Hello! I have returned from the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon! I had an amazing time. Molly and I did the 16 hour round trip drive together which made the amount of time spent in the car much more pleasant. We arrived late on Friday night at a friend’s apartment and struck out for the Gathering at 9:00 the next morning. We were thrilled by the sight of so many fiber people in one place and impressed by the extremely friendly atmosphere. People treated each other not only kindly but in a way that seemed to imply that we were all friends! I started conversations with many strangers and enjoyed every one!
I tried to take pictures of some of the booths, but the combination of my shyness/not wanting to offend people and my desire to purchase fiber for myself before it snatched up by someone else means that I only got pictures of two booths. The best intentions……
While we were there, Molly and I took a natural dye class from Marika Banvacski. We learned about the basics of dying protein fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, etc) and got to see how three different dyes came out.
Here are the skeins before dying, but after they have mordanted (treated with a chemical that helps the wool molecules bind to the dyes).
And here is the reveal! That lovely blue comes from the heartwood of Logwood, when treated with a powder to make the solution more alkaline rather than acidic. Untreated, it is possible to get lovely purples and lavenders from this dyestuff.
This pot contains dye made from cochineal, an insect that grows on prickly pear cactus in Mexico and Texas. It has a fascinating history, not limited to the fact that it was what dyed the famous British Redcoats.
Here is the first batch of skeins drying on the line.
Marika is rinsing off the cochineal skeins in what I think are tiny plastic trashcans, a great use of unconventional materials!
Here are the three final skeins hanging together. The skein on the left was dyed by a mushroom. This class was a lot of fun and I now feel like I might be able to actually dye some fiber! Now just to look for some stainless steel pots! 🙂
In other exciting news, while we were at the festival Molly bought a Majacraft Rose spinning wheel. It is gorgeous, incredibly comfortable and spins like a dream. When we got home Saturday night Molly immediately started spinning one of her purchases. The photo below is a snapshot of taking a pause from spinning Sunday morning in order to eat breakfast!
And yes, one of the awesome things about the Rose is that it is incredibly portable! Look at how well it is strapped into the backseat of my car! Sighhhh, now I want one!
We had a great time at the Gathering and I definitely plan to attend more fiber events in the future. Stay tuned! As soon as the rain breaks around here I will photograph my loot to share!