It’s a Long Winter

Where have we been? It has been too cold or wet or slushy to enjoy outside very much this winter – meaning that there weren’t too many opportunities to take photos and none for flying the drone. This winter has been particularly gloomy – overcast and precipitating for all but three days in January. When it was nice outside, it looked like this!

And when things started to melt, it looked like this…

Huge icicle

We had a little bit of hoarfrost when the temps got really cold for a week, but even that didn’t last long.

February hasn’t been much better, weather-wise. It snowed, it rained, it melted and got slushy and froze again overnight. Repeat. Despite the weather our community remained vibrant though – busy with exercise classes, science lectures, volunteer gigs, an awesome concert by Gideon Freudmann on the electric cello, and the annual Lutefisk Dinner at the Sons of Norway.

Now, lutefisk is an acquired taste – I remember my Dad saying how much he hated it as a young boy. Frankly, I’m not sure how many people in town actually LIKE it, but we are Norwegians and we eat lutefisk because that’s what good Norwegians do. And at the annual Sons of Norway Lutefisk Dinner they also serve ham. Whew. It makes giving thanks for our dinner a little more heartfelt.

The BEST part of the Lutefisk Dinner occurs beforehand, when lots of people gather to transform balls of potato dough into that most lovely of Norwegian treats – lefse. Rolled thin with lots of flour and cooked on a special griddle, carefully turned with a narrow stick – flat on one side and slightly curved on the other… lefse is an art. We eat it smeared with butter and dusted with cinnamon-sugar (or just sugar, for the purists), still warm… mmmmm. I love that every year we teach others how to make it, and share the effort to produce about 500 of these yummy Norske crepes to accompany our dinner. The joy of the lefse takes some of the misery out of eating gelatinous fish! (Okay – so the fish isn’t all that bad, some people really like it, and I shouldn’t comment since I don’t even eat fish of any kind, no matter what.)

It’s all about tradition, man.

Rolling lefse

I was able to get “off the rock” for a long weekend to attend the fiber arts retreat in Tacoma – Red Alder, successor to Madrona. As always the classes were inspiring and informative. The yarns for sale in the marketplace were delicious – colors and fiber combinations that were impossible to resist! (I did resist, but only a little.)

These yarns are dyed in colors inspired by different National Parks!

Besides some advanced technique classes, I took a class about dyeing wool with lichens commonly found in the Pacific Northwest from the fabulous Judith Mackenzie.

Judith Mackenzie

Living in the middle of a National Forest full of lichens, I’m anxious to explore the colors I can produce. The lichens can even be fermented to get different colors. I predict lots of experiments in my future. I’m “dyeing” to try it out!

Lichens readily found in my backyard

Over 70 different sheep breeds and samples of their fibers and the yarn spun with them were on display…

…I was just disappointed we couldn’t meet some of those nifty sheep in person!

Of course, knitters and spinners and weavers aren’t always devoted to wool… sometimes we kick up our heels and get a little crazy. To support three international charities, the organizers held a fundraising Disco Night with dancing, costumes and woolly door prizes.

Crochet pants – yowza!

The thing I love most about the Fiber Retreat is the diversity of people, styles and skills. It’s a place where everyone is happily wearing their handcrafted things, and we shower one another with admiration – for an interesting pattern, for a color choice, or just for how nice something looks on someone. We all have something to offer one another if we just open our eyes and our ears and our minds. We share, we smile, we laugh, we lend a helping hand – and we each leave so much richer for it.