Hi, Anna-Liza back again. Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting!
I suppose that technically, I can’t really be late on my own blog (except when I say so), but I’ve got all these things to tell you about and I can’t ever seem to blog about them immediately after they’ve happened! So I’ve given up doing them in order, and this time I’ll tell you about what I did last weekend. And then I can throw in other stories whenever I’m not doing anything in particular, which I used to think was all the time.
So last weekend was the birthday weekend for both Knitting Sprite and Mr. R, who were born 16 years apart to the day. Unfortunately, that was also the weekend of The Gathering at The Sheep Shed Studio in Wyoming. Since The Gathering happens once a year and birthday celebrations can be moved, I abandoned my weeping offspring and headed north. Okay, neither of them wept. They were perfectly okay with this, what with liking having a sane and happy mom and all.
The original plan was that I was going to go with my friends Brandie and Sasha and their three girls, but Friday afternoon Brandie called and said she felt lousy and decided she’d better not go. Sasha didn’t want to go if Brandie wasn’t going, so from six of us heading up together it turned into me driving up by myself. I decided to head up Friday night, which meant getting home after work, finishing the packing and heading up I-25 as early as I could manage – it’s about a 4-hour drive door-to-door.
I managed to get out of here a bit before 8, what with packing and dinner and saying goodbye to the kids and Darlin’ K. If you’re wondering why I wasn’t already packed, Plan A had called for me to arrive at Brandie’s place late in the evening and drive up with her early Saturday morning, plus, you know, think who’s blogging here. Procrastination a specialty. Anyway, that meant I would arrive a bit before midnight, and keep in mind I’d never been there before and had never met Carol Lee. As far as I knew, there was one person there that I had met before – Brandie’s housemate and old friend Harvest – and that was it. So I did sit out in front of the (dark) house, wondering how sure I was that it was the right house and maybe should I sleep in the car?
But I shook off the momentary vision of walking into the wrong house and getting shot, got out my flashlight, (dark, remember? Very Very Dark) and saw that there was a sheep carved into the front door. Good sign, I thought. The door was unlocked so I walked in and looked around. More dark, but there was a light on at the top of the stairs, so I went up there to see if maybe there were awake people around. No luck, but there were skeins of yarn hanging on the walls and spinning wheels everywhere, so I was pretty sure I was in the right house.
I couldn’t hear anyone stirring, and I didn’t want to wake anyone up, so I put my sleeping bag on the floor and sacked out there. (I didn’t use the couch because the kitties were on it. I’ve been a lifelong cat slave, so I automatically defer to them – just conditioned that way). I hoped I wouldn’t startle anyone too much in the morning.
About 5:30 a.m. Carol’s husband Carl got up to feed the wood stove and the cats, and after they’d been fed a couple of the kitties decided to come check me out. Churchill, who is a very large (not fat, he’s kind of rangy, but just tall and long – Carol says he’s part ocelot) came and sat on my chest and nudged my hands ’til I started petting him, and Jaygo the kitten came and curled up next to my head.
Carl saw the motion from my petting activities and came to investigate. He didn’t blink an eye – he just stood looking down at me and said “Well, you don’t have to sleep on the floor!” He directed me to a spare bed, I moved my stuff there and slept for another couple of hours. I love their house, but all I will say about it now is that it’s big, really comfortable, and sort of strange in a really good way that makes me feel oddly at home! And it has spare beds, books, spinning wheels, and fiber just everywhere. Plus a few looms and wood stoves.
Anyway, next morning I woke up to homemade biscuits and a big group of women sitting in the sun room knitting, eating, and talking about the day. The first day was all natural dyeing. Carol had five big dyepots (one big enough for me and a small child to fit into) all over the big fire ring in the back yard and five pots of different mordants going in the dye kitchen, which is a converted trailer behind her house. Hi it’s Lyda, here’s a link to a definition of “mordant” in case anyone (like me) has no idea what she’s talking about. Here are the dyepots –
I had brought various skeins of yarn, including some handspun alpaca from Techieangel, a bit of roving, a cream colored silk knit sweater that I had managed to get blue stains on, and several old pairs of cotton socks just for experimenting.
We used logwood, sage, pine bark, brazil wood, and aspen leaves. I got some incredible deep purples from the logwood and a lovely bright purple from the brazil wood with a chrome mordant. The aspen leaves gave me a soft green pair of socks and a harvest gold pair – same dyepot, different mordants. Here’s some of the stuff I dyed:
Sorry for the blurry photo, but you can see the color. That’s the silk sweater – now it’s a lovely mottled olive green and I can’t even remember where the stains were.
The second day we spent with commercial dyes and handpainting.
I did a bit of that, but I also spent some time weaving a shawl on a triangular shawl loom. It was a little tricky getting started, but fun, easy, and kind of meditative once I got going.
So there you go, all I need to do is add fringe. I’m thinking I’ll put beads on it.
On Carol’s website, it says of The Gathering, “Much talking,
story telling, and laughing are ongoing.” This is an exact description. The group was comfortably-sized, almost entirely women, joking and talking and spinning and knitting and crocheting and weaving and dyeing (lots of dyeing). Ages ranged from teens to (I think) seventies, with some skew toward over forty. A couple of women who were there for just Saturday called themselves “The Old Bats” and designated me an official Batlet, or “Old Bat in Training”.
I think I’ll add that to my resumé.