Wish You Were Here: Happenings at SOAR 2023

See what spinners and weavers—from novice to more advanced and everyone in between—have been up to at our 40th anniversary SOAR event!

Debbie Blair Nov 1, 2023 - 3 min read

Wish You Were Here: Happenings at SOAR 2023 Primary Image

Shown left to right: The Marketplace offers something for everyone; fibers are lined up for the fractal spinning class; students set up their looms for a mixed-warp scarf. Background image by Ivan Shimko on Unsplash. All photos by Long Thread Media staff.

As we’ve kicked off this year’s SOAR event in Colorado (happening October 29–November 3), I’ve been able to pop in to several classes and have visited with old friends and new during the evening happy hour. And so, after only a couple of days of being immersed in everything fiber, I’ve come up with a new acronym: CAFF. From what I’ve seen so far, I think “Camaraderie and Fiber Fun” is the absolute best way to describe this year’s Spin Off Autumn Retreat.

Top row: Students work with Navajo Churro wool during TahNibaa Naataanii’s class. Bottom row: Spin Off editor Kate Larson discusses the fiber and design of the traditional mittens and gloves in her collection.

After a bone-chilling start to the week (the weather app on my phone read a meager 12 degrees on Monday morning!) and a sense of excitement in the air, spirits were high as students made their way to the start of their two-day intensive classes, eager to learn to create fractal batts on a drumcarder, weave on a rigid-heddle loom, prepare fleece for spinning on a Navajo lap spindle, or explore spinning with Targhee fiber. Others would soon delve into the mechanics of their spinning wheels or spin to knit handcoverings that make the best use of their handspun yarn. Mealtime and happy hour have allowed for comfortable conversation as attendees reunite with familiar faces and make new friends. Evenings have been a mix of well-deserved down time and enthusiastic show-and-tell.

Instructors and attendees mingle during happy hour.

Wednesday and Thursday will bring a new round of courses: working with fur from wolf-dog hybrids in sanctuary, creating traditional Dorset-style buttons, spinning on a book charkha, creating fractal yarns using a blending board, spinning and plying on a supported spindle in the Orenburg way, longdraw spinning, creating laces on a loom, dyeing natural fabrics with Bengara from Japan, and more. I can’t wait to see what this year’s attendees create during our Camaraderie and Fiber Fun week!

Debbie Blair is the associate editor of Spin Off magazine. A lifelong crafter and avid reader, she finds her happy place reading and relaxing next to a mountain stream.