On Friday morning I woke up early and walked out into the desert that surrounds the home that we were staying in for the weekend. The sun had not come up yet and was only on the distant mountains to the south.
And here I was...
This is kind of a tradition with me. I've been here three times now and it's like I HAVE TO DO THIS on the first morning or I don't feel like I'm really there.
The sun slowly rises and the light moves.
The plants lit up with the sun.
There were lots of sign that rabbits use this area.
And then there are the ant mounds... everywhere. No ants... but lots of ant mounds. They must be hibernating.
and was reminded of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem called The Windhover. This is the beginning of it.
"I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,..."
You've got to love how Hopkins puts words together, even if you don't always understand what he means? What do you think he means? I think it's like a prayer... but his poems always feel this way to me.
These words are how it felt out there, standing , walking... into "this morning morning's minion" I was the "minion", I was the underling with the "wimpling wing".
I walked back to the house. I can't remember if someone had started the coffee or if the water was ready to pour into the French press, but I swooped down on that coffee like a "dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon,...". The kitchen room was warm and the fragrance of oatmeal, apples and cinnamon was wafting in the air. We sat down together, gave thanks and ate the delicious breakfast.
Then the felting began.
First we washing machine felted the hats and slippers that we made before we arrived. Remember the raggedy, mistake ridden, first attempt at knitting myself a pair of slippers? Remember the flat "alligator" that turned into something that resembled a slipper?
And I had to make TWO of them?these?
Well, after three machine felts and two hand felting sessions.
There you have it... voila!
hand felting, to look the same... and, well... THEY DO!
The only problem now is that the Prospector just called me into the living room to watch a finch, who is building a nest on the porch. Because my slippers are outside drying after the last hand felt. This little opportunist was trying to pick pieces of the fringe off of the slipper for its nesting material. The nerve. I had to bring them in.
So... back to the retreat.
On Friday we started machine felting our slippers and hats. While the washing machine was doing all the hard labor for us, we started making flowers for the hats.
We laid out layers of wool roving. The first layer is the leave shape, laid on bubble wrap. Then the first layer of flower petals is made on top of a "resist" of plastic. The resist can be anything flat that will keep the two sides of felt from felting together, i.e. it “resists” the felting process. Two more layers are created, each with a plastic "resist" in between the layers. This is so that the whole thing doesn't stick together when you felt it. The only place that you want it to stick together is in the middle.
When you think that the layers are stuck together in the middle, one at a time, then you pull the layers through and start hand rubbing the whole flower. This is kind of a simple explanation of what happens but these are the results below... drying in the desert sun.
Then we added beads and buttons to the middle of the flowers...
Our hats went from floppy knitting, to felted and beautiful.
Some of the ladies made felted balls to fill real acorns and felted leaves that could be used for any embellishment.
Later, being a very democratic group, we voted to eat dinner in. We drove to a thrift shop in Dayton, picked up some dinner at the local super market ( the only one for miles, I understand.) and went home.
Before dinner we walked down the street, to a neighbor's home to see her quilting work center and all the amazing quilts that she has made. I was stunned at the workmanship in these quilts. After struggling with knitting, I decided that quilting will have to wait for my next life. This neighbor had joined us for our felting project, during the day. She has lived in Dayton for a few years and isn't it amazing how you find out that a perfectly nice, normal woman had this extraordinary talent. Who knew that she was the quilting queen of Dayton.
Well you are, my dear. If you read this blog post..., and I hope you do, I'm raving about your perfect and beautiful quilts.Thank you for giving us a tour of your home with all the lovely quilted wall hangings and quilts that you've made. That was a real treat.
So, we had a big salad and two very good DeGorno Pizzas... and apple cake, brownies and banana bread... and ice cream for dessert... and some tea. Yes, we're all at that age when we would like to eat dessert first, but we behaved ourselves and waited until after dinner for all the goodies.
Then, we watched a video of the beautiful and crazy girl who designed our felted slipper/boot pattern... the Moonkooka. She is the fairy godmother (with a white cat) of Little Owl Knits. This is a very entertaining video, if you didn't watch it the first time I mentioned it. It's about 36 minutes of spacey, cat loving, 'Can't believe she said that." fun that will make you wonder about her mental health, but, by the end, know that she knows very well what makes a successful business. She's as smart as a fox and very funny.
Well, time to go fixed dinner. I won't tell you how beautiful the weather has been here in California. I hope Spring comes soon to all of you in the north and east US.
I may not get to posting the last day of the retreat for a few days. My delta river friend, "C" is coming to help us celebrate St. Patrick's Day and I won't be sitting at my computer much. When I do get to the next post about my trip, it will be about wild mustangs and the Moonlight Bunny Ranch... which is not about raising bunny rabbits. Ha! Nevada... you've got to love their attitude.