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Sierra Club Retreat

sierraminiwancawelcome.jpgSaturday I taught at Camp Miniwanca near New Era Michigan (not far from Silver Lake, where we spent the 4th of July), on Lake Michigan. It was the Sierra Club’s annual retreat. I’d never been before, and honestly I did not get to stay very long this time. I went there long enough to have a very nice salad, teach, and go home.

I car pooled with a very interesting guy from Lansing… we had four hours of chatting on the way there and back. He’s interested in color, and told me about some resources I had not known before on the subject. I am excited to check into that. I don’t take time to read enough, but will need to work that into my schedule now.

The grounds were beautiful. The food was also beautiful… real, healthy food including great salad fixings and baked potatoes with a number of possible toppings, and sandwich fixings and pasta salad for those wanting typical lunch fare. I sat down with my plate of good salad greens, carrots, water chestnuts and olives (I brought canned fish to top it with) and talked with a few folks at the table. It turned out that the two who obviously were cooking, were from Ireland and Turkey… and the two others at the table were from Russia. The first two were quite willing to chat.

sierraminiwancaparking.jpgThe Irish woman had only been here a few months and was still getting accustomed to the different cultural situation, and the differences in her version of English versus ours, particularly considering she has spent a life working in food service and yet there are many things we call by different names here in that realm. Surely she’s in some of the hardest adjusting time for a move to a new continent/culture, and I wished her well in her experience here.

The woman who talked the most with me was the lady from Turkey. She has been here in the USA a long time, she lived in New York City (and loved it) for I think she said 11 years. She goes back whenever she can. We talked knitting and socks and Kilims. She would not use the word “rug” for a Kilim, it’s distinctive enough to have its own name somehow. One of the distinct things about Kilims was that the fibers are all colored with what we call “natural” or “vegetable” dyes. I want to look up more information about this, perhaps one of you reading this will be able to direct me to a good resource.

peaches.jpgI asked her about socks. In her area, men knit socks in the winter after dinner as they socialize together. She said women didn’t knit socks where she was from. This is in contrast to the one pair I own from Turkey where I know a story behind them. The pair I have were knit by the grandmother for the mother’s wedding, and the daughter sold them to my friends who bought them for me.

I asked about the symbolism of the colorwork patterns in the socks. She said they were individual, meaning different things to different folks who knit them. I interpreted her information almost as if the people were knitting a visual poetry, sierraclubclassmembers.jpgwith lots of subtle symbolism inside. She stressed several times how knitting is done without patterns, how every single thing is made differently, made up on the needles. (This is how my friend Altu from Ethiopia/Africa learned to knit, as well.) I thanked her for the information and company, and then proceeded to set up for my class.

My students wandered in, curious (they can come to whatever classes they want without pre-registering). I ended up with seven folks, six pictured in this photo which was taken by an aunt (I think of the youngest one in the photo) who came in as we were preparing to leave. We had a marvelous, creative time.

sierraclubthinfelt.jpgI only wish we had more time to spend together, there was such enthusiasm in the room. I’d asked for 2 hours or more, and they said they’d schedule 1.5 hours and put me in the room when nobody would follow me so we could bleed over and stay there longer if we wanted to do so. Then when I got there, they had scheduled someone to start teaching 1.5 hours after me. We did what we could with our time.

One woman (see photo) did a great job making the finest, almost paper-thin, lacy felt in her first attempt (red). It was like glass, you could see through it. The second one she got thicker by adding more layers of fiber, and I loved both.

sierraclubroseattable.jpgThe last two photos are of Rose from Ann Arbor. She really loved the needlefelting process which was an option to try after they made a small piece using the “wet felting” technique. Here in the first photo she’s still in the classroom (which was hot as an oven, but had a spectacular view of Lake Michigan from the back windows you see in the first photo).

The last photo is a close-up of Rose’s piece as I left the grounds. She took her supplies outside the classroom building and settled in on a bench to keep working on her needlefelted masterpiece. I sent them all home with a baggie full of wool, sierraclubrosespiece.jpgyarn, ribbon, beads and other goodies to make more pieces at home or later in the retreat. She did not waste any time getting into it again, and I think this piece looks rather spectacular. You’d never know she had not done it before.

I thank the Sierra Club retreat people, especially Lisa and Wendy, for inviting me to teach at this excellent event I really enjoyed the students and I hope they contact me and say hello. At least a few said they would email me. For the record, all of you reading here, I do have an email list which I don’t use very often… but if you want to be on the contact list for classes I teach all over the state and country, and significant updates to my website/shopping cart, please send me an email at Lynn AT ColorJoy DOT com and I’ll get you on the list. I promise I won’t overwhelm you with emails and I won’t sell your name.

(The photo of the peaches? We bought them on the road to camp. It was a table full, with a box to deposit your money in and instructions to take a bag and leave the basket. We each got one of the smallest size, still a lot of peaches to consume in time, when they are this ripe.)

One Response to “Sierra Club Retreat”

  1. Sheri Says:

    Hi Lynn,

    My friend and I had a great time in your class. Felting is great fun and I enjoyed it. I’m a printmaker too, if you remember. Check out my blog when you get a chance. Love the photos. We stopped for peaches too…

    Take care,