Last Friday HEG (Homewood Embroiderers' Guild) sponsored a field trip to Esther's Place in Big Rock, Illinois. One of the members who had signed up to go was not feeling well, so three of us met up and made the trek. (It was over 70 miles from my house!)
My GPS dropped us off more than a mile away from the actual location, but we just kept on driving and found it with no problem.
A very nice Victorian:
with the lilacs in bloom!
When we walked through the door we were greeted like long lost friends. We looked at the shop, a very nice selection of fibers and supplies for felting, both needle felting and nuno (wet felting). We also got the tour of the upstairs, with accommodations for a small retreat or workshop, a special overnight for a mother/daughter and friends evening, or a place to stay for a small family reunion. Our hostess mentioned a family that stayed over and during the evening wove a rug on the loom that is in one of the rooms for a wedding present to commemorate the weaving the great-grandmother used to do. Sounds like close to heaven to me!
Donna also shared with us how Esther's Place came to be, and some of the dreams she and her daughter have for ways to continue to expand the business.
When we returned downstairs Donna invited us to have tea and scones, and pulled out a bucket of fiber, inviting us to make a felted flower. We got right to work. Here is Peggy, felting away:
And Elizabeth, pondering her next color choice.
Her is our hostess Donna. You can see on the table in front of her the first flower I made.
While we were felting away, Donna invited us for lunch, and brought out elegant plates with spinach quiche, spinach salad, and a cup of chicken soup to go with our tea.
Later, when we were checking out, we asked how much lunch was, and were told we were her guests for lunch! Most of this food came from her farm, and it was all delicious!
Natasha started Esther's Place with her mom Donna to showcase Natasha's talent in the fiber arts, and to provide a place to encourage people to gather to make art, form a community, and return to the forgotten skills of living close to the land and using its abundance to enrich lives. Much of the fiber in the shop comes from their own farm, but also from other local fiber producers. We didn't get a chance to visit much with Natasha, because she was teaching classes the whole time we were there: a weaving class when we got there, and then a follow-up to a felted flower class. I found out she also teaches spinning, beginning with drop spindle spinning to learn the draw, and then following up with a spinning wheel. I think if the shop were closer I would have signed up right then and there.
I was encouraged to make as many flowers as I wanted to. (I cannot sit and talk without something to do with my hands, so I was busy.) Here are the flowers I came home with:
I think these would be excellent to use for my chemo caps!
Here is a link to the list of classes. I can see five or six classes I would love to take! The current list is for last winter, the new classes should be posted within a couple of weeks. There are 3 or 4 spinning classes that would work, and I would love to make the thrummed mittens!
When we went to check out there were several pleasant surprises. As I mentioned, there was no charge for lunch! Plus, I picked a bag-o-fiber to make the flowers for the chemo caps (we had chatted about that during our time around the table), and Donna did not include that on the bill. She donated the fiber for the flowers! Thank you so much Donna! I did get a kit for the Nativity scene angels, and a bar of hand-made soap, and a beginner's felting kit.
We all had a wonderful time, and I cannot wait for the chance to go back.