Tag Archives: yosemite


a weird but short post.

for all those trying to connect with me on linkedin- I don’t do linkedin.

so all those unanswered requests will remain unanswered. sorry. it’s just too much.

I also understand that some or those requests are auto sent- another reason I don’t do linkedin.
but in other news-

have a great holiday week with friends and family.
see you on the other side.
(plus, I’ll see you in Yosemite next year- the week of Sept 15th. )

acorns in the dyepot

recently when i was up north, i gathered a small amount of acorns.  i wondered how they would work for a little shibori workshop i might teach next year. here is a page from the notes and swatches journal- (on old silk)

fall dyer's notebook-acorns

fall dyer’s notebook-acorns

and who knew how good simmering acorns smelled?  (jude of course…)
their beauty astounds.

acorn dyepot

acorn dyepot

so, a little wondering while i continue packing up for the show.





gathering or collecting? (a workshop with Julia Parker)

Yosemite meadow-the Native Americans kept this area free from trees and saplings, it is now filled with trees that encroach on the meadow where materials and acorns were once gathered.

Yosemite meadow-the Native Americans once kept this area free from trees and saplings, it is now filled with trees that encroach on the meadow where materials and acorns were once gathered.

I am still gathering my thoughts here- it will take some time for them to settle in and find a place to live. but in the meantime, a few photos….

Among the very many wonderful pieces of wisdom shared at the recent basket workshop in Yosemite with Grandmother Julia Parker, her daughter Lucy, and granddaughter Ursula was the distinction between gathering and collecting.  Am I a gatherer or a collector?

Lucy explains the valley floor-how Yosemite indians tended it and kept it free of non native plants.

Lucy explains the valley floor-how Yosemite indians tended it and kept it free of non native plants.

Am I gathering things with intention of using them in the short term or collecting things to have them for some other reason-perhaps without a specific purpose?  Often we get caught up in the collecting of things-for various reasons.  But what if we only had what we needed now- in the present?  My, the world would look so much different!

bracken fern roots were carefully dug with a digging stick, dried and prepared for basketmaking.

bracken fern roots were carefully dug with a digging stick, dried and prepared for basketmaking.

sedge grass is used in many ways in basketry- here you can see sedge, bracken fern and milkweed

sedge grass is used in many ways in basketry- here you can see sedge, bracken fern and milkweed

detail of milkweed pod- the stalk is used.  these are different than the ones i grow-

detail of milkweed pod- the stalk is used. these are different than the ones i grow-

three generations- Ursula, Julia, and Lucy.  it was a beautiful experience.

three generations- Ursula, Julia, and Lucy. it was a beautiful experience.

Lucy demonstrates working with the willow under Julia's watchful eye.

Lucy demonstrates working with the willow under Julia’s watchful eye.

some of the participants finished baskets

some of the participants finished baskets-using twining technique. tule,willow and cattail. small example of a burden basket.

Other highlights of the three days include walking through the wonderful basketry exhibit with Julia herself (i’d provide you with a link but since the federal “government” is shut down there is no link!)  Just trust me- it was fantastic and walking through it with Julia and Lucy was really wonderful.  A special visit into the roundhouse where Julia and Lucy performed a special happy dance and song along with a blessing. Sitting outside under the trees making baskets while deer wandered through and hearing stories-priceless!

And on another exciting note- the first copy of Julia’s new book  , Scrape the Willow until it Sings  was delivered to her during the workshop.  We all got to look at it and it will be available soon from Heyday Books. It looks wonderful.  I had a copy of her previous book, It will Live Forever which is a wonderful introduction to not only acorn culture in Yosemite but also includes the baskets used to gather and process the acorns into food.  She graciously signed my copy.  She will be in San Francisco Oct. 20th for a book signing if you are fortunate enough to be able to go.

A basket can hold many things- food, objects, water-even thoughts and ideas. I gathered some cattail while I was at my friends cabin.  They are drying out in the driveway on top of the car (the dogs can’t get them there).

I intend to make a cattail basket when I return from Houston mid November-and fill it with memories from this time.  To use in the garden- a gathering basket. We all gave away our first baskets as tradition dictates.

There is a lot to do now to get ready for Houston.  I don’t even know where to start today….

just somewhere i suppose.

working through nature


After doing quite a bit of walking through nature recently, I found myself wanting to move more towards working through it.  After wondering about the possibility of weaving baskets with cattail (inspired by being away), my friend sent me a link that got me very excited.  So excited, that after wondering about it for a couple of days, I signed up!  This will be the first workshop I have attended as a student.

Julia Parker, 85,  leads the 3 day workshop along with her  daughter and granddaughter. I understand there are still spots available.

“Take from the earth and
give back to the earth, and don’t forget to say please and thank you. It is the fiber and not the weaver who makes a beautiful basket.” ~Julia Parker

(The currently expanding Rim Fire in Yosemite is far away from the workshop location and park and fire officials are hopeful that life and structures will be spared.)

In preparation, I am studying a bit on the following topics: Yosemite Valley basketry, Paiute and Miwok people, among other things. I found a copy of Earth Basketry on my paperbackswap.com account and it should be here soon. I also ordered a used copy of Tending the Wild online and will add that to the study list.

I have been fascinated with California’s indigenous people for a while now. Every trip up and down the coast adds new understanding.  I have only scratched the surface but hope this workshop will add depth and more understanding.

The exact location where we stay in Mariposa was a summering home of local Miwok as noted in many historical documents as well as evidenced by the abundant granite mortar holes nearby (used as acorn grinding sites).  I have blogged about that before…here in 2007. I have spent many summers wondering about them and their lives, in this place.


So it’s back north at the end of September for a short stay.  This means that much work must get done in the meantime since the Houston Quilt Festival is looming.  One of my two workshops is filled- the other only had two spots left as of last week (#708 Indigo in the 21st Century).  However, there are 5 spots left in the two day workshop upcoming at the Japanese American National Museum August 31 -Sept.1.  Contact the JANM to register for this workshop.



while i was away…

i got back to beauty.

ladybugs danced on a log in the woods near the creek

ladybug log home

in fact, they had made a nest in an old rotting log about 20 feet long. millions of them i imagine.  what a sight!

more ladybugs

i ate wild blackberries from the canoe as i floated and read my book…

ate berries from the canoe

traveling, the mind wanders


i hiked with trevor in woods, meadows, and along creeks in the wilds of the sierra national forest.


i explored some history of the local area. this word, painted on an old patch of asphalt and buried under inches of pine needles and oak leaves, long abandoned deep in the woods was from a girl scout camp in the 40’s and 50’s. it was funny to see it like this. perhaps it was reserved for me that day.


i gathered cattails from the ponds edge…


and made some dinner!

cattails for dinner

patched fisherman jeanshere, fishermen need jeans, not coats. so i did a little patchwork.

handsome fisherman

my, the fishermen here are handsome!!

fisherman talk

i made a windchime with some rusty bits found on a hike. it takes a stiff breeze but sounds wonderful if hung on a thin weak limb.

rusty bits windchime

the view from up high- Vernal Falls, Yosemite.  crashing water rainbows and emerald pools

from high places

and higher still! view from the top

and higher still-from the top

we found out we have friends in high places too

friends in high places

on the eve of darkness-we start to settle in to watch the sky and the Perseid Meteor Shower

meteor shower eve

a small impression of the wonder seen

impressions of a meteor shower

practical too, for patching where the mice had chewed the outdoor cushions. made of memories


time to stitch and think too

stitching and thinking

a feather found, an old indigo cloth -which path to take?

thinking of jude's cloth


We have returned refreshed and renewed from another amazing week at a remote cabin near Yosemite due to the very generous friends who so graciously allow us its use each summer. The heavy winter snows across the Sierras melted into gushing streams, lakes, ponds, waterfalls and rivers of the Yosemite Valley, filling them with cold clear waters and providing epic views of all the waterfalls- most notably Bridalveil, Yosemite (upper AND lower), Vernal and Nevada falls.

We took the opportunity to raft down the Merced River again and had to wait until after 2 pm just to let the river drop. It took half the usual time as the water was swifter and not so lazy. No need to get out and wade the raft through low water over the rocks this year.

A second day we hiked up to the Emerald Pool beyond Vernal Falls along the Mist Trail. A wild and wet steeply uphill climb of about 1.8 miles. Exquisite!

Much of the rest of the time was spent hiking, botanizing, reading, and just lazing. Lots of time to think, stitch some and talk.

I’ll let the camera do the talking as far as the botanizing goes, but I will say that all the water combined with a late spring and our earlier that usual arrival (we usually go in August)
meant that we got to see some beautiful Sierra wildflowers on which we usually don’t get to feast our eyes (and noses!). Some I can identify and some not- if you know what they are-let me know! One in particular I couldn’t identify much to my surprise- it is so prolific, lovely and has the most fantastic honey-scented clusters of flowers. I was surprised it wasn’t pictured in any of the Sierra wildflower books we had.

there are more and you can see them on my flickr here if you’d like. again, most are uploaded in large file sizes so you can check them out in detail which is kinda fun if you like that sort of thing.

I have always loved flowers and enjoy translating nature’s designs into whatever medium I work with. Inspired by the wildflowers of the Sierras, I did a little flower making myself-

I did quite a bit of reading-such a delicious luxury! I took along several things- The Poetics of Space (i think Velma recommended this)-loved the nest chapter, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (recommended by Jan at Oh Brother!) a great vacation read, a book on Japanese photography– exquisite! I also brought along the Burchfield book . Read a few of the Armistead Maupin books for fun- actually realized I had read 2 of them before but went ahead and reread them anyway!

Some time back I had read about half of the book American Silk 1830-1930 by Jacqueline Field and never finished it so took that along too and really enjoyed the case histories of the the companies profiled there. I mentioned the book way back here on the blog where I purchased my copy while attending the Costume Society of America’s convention in San Diego where the author herself was attending and selling the book. Interestingly, she teaches at the same college that Hirata san’s grandfather went to back in the late 1800’s and met him on his recent trip here just by happenstance. This morning I received a call from her and she will be joining us on the Silk Study tour- how exciting! Things are firming up and filling up for the tour- I will be passing out brochures at the upcoming Long Beach International Quilt Festival later this month. (There may still be a couple of spots open in my shibori workshop…check it out.)

I also did some stitching for the indigo vat, the silkworms finished their cocoons, and I am busy now preparing for the show. It was great to get away and remain unplugged for the week. I had time to think and just remove myself from my usual daily activities.

The one thing that keeps repeating in my head after this break is this:
-it matters how a thing is done.
i will let this be my focus for now.

next post- the cocoons and more from the indigo vat.