Fiber College

Thanks to everyone with ideas on restoring my mother’s embroidery.  It took you all to get me thinking that I know people who know people – like a textile curator and also the director of the Minnesota Textile Center.  (Smacks self on forehead.)  I now even have 35% off offer from the recommended framer/restorer.  When I get over there, I’ll give you more detail in case it’s of use.

FIBER COLLEGE!  My first trip to Maine, teaching and learning, making new friends, finding inspiration, I could go on and on.  If anyone has the chance to go next year, do it!  Photographer extraordinare Gale Zucker offered to pick me up at the Portland, Maine airport and we drove the rest of the way to Searsport.  It was dark by the time we got to Wonderview Cottages, our home for the next few days.  In the morning, I woke up to this view from our screened in porch:


Not enough time to enjoy it fully.  We rushed over to the Searsport Shores Campgrounds so I could get to my full day class – Natural Dyeing with Jackie Ottino Graff.  I’ve always wanted to try natural dyeing, and what a privilege to take a class from the head dyer for Swans Island Yarns.  We even got to use Swans Island’s organic merino base, talk about luxury.    Jackie had plants and powders from bugs and resin and trees I’d never heard of, like kutch and ironwood.

If you have never done any natural dyeing, it is like magic.  I felt like an alchemist – throw in a handful of iron and suddenly one color swirls into another. Plants simmer and steam and the yarn emerges vibrant and glowing.


Jackie is an excellent and patient instructor.  She taught an Indigo class I couldn’t take, because it was at the same time as one of my classes, but  I’m hoping to get her to Minnesota.

I taught Reading Japanese Knitting Patterns and Short Rows Three Ways.  My students were really engaged and engaging.  I always learn so much from teaching, as knitters are the most generous of people with their time and talents.

I felt obligated to purchase from some of the on-site vendors.  Since my day job involves economic development, I understand the importance of supporting the local economy.  Like this gorgeous laceweight yarn from Play at Life:

And these not-too-cute sheep buttons from Fields Edge Farm:

I met so many fun people.  Getting to spend more time with Gale was great, and our partner in Wonderwiewing was Kirsten Kapur, of Through the Loops.  Kirsten, it turns out, is a fellow Jersey Girl.  Not to mention insanely talented, professional, down-to-earth and a whole lot of fun.  I’ve admired her work for years, so it was pleasure to finally met her. Insanely talented and fun seemed to be the common denominator at Fiber College, like Ellen Mason.  Go visit her  blog and look at her patterns. Her designs are  clever, wearable, and have great names.  Her Fiber College blog post really captured the feeling I had flying home from Maine. Full. Full of inspiration, energy, friendship and laughter and blueberry pie.  I can’t wait to go back next year.

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15 responses to “Fiber College

  1. That yarn is really cool! And those buttons… 🙂 Also, excellent rationalization for your purchases. 😉

  2. Earlier, I’ve never been very interested in yarn dying, but I notice that every time I see photos and read blogposts like yours, I feel the urge to colour som yarn myself … so one day when I get the time… we’ll see

    • I don’t intend to make a regular practice of it – I’ve always liked the idea of trying it with natural plants and things. It was fun, but as you say, I do’t really have the time to take on something like this. If you get a chance to try it without all the hassle, go for it.

  3. I’m a little envious – I didn’t get round to my annualy antural dyeing session this year, as I was too busy. I’ll hvae to hope last years lasts me

  4. Wasn’t it grand? Yes. I got my mojo back, thanks to you all. Sewing up a storm, and finished a sweater too! Itching to cast on another. Looking forward to our next adventure together.

  5. What an excellent roundup of even-better-than-excellent adventure! . I still haven’t been able to distill it into a blogpost! (also, I really wish I’d bought that same yarn, and may still, online.)
    PS Mary Lou didnt mentiom it but she also rocked the non-botanics dyeing, in the mentored dye tent.

  6. A brilliant post. I can imagine how thrilling it must be to work with plants and work magic on yarn. I’m jolly glad you had such a rewarding time and it sounds like you gave as much as you received.

  7. Those photos of the natural dyeing class make me really sorry that I didn’t arrive in time to take it. I suppose there’s always next year.

  8. I thought I just have a few more minutes, I’ll pop over and see if Mary Lou has posted about that dye class she mentioned. And now I have all the other links to follow! Just ten more minutes then!

    Isn’t plant dyeing just the most amazing thing! What an incredible opportunity that class was. And how I’d love to learn about Japanese patterns with you 😀

    Another Kirsten fan here, gorgeous patterns 😀

  9. Oh, wow, this sounds wonderful! I have been keeping my eye out for a natural dyeing class (on this coast, probably); I missed my chance to take one several years ago, and I kicked myself.

  10. I just read another blog post with the same title by a person who was there, Lisa HIlaire (knitnzu). She was a model for Gale’s class. http://knitnzu.com/?p=2254
    Small world among us knitters, eh?

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