Sunday, August 18, 2013

Spinning. All the way to Alaska

'Eltaa' (shaman's spiritual powers)
by Kathleen Carlo, 2005
In July, I had an opportunity to go on a cruise to Alaska with my parents. This is a perfect trip for people who don't have a lot of 'travel energy' (not me! My parents).  They loved it and so did we. this was the year to do it, July was the calmest month for the seas, hardly any wind or waves for the whole trip. The food was fantastic which was offset by the best view on board being from the treadmills in the gym!



My wheel after being fixed
(note the large white
outline of the 'scar'.
I decided to bring my 'Joy', spinning wheel. The rooms are small but there was enough space to entertain two couples sipping daily rituals of gin and tonic and doing a little spinning before sitting down to a late dinner.
However, let this be a warning to others contemplating taking their wheel --carry the wheel on and off the ship yourself. Don't leave it to baggage handlers. I stupidly let them take it thinking the padded bag and the fact that the boat was only 100 yards away would be protection enough. No. When I unzipped the bag there was a horrendous dent in the wheel. Luckily this did not affect the way the wheel operated, but it would need repair before moisture worked its way into the scarred wood causing it to expand and possibly warp the wheel making it unusable. I have a clever brother-in-law who was able to fix it in time for me to take it on another trip the following week.
Back to Alaska...While the glaciers in Glacier Bay were beautiful, and the scenery wild and wonderful, it was the museums that held treasures for me. It is strange that on the cruise, they promoted and advertised 'adventure' activities - take a train to see the Yukon Trail Railway; charter a helicopter to see the glaciers; take a 2 hour float plane ride; ride a dog sled; hike the wilderness; zipline through the rain-forest, etc. etc. Not a word about the local museums. Some people enjoy hair raising, heart pounding outdoor adventures. I do. But a beautifully made textile makes my heart pound and the hair on my neck stand up too!
We lucked into a few things, a couple of which I will do special posts on later (one being a somewhat unknown Coast Salish Blanket).
The Alaska State Museum has an exhibit of Ravenstail weavings. Wow. This is an awesome exhibit, dance aprons, tunics and leggings. Ravenstail weaving is worth a separate post. For now, here's a teaser.

Oh, I did manage to spin 200 meters of plied linen and spin up samples for three assignments: fake cashmere (rayon) and wool blend; soy; and corn silk, between the G&T's and the meals.

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