Thursday, August 14, 2008
Golden Gate Fiber Institute, Part II
Want to know more about the woman behind the Golden Gate Fiber Institute (GGFI), Morgaine Wilding? The current issue (Summer, 2008) of Wild Fibers magazine has a great interview with Morgaine, who is the owner of San Francisco-based Carolina Homespun. Morgaine explains her thinking behind a week-long institute. She wanted to give participants a long enough learning experience so we could learn the skill not only in our heads, but in our hands. Often these kinds of workshops range in length from 3 hours to 2 days. At the GGFI, each class provided 18 hours plus of instruction over the course of 6 days from July 28th to August 3rd (2008). Morgaine is also committed to seeing that traditional fiber arts continue into the future.
We arrived on Monday night, August 25th at the YMCA Marin County Outdoor Education Center, which is in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, part of the Marin Headlands at Bonita Point. This natural area overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge, as it crosses San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. We were also very near the Bonita Point Lighthouse, and hiking trails in the highlands.
Every morning I had a natural dyeing class with Darlene Hayes, who is the person behind Nature’s Palette’s Yarns and Hand Jive. Some of you may be familiar with her popular pattern Breakfast at the Café du Monde gloves (yes I bought some Nature's Palette to make them). Darlene lives in northern California, where she works in her home studio. She collects some of the dyestuffs from local sources, and other materials she buys (such as blocks of indigo). The new book The Yarn lover’s Guide to Hand Dyeing by Linda La Belle, Potter’s Craft Books, has a six page spread on her, including how to dye with fresh eucalyptus, and a pattern for ruffled baby socks. Another hand-dyeing business featured in the book is Capistrano Fiber Arts. The owner, Lori Lawson, was one of my classmates in the natural dyeing class.
The class met from 9am-noon on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. Though we were scheduled to meet for three hours, but Darlene asked us to get there before 9 if we could and we usually stayed up to a half hour after class cleaning up so Darlene would be ready to teach again in the afternoon. Day one, Tuesday, we each mordanted, and Day Two and Three we prepared pots of cochineal (made from the bodies of insects which are found on cacti in Mexico) , madder, logwood, dillweed, black walnut, and osage. Day four was indigo. Indigo is a great dye to use on its own, or to deal with unwanted results – just throw it in an indigo bath. Days five and six, we decided as a group what dyepots to cook up, and what to do with yarn we had brought (up to a kilo). I was glad we met in the morning, as it gave us Sunday morning to finish dyeing, with time left to hang skeins up to drip dry.
I brought home a total of twenty three – 50 gram skeins, in a range of colors and a deep appreciation for natural dyeing. As you can see in this picture of the yarn drying, natural dyes
are not just browns and yellows, but reds, blues, as well as warm yellows, oranges, and browns.