Though the retreat was officially a *weaving weekend*, as Connie points out, on her blog, there were lots of spinners along for the ride. There were also crocheters, and I'm sorry that I didn't get a shot of Melissa's crocheted Gnome, but if you go to Connie's link above, and look at the slideshow, you'll spot it.
In addition to weavers, spinners, knitters, crocheters, eaters, and laughers, there were also dyers. Kelly announced in advance that she was going to be doing some organic dyeing, and that anyone who brought 4 ozs of mordanted yarn, or unspun fiber, could join in the fun.
A mordant is an organic chemical treatment that prepares the yarn for dyeing. Different mordants produce different colors with the same dye. Some are benign and easily obtained (such as alum and cream of tartar, which I would have used), suitable for indoor dyeing. Some are less so (natural and organic do not automatically equal safe or non-toxic), like chrome and tin. By noon on Saturday, Kelly decided that it was just too windy to dye outside, and it was unsafe to use her preferred mordant/dye inside, so she went with a milder dye to simmer on the stove.
I didn't have time to pre-mordant my yarn last week, but ever hopeful, I brought some handspun along, just in case.
cochineal. Cochineal is a teeny little desert-dwelling bug that makes a lovely red color. You need about a bazillion bugs to get any usable dye (technically: 70,000 per pound). On the right is Osage Orange, which produces a yellow-to-orange dye, depending on the fiber, mordant, and the strength of the dye itself, which is made from wood chips and sawdust.
I didn't take nearly enough pictures last weekend- you can multiply my yarns by about 20, in all different colors and fibers, and imagine the beauty. It was a wonderful weekend, and I'll be going back next year.
Tonight, I'll see if I can figure out how to tell the Legless Chicken story without naming names...