Lorain County Spinners and Weavers Guild (Ohio)

With the help of the Lorain County Spinners and Weavers Guild, hundreds of Ohio elementary school children witnessed firsthand how early settlers dyed fiber. Mordanting, dye bath preparation, and the use of natural dyestuffs were covered in the Pioneer Crafters Experience at Mill Hollow. Goldenrod, tansy, coreopsis, bronze fennel, lily of the valley, chicory, sassafras, and black walnut produced earth tones in contrast to the pinks and reds from cochineal beetles and pernambuco wood. Experiments in solar dyeing with fleabane and pickle juice were also tried. A display of naturally dyed yarn showed the color combinations possible and the results of tests for colorfastness. Member Ed Rowe sees demonstrations as a method of outreach. He says, "I can't tell you how many folks I have talked to or in front of in the past year . . . the number would probably run several thousand. Every one of those folks had some interest or they would have walked right on by." He watched fourth graders' facial expressions change when wool was drafted out, then hearing the little hooks tear apart, exclaim, "It does sound like Velcro!"  The theme of the group's February program was "Crafts of Your Grandmothers." Members were asked to bring an item made by an elder for show and tell to explore crafts unique to their own era that may no longer be done now or that used different materials from those available today.

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