Fire Experience: The Woolsey Fire

Having done a “bug out” for a fire evacuation for the first time, I can look back and give ourselves about a B+ grade overall. We were able to get organized as a family pretty well. I managed to grab clothing, toiletries, passport, laptop, phone charger, my favorite pillow, and some handicrafts to keep me busy for an unknown number of days. (For those curious: I grabbed one SCA dress and there was one bellydance outfit already in my car. If we lost everything, I would have had one of each.) Turned out my toothbrush was missing from my standard travel bag of toiletries. But my sister had more toothbrushes at her house, so that was an easy remedy. When I left my sister’s place, I forgot to pack up my shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, and toothpaste. But overall, we managed to evacuate efficiently. Both my Sweetie and Boyo forgot shampoo when they grabbed their toiletries. Sweetie forgot a phone charger that went to a wall outlet (just had a USB cord version). And Boyo forgot the power cord to his laptop. Sweetie also grabbed absolutely all his Santa gear, since that’s his living for the next two months. Final tally: we all had our passports and the “important papers” folder, clothing, shoes, important gear, prescriptions, and each other.

My sister lives “29 miles away” from my house, which I normally consider an hour away. Her new home is tucked into some extreme canyons and hills, so I had zero cell coverage at her home. It’s very odd to only have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and email available, and no calls or texts. I created a “meme image” that I could post on all the social media just to let friends and family know how to contact me.

Sweetie and Boyo went back home a day before me and spent extra time running the humidifier and fans to air out and improve the air in the house. Plus they had time to unpack the Santa gear and start airing it out from the heavy smoke smell. We were *extremely* fortunate because the fire skipped our neighborhood entirely. There’s open wilderness across the street from us, and fire came to that hill. But we are on the edge of a densely packed residential section and the fire fighters saved us all.

The rest of this area is not as lucky. There are still freeway closures. There were homes lost about 1-2 miles due east of us (“south” on the 101 freeway from us). And the wilderness between the 101 and PCH is where “Old Mullholand” runs along the ridges of the mountains. I don’t know how many homes and ranches were lost. And there are still active fires being fought.

For now, I am just inconvenienced. I have to drive long paths out of my way to go around the freeway closures. And I am awake today before 4 AM, to make certain I can get to work on time / early. But I have a home to go to. I have my entire family. My job was not affected.

I am thankful beyond belief.

* * * * *

Also? Apparently I handle the stress of waiting by making things by hand that require my attention.

Complete photos here on Google Photos

Fiber Retreat 2018

Four days in the mountains with friends, crafts, textiles, and fun – Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat

Posing silly with my double-weave bag on my head

I am back from a Thursday through Sunday annual event known as the Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat. I took fewer pictures this year than any year I have attended, but I was fortunate so many friends shared photos on Facebook or via email to me. (The full album link: can be found on Google Photos.)

Thursday is set-up day, and so it just included the long drive up the mountains and unloading TONS of gear into the lodge. I had searched my fiber stash at home last month and pulled everything undyed that could possibly go into the dye pots. I split my unspun fiber into small bags so that friends could try out half an ounce of just about anything: Various breed of Wool, silk, and cellulose fibers. I also brought four boxes of threads on cones that could be reeled for weaving (or embroidery) — both cotton 10/2 and silk 20/2 threads. Several friends raided the stash early on Thursday night. I hope I get to see what they make over the years.

Only one of my two roomies was there Thursday night. We nearly stayed up WAY too late, chatting and catching up, saying “Good Night!” three times before we finally drifted off.

Friday morning, I was headed back to the lodge at 6:15 AM to start Coffee Bar of Splendoor. I like to have the coffee ready before 7 just for the other morning people. The day got VERY warm very quickly, so the class schedule was shifted to try to not have folks overheat. I spent the morning making measured warps for Andean Backstrap Weaving demos. Then in the afternoon, we held the rescheduled night “crafts tasting” in the air conditioned dance pavilion. My two roomies both wanted to learn “how to be like a five-year-old” learning to weave. I definitely learned A LOT about how to demo the skills and help interested new weavers acquire understanding.

Learning Andean Backstrap Weaving as new “five-year-olds”

Friday evening no one attended my drop spindle class before dinner, but Liz and I had fun spinning and socializing together. I went through my spinning fibers like a rich man counting money, finding some great fibers to send home with Liz, some to donate to the raffle, and something fun to spin as a quick sample.

Hipster artsy photo

Then I started to learn about double-weave on a rigid heddle loom, using three rigid heddles for a 4-harness twill warp. It was slightly jarring to go from Andean weaving (with minimal tools and process-based solutions) to a western weaving structure (with tool-based solutions). But I got a good start before we all collapsed in a very hot cabin. Fortunately our other roomie found the fan in the closet to save us all! Yay!

I woke even earlier Saturday morning… I don’t know why that happens. But I was in the lodge by 6:10 AM and had coffee ready earlier than usual. Once again, no one came to the scheduled drop spindle class. Another friend hung out with me, spinning for a while, and a special spindle went home with her. Then a new student dropped in right before lunch. We broke our lesson into two parts, before and after eating. I believe that she really got a great start on her new spinning skills.

Our Featured Instructor was Melinda Sherbring (Mistress Eowyn). Somehow around her busy teaching schedule, she managed to hang out Friday as I warped up Andean bands of three-pairs. And now in the afternoon on Saturday, she was interested in weaving bands before her afternoon classes. We got to cover just a few skills, but her interest was definitely aflame!

I attended a class on how to tie a “monkey’s fist” in a rope, which was fun. And then I taught “Slow Movement for Crafters” which was a blend of ATS slow bellydance and stretches using a chair as prop or seat. Many friends complimented my slow music playlist, and we all got to shake out the kinks in our bodies from hours of sitting still doing various crafty tasks.

Dancing and Stretching together

I was super pleased to win a few things in the raffle, including a South American print tunic, a wool felted bag, a small hand loom kit, and two spindles. I spent the rest of Saturday night finishing my double-weave bag, then collapsing in the cabin. We finally went to sleep near midnight.

In the lodge by 6:15 again this morning, and then fully packed up and in my car by 10:15. I couldn’t have done it without such awesome friends. The car isn’t fully unpacked yet, but I couldn’t bear to unpack in 102°F (39°C) heat. Hopefully it will cool off soon.

Overall, it was an excellent weekend. I loved spending so much time with old friends and making new friends. I found several things to improve for Andean Backstrap Weaving demos, which I look forward to implementing. And I got a nice start on the Tour de Fleece. The rest of July will be filled with spinning and spinning photos.

Artsy photo of the cashmere/tussah silk I am spinning

TdF fibers are selected

I’ve been preparing fibers to take to the dye retreat in July, which meant digging through all my stash all weekend. I have selected my fibers for the #TdF#TourDeFleece this year: Cashmere/Tussah silk that I bought as a birthday gift to myself, silk lap from Camaj, and the naturally dyed cellulose fibers from last year’s retreat. My goal: Spin every day of #TdF, and even after the run, finish these three sets of fiber. #TeamGDW #TeamGriffinDyeworks #TdF2018

Fibers picked out for TdF2018

Tour de Fleece: 2018 Edition

Looks like I’m going to do the Tour de Fleece again this year… I thought I’d done my “spin on a wheel every day” challenge last year, but turns out that was *two* years ago. And since the Fiber Retreat happens right near the beginning of this year’s TdF, I’m going to use that as an excuse to tag my things “Team Griffin Dyeworks.” Sounds good to me! 

Copied from the Ravelry Tour de Fleece group:

The concept is simple: Challenge Yourself. Spin. Have fun. This year, the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday July 7 and runs until Sunday July 29th, 2018. Guidelines (NOT RULES):

Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday July 9 through Sunday July 29th. Days of rest: Monday, July 16th and Monday, July 23rd. (Just like the actual tour.)
Spin something challenging on the challenge days (usually the toughest high mountain stage, usually the toughest high mountain stage: this year, the first one is Stage 10, on Tuesday July 17, when the riders will take the first mountain stage of the race – includes a section of dirt road on the Plateau des Glières. It is 100km from the finish but comes after a 6km climb at 11 per cent. The second is stage 17, on Wednesday, July 25th, when they will ride to the summit of the Col de Portet is only 65km long but half of the stage is uphill. It is the shortest road stage of the 2018 Tour but could be one of the hardest. Wear yellow on Sunday July 29th to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful? (Yellow is the color of the race leader in the Tour – but here we are all ‘race leaders’) Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter – think FAST), Polka-dot (climber – as in uphill), and white (rookie).

And so I like to explain that the Tour can be ANYTHING you want. It could be “spin every day,” or “finish these damn UnFinished Objects (UFOs),” or “Ooooo excuses to spin new things!”

You decide your Tour.

I’m tempted to make my challenge “Go through your stash and SPIN MORE STUFF you weirdo”

In honesty, I have to do some stash organizing to prepare for the Fiber Retreat. So I might find TdF spinning while I’m prepping for the Retreat. I’m very VERY tempted to put *SILK* into my challenge pile for TdF.

And if you’d like to enjoy my photos from 2016,  you can check them out on Google Photos: Tour de Fleece – 2016

My results at the end of Tour de Fleece 2016

Screaming versus Discussion

(I jotted down this blog post immediately after waking from a dream this morning. Apparently my subconscious had a few things to say.)

Amazing how much when I am in a dream and I am screaming, that these are the words that will echo over and over in my head afterwards.

I dreamt I was camping at an SCA event. And people were shouting at each other, discourse and troubling arguments, including political, social, and philosophical arguments. But everything was about the shouting. Finally, I jumped up and interrupted somebody. And my shouting response went as this.

I am SICK and TIRED of all of the SCREAMING discourse in this place. If you had come to me and simply said, “my Lady, I understand that we have a disagreement on these matters but since I value your opinion, could you perhaps spare 10 minutes to spend speaking with me on these things?”

And I would reply to you, “Not only do I have 10 minutes for you, but I have 10 times the respect for you and I have *15* minutes for this matter. But for now, I am going to sit down and STOP SHOUTING because none of these people around us in this campground signed up to hear me screaming and shouting at them, except as a Herald upon the field!”

And there was suddenly applause all throughout the campground, and I went back to my seat and sat down.


This is finally *my* solution to the things I have significant problems with about social media, or some of the various clubs or communities that I am a participant in.

Stop SHOUTING at me when I am trying to relax and enjoy myself. If you have a disagreement, offer me a limited time for us to have regular conversation. But stop the SHOUTING at me in public (literal or figurative).