Saturday, October 15, 2011

jackson's arm. the project.


6 months ago i was approached by the community of jackson's arm to come and teach a group of women how to dye and spin yarn. over the past few years they have purchased an old house and turned it into a museum. on the same property, which is in the middle of town, they also renovated a workshop, a loft, a sheep shed and a garden (which has become a community garden)






the next stage of the project was to have something happening at the museum. something that would draw tourists and bring income to the community. the women of jackson's arm can knit (they are amazing knitters). what they need is a product that draws on their traditional techniques and patterns but that is contemporary and unique.
so this past week i worked with 9 women, teaching them how to dye fleece. kool-aid as a starter. then natural dyes from plants they had gathered - alders, goldenrod, pearly everlasting etc. materials from their kitchens - tea bags, onion skins (that's what's cooking up in the pot...)
acid dyes the following day...

we hung the dyed fllece out on the alder bushes to dry in the sun and wind


in the late afternoon i taught them how to card and use the drop spindle with the fleece they had dyed.


they came back on thursday all having spun a little skein.

for homework they'll knit up an item that incorporates their skein of yarn - a hat, some mitts etc. on tuesday i go back up for three days and i will teach them how to use the spinning wheel. and we'll brainstorm on products to knit with their hand dyed, hand spun yarn.
eventually they want their own sheep. they all have memories of the sheep in jackson's arm. of their mothers and grandmothers dyeing and spinning. one woman said she remembers being kept out of school to sit on the sheep as her mother sheared them (her father being away fishing). they want to bring this back...

7 comments:

Taos Sunflower said...

Shawn: this is one of the best things ever. I'm so envious of you being able to be part of such a wonderful project. PS Your photos are, as always, just wonderful. I wish I could visit there sometime. Makes me think a bit of my visit to Ireland. XXX

bluebird of paradise said...

Shawn, What a wonderful adventure. your photos and story are worth a book.How splendid!
xo

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing the story of your trip, looks like a promising start to something really exciting!

bb said...

Such a cool and practical thing, way to go Shawn, you do things that help folks in a real way. You should be very proud. Well done.

nancyj said...

How gorgeous and touching! I agree with bluebird; that's worth a book someday.

island sweet said...

thanks for all the lovely comments. i feel privileged to be involved in this project.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

what a fantastic place and community! Boy if I lived close I would be there in a heartbeat...another thing to convince me to come to your coast...like I need convincing!!