a lot of ground in a very short period of time. And now that you are on skates!
    Most Colorfully,
    Bonnie (episode #9)

  3. Hooray for eclectic! You wouldn’t really want to be a mono-faceted (uni-faceted?) person, would you? I’m not sure it’s even physically possible… Glad it was a good birthday 🙂

  4. A new weaving podcast? That sounds great, but I find it hard to imagine it will live up to Weavecast’s outstanding standards! I just love each and every episode and listen to them over and over again – no other podcast even comes close to beings as enjoyable!

    It was nice to read this post, I’ve been missing your web-presence.

    And a late very happy birthday to you!

  5. It was so nice to read this post from you – I miss your cyberpresence! A new weaving podcast sounds great, but I can’t imagine it will ever be as great as Weavecast. Your podcast is truly exceptional in quality – I’ve listened to every episode more than 5 times and I still enjoy them. Even if there will be no more weavecast episodes, I really want to thank you for all the ones you gave us!

    And a late happy birthday to you 🙂

  6. Happy Birthday Last Week! Thought of you, from my whirlwind weekend event. Yes, you are at Home among the Fiberista no matter whether you are busy this way or that, or in some new sparkly arena.
    I am delighted to hear you are at peace at this waypoint on the Journey.
    Lookin’ forward to laughing with you at CNCH in a couple of months!

  7. You and Jacey Boggs are both smart women, wonderful teachers, and have great energy. You make what you do fun. Let it unfold. It will be good. And I hope our paths cross again.

  8. Not very long ago your name came up in conversation at our house and my daughter Anna said that one of the things she liked most about you was your ability to completely reinvent yourself from time to time. You can add role-modeling-to-young-women to your resume

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