Monday, June 29, 2015

Living it up

(Meanwhile, back at the homeplace, Aslan and Peegee contemplate nature)
 I've been absent from this space so long, you might be justified in wondering if I've had a relapse or become incapacitated, when in fact, it has been just the opposite.  If there is anything this past year has taught me, it's that I want to seize opportunities when they present themselves. So, I've been living it up. Sometimes that means stepping outside my comfort zone, pushing on through some discomfort and extending myself beyond what I think I'm capable of at the moment. That's exactly what has been happening this past month and I believe I'm better for it. I've been participating in a workshop extravaganza! Three workshops in four weeks!

(Nicola demonstrates lay-out for eco-dyeing)

First, I took a two day eco-dyeing and felting workshop with fabulous Irish felter, Nicola Brown. Nicola is not just a wonderful teacher, but someone who is a friend and I'll seize any opportunity to spend some time with her. (Mike and I spent four days at Clasheen, her beautiful farm in Ireland, last September, on our way to Scotland, and hope to go back in the future.) The first day of the workshop was spent felting a vessel or purse and the second day was eco-dyeing our felted items along with silk scarves. Eco-dyeing is so much fun because you can never quite predict the results. Nicola encouraged us to bring different plants and leaves to press onto our felted items. I gathered leaves from our Catalpa tree, some sprigs of crown vetch growing on the roadside, ferns and rose leaves. We dipped the leaves in iron water before arranging them on our items, then rolled them into tight bundles and steamed them. The results were fantastic - all different, all equally beautiful.

(the "hinge" is the secret to the bust adjustment)
Next up was a trip to Nashville to Anna Maria Horner's new shop, Craft South, for a workshop on pattern fitting with Liesl Gibson. If you ever have the opportunity to take this workshop, do it! Don't even hesitate to sign up if you are at all interested in making garments that actually fit you correctly. I've complained here often enough so that most of you know, fitting has been my downfall in sewing endeavors. Now I know why and believe I have the knowledge to prevent my mistakes. (Ever heard of a full-bust adjustment?) Liesl also has some great classes on Creativebug that should keep me from forgetting everything I've learned. I can hardly wait to get back to my sewing machine (and I might have made a few fabric purchases in Anna Maria's beautiful shop). Oh, the fabric ... beautiful Liberty, Nani Iro, Cotton and Steel!  It was too much good stuff to resist.

(And here we are, proudly displaying our perfectly fitted muslins)
(a little detail on my muslin)
The workshop was filled with the usual mix of beginning to very experienced sewers. I would guess I fell somewhere in the middle and I tried not to be intimidated. I met some really nice women (Hi Karen!) and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. One of the bonuses in spending time with a group of like-minded women is the generous sharing of information and sources. It was also a joy to spend time with Anna Maria, Liesl, and the young women who work for Anna Maria (Pierrette and Anna Michelle).

(here's a hint)
As soon as the Nashville workshop was over on Sunday afternoon, I loaded my car and drove straight to Sewanee, Tennessee. Until recently, I had never even heard of Shakerag. Cal Patch taught there last year and it was her blogging about it that got my attention. Here was an incredible workshop resource within 4 1/2 hours of home!  I'll save the details on my week-long natural dye workshop for next time and I promise it will appear in this space within the next week. (I promise!)

I have been overwhelmed with catch-up work since my return. Of course, Mike kept all the animals alive while I was gone, but this is an extremely busy time of year for him, so not much else was done. I spent all day Monday mowing. The garden has a glorious assortment of healthy weeds. (Have I mentioned how much I hate wild morning glories?) and I'm not at all sure I will ever catch up with the laundry and ironing, not to mention filing all those patient records. It is taking all the discipline I possess to stay away from the sewing machine and the dye room until I can bring some semblance of order to the rest of my responsibilities.

(Then there's Midgie, always looking for a little attention)