Tuesday, August 04, 2009

On Saturday, July 25th, I headed up to the SFO Bay Area to attend week-long workshops at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute -- the brainchild of Morgaine Wilder (Carolina Homespun) and Judith MacKenzie McCuin. My husband came along for the ride up and our first stop was the Los Olivos Grocery in the heart of Santa Barbara County wine country for a great breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. This little grocery is a very laid back stop for relaxing with an awesome view of the blue skies, vineyards and surrounding hills.
I could definitely get serious about this area.
And here I am arriving a the Point Bonita YMCA camp, the location of GGFI workshops. This is a rare sunny day with a view back to the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. Point Bonita sticks out in the ocean on the ocean side of the bridge, is quite isolated, and a wonderful place to just focus energies on creativity. And they feed us, too, so we don't have to think about anything but our classes.
For most of the week, we were hunkered down in our warm clothes, handknit socks, scarves, hats, gloves as the fog came in and receded by the hour. Pretty drizzly, cold and clammy for much of the week. A view looking the other way towards the headlands and the ocean.
Donna - a hardy spinner sitting outside our spinning room.
Spinning class with Judith. The focus of this class was spinning yarn for weaving. Theresa is seated at her rigid heddle loom (before breakfast no less) and has begun her weaving.
My felting instructor, Loyce, was in my spinning class spinning on her Lendrum wheel, which she dyed a beautiful green. I had never seen a green spinning wheel before. It was just lovely and it was so Loyce.
Judith shared her wonderful spindle whorl collection with us. These were primitive, carved and spin as well today and the day they were made. She has collected these during her travels all over the "whorled". Most of these fit in the palm of your hand.
Judith also brought along her little handmade Royal Rat, who was our mascot during the class.
Here is my project from the spinning class. I spun a fingering weight two-ply yarn for use in both my warp and weft -- handpainted merino/silk/angora. The sett was 12 ends per inch, 9 inches wide, and I combined my handspun with Habu silk and stainless steel laceweight.
Here is the finished scarf after it was fulled and shrunk. I lost about 40% in width but not too much in length. A grand experiment that went right. I am ready to do this again!!
Close up -- see the little windows of silk and stainless steel.
On to felting class with Loyce Ericson. The focus of this class was to design and make a felted vest out of strips of felt. My pictures will hopefully show some of the steps along the way from the beginning of laying out the fiber to the finished felted product. Here Theresa has begun to lay out three layers of wool. Many of our pieces were laid out on a length of very thin silk chiffon onto which the fibers fused.
The next step is to wet the fibers, roll them up into a piece of matting, and start to slowly roll the matting until the fibers start to come together and do not pull apart. This is pre-felting and we did this with each of the strips to go into the vest. Here is Theresa's piece after it has been assembled and it is ready for the final felting process.
Here are a couple of Dixie's pre-felted strips.
A few of Dixie's felted strips. She decided to assemble the pieces after the final felting process was complete.
Marta decided to do a shawl rather than a vest. This is her pre-felted piece.
Marta's felted shawl after finishing the felted process. [Sorry I cut off half your head.] Sheila is holding her pre-felted vest in luscious fuschia colors.
Here is Barbara working on felting her vest. One step requires bunching up the wet garment and slamming it onto the table numerous times. You can let out your aggressions on the wool because the process requires you to really beat up your project, but it works to bring the garment together and to create felt from those loose fibers.
This is Christine's "tide pool" colored pre-felted garment. The colors were scrumptious.
Here Pam is using a tool with needles to do some needle felting onto her vest before she does the final felting process.
Brenda is using a steam iron to stretch and smooth out some of the places in her vest.
Brenda's vest is almost done. She included pockets and side ties.
Ann is trying on her damp vest and Loyce is helping with the fit.
Below, Loyce is stretching the edges of Ann's vest to accentuate the ruffled edging.
The back of Ann's vest.
My vest project is below. I ended up using seven strips. Three for the back and two for each side of the front. Here I have started to lay out layers of merino wool onto the matting for one of my strips.
Here is the back after pre-felting. I stitched the three strips together by hand and then needle felted over the seam areas to hold them down and to prevent them from curling up during the final felting process.
A close up -- still loose and not felt yet.
This is the pre-felted front. Again, the panels are stitched together as the back and needle felted -- the fiber is still loose and the garment has not shrunk to size. I laid across a couple of grid panels that I felted to perhaps include as part of the vest. Still thinking that through.
Here is my vest after the final felting process. First the front.
A close up.
The finished felted back. And the garment is now ready for embellishing -- embroidery, beads, buttons and such.
I am sorry I didn't get a lot of pictures of the other classes but there was a horoscope weaving class with Bonnie Tarses. Believe it or not, some of the weavers managed to weave 5 yards of gorgeous fabric. Jean DeCoster taught a class on designing and sizing a garment to fit.

Darlene Hayes taught natural dyeing and included in the class was lichen dyeing in the crockpot and some dyeing with natural materials on silk scarves. Here are some of Heather's skeins hanging to dry and her indigo dyed rubber gloves.
Aside from the amazing classes at GGFI, Morgaine had her Carolina Homespun store set up with lots and lots of fibery goodies. And after dinner every evening, we all assembled in the "big" room for announcements, show and tell, and door prizes. There were door prizes galore and I think almost everyone won at least two or three. What marvelous fun!! Then we all retired to our various classrooms for spinning, felting or weaving until late into the night. I think I managed 5 hours sleep a night and it's going to take a few days to catch up.

During my stay at Golden Gate Fiber Institute, I managed to finish a knitting project I started the day before leaving. I aptly named this scarf the Bonita Headlands Scarf since it is reminiscent of the colors of the natural foilage on the headlands. I used my handpaints, handspun alpaca/merino/silk yarn for this scarf.
Teary eyed was I as I drove along the little road out of Point Bonita back to civilization -- leaving a little piece of heaven behind. I was jarred back to reality as I merged onto the 101 freeway south. It was slow going over the Golden Gate Bridge, but the perk was the awesome view over the railing. So seldom do I get to look out over the bridge when the traffic is speeding along. Bumper to bumper on the Golden Gate is a treat.

I am already thinking about and looking forward to Summer 2010 at Golden Gate Fiber Institute. It can hardly get better so I won't miss it.

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