Jul 14

Today we did the natural dye demonstration at the Huddleston House in Cambridge City, Indiana.  We woke up to glorious sunshine and cool temps.

Before I go any further, I want to take this time to introduce you to my two helpers for the day.


On the left is Ann Rockwell, a weaving student from my March class, and someone who has become a friend.  Ann is fun, smart, enthusiastic and a hard worker.  She and Scott (on the right if you couldn’t tell), worked hard helping me get the fires started and the dye pots going.  Also, Ann helped one of our campers who was in a wheel chair and couldn’t get too close to the fire.  Thank you, Ann!  You made the day so much easier with all your hard work.

I had taken 10 sets of yarn to dye as well as a book with terminology, information on the three dyes we were using today (indigo, cochineal and Osage orange), and a bibliography.


While the yarn was in the pots, Karen Trent, the manager of Huddleston House wrapped bananas with the skin split open and marshmallows and Hershey’s kisses stuck inside into aluminum foil to bake over the fire until done.  Those were wonderful and we have decided we will have to do them again at Dye Day in October.


I took several items I had either dyed or made from dyed yarns…


…as well as binders full of sample cards from dye days and other dyeing experiments from the past 10 years.  I could have taken so much more, but this worked for today’s event.


And the kids got beautiful colors!



Karen had wanted them to be able to weave, too, so I warped my little Nilus loom (and all this time I thought I had a Dorothy!) and showed the kids how to work the loom.


Then I stood back and let them go with it.  I found it very encouraging at how often over the course of the day one or more would go back to it and weave on it.



I know that one of these kids will be in my November weaving class if not a couple more.  I found that working with kids is really easy.  They don’t need a lot of instruction and are game to try their hands at anything.  They asked a few questions, but for the most part, they pushed levers, raised and lowered shafts and watched how the weft yarn went in and out of the shed. Also, they are much more likely than adults to experiment with patterns and were less concerned about what their weaving looked like as they were about having fun with color, textures and pattern.

I left the loom there for the week and I can hardly wait to see what it looks like when we remove the fabric from the loom this Saturday.


During times of waiting for the dyepots to do their thing, there were many stories, lots of area histories, family histories and tales of experiences being told.  I am a true lover of history and I was fascinated at some of the stories I heard today.

We ended the day around 3:00 this afternoon, said good-bye to the kids, gave and received hugs all the way around, loaded up the car and left.  The day was fun and educational, and I’d do it again anytime I’m asked.  If just one of these kids take up the fiber craft (and I know one young lady, Sarah, already spins and is taking my weaving class), or looks back on this day when they are adults, remembers the fun they had and starts weaving or knitting or felting or spinning, then I will be happy.

Last, but not least, I wanted to show you one of my favorite tools that played a huge part in my getting the yarn samples ready for today.  This is a click, or clock, reel.  Scott found it at an antique mall here in Indianapolis a few years ago.  It was in complete working condition and only needed a bit of cleaning up.  And we only paid $65 for it.  I love this reel and use it to wind off my handspun yarns when I am done plying it.


And, I know I haven’t gotten any further with my studio set up, but with with today behind me now, I can start concentrating on getting my room set up and ready to use.