Blue blazes on the trail
in Acadia National Park
Some of my favorite activities are knitting and being active outdoors. These are usually mutually exclusive, but not when I had the opportunity to teach at the Fiber College of Maine in early September. I was also able to spend a very active day at Acadia National Park and the knitting classes that I taught at the Searsport Shores Ocean Campground where Fiber College is held, took place nearly in the out-of-doors. While students were learning about knitting Estonian cuffs and lace and special Latvian cuffs, we were all protected from the (sometimes inclement) weather by large tents.
It all began when Maryly, an East Coast friend through Ravelry (see my prior blog post about Ravelry here), suggested that I apply to teach at this event that takes place in Searsport, Maine, each year in September. It was a great idea and I loved hanging out with so many fiber people in the wonderful setting of Searsport Shores Ocean Campground, run by Fiber College director, Astrig, and her crew. At the campground, I found a colorful dyer's garden, a meditation cabin on a bluff above the seashore, and walking trails through the woods. Fiber College offered many inspiring classes, a selection of vendors, musical entertainment at various times, a mentored dye tent, other special events throughout the week, and some fabulous meal options including wood-fired flat breads and chowder. On my first night at "college," there was a Somali Bantu Celebration which included a feast of traditional Somali food as well as music and dance performed by Somali people.
Maryly was my transportation from the Portland airport and made sure I had any camping supplies that I needed. Camping accommodations were provided by Fiber College and they were well above my normal camping standard, which is usually a small tent with an air mattress and sleeping bag. Instead, I was housed in a Hornet, a hard-sided camping trailer with slide outs for additional living space, a kitchen including a refrigerator, and a bathroom including a toilet and shower. All of the comforts of home!
I had a roommate, Daryl Lancaster, who is another teacher at Sievers School of Fiber Arts, where I teach regularly in Wisconsin. Daryl is a weaving and garment construction expert from New Jersey whom I've always wanted to take a class from but haven't quite managed yet. I've been reading her blog for a while but I had never actually met Daryl in person. We got to know each other in our shared abode and we had a nice time hanging out together in the evenings after our classes while enjoying conversation and knitting time along with a glass of wine or two. She is an energetic and expressive teacher who shares so much in her classes. Daryl wrote a blog post about her experience at Fiber College here.
Daryl Lancaster teaching inkle loom weaving
Each teacher was interviewed and featured in a Fiber College blog post. My interview appears here.
I had an entire free day after my arrival with Maryly and I made good use of it by taking a short one-hour road trip to Acadia National Park to see the sights and take a hike. After looking at the park's website, I thought that the Precipice Trail sounded like the trail for me. Since I was traveling solo for the day, it seemed that this trail would be well-enough traveled that I would have good company along the way. At the visitor center, the ranger warned me that the trail was rated "strenuous" but I thought, how strenuous can a trail be that is less than one mile each way? I was soon to find out. The trail is named Precipice for a reason; it is not recommended for people with a fear of heights. I don't have a strong fear of heights, but climbing tall ladders can get me a bit shaky. It turned out that was exactly what some of this trail entailed.
When I got to a point where the trail required climbing metal rung after metal rung up quite a long stretch of vertical rock, with a long drop off just a few feet away, I got a bit weak in the knees. As I stopped to catch my breath on a ledge, the sun came out and I realized that I had not put on sunscreen for the day. I chose not to apply it at that point; I didn't need greasy hands right before my next ascent of metal rungs. I waited for the last two people that I had passed to catch up to me, and then I ventured forward, or more accurately, upward.
Since I had just returned from a hiking trip to Colorado, I figured I was ready for this hike. It turned out to be a great, challenging hike, but Western hiking is so different from East Coast hiking. In Colorado, you travel up switchbacks and are perpetually out of breath from lack of oxygen at the high elevations, but you are hiking using your two feet. In Maine, hiking seems to consist of hiking with hands, arms, knees, and shins on the ground and rock surfaces rather than always using your feet, which happen to be safely encased in hiking boots, seemingly designed for the purpose of hiking. What were those East Coast trail planners thinking? Well, of course, the completion of the hiking challenge was rewarding and the views were beautiful!
Next year will be the 10th anniversary for Fiber College of Maine. It's a great venue that offers a wide variety of fiber classes. I believe the dates will be September 7-11, 2016. Watch their website for details here.