textiles · exploration · misadventure



I’m on my way to Madrona Fiber Arts festival today. I wasn’t planning to attend large events this year, being unemployed. But when I read the teacher line-up and found a cheap round-trip ticket, I thought, “If I can get the classes I want, I’m in.”

They don’t tell the (crazy) knitters when registration opens, because if they do, the knitters will crash the server. Instead, we sit there compulsively hitting “refresh.” When that big, beautiful button appeared, I whipped through the pages, shaking and sweating, and hit “submit.” And I got them all:


Judith MacKenzie: The Art of Overdyeing: A six-hour study of dye effects upon already dyed yarns and fabrics. We can bring our own yarns and fabrics to play with.  Yesterday, I bought two silk remnants on sale.  I plan to overdye them, and will unravel most or all of them, and spin the threads into yarn. Judith offered a similar overdying class at Black Sheep Gathering last June, but I opted for a (fantastic) Spinning Exotic Fibers class with Sarah Anderson instead, as I hadn’t tried dyeing at that point. (That’s changed.  I’ve played with some acid dyes and dyed some beautiful white handspun Cormo wool with leftover coffee grounds.  That’s my entire dyeing experience. I want more.)

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee: Knit for Speed and Efficiency: Pretty self-explanatory. There’s so much I want to do.  If I can spend three hours and double my knitting speed, I’ll come out ahead in a month. Hurrah!

Judith MacKenzie: Recycle: Making Garnetted Yarns: An old-school method for re-purposing used, worn-out clothing, fabrics, yarns, and fibers into new yarn. I’m bringing my father’s moth-eaten, felted cashmere sweater.  I’d love to re-purpose it into something new I can wear to remember him by.

Franklin Habit: Embroider Your Knitting: Self-explanatory. I signed up for this because I read his blog, the Pantopicon, and find him intelligent and interesting, but also (and moreso) because I’ve always wanted to learn how to embellish my knitting with embroidery and I suck at it. Possibly Franklin can help.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee: All About Mawata: Read Stephanie’s blog posts on this topic here and here. I fell in love with these mittens at first sight. And I. Must. Have. Them. I’ve got five Jacquard silk dyes and a pile of silk hankies standing by. And no, I don’t really know how to dye them yet, why do you ask? (See Judith’s class, above.)


It is a super-fantastic luxury to attend a textile event like Madrona. If you’ve ever considered going to one, I recommend it. I’m a hyperactive introvert, and even I manage to meet people and make friends at these things. There is nothing like being in a confined space with hundreds of other knitters, crocheters, spinners, and dyers. You feel like you’ve been cycloned away to Textile Oz. Everywhere you turn, there is someone with similar interests to hash things out with, or learn from, or teach. If you are lucky, they will take you down some Yellow Brick Road to Speed-Knitting City or Frankin’s Castle, and when you come home, there will be a little bit more magic in your everyday life.

6 thoughts on “Madrona-ing

  1. I admire your willingness to play with fibers! I make great plans for crafting and then realize, crap, that’s a lot of time and effort! Or I always intend to do (fill-iin-the-blank) but it is quickly put aside in favor of that new novel I am reading!


  2. I am so jealous! I hope you are having an amazing time. I can’t even wrap my head around how awesome that would be. Yeah for you 😉


    • Thanks, Eleanor! I did have an amazing time—one of the best sets of classes I’ve had yet. I am really so lucky that I can go to these things sometimes… I’m always grateful, and think of them as a great luxury. I think you would enjoy something like this, being so creative yourself. (:

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  3. Pingback: Madrona-ing, Part V a: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee teaches All About Mawata | curvylou