Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oklahoma is to Dye For

A couple of weeks ago, there was a master spinners course being taught in Sulphur, Oklahoma by instructors from Oldes College in Alberta, Canada. They added on a 100 Colors Dye Workshop which our favorite spinner Judi mentioned and Susan, Doreen and I jumped on it like pigs into mud.

Susan slept over while we waited for Doreen to finish her night shift at the hospital, then took off in the dark of night so to arrive in Sulphur for the beginning of class, a bit the worse for wear, albeit with a yummy healthy breakfast at a McDonalds somewhere near the Texas/Oklahoma border. And the class was not playing around at all. We dove into some serious work, masked and gloved, mixing colors, toting canning pots full of jelly jars around to available burners, boiling, draining, spinning dry, etc. etc.

The principal of the course was that we took three primary colors, then mixed 100 colors from them, as you can see above.
Ellen Munro was our taskmaster/teacher. She was reeling off information at lightning speed. Being rather quiet, we had to follow her with ears cocked and notebooks in hand to catch every pearl of wisdom she offered.
Here's Doreen slaving over a hot stove. She was quite the ace at this since we did our measuring with medical syringes. She has obviously had a lot of practice.
We paired off to do our work. Each pair was responsible for 14 colors. I got the lovely Rina as my partner and enjoyed every minute of working with her. In fact, a nicer group of women you couldn't have found anywhere. They came from all over the country.

After mixing all the colors and dyeing our sample skeins, we were allowed to exhaust the remaining dyes on our own fibers. Here were some interesting rovings and skeins dyed with various techniques.

Here is the skein I painted. I'm quite happy with the colors and learned about a product which really helps keep the color in place. It's so funny, when I buy clothes, I always choose subtle colors. But when I buy or dye yarn, it is usually outrageously colorful.

Our thoroughly exhausted threesome limped out at the end of the day to our shared room at the nearby Indian owned motel, where we immediately crashed and burned. Waking an hour or so later to the smells of curry wafting through the halls (an odd smell for Sulphur, Oklahoma) we left to have dinner way out in the boonies with friends. Following them through beautiful landscapes on narrow wildly winding roads, we eventually tumbled onto this treasure.....Steve's Steak Barn.
Here are Carol, Roiana, Susan and Doreen standing in front of the above mentioned establishment in the middle of bloody nowhere. Starving one and all!

We had elaborate decor.
Exotic water features (note the hound puppy drinking from the outdoor shower/bathtub).

Even more exotic locals arrived on strange machines.
Susan seriously risked taking home an adorable kitty with extremely sharp needle like claws.

Gotta tell you, though we swatted lots of flies off our corn on the cob, Steve's steaks were pretty fabulous, as was Steve. Evidently, he had a huge crowd that night, a couple of staff didn't make it, and Steve solved the problem by inviting his biking buddies for kitchen duty in exchange for beer. Not sure how clever that was, but it was rather hilarious. We found our way back home with a different scenic route, not quite so curvy, and by 9PM, we were all snoring.
The next day's class consisted of cutting all of those color samples into tidy little strips, tying them neatly onto pages, then using everyone's work, assembling books of samples with the formulae that we could refer to in the future.
Wouldn't have missed this for the world.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On Becoming an Orphan

Some things just have to be said. I was trying to avoid posting sad news on the blog, but it seems I can't get back to talking about knitting until I honor "my old guy".
My father passed away last week, just after the stroke of midnight on his 90th birthday. During the last year, when he said he might not be around much longer, I always replied that he had to make his 90th because I was throwing a party. Then after the cake, we would discuss 91. Well, he made it. It was quite a shock to me to lose him now, although I suppose at 90, one shouldn't be surprised at anything. But what seemed to be a mild pneumonia turned out to be something much more serious. He was surrounded by those he loved, a good end to a good life.
My father LOVED his family, they were very close. Eight boys and one girl. The two youngest are missing from this photo taken when my father was 4, second from the right.
His mother saw him off to war with the Air Force in 1942.
Here he is in the fifties with his brother Dana and Greer Garson.

The last few years, there were only two of the tribe left, my father and his youngest brother Steve. Now there is only Steve. Although Steve couldn't travel from California to be with his brother that last week, he called every day and the two reminisced with laughter and tears.
There was an honor guard to send off this veteran of two wars.
My father certainly wasn't perfect, but he never told a lie and he never intentionally hurt anyone (although that bit about not telling even a white lie sometimes had that effect). He was an idealist. He remembered every date of everything ever. We shared a love of words and language and history and art and classical music. We had crossword puzzle challenges; even the last few months when he had lost much of that incredible memory, we would do the puzzles together. When I quit piano for ballet, he was so furious that he sat down with my books and taught himself to play, only Chopin for the first 25 years until he retired and finally began lessons. Perhaps three days before he died, my neice and I were sitting with him near midnight. Suddenly he began joking and teasing us and the nurse and it was my father of the old days, sharp and lucid and funny. After half an hour of this amazing gift, he fell asleep and the next day it was gone, but what a lovely memory he gave us.
My friend José Feghali played a Chopin nocturne at his service, so beautiful it brought everyone to tears. I miss him.