Monday, September 9, 2013

Twist Fibre Festival 2013 Workshops with Natural Dyer Jackie Ottino

 I attended my first fiber festival ever!  Yay!  
Gram didn't want to go, hubby and kids did not want to go, so I drove 8 hours and 45 minutes all by my lonesome to
St-André-Avellin, QC, Canada.  And man, was it totally worth it!

Did I get bored driving it all in one day?  Nope!  My tweenie music obsessed and iphone obsessed little girl has 2 playlists she created on my phone.  I learned how to attach my phone to the "aux" outlet on my van stereo and cranked the tunes!  I even had Google gps thingy working so the voice would come through the stereo.  So cool and VERY helpful.  Had to laugh at some of the pronunciation of the female voice.  

Driving from my Provence, New Brunswick to our neighbour Provence, Quebec was a very, um, different experience.  I don't know if it was election year in their Provence, but I've NEVER seen so much road construction in my life.   It was literally everywhere!   Someone obviously didn't tell Google gps about all the traffic re-routes, 'cos my electronic guide was getting very frustrated with me.  At one point in Montreal, she commanded me to do an immediate U-Turn on a diverted 4 lane highway.  In rush hour traffic, no less.  Command ignored.  And I got lost, but only temperately.  I'm sure gps-s can gloat.  Hmph.

Quebec drivers were a pleasure to share the road with.  No tail gating, no blocking the passing lanes, and very understanding about a mini van missing it's turn off, immediately swerving to the side of the road, backing up and driving over the pretty grass and flowers to make the turn.  (Yeah, that happened a couple of times.)  Thanks Quebec!

For my first fiber festival, I had decided to go all out and spend 3 nights in a motel.  Originally, I had considered sleeping in the minivan, ('cos I'm so cheap, as my Tressa says) to save money to buy glorious memento fibre, but man, was I EVER glad I splurged for the motel.  8 hours and 45 minutes of soreness was very glad to have a proper bed to sprawl on.   I chose the "Bel-Eau Inn" in Montebello, a 15 minute drive away from St-André-Avellin because it was super cute and, well, cheap price-wise, in comparison to other hotels/motels in the area.  I'm happy to say my room was cute, very clean and the staff were super friendly.  I would and will stay there again.  It is on the main road and has tons of sweet little bistros, cafes, and restaurants within walking distance.  Which I ignored.  Ah, maybe next year!

Day One:  8am wake up, clean up and a distress call up to the main desk due to being LOCKED UP in my room.  Yup, me, the overly safe girl, had thrown the deadbolt the night before and it was stuck.  Talk about panicking!  I needed to get to class and hadn't made the drive yet so I wanted to be nice and early to find parking and get my bearings.  So, that's when I discovered metal fingernail files are excellent impromptu tools for sticky deadbolts.  Off to the festival!
 Again, it was another no make-up day.  Hot, glorious weather over steaming pots?  I wanted to get down and dirty with dyes, not be wiping dripping mascara.   So yes, I was "hobo stylin'" as my sister likes to call it.  Faded, ripped clothes and all!  LOL
Here is a dark shot of us ladies waiting to get in.  I'm loving the yarn bombing on the posts!  Some was even crochet and weavings.  Very cool touch.  Parking was easy and off to registration I went.
 The lady in the grey and white sweater with the peach scarf was the one who organized the event.  Sorry, I can't remember her name right now, but she was so sweet!  She even let me sneak into an overfull class with the fabulous V.  The lovely basket on the table was full of little Euculan gifts, which I LOVED.  So nice!  And once registered, off to the class I went.

Here is a shot of Jackie Ottino (she's the one with the black shirt) and her table of mysterious dyestuff and tools.  Jackie is one of the two master dyers at Swan's Island Company in Maine, USA.  She, by her own words, is a "detailed" dyer.  Formulas and precise notes are her constant companions.  Don't get me wrong, she is very into experimenting, but she likes to capture the details so it can be done again.  That, I think, is fabulous.  I'd go nuts if I found the perfect shade and had no clue how I did it. 

Here is a sample ring of the colours Jackie created for Swan's Island.  Gorgeous, huh?
And look at that fleece!  Delicious.
 And my favourite table... the sales table!!!!  I really made a dent into my wallet here.  In fact, this is where I blew my festival budget!  Did I regret it?  Heck no!  I wish I had budgeted more to buy more dye extracts.  :)
 Here we used orange osage to dye some of the beautiful merino wool that Swan's Island donated to us for the class. 
 Look at that colour brewing!
One of the students wanted to experiment with a premixed indigo solution as an over dye on the orange osage yellow wool.  Cool!
Due to the lack of burner space, Jackie fired up the propane burners outside the classroom in the parking lot.  We got a lot of strange looks, but for the most part, people were really curious and impressed by our work.
 Look at the amazing coloured skeins we created!  Jackie is checking out the wool.  One problem with excellent merino wool is its tendancy to felt.  Coming out of the hot pots and hanging in the cool air was causing a little pinch of felting.  Jackie gave us a really cool saying to help us when we are dyeing: 
"Cold to hot, worry not.
Hot to cold, cannot be sold."
Now that will come in handy!
And so we finished the day with a ring of coloured skeins for each of us.  If you ever get a chance to take a natural dyeing class with Jackie, DO IT!!!  The woman is a wonderful teacher.

Up next, day 2 at the Twist Fibre Festival!  

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