I recently had the pleasure of attending my first Spin Off Autumn Retreat (SOAR). The event was Oct. 23 – 28, 2022 and included four intense days of handspinning joy and folly. It is hard to describe the experience in an elevator speech so I tried to organize my thoughts to give you a little glimpse of the adventure.
This year’s event was held at the Lake Lawn Resort in Delaven, Wisc. The setting offered a unique venue with the landscape decked out in natural fall colors and foliage. It was a delight and I enjoyed the stay.
Long Thread Media hosts the event in different locations around the country so I am not going to spend much time on that.
The most important thing, of course, was the spinning.
SOAR is Immersive
I can honestly say I have never spent that many hours in a week immersed in the act of spinning. The schedule allowed for each attendee to partake in a 2-day intensive course and 4 half-day courses. Each day was filled with six to eight hours of quality spinning content. There were 11 instructors with offerings ranging from fiber preparation techniques and dyeing to tapestry weaving with handspun yarns. The diversity in topics, I think, made it easy for every participant to build a perfectly tailored experience. There was so much to learn and so many options.
Also, because it’s a retreat, we spent all our meals and lots of time after hours together. So really, when we weren’t spinning or learning about spinning, we were talking about spinning. This totally added to the experience.
SOAR is Expansive
When I say expansive, I mean it. So, the thing about SOAR is it is welcoming and beneficial to spinners of every experience level. I believe if you are a beginner who can spin a relatively stable single, you can get something massive out of this experience. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are an advanced spinner, you can just as easily get something massive out of this experience. I consider myself an intermediate spinner and my mind was blown daily but what I learned during SOAR.
Essentially, where ever you are in your spinning journey, the offerings at SOAR can expand your knowledge and experience. I found many of the classes I took had spinners of every level in them and the instructors were able to tailor the content to get us all to the next level. It’s this girl’s opinion that this is the most commendable quality for each of the instructors. I really think it’s so cool that a beginner and advance spinner can leave a class feeling like they learned something valuable.
SOAR is Inclusive
I found the attendees diverse in many ways. Just to sum-up, there was representation from a variety of races, genders, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, and persons with disabilities.
Another way the event was inclusive was to newcomers. Many of us were attending the event for the first time. There were also many folks who have been attending SOAR for decades. There didn’t seem to be an insiders’ club. I never felt excluded as a new face in the crowd.
SOAR was Exhausting
Again, SOAR was immersive. It was enough to wear a person out but totally worth every minute. With all the spinning and engaging in and out of class, it was a bit hard to decompress. By the end of the first day’s class, I found it hard to be articulate. My body and mind were both fatigued. I cushioned my time before and after classes to give myself some quiet. I probably stay up too late but it allowed me to read, watch garbage TV, knit… and just hear myself think.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just took some adjustment. That’s way better than being bored or feeling like you aren’t getting your money’s worth.
SOAR was an experience I won’t soon forget. When my friend said SOAR was life changing, she wasn’t wrong. Now, it’s going to be up to me to keep the momentum going.
In the weeks to come, I will post about the individual classes I took and the wonderful instructors.