Stringtopia!

So, what are you doing the weekend of April 29 to May 1, 2011? I know what I’m doing.

It all started when Morgaine Wilder from Carolina Homespun stopped by my house last year on her way home from Maryland Sheep & Wool. We had a lovely visit and we found ourselves talking about all manner of things. If you know Morgaine, or you’ve seen her at a fiber festival, you may have wondered how she manages to have so much fiber shopping excitement all over the country with her. The answer is the somewhat mystical vehicle she calls the Yarn-Vee. I’ve gotta say, a visit from Morgaine with her home on wheels and cargo bay full of all those wheels, looms, fibers, yarns, books, tools… it’s enticing. A girl can’t help but think, wow, how often does a full-service fiber shop just pull up in your driveway? So half-joking, I found myself saying, “Morgaine, the next time you’re passing through, you should totally stop and we can tell people to come over and shop!”

“Hrmmmm,” she said, which didn’t sound like “no.” So “Hrmmmm,” I said, and, well, it was only half-joking.

Then a few months later, I was over at my good friend Shelly’s place not long after a trip out teaching somewhere. We were sitting on her porch, and she asked me, “How come you never teach classes nearby? I mean, you always have to take it on the road. And then we never have anything like your workshops right around here. Why don’t you teach some classes in town?” I spent a while talking about how there weren’t a lot of places, and how I couldn’t put one on myself because I just don’t have the time to do all that running around and figuring out the logistics and finding a spot and what it would really take, what it would really need, would be someone who’s super-organized, and motivated, and able to run around town and figure out the right spot to do it and how it would work out and what kind of space we had, and then if people wanted to come in from somewhere else they’d need places to stay, and all of it, again, would need someone who was, you know, a coordinator and planner.

“If only,” Shelly said, a little dryly, “If only you knew someone like that. Who was interested. Ahem.” And then she grinned at me.

“Hrmmmmm,” said I, taking her point. “Hrmmmmm. Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt to look around and see what options we might have.”

So she did. In nothing flat, Shelly had lined up appointments for us to go check out several possible venues within a half-hour of home here in southwestern Ohio. Daringly, she even approached Ohio’s oldest inn, The Golden Lamb. Here in Lebanon, Ohio, the Golden Lamb is the landmark from which most directions start: “From Golden Lamb, head east on Main Street and…” or “From Golden Lamb, go south on Broadway…” Everyone knows where it is. Heck, all over Ohio, when you tell people you live in Lebanon, they say “Oh, where the Golden Lamb is!” It’s as old as Ohio. It was a log tavern when there was pretty much nothing here but some intersecting horse tracks. It was a stagecoach inn back when this was the wild west. It was a hotbed of politics for the early statecraft of Ohio and further western expansion. Charles Dickens stayed there and wrote crabbily about the lack of booze in it when it was a temperance hotel. Presidents, Prime Ministers, and sundry lords and ladies have stayed there. Presidential candidates still go there making campaign speeches. So surely, I thought secretly, it would be way too fancy for the likes of me and a few yarn enthusiasts to commandeer for workshops.

But from the moment we started checking the place out, and talking with the lovely folks who run it about what we wanted to do, it turned out to be a fantastic fit. I started to picture a retreat, with classes in their banquet rooms and evenings spent hanging around the tavern or out on the massive balcony overlooking the sign with a sheep on it… with… a sheep… on it… how could I not have seen this? Oh, if only we could do it affordably. And that, too, turned out to be the case.

A whole slew of great things came together for us once Shelly got the ball rolling. For example, Morgaine would be able to stop by with the Yarn-Vee on her way to Maryland Sheep & Wool. The illustrious and amazing Jacey Boggs had a spot open in her schedule that same weekend. Nobody around town said “For yarn stuff? Really? Forget it!” So we figured, you know, we could really do this. My better half jokingly referred to our hypothetical event as Stringtopia, and it stuck.

And lo and behold, there really will be a Stringtopia. And you’re invited.

How it’ll work: you’ll fill out a form with your name and contact info and check off the specific things you’re selecting from a list — that’ll include your class lineup and your meal choices. Each of those is priced individually, and at the end, it’ll give you a tally of what your selection would cost (not including lodging). You’ll have a chance to look it over, make sure it includes everything you expect, make changes if you need to, and then you’ll click “Sign me up!” and all the info will go to Shelly, who you can also reach directly at shelly@abbysyarns.com.

Shelly, meanwhile, will be watching the signups and getting back to you to let you know you’re confirmed and what she has you down for. If you need to add anything on, like a meal for a spouse, you’ll reply to her and let her know; she’ll add that to your total and send you an email invoice with all the payment info and everything. Expect to hear back within a day; remember we’re doing this all manually. Every class has between 15-20 spots available so there are lots of things to do. You can also come and just hang out and shop.

IF something that you wanted to sign up for is full up, Shelly will let you know, and let you know what is still available instead, so you can make up your mind what you want to do. Your options will be to choose something else, or to go on the waiting list — we’ll let you know how many people are on the waiting list when you’re trying to decide, if your first choice is full. Then it proceeds as in the paragraph above.

Once you have your confirmation email, then you should call the Golden Lamb and make your room reservations (that info will be in your signup stuff). We expect these to go fast also!

Now, enough of that: here’s the signup link!

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