This post will have almost no pictures. The reason is that my week in the woods was part of an event that was screen free. Which in some ways was amazing, and I didn’t have cell signal anyway. In some ways it was frustrating because I really wanted some pictures of my kids working and interacting with some amazing people.
So a week in the woods…. I was geographically only about 10 min from my house. Which is actually what allowed for me to be able to do this event. This was the primitive skills gathering (4corners skills gathering) I have been talking about and combing wool for. It was the first year for this event which is similar to events like Wintercount and Rabbit Stick. Unlike most of the participants and instructors, this was my first introduction to the world of primitive skills gatherings. I had no idea what to expect, or if I would be able to teach spinning to this group of people.
Because I was very close to home it allowed for me to come to the opening circle and firelighting. Set up my camp and go home for the night to do things like grocery shop and pack for a week in the woods. So Monday afternoon I was all set to teach. Since my kids were so excited to get there, we ended up at the gathering a couple of hours before I actually had to do any teaching and so I got to learn how to make pine needle baskets. I have to admit that I am now totally addicted and will have to do some more hiking this fall to collect some more needles so I can do a bigger one before winter.
On the first evening I met a woman who was interested in some help with her cotton spinning. She had been to another primitive skills class and had made her own cotton support spindles and was trying to spin cotton lint that had just been picked off the bowl. she was supper frustrated with it. I told her I would bring my cotton stuff (as I was heading home anyway) and we could sit and do some cotton. So my first class, I taught several people park and draft and she showed up with her cotton spindle. It was all very organic, people dropping in and out. I showed my new friend how to card cotton punis. She was so excited. She carded all afternoon. Then her friend who happens to live in my area and had taken the same class she had stopped by and the three of us spent all afternoon spinning cotton together. The next day she stopped procrastinating and spun off a puni. It was magical. Still park and draft on cotton, but I think as she practices she will see it get better and better.
The rest of my actual wool spinning classes went super well. I was able to get almost everyone making string. Several people really took off with it. I did not have spindles I could give out to take it home, so I started saving the spindles for people to come and spin on as the week went on. At the end of the week, I had 3 people that I taught to Andean ply before they went home. Two of them had more than 10 yards. One of those lives close by and wants a fiber animal.
Much of the week was counseling people about how to wash wool, card wool, and spin wool. I did not teach an actual class on washing fiber, but next year I need to. I also spent a lot of time encouraging people to check out the wider spinning and fiber world. People really wanted felting. I am not a felter. However, there is a woman who lives in the next small town who teaches felting out of her studio. I encouraged the locals to look her up. I encouraged those who wanted an animal to go to the local fiber festivals and talk to growers and vendors and see what’s what. I get self reliance, I understand getting back to nature. However, I don’t get overlooking a real resource because it’s not part of the primitive skills world.
Over the course of the week, people started to notice than I had some pretty amazing skills with fiber. Which of course I do, but I am not the most amazing fiber person out there. I know this because I am plugged in to the fiber world. However, in this world I am pretty cool. Because of that I was able to trade some of my yarn for some pretty awesome things like an Anasazi style clay bowl that was made by one of the other instructors, some amazing hand polished turquoise, a neat Navajo made bracelet, and a bunch of homemade elderberry syrup for my medicine chest. It was pretty neat to trade with people who understand the level of skill and time involved in what you do.
My kids ran wild in the woods for a week, mostly under the supervision of a very knowledgeable outdoor instructor. She is also local and my youngest loves her. So this enabled me to focus on teaching and learning for the week. My oldest and middle got to take a few classes. They forged their own copper bracelets. They learned to sleep in tents, pee in the woods, ignore the bugs, and play in rivers. By the time the week was over, they were exhausted, dirty and can’t wait for next year.
I am unfortunately a bit busy. Level 5 homework needs doing and then I still have to get through my level 6 class and in depth study. However, this has opened my mind. I would not mind bridging the gap so to speak in teaching this group fibery things and showing them the path. I will do this event again next year and perhaps add a natural dye day and a class that is titled “so you want a fiber animal…” (I would talk about the fiber processing not the raising. )
Now onto starting school and the new fall schedule.