More ramblings from an American road trip and my fibre related finds along the way

Moving on up the coast from Arcata (but not before I bought some gorgeous ceramic beads from Talisman in Eureka) we stayed at a basic but comfortable motel at the edge of Crescent City before heading East through Smith River National Recreation Area and on up into Oregon. 

Stunning Fern Canyon

Stunning Fern Canyon

While in Crescent City we explored some of Redwood National Park including the stunningly beautiful Fern Canyon, part of the Praire Redwoods section of the greater park area.   Passing through Grants Pass we then headed South a little before turning East again and travelling to fascinating and remote Lava Beds National Monument.  On the way we spent one night at Shakespere mad Ashland (I kid you not!) in a gorgeous old hotel on the main street where I had the opportunity to pick up some great buttons and beautiful undyed mohair locks at  a handspinners, weavers and knitters delight called The Web.sters.  I have never felted with pure mohair before so am really looking forward to seeing how it felts when I get home, it feels beautiful and silky to the touch and is in gorgeous natural shades of grey, silver and off white.  We also spent some time chatting (or visiting as you folks say over here) with Alfred Hanan at his brilliant shop ‘Hemporium’, a fantastic place to pick up some stylish, comfortable and natural clothing or accessories and then met Dale Muir in her studio at the Ashland Art Centre.  Dale works with recycled materials creating wonderful funky assemblages which just had to make me smile.  The Art Centre is very interesting, one of many different co-operative type businesses we have encountered along the way and giving me lots to think about for future possibilities back home in Ireland.  We stopped in Ashland for one night before moving on the Tulelake, our base for visiting both Lava Beds and the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges.  Thanks to our Californian Lonely Planet we checked in to Fe’s B&B on 660 Main St., a great choice as Fe and her husband Bob were great hosts and Fe’s delicious hot breakfasts with fresh fruit were healthy, tasty and large setting us up nicely for a day exploring the fascinating scenery and wildlife in the area.    Another nice aspect about the B&B was the fact that guests from the 4 bedrooms joined up together at breakfast and shared tables.  We got to spend some time with an interesting young couple Lizzie and Lawrence from England and had a meal together the second night at Captain Jack’s Stronghold, a surprisingly good restaurant at the side of Hwy 139 a few miles south of Tulelake.  One thing that it is hard to convey to friends at home is how BIG this country is and when you are in more remote regions it could be hundreds of miles between gas stations or anywhere to eat, decent or not! 

Alan among the lava beds

Alan among the lava beds

Both Lava Beds National Monument and Klamath Wildlife Refuges were brilliant stops on our trip.  The volcanic activity over the years has created a fascinating landscape, we did some great walks through the lava beds and and into the caves and were lucky enough to see a young mountain lion on our way back to the B&B on our second night.  The refuges provide habitats for a mind boggling array of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway and on the second morning we saw a bald eagle from a distance of about 8 feet while driving around one of the auto routes, the best way of viewing the birds as they seem to be less afraid of cars than of us humans!  We intended staying one or two nights at Fe’s but ended up there for three, if ever you are in the area call in and say hi, you won’t be disappointed with the welcome and the brilliant tasty breakfasts!!

Silk, buttons, bits and bobs …..

As well as fantastic scenery and lovely people one of the great pleasures of holidaying in another country is picking up little notions along the way.  Moving on along the coast Alan and I had a great time at Elk beach just a little south of Mendocino and I was lucky enough to find some gorgeous pieces of abalone shell which I am going to incorporate into some felt jewellery when I get home.  I have also been on the look out for small interesting pieces of driftwood and these are plentiful to collect at some of the more wind swept beaches all along this stunning stretch of the coast.  Alan bought a picture called ‘Lemons on the Table’ by Peter Suezek from Sunshine at the Mendocino Arts Centre and also another painting on board at the Arcata Artisans Co-Op.  We have been extremely lucky while staying at the Fairwinds Motel, 1674 G Street here in Arcata that the owner Al Lukiman just happens to be a computer guru who used to work for Warner/Chappell Music.  Al very kindly showed Alan exactly how he can connect to wi-fi wherever we go so hopefully now communicating every couple of days won’t be such a problem as it was before!  As a result Alan has been able to concentrate on a bit of paper work that he needed to get out of the way while I was able to trawl some fantastic fabric and fibre shops here and in Eureka.

Buttons, ribbons, yarn and cowls

Buttons, ribbons, yarn and cowls

Talking you through the image on the left some of my booty from Arcata included hemp twine from the natural store on the square  (sorry there is no name on the receipt and I just can’t remember what the store is called), the gorgeous ram’s head and horn buttons on the bottom left from Fabric Temptations while in Eureka I picked up the fabulous large buttons, the heart buttons and some amazing colours of pure silk ribbons from Heather at the North Coast Knittery, email address info@northcoastknittery.com.  The two cowls are part of my travelling crochet project, the cowl on the left is made from some gorgeous soft merino I received in a Ravely swap while the shell pattern cowl on the right is from the Noro Furisode that I blogged about in the last post.

Display at party and mosaic nuno.

Today Alan and I will be going to a drinks party at Shankill Castle, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny, home of Geoffrey and Elizabeth Cope.  Elizabeth is a well known artist and Shankill was actually the place where Alan and I both met, we lived there in the late ’90s and over the Millenium!!  After last weeks open house here at Clasheen, Elizabeth kindly suggested that I put a discrete display of my work on one of her sideboards complete with some business cards in time for tonight’s festivities.  This was a very welcome offer because you never know at Shankill exactly who will be there or who might be interested in the work! 

Anyway, I decided last night to made myself a mosaic nuno neck wrap to wear this evening using some of the gorgeous silk chiffon that arrived at the end of last week from Wollknoll.  I chopped and laid out the silk in apple green and forest green with some warm yellow and soft orange highlights.  Alan arrived into the studio at that point and declared that the layout was just like army fatiques, not the most helpful comment but in a way he was right!  I laid a very fine layer of gold coloured merino over the silk and then laid a layer of a beautiful greeny/gold merino and silk combination at right angles to this.  This top colour was one of the melanges that I carded earlier this winter when I had the use of Carmen’t drum carder and I had just been waiting for the proper opportunity to make use of it.  The whole neck wrap had been laid out on thin plastic bin liners and when I wetted it out I placed another bin liner on the top.  I massaged the package by hand to ensure that all the fibres were fully wet and starting to connect, then I rolled it up and began to roll.  Once the wool was starting to migrate through the silk I then replaced one of the layers of bin liner with a long sheet of bubble wrap, I felt that this would speed up the process and so it did.  Where the silk pieces overlapped by more that two layers it took a bit longer for the wool fibres to work through but after approx 1000 rolls I was able to start throwing the scarf!  This sounds a bit frightening if you have never made nuno felt before but so long as the silk and wool have combined successfully this is the ideal way to full your work.  Dipping it into really hot soapy (olive oil soap) water, squeezing the excess gently and then throwing hard onto the bubble wrap meant that the wrap only took a further five minutes to shrink and felt fully.  The finished item has a really interesting combination of colours now that the merino and silk have worked through from behind and it will be perfect with my olive and apple green linen/organic cotton and hemp outfit that I intend wearing tonight.  Hopefully if I get time in the morning and rain permitting I will take a picutre of it and post it to the blog.