The Final Chapters

Well folks, I have taken my final bows and closed the curtain on this summers internship. It is an experience that I will never forget as long as I live, and I want to thank everyone that made my experience absolutely wonderful.

To Karen, also known as Mama Eagle,

Thank you for being the best boss that I have ever had. Your patience and passion is something I admire, and I hope that you continue to love what you do. You taught me that it’s okay to walk away and come back to something, but to never give up. There were times that I was frustrated with spinning, and I thank you for your encouragement. I loved the nicknames that you gave me, and feel that I will now never live down the nickname “Quilly” (though that is perfectly alright with me.)

Thank you for including me in every step of every process, and for taking the time to sit down with me and teach me the little things that others may have not. You really do not know how many ways you have helped me grow as a person, and I can not thank you enough for giving me the chance to live my dreams.

 

To Annie and Sarah,

Thank you. Truely. Thank you so much for welcoming me with open arms and adopting me into the weaving family for the summer. I enjoyed getting to know you both, and will never forget how much you’ve taught me. Both of you have such wonderful perspectives on weaving, spinning, and dyeing, and I found it interesting to listen to how you two solved problems and answered the public’s questions.

I appreciate the time and effort you put into teaching me, and for putting up with my rookie mistakes. Thank you for the laughs and the sing-a-longs, for the advice and tough love, and for the opportunity to try something new. Good luck to the both of you on your bright futures, I hope our paths will cross again someday.

~

My internship wasn’t an easy one where I got to sit behind a desk all day in the AC, or one where I got to travel out of the country, but it was one that I have been dreaming about since I was a small child. To actually say that I completed my life goal is a big accomplishment; to be able to say that I know how to use a saxony spinning wheel and a great wheel is something I never thought I’d be able to say. Let alone work with looms to produce fabric! The dye process is also something that I can say I know how to do. I am not at the level that Sarah and Annie are at by any means, but it is safe to say I know my way around the two trades.

My last day, August 7th, 2014, was a dye day. We worked with woad, a plant grown by our gardeners to make blue dye. We boiled the leaves and used the potent water to dye the skeins. The leaves smelled like cabbage, and it was funny to watch the crowd take a sniff of the leaves we passed around. Woad makes light, beautiful shades of blue, which show up during oxidation, much like the indigo plant. In fact, there is a chemical in woad called “indigotin” that turns the fibers blue.

Throughout the last few weeks, I got to see Sarah and Annie shear a sheep (which was amusing to witness), spin “black wool” to take home, weave tiny linen cloth, get in a last dye day, and took some amazing shots of CW on my days off.

Colonial Williamsburg is a place that will always hold a special place in my heart, and a place that I hope to return to often.

Thank you for reading,

Emily

 

P.S.

To my roommates, Thank you for everything. You are both wonderful and I love you dearly. Send my love to Elizabeth.

 

Dye Day Pictures!

Red, yellow, and blue dyes in our pretty copper pots.

Red, yellow, and blue dyes in our pretty copper pots.

Red, yellow, and blue

Red, yellow, and blue

The gorgeous purples I made! Karen said I can keep them!

The gorgeous purples I made! Karen said I can keep them!

Ta da!

Ta da!

Combining dyes for pretty colors.

Combining dyes for pretty colors.

The two on the left are mine, blue and a nice coral color.

The two on the left are mine, blue and a nice coral color.

Some of the aftermath. Mostly Indigo.

Some of the aftermath. Mostly Indigo.

Indigo Thunderstorm

Tomorrow is dye day! I’m so excited! Last dye day was fun too, but we were working with reds, so the dye didn’t show up on my hands like I wanted it to. I’m one of those people who likes to tie dye without gloves to have rainbow hands for a week. 

Thankfully we will be doing blues, yellows, greens, and burgundy tomorrow, so my hands will be beautiful! I will try to take pictures throughout the day, but make sure to check on our shop facebook page. 

Thursday was Jenny and me interpreting, while the higher ups were up in DC making some stops here and there for classes. It was a very slow day, with two huge thunderstorms rolling through. There were guests who stayed in the shop for quite sometime just trying to stay out of the rain. I worked on the back loom a bit and did some repair work on a snapped petal string. Spinning the black wool has now become my favorite project to work on, as we are currently repairing/changing the one on the front loom. 

Today we worked on finishing up souring and mordanting the fabrics and skeins for tomorrow. The linen project is causing setbacks, so they are re-slaying the reed to see if that will help.

Annie and I laid out firewood to dry overnight, and washed the big wooden buckets that we will cool the dye stuffs down in. 

Tomorrow we will have everything up and running in full swing hopefully by ten or so, and will dye until about three. I can’t wait! There is so much planning that goes into a dye day, so it is always very rewarding to see everything fall in place!

 

The Return of Quilly

Math has never been something that I was good at, but the Monday I got back from home, Karen taught me how to use the worksheets they use for figuring out how much yarn we’ll need for the next project. Luckily for me, a calculator was involved. I have much appreciation for the weavers of the 18th century who had to do it without one!

From the beginning of my work week, (Thursday) I decided that I really wanted to make enough yarn so that I could dye it on the 26th. We are currently preparing for the dye program, and will be using our new smaller copper pots, with 3 different colors of dye.

We will be working with cochineal again to make reds, indigo for blue, and fustic for yellows. We’ll overdye blue and yellow to make green as well. Before you can dye anything however, you have to scour the skeins and put them in a mordant. The word in French means “to bite” so the recipe uses tannic acid and washing soda for cottons, and cream of tartar and alum for wool fibers. Mordants help the dye bite onto the fibers, and make it permanent. Everything is boiled up and cooled back down so that its ready for saturday. 

I made a skein of wool yarn and tied it off with green yarn so that I can recognise it when it goes into the dye. My plan is to dye it blue!

Something else exciting is that we got a big donation of wool, that I got to spin and take home. The fiber is naturally black and I am in love with it. I really want to make a scarf out of it, but I’ll have to learn how to do that first…

Sunday, Lisa and Emily from Coach and Livestock sheared two lambs, one ewe and one ram. Sarah, who has her own set of shears, got to help! She was really excited about learning how to flip a sheep on its back and shear it. I got to help bring the ewe from the field, which was difficult in itself, since it was the first time the lamb had been taken out for shearing.

The shop got to keep the fleeces, the softest you will get from the sheep. Once that first coat is cut, it grows in just a little bit thicker and wiry.

So that was fun! Monday was a very slow day, but we worked on getting things prepared for Saturday; which I am super excited about!! 

Just another manic monday

This is the third time I have tried to write this draft, because apparently the new wordpress updates do not save drafts if the browser gets shut down. So here goes nothing.

Monday we worked on setting up the newest project, a 720 yarn warp, a foot across, and 6 yards deep. It is a very fine linen project, that will be sent to England for a time study. It will be a fast project, but it took about 8 hours to set up the entire loom. I have not learned the petal patterns yet, but I hope to work on it, since it is a new pattern to add to my repertoire.

Tuesday, Alexandria and I traveled to the Outer Banks and enjoyed a long walk on the beach collecting shells. It was wonderfully peaceful. Wednesday was my down time, but I did enjoy a fun dinner with friends in Richmond.

Today, Thursday, Annie continued to work on the set up of the front loom, and I continued the project on the back loom. We did hit a snag on the back loom, since there was a petal that got tied on wrong on Monday. There was a really wild storm today, so it was a rather slow going, but we worked on making as much yarn as we could for our dye day coming up.

I am headed home for a few days, so I will return to work on Monday.

Until then my friends!

The epiphany!!!

I FINALLY FIGURED OUT SPINNING. HALLELUYAH!

It took me a month to figure out and plenty of frustrated huffs and puffs, but I did it!! I had the epiphany that Karen, Annie, and Sarah always said would happen, it just took me a little longer to get there. I AM SO HAPPY. Karen and Annie embarrassed the heck out of me by barging into the shop during my interpretation, putting a skein around my neck and giving me hugs. They had to explain to everyone in the shop what had happened, and they clapped for me. :)

Karen also taught me about the drafts used to make the patterns; there are so many different kinds of patterns you can make. We worked with graph paper to mark which yarn goes with which harness and the petal sequence. I hope to make my own designs and test them out someday.

My aunt and uncle came to visit today, it was great to see them! I got to introduce them to our sheep, and they stayed to hear my interpretation. It was a wonderful day!

Daisy May and the Fourth of July

“Daisy May” was the newest nickname from my boss, as well as “Emily Rose”, both of which I think are cute. I am very glad that Karen is back, and enjoyed her stories from Canada and Maine. She brought Annie, Sarah and I little trinkets, an adorable notepad and an “answer feather” that I tied onto my apron.

It was decided that the wool warp was toast, and was deemed unworkable, so we wound it backwards off the beam into two giant skeins to salvage the yarn. It was sad to see after all that work, but the yarn was just too weak and fuzzy to hold as a warp.

The Fourth of July brought in thousands upon thousands of people, which was great for business, but hard to handle. There was never a moment where the shop wasn’t absolutely packed wall to wall. It got to the point where I wasn’t sure who was coming in and who had heard what, so I was just kind of on a repeat until someone asked questions.

I got to sit outside and enjoy watching the people for a little while, and was asked to take pictures at least 10 times in the 15 minutes I was on the front stairs. It was pretty fun! The weather was beautiful, and it was a great day out for fireworks.

I didn’t stay for the fireworks though, as the crowd was so vast by the time I left to go home, I knew there was no chance I’d find parking again, so Alexandria and I hung out at her house for the night and made smores.

It was so funny to see all the people in their festive outfits, especially the flag pants, vests, and dresses, not to mention all the dressed up animals. I do wish I could have stayed and enjoyed the fireworks and auction, but it was the busiest day Williamsburg has seen as summer, so I was quite pleased to get out of the crowds at five.

We’re working on scheduling another dye day for Saturday the 26th, so if you’re around, come on by, we will be dying with indigo, a major cash crop of South Carolina!