I spent last weekend in the Surprise Valley in far northeastern California. I was hosted by Bonnie, the owner of Warner Mountain Weavers in Cedarville, who had asked me to teach a class.You can’t miss the Warner Mountain Weavers when driving through town……because it’s not a very big town. I unloaded my truck with things for the class on Sunday and some items for a mini-booth. The store is downstairs and the classroom is upstairs in this beautiful historic building which was built in 1874 as a schoolhouse (downstairs) and shared with the Masons (upstairs).Look who I found upstairs in a spinning class! Farm Club members, Lisa (who connected me with Bonnie for this adventure) and Kathleen.Downstairs I tried my hand at rug hooking which I greatly admire but won’t have time for, at least in this lifetime.Beverly, who owns Jitterbug Rugs Studio (motto: Life’s Short – Cut a Rug!) is a pro.Bonnie carries all sorts of yarn but I particularly admired Loni’s Lana, produced by a local rancher who runs four bands (a band is 1000+ sheep) of Rambuoillets in this desert valley and in the nearby mountains. Loni has just begun to have her wool processed into sliver and yarn, natural dye it, and market it in the northern California Fibershed and beyond. I spent two nights at Bonnie’s and Richard’s wonderful house about 7 miles north of Cedarville. This was the view from my window in the morning and I had to quickly get out with my camera.The sun rose over the Hays Mountains that are in Nevada.The major wildfires burning in California have pushed smoke into even this remote area. There was haze and smoke throughout the weekend (and all the way on my 5-hour drive home on Sunday).This is the view west to the Warner Mountains.Just before I snapped this photo there was a cat looking out of that hole. Cool photo, huh? (If the cat had still been there.)This is Zipper, the resident burro (from a wild BLM herd)……and his buddy, Hank.Old wooden loading chute near the barn, now filled with sagebrush.I have a crazy story that I’ll try to make succinct. I asked Bonnie why they moved to Modoc County from Sonoma and Marin Counties. As she told me of a friend who bought land there I recognized some names. It turns out that their good friend, Bill and his sons, Dennis and Larry, had a dairy in Petaluma where I worked when I was in high school (and had a big crush on one of the sons). As other owners of large dairies have done, they bought land in this area so that they could grow their own alfalfa. (As you drive through all these valleys between Redding and Cedarville you see lots of cattle and alfalfa.) Bill has since died but Dennis happened to be in the area so he came to dinner on Saturday night. We would not have recognized each other (we look only a little different after 40 years) ) but it was fun to catch up on mutual acquaintances and stories.Just up the road from the house Bonnie and I cut rabbitbrush flowers for use in the dye class the following day.This is the bag that I brought home. I need to get these cooking.On Sunday I taught Expanding Your Horizons with Rigid Heddle weaving, a class in which I teach hand manipulated techniques for creating more patterns in weaving (applies to other looms as well). Isn’t this a wonderful space for classes? I’m so jealous. This is not a rigid heddle loom, but an old Hand-Skill Loom that I had never seen before.Turning what looks like a steering wheel lowers and lifts the shafts.One of the techniques is weaving loops. I usually demonstrate this with loops all the way across the weaving. Don’t you love this idea of creating images with the loop placement?
Modoc County is a place that I’d like to return too sometime. Too bad it’s so far away…but I think that’s what keeps it so great!