Monday, August 18, 2008
Scratching the Fiber Itch (Michigan '08, part I)
I had a great time in Michigan, and judging by the number of small-but-itchy welts on my wrists, hands, feet and ankles, the mosquitoes enjoyed my visit, too.
On my way over on Tuesday, the jam-packed Jetta had a blowout about 3 miles from the Michigan border. Hanging out by the side of I-94 waiting for service wasn't the best fun ever (I should have been counting semi-trucks whizzing by to pass the time), but the tow truck arrived pretty quickly and I was on my way on the spare in about 90 minutes. (There was no way I was going to try to change a driver's side tire given how busy it was on the highway. That decision turned out to be a good one because, as we discovered, my tires have some kind of special wheel lock caps for which no tool was included in the tire kit. The mechanic ended up prying them off the tires with a big ol' knife. Good times.)
When I arrived at the fairground, I selected a nice spot not too far from the marginally better bathrooms and proceeded to set up the new tent. My test-run in the backyard had gone much more smoothly (less wind, I think), and it took a bit longer to get set up than the first time. I managed to nip my finger between a pole and a clip and I christened the entire tent with blood droplets. (Come to think of it, perhaps that's why I was so popular with the mosquitoes.) Fortunately, once the tent was up, the rest of the week was a breeze.
I cannot recommend the Cobb Portable Barbecue Grill highly enough. It is lightweight, easy to use and clean, and the outside stays cool when the fire is lit. It attracted a lot of curiosity, and I was super-popular with the over-65 male demographic. I enjoyed a number of grilled meals, including portabellos, zucchini, peppers, and brats. (This was a vast improvement over the all PB&J diet of trips past.)
I took three classes, Mechanics of the Spinning Wheel, Two Socks on One Circular Needle, and Felt Shoemaking. The sock class was just "meh." It was an all-day class, and it was a technique I could have figured out on my own had I devoted the time to reading some instructions. Amy Tyler taught the spinning class, and it was different than the one I took with her at Midwest. She has a laid back approach and I enjoyed this one as much as I did her previous class. Kelly Brandt taught the shoe class and it was a lot of fun. (I had taken a class with her last year.) In the morning we made our felt and began to make our shoe pattern using some formulae she had developed. In the afternoon, we cut the felt and the leather soles and stitched the felt to the bottoms. I don't think anyone finished by the end of the day, but we did get to a place where we could finish on our own. I've got a few steps to complete, but I was pretty happy with the results for a first-time effort. I doubt I will be cobbling on a regular basis (or ever), but it was a unique experience.
More to come in part II...