Saturday, September 11, 2010


Ella was a local fiber person who died last year at a ripe old age. Today, her daughter had an estate sale at her home of Ella's fiber arts collection over years.

No notice in the paper- just word of mouth through the fiber community here, in the valley, and in a couple of cases out of state. The plan was to have some of the larger items like spinning wheels, looms, and a few other things bid on in silent auction fashion and the REST first come first dibs with donations accepted in a jar for what you thought things were worth.

I didn't know Ella so decided I should arrive a couple of hours after the sale began to let those who knew her collect special things that reminded them of their times with Ella. When I did arrive I meandered listening to the stories. I certainly wish I had known her.

So what was there? Ella was a spinner, a weaver- but it seemed in the casual sense ( rag rugs and such), and a felter to a lesser degree. What interested me most was her collection of samples of yarn she had dyed with native plants and some of her dyeing materials. And of course there were many books, magazines, and a file cabinet with patterns. All in all it was a little overwhelming.

I get overwhelmed easily so I made a series of trips through the room seeing what jumped out at me and others I knew and listening to the stories. Then, I would nibble on the snacks in another room, put my few treasures down, regroup and reenter the room containing Ella's life in fiber. One time through I found some rustic drop spindles, another time books and magazines, and then warp yarn and dyed bits of wool yarn.

The best part was people showing each other what they had collected and sharing and trading all around the stories. I think Ella would have loved to be there -- no rushing and squabbling, just wandering and exploring and wondering what some of the stuff was and how to use it.

One thing I learned about Ella was that she made notes about everything! All of her books or magazines had things underlined or written in the columns. All of her experimenting with colors were well documented ( plant material, mordant, time of year, location and more). I picked up pages of her notes.

I think her daughter was happy. Things went to people who knew her mom and shared the love of fiber for the most part. And those who didn't know her mom were excited about having the opportunity to know her through using her stuff. No dealers! And a gallon jar full of money.

I would have to live many many more years and devote my life to fiber to even get close to what Ella had collected. AND, I would have to have some place to keep things. Ella's studio was spacious and lovely and she had many friends who would spin and weave with her.

An exciting side is that people have gotten excited again about fiber and a list was started to form a fiber guild again or even play groups to dabble in fiber arts. I'm excited.

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