When did a high school student ever get up on a Saturday morning to dye wool and spin yarn from sheep on their farm? Semester 49 at Chewonki! This weekend we celebrated fiber arts day! Fiber arts day was an awesome day full of activities like weaving, knitting and crocheting, natural dying, spinning, and felting. All of us got to sign up for two activities in the morning. My two activities were knitting and natural dyeing. I’ve never knitted before Chewonki, but after learning today I knit all the time, busting out those scarves for the holiday season. During knitting 10 of us sat in a circle at the Flintstones, and Mattias – one of the semester school teaching fellows, taught crocheting while students who already knew how to knit worked on projects or taught each other. For newbies, like myself, Chewonki has its own mini wool shop at the counter where we can buy needles and wool from our sheep on the farm.
The yarn is soft and comes naturally in three different colors, white, brown, and a checkered combination of the two. After our hour of knitting and tea, the next shift came around. Down by the art room, Megan – the head farmer and Laura – the other teaching fellow, set up six different buckets full of different natural concoctions for us to turn those three wool colors into “aqua blues”, “sea foam greens”, and “mustard yellows”. We each got three bundles of yarn to dye in Golden Marguerite, Marigold, Onionskins, Black-eyed Susans, or Japanese Indigo. These natural dyes, which were all found on Chewonki, were boiled in water to release their pigmentation. Megan and Laura already treated some of the yarn with a mordent called alum, which allows the dye to chemically bond to the yarn.
As we were busily dyeing, we went from light to dark colors and creating some beautiful yarn that would eventually be for sale. While waiting for the dye to settle, we collected acorns so they could be used for future dyeing projects. Fiber arts day was an interesting, new experience that I never expected to enjoy so much. It ended on a good note with a semester coffee house in the whale room, with needles and yarn in hand.
– Minah Choi, Olympia WA