Can you make a handspun hat in an hour?

Arriving at SOAR
Sarah Wroot arriving at SOAR

Team Scholarship spinning
Team Scholarship, Sarah Wilson and
Michelle Boyd, spinning

 

Team Spindle spinning
Angela Paolini and Emma Crew of
Team Spindle spinning

 

Batts in the Belfry
Stetson Weddle and Ann McDonough
of Batts in the Belfry knitting

 


The busy hands of Team Strip and

Shove It Up Your Orifice

 

Judges and their awards
The judges with the hats (left to
right: Stephenie Gaustad, Robin
Russo, Jeannine Glaves, Margaret
Stove, and Bobbi Daniels)

 

Team Freckles
Team Freckles, Jan Grover and Judie
Overbeek, accepting their prize

 

What we did at SOAR 2010

Spin-Off Autumn Retreat 2010 happened. It took place October 24–30 at the beautiful Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, Wisconsin, while autumn leaves carpeted the grass, flocks of geese bobbed on the misty surface of the lake, and gray squirrels squirreled away nuts, taking little note of the spinners gathering—arms laden with spinning wheels and bags bulging with soft, riotously dyed fibers. Some arrived slightly anxiously because they didnt know a soul, while others arrived eager to meet up with friends met at previous SOARs. All left with hearts full of new friendships as well as heads and hands that had acquired new skills. Quick videos were shot of how to separate a dual-coated fleece; locks of fiber were exchanged; and lace shawls, finished the night before, were donned, paraded, and sincerely admired. So much happened during the week that it is hard to sum up—but I will attempt to describe the final act.

Batts to hats
Linda Ligon, Interweaves founder and Spin-Offs creative director, had a brilliant idea for a spur-of-the-moment contest during the Spin-In on the final night, Saturday October 30. That day at lunch, she asked SOAR participants to form teams of two or three people to make a hat from a batt in an hour during the Spin-In, and the Batt to Hat was born. The prizes promised to the winners (beyond fame and glory) were insignificant. Any fiber could be used, but participants had to provide their own. The teams had to show the fiber they intended to spin at the start of the contest, spin the fiber into yarn either on a wheel or using a spindle, and then create fabric for a hat that would fit a human head down to the ears. Eight teams formed and five mentors volunteered to judge the hats.

Teams:
Team Strip and Shove It Up Your Orifice: Allison Porter, Ba Poulter, and Rosemary Tietge.

The Brits Team: Charlotte Forste, Beverly Thompson, and Mary Wright.

Batts in the Belfry Team: Shelia January, Ann McDonough, and Stetson Weddle.

Team Scholarship: Michelle Boyd and Sarah Wilson.

Team Trouble: Charlene Anderson and Pat Maley.

Team K2: Kathie Christianson and Karin Pauc.

Team Freckles: Judie Overbeek and Jan Grover.

Team Spindle: Katrina Case, Emma Crew, and Angela Paolini.

Judges: Bobbi Daniels, Stephenie Gaustad, Jeannine Glaves, Robin Russo, and Margaret Stove.

All of the teams launched into action when the hat was dropped and began madly making yarn to a tumult of applause and cheering. When the halfway time was marked the pace picked up, and then there was a mad dash to finish in the final seconds. Nearly all the teams completed their hats within the hour—Team K2 finished first and Team Spindle was the only one with stitches still on the needles at the end—but they had also launched into a complicated balaclava design for their hat. The hats were mostly knitted or crocheted, though Team Freckles launched into a complex, though not entirely successful, netted contraption that included numerous spindles—it was awarded most likely to prevent a mugging. Batts in the Belfry and Team Trouble tied for popular choice and were "awarded" a bag of very dirty qiviut.

Mark your calendar—next year we'll be in Manchester, New Hampshire, October 2-8, 2011. at the Radisson Hotel.

Happy spinning!
 
P.S. Margaret Stove taught at SOAR—she very modestly agreed to sign copies of her new book—Wrapped in Lace—that arrived just in time for the Market. We whisked her off to Loveland after SOAR to film her upcoming DVD. Stay tuned!

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