I don't even know where to start.
First of all- I'm home. I made both of my connecting flights yesterday, even though the Atlanta leg was 15 minutes late on takeoff, which made that sprint across MSP even more urgent. And a sprint it was- the tram was going the wrong direction, so I hoofed it from Gate F to Gate B and got there just before boarding, with no time for food or a bathroom stop. Lemee tellya, those are BIG airports, but at least the labeling system is good. Even a newbie can find her way from one end to another. I'd never been through Atlanta before- it's more logically laid out than MSP, and there are food kiosks at the outer gates (unlike MSP, where you have to hike back for food, or buy it on the way to your gate... if you have time). Both have lovely shops, again if you have the time to browse.
I obsessively checked the weather forecasts before leaving, and tried to pack and dress accordingly. Turns out that weather predictions for North Carolina are every bit as variable as those for South Dakota. It was supposed to be in the 40's and rainy on Thursday, so I wore a sweatshirt and my coat. It was sunny and 70 when I got there (and the trees were still fairly green, with random patches of color here and there).
Friday predicted intermittant rain showers- it poured all day. And I do mean poured, though as I mentioned in an earlier post, it was a gentle, warm downpour. Saturday was a gorgeous fall day, chilly in the morning and warm in the afternoon, without being hot. Sunday had some showers again. Monday, the day of our Biltmore visit, was supposed to be gloomy with possible rain- but instead, it was a glorious fall day- and by then there was red and gold and orange everywhere. Not peak leaf turning, but not too far from it. The difference in color between Thursday and Monday was amazing.
It wasn't warm enough for shirt-sleeves most of the time, but sunny and pleasant and totally gorgeous. Yesterday, it was cloudy in Asheville, pouring in Atlanta, nice in Minneapolis, and in the 50's at home.
I thought I was prepared for the humidity. Despite being a long way from any ocean, South Dakota is quite humid in the summer: in the 90%s, with dewpoints in the 60's and 70's. Our humidity is heavy and sticky and oppressive, the kind where it's hard to breathe. An 85 degree day with high dewpoints can feel worse than an 105 degree day with low dewpoints. Online sources told me that Asheville would have high humidity, but low dewpoints, so I figured it would be fairly comfortable. What I didn't know was that NC humidity is wet. Not damp. Not sticky (at least not in October). Not moist. Wet. Soggy paper wet. Swimsuits and freshly dyed yarn not drying for 3 days wet. Tablecloths still wet in the morning after wiping them down the night before wet.
Hair curlier than it ever is on the Plains wet. I adjusted fairly quickly, but it was a total surprise to me (and to the ink on the workshop handouts that I left in my classroom at the McGough Arena overnight). (side note: McGough=McGoo)
I also thought I was prepared for Southern Hospitality, but I don't think there is any sort of preparation for the discovery that every single person that you meet will be kind, helpful, cheerful, polite, happy, smiling, funny, friendly, and just plain wonderful. And I do mean Every Single Person. From the moment I arrived, until the moment I left the state, I encountered nothing but the nicest people in the entire world. Fiber people are always wonderful. South Dakotans are welcoming to outsiders. Pacific Northwestern people are funny and sharp. North Carolinans are all of the above. All the time.
I knew that I wasn't prepared to teach 5 workshops in 3 days. Well, I was prepared- I worked for months preparing: getting my samples dyed/knit/organized/sent. I wrote entirely new handouts for each workshop. I mailed supplies to NC a month early just to make sure they would arrive on time. But I also remembered how tired I was at the Sock Summit, just taking classes for 3 days. I knew that teaching non-stop was going to take it all out of me. It did. (Side query: how to real teachers do it? My respect for the profession, always large, has increased a thousand fold).
My classes went very well, due totally to the great students, who allowed me to trot out the needles-through-the-head once again.
The 2 dyeing classes were a hoot, the day I spent with the Fair Isle knitters was fantastic,
the 4 Short Row Sock Knitters were a pleasure (and some day I will stumble across the perfect way to help Short-Rowers have the Aha! Moment. Though I do think everyone got it, I'm still not where I want to be with the technique, teacher-wise),
and the roomfull of aspiring pattern writers asked great questions, and laughed where I hoped they would. But at the end of each day, I had nothing left- not even enough energy to write snappy Facebook Status Updates, much less full recaps for you.
It was an amazing experience- SAFF is extremely well run, with well over 100 vendors spread over 2 buildings (picture snapped before opening to the public- an hour later, hundreds of shoppers browsed)
8 classrooms with workshops running constantly (and more classes and demos scattered throughout the fair). I want to thank Carolyn Blalock for inviting me, and Elizabeth Ravenwood
for her friendship (not to mention the taxi service), and all of my students for making me feel like I am a good teacher.
And I especially want to thank my sisters, Jacque and Terri, for flying to NC from Washington and Idaho. Your company turned a wonderful weekend into the memory of a lifetime. #3 and #4, I love you. (I love you too, #2, wish you could have been there).
Tomorrow: Leaves and Baronial Estates