Think of harvest traditions where friends and family would come together to shuck corn, shock wheat, bale hay and visit while getting a job done. That’s what this week was like.
On Sunday, I headed to Washington Island to meet some friends and get the willow bed cut at Sievers.
Being surrounded by the waters of Lake Michigan makes conditions on Washington Island generally milder than where I live (pretty much due west, but an hour inland). So the island’s first hard frost came just before we arrived, and there were still leaves on the willow. Normally, willow growers wait for leaves to fall before harvesting. But everyone knew I would be happy to have the leaves for natural dye.
On Monday we got the patch cut and a good start on stripping leaves (and had a lovely soup supper with the rag rug weaving class). So on Tuesday, we spent a little time enjoying the island as well as processing the willow. We walked at The Ridges before we started working that day.
At lunch we took some time to shop at Sievers. Lee bought a beautiful batik scarf made by my friend Anne Landre.
In the afternoon we quit early to visit Schoolhouse Beach and the Stavkirke.
After burgers at Karly’s and a short stop at Nelsen’s Hall, we headed back to the studio to finish stripping leaves and sorting willow.
On Wednesday, I got home with plenty of material for the cold-brewed willow-leaf natural dye like I made last winter. It’s now in buckets outside my studio. Other leaves are drying inside.
The merino wool-silk yarn in this knitting WIP was dyed with that willow leaf cold brew.
It was a whirlwind trip, but at the end it’s nice to see a job well done and to have had a chance to spend time working with friends at a special place like Sievers.