Mount Lassen Volcanic Park, thrifting and heading on for Yosemite

We had an interesting 40+ miles drive on a forestry road between Lava Beds National Monument and the main road to our next port of call, Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Initally we felt pretty lucky to find accomodation nearby at Mill Creek Eco Resort but unfortunately to our minds eco was the very last thing that the resort was in actuality.  For us (as Green Party members and activists in Ireland) green encompasses energy saving, low impact on the environment, recycling, composting etc. etc. and although that was what we were led to believe when we booked our cabin the reality couldn’t have been further from the truth.  In addition to the lack of expected green facilities our ‘pillow top’ beds (space for 5 to sleep in a tiny cabin!) appeared to be mattress toppers laid on dreadfully unfcomfortable old beds and we found that the small cabin was not laid out in any fashion to encourage a comfortable stay at all.  The fridge hummed to such a degree that I got an immediate headache (for some reason certain electrical noises cause me to get a really bad sensation in my head like a vibration) and we had to unplug it before our first night’s sleep, this caused the damn thing to defrost and Alan had to plug it in again when he discovered a massive flood in the middle of the floor during the night.  I didn’t realise that he had plugged it in again and woke up with a splitting headache early in the morning, you can’t imagine how annoyed I was with poor Alan when at last in desperation I said to him ‘you haven’t plugged in that fridge again, have you?’ to discover that he had!  Many missing light bulbs in various fittings in our cabin could have been considered to contribute to energy saving measures were it not for the other lights left on in the shower and toilet areas 24/7 to which we as consumers had no access to switches in order to turn them off .  I am also not sure why the sink was in position in our TINY kitchen area as it had never been plumbed and we couldn’t use the taps or drain but luckily Alan secured a little work top space by hiding the offensive fridge under this feature and we put the microwave in the wardrobe to replace the non existant mirror, if you held your head a certain way you could see your reflection in the glass of the door!  Anyway, enough gripping about the accomodation, Lassen was brilliant.  We had some gorgeous hikes through wonderfully diverse regions in the massive park and found a great thrift store called R.A.I.N. (Rescued Animals in Need ph530-945-4152) in nearby Shingletown where I was lucky enough to pick up some fun old trimmings, a large pure wool man’s jumper, a BEAUTIFUL old button and a strange funky metal and ceramic bunch of flowers!  The one good thing about our ‘Eco’ resort was the laundry and I have already shrunk the jumper and now just need to cut it up and reassemble it as a bag, another concession to my fibre addiction as we make our way across this wild and beautiful part of the States.  We really enjoyed our time at Lassen and left on Sunday for Reno, the smallest biggest city in the world!

Beautiful silk arrived for nuno felting!

This morning my order arrived from Wollknoll containing a wide range of beautiful coloured silks that I am going to be using in some mosaic nuno wallhangings and hopefully some clothes!  This is the technique that Sigrid Bannier taught recently to Feltmakers Ireland members and friends, one workshop in Dublin the other in Kiltealy.  We laid out chopped up pieces of silk chiffon in random or organised designs on top of  light see through plastic, covered it with 2 layers of very fine merino, more light plastic, wet it down and felted.  We overlapped the silk pieces slightly where they met so that there were no gaps in the coverage and this made the resultant fabric beautifully tactile and supple.  The colours were wonderful all over but in some cases especially interesting where the neighbouring silks overlapped.  Sigrid explained to us how to create a long skirt in a tube form and then use a large button or brooch as a closure.  I think that I might try this as an exciting Christmas/New year project (it would be a talking point at openings!!) and commission a nice button from Hillary Jenkinson at the Demanse Yard, Castlecomer for the fastening.

The other thing that I am excited about today is that I met some very nice people today in Borris, they were planning to contact me at some stage as they are interested in some felting workshops.  It was quite by chance that the topic came up as I was actually representing my partner Alan (he is a Green Party County Councillor) at the opening and blessing of a new playground which serves children from all the neighbouring communities.  The young children staged a Nativity play, there were a few short speeches, we all went outside to the play area and then the longest serving member in the group cut the ribbon.  At that stage everyone was invited back inside for a warm spiced punch (non-alcoholic!) and a bit of networking and chat.  It turned out that the committee members had seen one of the recent newspaper articles profiling my change of career and had discussed contacting me re. demonstrating to the younger children, teaching some workshops at their summer school and also doing some workshops with the leaders and teachers in the play school.  It was great to hear this as one of my intentions in the New Year had been to put some proposals together to present to local community groups so here I am already on my way!

Craft in the Classroom is  going to be stepping up a gear after Christmas as well, my HSE Child Protection Training takes place on 13th and 14th January and at the beginning of February I get to meet my teacher in Leitrim and learn all about the class that I will be working with.  Mehmet Girgic is arriving on 15th January and staying until 23rd so all in all January will be a very busy month.  Don’t forget for those of you living in the vicinity of Wicklow that I am also teaching felting workshops on 31st January in the Old Courthouse, Tinahely, we actually have a day lined up with tasters in felting, knitting, spinning and crochet, book your space by clicking here!