Sunday, May 13, 2012

Then It Hit Me....

I spent last weekend in Elliot Lake, Ontario at the WASOON 2012 conference.  WASOON stands for Weavers and Spinners of Ontario North.  The conference takes place every two years, with the location rotating through the member guilds in Northern Ontario.   I attended the conference as a vendor, but also as part of the community of fibre artists that gather to share knowledge, inspire each other's creativity and maintain our friendships.

The Elliot Lake area is truly beautiful in the springtime with blue sky, clean lakes and pine trees.  It displays all the beauty of Northern Ontario.  Elliot Lake was once a booming mining town.  I was there once in the 80's when I worked for a mine safety association to tour the large underground facility.  Sometime in the 90's the decreasing market value of uranium led to the closure of the area mines and very quickly the economic base of this town was gone.  In the heyday of a boom mining town, the population was 25,000, now it is closer to 11,500.  The infrastructure of a wealthy "company town" is still there set amid this beautiful Northern Ontario vista, so the city leaders have marketed Elliot Lake as a dream Northern Ontario retirement destination.

WASOON conference participants found 3 different town promotion packages in our conference package, complete with the Retirement Living pricing list for retirement rentals.  The town mayor opened our WASOON banquet, welcoming us to his town, saying he was happy we were visiting, hoping that we would visit again....and "then come and stay for the rest of your lives".

My travelmate and I got a lot of giggles out of the 'stay for the rest of your lives' would've made a good movie.  So many people moving in...nobody moves out...

And then it hit me.

Apparently as spinning and weaving conference participants, we totally fit the Retirement Living target demographic.  

If you've ever witnessed a hotel invaded by weavers and will notice the candidates are predominately 1) women 2)  gray haired 3) wearing stunningly beautiful handspun, handwoven, beaded shawls you can't afford to buy...(often with..uhm...running shoes...and that's not because we don't have a fashion sense, but in our fibre arts world, beauty only applies to things handcrafted and not many of us can wear handcrafted shoes that you can carry or treadle a spinning wheel in.  Also, by the time we've stuffed the car with bags of fibre, our seatbelted spinning wheels, looms and 2 years of accumulated show-n-tell items we've forgotten the dress shoes). 

Anyway, I headed home inspired to finish all my UFOs (un-finished objects), including this handspun yarn that's been on my wheel since last month.
I'm plying two single strands into a balanced 2 ply yarn on my electric Eortel Roberta spinning wheel.  It does ply quicker than my treadled wheel and of course, I can work at it for a lot longer without wearing out my legs and ankles on the treadles.

The two bobbins of singles sit on what is called a Lazy Kate and ply from there onto my Roberta.  I have no idea why this equipment is called a Lazy Kate.  I did just Google it and could not find an answer.  Perhaps I'll try finding it in my old spinning books or asking some friends who are into this type of trivia.  If you know, leave a comment!
My first skein is 138g and feels lovely.  I have more to spin.  It's 100% alpaca, so it will have lovely drape but possibly not much elasticity.  I think it will knit into some lovely scarves or it might end up on my Etsy site. 

Getting back to the topic of the demographics of the spinners and weavers group.  Yes, the predominate hair colour at the conference was gray.  I've let my hair go 'au natural' for the last couple years.  I have friends and family that applaud that and say that my natural aging hair was a lovely mixture of shades.  I have other friends that frankly look at my unpampered, graying hair and say "Why?" or "What's wrong, hon?".

After last weekend, I decided I no longer wanted to appear as Elliot Lake's target market.  This box got emptied on Wednesday night.  My hubby put the colour in for me as I sat in the kitchen chair and I think he did a very nice job.

This weekend we started shearing.  My hubby actually does the shearing and my daughter and I are the crew.  We began with the female alpacas first.  As one girl was led away from the shearing table, I complimented her on her new hairdo.

Then it hit me.

I have the same hair care expert as the livestock.

I need to get off the farm more.....



Wooly Knits n Bits said...

Oh my gosh! You actually did it!!! I can't wait to see the new you.
And you can get your hubby to do this for!

Carol Tomany said...

Sounds like a fun weekend - love the yarn

oak haven alpacas said...

I like to believe fiber arts is growing with the younger crowd. Whenever I see a younger (by younger I mean 20 something) spinning yarn I wonder if it might become the newest fad :) I'm in my 30's and I admit, I rarely see people my age spinning (though knitting has had some popularity).


Prudence Puddleduck said...

We had the same feeling! I think it was in the Super Moon. When I moved here one year ago, I drove past a sign...Golden Ages Club for over 50's Well that jolted my joy....Now that there is less young people than us, I think we need to set a better example about aging...really...Seniors Days, Discounts,..I used my Seniors Discount to buy a bikini at Zellers..that'll teach em............I think your on to something Norma...change the venue for the weavers & spinners, the world needs more crafted people out there...not retirement communities...♥Debi

luckybunny said...

OK so I want to see your hair! It amazes me your hubby put the color in for you - that is one good guy! I love the Elliot Lake area too... I'm so glad you had fun and that you are back to working on projects and making progress :)

Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Thanks all for the comments. "If the girls don't find ya handsome, they better find ya handy"(hubby's favourite line)..."and able to save $30 by dying yer hair" (I know his motivation)...

Prudence Puddleduck - I just LOVE that you bought your bikini with your "senior's discount".
I have nothing against having more birthdays...people need to lose the stereotypes that go with the numbers.

Cara - I think the spinning and the weaving requires an investment in the equipment, so that holds some back. And I guess for busy working people that are raising kids, a bag'o'knitting is portable and can be worked on while you are at the hockey or dance practice. Also, our guild meets during the day because it suits the retirees. I think I would have success opening a Saturday morning or Friday night fibre arts circle...some day I will when my life has less demands.
People who don't spin have no idea how relaxing yet totally creative it can be.

Leigh said...

LOLOL. Love that last "then it hit me." I know what you mean about the age bracket of most fiber folk. Hopefully that will change!