Last weekend was a great one for inspiration and ideas, which are still buzzing in my head. Now that stuff is unpacked and I’ve washed the yarns from my Saturday afternoon demo, I have some time for winding yarn into balls and pondering.
The Gathering at Sievers School of Fiber Arts is one of my favorite places to stock up on inspiration as well as fiber. The inspiration is my favorite part, but I came home with my share of tangible items, as well, from this biennial event.
On Friday, I managed to get a few pictures, like this one of a former student showing the end result of a project she began in my class.
I had good intentions of snapping lots of pictures all weekend, like this one of some of the books and patterns in the fiber art garage sale on Saturday morning.
Contrary to expectation, I came home with only a handful of vintage books and patterns….
…and one small bag of yarn (but that bag was a luscious angora/silk/cashmere blend). People donate so generously to this event, which raised $2,300 dollars and will benefit two Washington Island non-profits — the Art & Nature Center and the Friends of Plum & Pilot Islands.
The picture-taking part of my brain shut off on Saturday when there was so much going on, so I’m borrowing some pictures from Carolyn Foss’s post about The Gathering on the Sievers blog. That’s me above, doing my “New Life For Leftovers” demonstration. The scent of simmering Kool-Aid drew in people who learned how quick and simple it can be to overdye wool and silk yarns. Now that they’ve had that taste of a “gateway dye,” I hope they’re addicted to the possibilities of overdyeing. Much of what I used for the demo was stuff I bought at the Sievers garage sale at the 2012 Gathering.
In the afternoon, I had a chance to visit the vendors and see the other demos, including this one by rug hooker Betty Heath. The rug hookers went above and beyond in the inspiration department, winning both Viewers Choice awards.
Show And Tell was an absolute blast! People were so generous in sharing all kinds of work, from wearables to samples to challenges.
I wish I had pictures of more of the pieces from Show & Tell, and had taken time to make notes about some of the stories people shared. But I can tell you that while Pat Hewitt knit the elegant wearables in the photo above for people, what she was binding off that afternoon was a sweater for the new puppy coming into her home soon. And that the elegant model in the center above (whose own creations are always stunning) finds some of her inspiration on the water on a stand-up paddleboard.
People shared items that came from all kinds of inspiration sources — from family to favorite places to travel, life experience, classes, and more. It’s amazing to see students of Daryl Lancaster model garments that fit perfectly, busting the myth that some of our figures are “flawed” when what’s really flawed is the fit — and that can be fixed. We had “weaver’s poker,” overshot in unconventional colors, a basket made from scraps fished out of the trash in a class, and much more.
But what really pegged my inspiration meter was all the ways people contribute to their communities. The island is blessed with quilters who make something warm and meaningful for every kid who graduates from their small school, every resident of a halfway house in Sturgeon Bay, plus many others distributed locally and around the world. And island quilters participate in the Quilts of Valor project. Papermaker Linda Hoppe, who is also a ceramic artist, shared her community’s Empty Bowls project. I even showed the sample for the aviation windsock project for the rural fire department that is so important to my own community.
Contributing to your community can be like overdyeing yarn: First you think, “Is this worth the effort?” And then something kind of wonderful happens. I’ve written about that on other occasions, but haven’t used the yarn analogy because this one is a new discovery.
In 2012 at the Sievers Gathering, I bought a cake of mystery yarn. The burn test indicated wool. It felt like nice yarn, but it wasn’t a nice gray. So I held it back for an experiment before this demo. I wanted to see if I could leave out the steps of winding and tying the yarn into a skein and just dye the center-pull cake of yarn. So I wetted it thoroughly and popped it into a saucepan of water with two packages of grape Kool-Aid. At one point, I used a slotted spoon to flip the cake over, hoping it would dye more or less evenly. After cooling and draining, I was convinced that I had ruined the yarn by felting it with rough handling.
So I plugged the center with some waste yarn and shoved the cake into the toe of a nylon stocking. That went in the washer with a couple different loads of clothes, then into the dryer on high heat. When I took it out of the stocking, I expected a pin cushion. Instead, the plugs dropped out and the yarn pulls beautifully from the center. Only the outer layer is slightly felted. Inside, there’s enough to knit a kid-size hat, which I’ll donate to a local charity. If I were a kid, I’d want purple instead of gray.
In every community, there’s a need for volunteers. Or for makers who donate their work to those in need. Or those who donate their work to raise funds for good causes. When it keeps leftovers out of the waste stream, that’s even better.
There are many ways for us to put our talents to work for the good of others, and much joy and inspiration that come from connecting with others. So I’d love to hear: What do you make for community or charity?