Singing The Fresh Leaf Blues

My latest attempt at an organic vat from fresh-leaf homegrown Japanese indigo has me singing the blues — the pale, grayish, stinky blues. And while this batch of yarn counts as a dye fail, I learned some things getting here.

The yarns look better than they really are, but there’s no point letting them dry out for a photo. I’ll keep changing the water until the odor is gone, then overdye them. Probably in a fresh-leaf vat reduced with Thiox. Because it’s the end of August, which in northern Wisconsin means our growing season could end in six weeks or six days. 

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Snipping My Way To Color

Natural dye material is ready to harvest just about everywhere you turn here in rural northern Wisconsin, where I’m snipping as fast as I can. It’s nice to have a reason to slow down for a bit and enjoy dyeing with a friend.

The angel who started my Japanese indigo last spring came over yesterday morning. We combined leaves snipped from her plants and mine and had a nice visit while the pot warmed gently over a two-hour period. 

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Gathering Bulrush And Leeches

The last time I cut bulrush where we went today to harvest was about 10 years ago. I never harvest much in any one spot. My goal is always that when I leave, my activity should be undetectable and not diminish the resource in any way. But today I took out more than my share — of leeches.

Bulrush harvested to dry for cordage.

In the past when the lake level was lower, Bill and I just waded in and cut here and there. With some heavy rains this summer, lake levels are higher.

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Looping At Convergence

​After two days of teaching, I had a day off before my next seminars and I’ve made the most of it. Now I’m sipping iced tea, resting my feet, and reflecting on the wonderful things that have happened so far at Convergence 2016 in Milwaukee.

My week began with a 2-day workshop sampling seven looping variations from around the world. As usual when I’m teaching, I get too busy to take pictures. Then right at the end of the lunch break on Day 1, the convention center was evacuated because of a nearby fire. My class managed to meet up at the Starbuck’s across the street, and I managed to get a picture of this lovely group stitching and sipping until we could return to our class space.
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Studio Transformations

This weekend has been our annual fishing camp, and my studio was temporarily converted into Fly Tying Central. But once the feathers and flash are picked up this afternoon, I’ll start spreading out natural dye materials to dry while I’m away teaching at Convergence.

Fly tying table at fishing camp.

Convergence is the Handweavers Guild of America biennial conference. Packing for an event like this is best done without any distractions — at least for me. At least if there’s anything that has to be counted. So I got all that done before our company arrived on Friday.

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Local Color At Sievers

One warm, sunny October day in the mid-1990’s, I fell in love with Washington Island. I was in Jo Campbell-Amsler’s willow backpack class at Sievers, and we left the studio to weave at what is now called Percy Johnson Park. 

Now I take my own students there when I teach a Sievers class called Local Color. The class combines field trips, natural dyeing, photography and digital imaging, and printing and embellishing images on fabric and transfers.

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