India Flint and September Gone

Our classroom

Caution! After a long quiet spell, this is a long post so, if you want to, have a cuppa and enjoy this glimpse into a workshop with India Flint....after a brief prologue!

I have done it again! Failed as a 'faithful news updater'. Where did the time go? Once again a gentle push from a friend alerted me to the fact that that time had slipped through my fingers and an update here was sorely needed. September was an unusually busy month for me. Among other, smaller events, September featured an annual quilting retreat to Cle Elum, Washington. It's a beautiful spot in the mountains and the scenery always provides a nice Autumnal counterpoint to our lowland views. A week after I got back from there, my friend, Janet, and I headed to a neighboring island (Lopez) for a magical three day workshop with India Flint. It would have been wonderful if we had been able to just commute to and from each day, but the Fall Washington State Ferry Schedule meant that it would have been neigh on impossible to do so - and so Janet found us a cozy beach cottage to rent. We returned home late Friday night and I am, just now (Tuesday) beginning to feel somewhat 'myself' again.
The garden that was the backdrop for the class.
Before my FM/CFS and pesky chronic back pain issues(from the surgeries), colored my life, I never was much for schedules or routines. My energy flowed as I willed it to - more or less. Now I have to be so much more careful. Routines bring comfort and I carefully doll out my energy in spoon-fulls rather than event-fulls. Going away to do something fun brings with it the knowledge that I will "pay for the fun" by requiring most of a week to recover. My need for sleep and rest skyrockets. While my issues are nothing compared to what many others face, the fact that each day can bring an energy deficit with elevated pain does wear on me. I try not to bring these issue to this site...but once it awhile the truth behind my lack of diligence here might require a mention.

But now - back to the fun in life.........................

I have been a fan of India Flint for many years, but her classes are generally too far away and too expensive for my personal exchequer to consider. When this opportunity to take a class on a neighboring island came up last February I knew that it would be now or never. I prepared. The class itself was called "Wayfarer's Jacket". It is about working a deconstructed pre-loved garmet into a recreated, somewhat visonary, garment that is replete with pockets to hold treausues, words, implements and utilitarian objects. I knew from the get go that this was not really "my thing" but I hoped that I would learn whatever it was that I needed to learn from the class....and I did. In spades.

We were a class of 13 very lucky women from parts near and wide. We included one woman from the host island,  Janet and I from our 'neighbor' rock, 2 from Canada, 4 from Seattle and 4 from California... it think that is how it broke out. It was such a great group of creatives that I felt inspired. There was a sense of comraderie and friendship that permeated the three days. India Flint is one of the most gracious women and teachers that I have met - she has encyclopedic knowledge of her craft, but she is unassuming, well grounded and a throuugh delight. She is attentive when needed and gently guided when she intuits that you perfer to go it on your own (which I think is the vibe that I must whiff of).
A 'pre-loved' shirt becomes a pinafore
 (an apron by any other name).
This was the option that I chose to make as well,
but mine is still in the continuing process of becoming
It felt like sacrilege to cut apart the Irish Linen Shirt that I had brought to work with. Most of the additional fabrics that I had brought were silk chiffon, and silk noil. I had no pre-conceived notion of just what in the heck I would be doing and, truth be told, I did not want to spend more money before I had a good idea of "the plan". Knowing that the jacket option would see little use, I was happy to make an alternate choice- a pinafore which I know will see use. I had to shake myself into submission as I took my scissors to the sleeves and placket of the snowy white linen. At this pointin time my apron is stalled, but it looks much like the image above that was another student's work. I was amazed at how free and easy some of my classmates were with their "scissor hands". They blythely cut into sweaters, precious silks and woolens as they created ruffles and sinuous curves of cloth that were melded and welded onto the vestiges of their original garment. Meanwhile, I was considering how I might put my shirt back together again! I am adding threadwork and embroidery at a slow pace. It will, at some point, become a finished, wearable, item.....yes, it will!
..............and the cauldron bubbled............
Best of all I was able to get answers to so many of the questions that I had about making and 'cooking' eco-dyed bundles. Although I presumed that eco-dyeing would be a logical component to this class I was not sure how much time would be devoted to it. Happily, a large amount of time was devoted to this amazing process.... and all of my personal learning goals for the class were met- and then some.

Our two hostesses were Mz.Christi and Mz. Patsy. Between the three of these women (Mz.India cooked for us too) they managed to feed us royally each day; treating us to lunches worthy fine restaurants. Included were some of the best gluten free breads and cakes that I have ever enjoyed eating. There were rich, delectable soups, tasty grains and salads, rich, lusty, cheeses and crusty breads galore. The setting was a home that belongs in the pages of architectural magazines with vistas of land, forest and seas that delighted my eyes at every step and turn of the pathway that led from the classroom to the house. The path was magical; filled with old growth evergreens, Madrona trunks that twisted towards the sky and mosses and lichens that looked like the homes of fairy kingdoms. The light in these forests was like no other that I have seen locally. I felt so blessed to be a part of this. It was a class, yes, but it was so very much more. A class with India Flint is more of a total experience rather than just an opportunity to learn about her process. If you have the interest I cannot any more highly suggest that you snap up  a place in whatever class you can get to!  Many of India's students travel extensively each year to take on-going classes. I wish I could do that too...especially one tht she teaches in Edinburgh...perhaps in my next life I will be able to!

There was a box of "give-away" garment and fabrics that our hostess, Christi, made available. The dress that is in the image above was one of those orphan garments and it peaked Mz.India's fancy as a backdrop that has now begun it's coloration journey by having our eco-dyed bundles placed upon it to cool before the magic of unwrapping began. I think that what I love the most about this process is the kismet of the color. Yes, one can plan the color a bit by having knowledge of the likely outcome of the plant dyes and by careful placement on the cloth, but the the results are always touched by unexpected magic too.

Many of the students created artful bundles that were festooned with personal "identificatiion tags" like bobbins or beads. Some wrapped their bundles around obejcts that created whisical shapes like hearts (below) and cat heads.

The magic and anticipation are really in the unwrapping of these magic bundles.

It pays to wrap your binding tightly as well as smoothly. There were moments when finding the ends were a nuisance for those of us who used mere cotton string. Some people used velevt ribbons, wool yarns, fabric strips or other means to tie their bundles up. The addition of things made from iron...horseshoes (I need to find one of my own), rusted car chains, copper tubes and the like make for an added touch of magic. The items I brought were very pedestrain...wool yarn and cotton string that look less than glamorous! Below: Janet begins to unwrap her magic bundle.....
Results when some iron (I don't remember what she used) is added to the mix. Rich, dark, greys.
The edge of this amazing dress with it's elaborate stiching (an ongoing journal of life and travels) trinket line fascinated me. It made me wish that I had the height to carry off the long as elegantly...but I think that I would end up looking like a fire plug or a mushroom if I tried it. I do like the ida of using my pinafore as a stitched journal though and tht's my plan....
Can you spot the bundles below that most likely had iron bits in them?

This sun-lit succulent caught my eye. I need to remove those wisps of spider web!

I brought along some silk noil yardage on a whim, but I was glad that I did. I got such a rich variety of color. In this yarage the darker colors were caused by closeness in the pot to some iron but also to Smoke Bush leaves. The brighter greens and yellows are from Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) which I now simply have to get. I put some in the freezer to try later. Our hostess, Christi, brough some boughs for who to sample. I also had added some onion skins to this brew which always delights me in it's range of broens, oranges and reds.
I love the look of the string marks on this piece! There are two 'real' leaves on the fabric for comparison to the prints in green.
Lookit' those greens! A delight!

This is a simple silk noil top that I had made to bring. Once I got there I dcided that it was not suitable for the class, but I decided to dye it. The back of the top is below. I had added a small pleat as a detail and managed to get the effect of having wings on my back. Kismet at its best! This was also the top that I had been stitching on when my left middle finger attracted a through and through encounter with a Schmetz 80/12 needle. I worried about getting the blood out, but it really would not have mattered! Now that I have washed and ironed this shirt it really looks great!
 The front of the shirt below. 
The top part of the shirt is a bit more wet that green areas that are thoroughly dry 
so that's why there is color variation in the photo. 

The end of the adventure featured a champage send-off replete with a lush and luscious chocolate-gingerbread cake - gluten free! It was baked by Christi and was decorated with violets and fresh rose petals (which tasted like velvet with a hint of apricot). 

In all of my years of taking classes this was the event to remember. Gracious women, divine views, hostesses with the mostess', food for the finest restaurants in the world and a teacher who "gives a damn" about her students and the world. What an experience to remember this was. There are thoughts about having a  2017 reunion in Big Sur. Not so much a class, but a respite. If it happens I will try hard to make it.

I learned so much more in this class than just technique. I learned a lot about myself along the way. What better hallmark of the excellence of a class experience is there than that? None in my book!

To learn more about India Flint and her work have a look at her website and her blog.

 A few random images from the special place that we were privileged to be able to enjoy.

Captivating vintage tool
along the edge 
treeline to the sea

If you have made it this far to the end of this long post - thank you for being here. I apprecaite the time you take to read about my small adventures. 


  1. wish I had been there. looks like fun. now rest up.

  2. Thank you, Marie, for composing such a beautiful and heartfelt post ... I am so touched by your personal experience & what this time meant to you. Makes my own heart SING with joy.
    Let us, as neighbors, not lose touch & we'll keep fingers crossed together for 2017 ;>)

  3. it was an enjoyable read all the way to the end!

  4. Bless you dear heart for writing all those kind and lovely words. And I do hope your finger is better now that you have extracted the residual steel.

  5. omygosh Marie, what a wonderful time for the senses and the heart! i must go back a read again. Your colors of nature maturing at the speed of artist is amazing! how wonderful you got to take this class experience.

  6. You have truly captured the wonderment of the class, Marie! I love how your shirt turned out...

  7. great post Marie .... it was a most perfect class . you totally described this adventure ... now i am ready to go back .

  8. What an experience! So glad you got to enjoy it :-)

  9. Lovely to read your recap - takes me back to wonderful moments of the workshop... I loved so many things about it and feel lucky to have been there! My jacket continues with more stitching to do and considerations about dyeing.

  10. What a perfect description of our enchanted three days! I loved every word! I'll get the list of attendees together soon, just arrived home last night!
    Thank you for a memorable post!

  11. I saw you taking those photos and knew your were up to something. This is such a gift. I have had difficulty describing to some of my friends exactly what was so magical about this experience, and now I have a way to express it. Thanks so much


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