How about a week in the North Carolina mountains at the John C. Campbell Folk School
, doing nothing but knitting, walking around the beautiful campus, enjoying the company of other fiber enthusiasts and artists and craftspersons of all types? Oh yeah, the food is pretty darned good, too. I'm very lucky to have spent the past week doing just that.
My home away from home for the week, Keith House is one of the original buildings. It houses lodging, offices, the community room, and a living room/library. The dorm type accomodations are located here. I shared a room and bathroom with 3 other women. And it's right next door to the dining room and wonderful Craft Shop.
I was there for an Aran knitting workshop, and I can't use enough superlatives to describe my instructor and the class. Let me just say that I, who have seldom knitted anything without assiduously keeping track of my rows and counting everything, now fearlessly knit Aran designs, can successfully perform surgery when I make a mistake, only occasionally refer to the charts and have no clue what row number I'm on and don't really care! This transformation courtesy of a remarkable teacher, Charley Orlando
In class, lots of instruction and help for us to understand the process, empowerment to take charge of our knitting. The class mantra: You can do whatever you want. Of course, Charley realized that things can get a little tense/intense while we're learning and becoming confident Aran knitters. So he instructed us to bring jokes. And he provided entertainment for us as well.
Here's a classroom shot of some of my fellow workshop participants - note Jessie's "picture face." Jessie is a fellow knitter I met at my former LYS in Huntersville, NC, known for her humor and enthusiasm. Neither of us realized the other would be there, so it was a pleasant surprise for me. HollyMay, Rosie, and assistant instructor Susan were three of our group of 11 intrepid knitters.
Many of us chose to continue our work in the evenings in the Keith House living room. Charley was usually there to answer questions and provide encouragement. In addition to having knitted since he was a child, Charley teaches blacksmithing and tin can art. He also spins, plays the banjo, and I think fiddle, too. Can you say Renaissance guy? Oh, and he plays a mean game of Scrabble.
Can you tell I had a great time? This was my second experience at the Folk School, and again I came away with much more than I paid for, in terms of the instruction certainly, but more importantly, in the camaraderie and connection and spirit of community that the school engenders.
Finally, here's me modeling my new favorite hat - a Charley Orlando original.