Friday, January 27, 2012

Alafia River Rendezvous 2012

Just got back from my favorite rendezvous (fur trader reenactment of 1640—1840 time period).  Over 1200 participants live in a white canvas village with all the amenities necessary to sustain whole families for over a week.  There is a general store, clothiers, fabric merchants, gun and knife smiths, black smiths, copper and tin smiths, leather and fur traders, candle and bead suppliers, apothecaries, house ware merchants with the finest period china, treenware carvers, ti pi pole and tent suppliers, school house with certified school marm, dance hall, tavern, period food vendors, period musicians and instrument makers, and much much more.  (See 

There are competitions of all kinds: black-powder, tomahawk, archery, woods walk, dessert cooking, and more.  Seminars on many period subjects from brain tanning to embroidery, dutch oven cooking to finger weaving.  Games of many types from the Scottish Highland Games, children’s games, pick up boccie ball in the Commons.  And they hold court a few times to reprimand “offenders” of various crimes (very funny).  Period music is performed every night in many camps. There’s a pow wow on the commons and drumming almost every night in the Native American camp.  There’s a horse camp.  Opening and closing ceremonies are performed Native American style.

These 12-day events allow plenty of time to set up my suttler’s trade marquis/seminar space and to teach Continuous Strand Weaving for triangle shawls, rectangle voyagers sashes, square blankets, and more; inkle weaving and tablet weaving for belts, straps, ribbons, and more; spinning on spindles and wheel; and to give a seminar on the historic use of natural dyes.  In the spirit of the time line clothes, camp site, and sale goods should be related to the period, and certainly no plastic, zippers, or flashlights are allowed.  Only candles and campfires light up the night.  I sleep on a buffalo hide and sheep skins under a wool blanket at the back of my marquis, keep warm on cold nights with my three-dog wood stove, and heat up water for tea, oatmeal, soup, and washing on my wood-fired brazier.  I do business at night by the light of candelabra and lanterns, and enjoy the stars in the wood-folding lounge “star-gazing chairs” my son made.

 Goods for sale include spinning and weaving tools, natural dyes, books, fibers, yarns, finished woven textiles, and of course our new book on the Continuous Strand Weaving.

 Nature-dyes yarns are featured and used by shawl and sash weavers.
Rose and William treated me to a campfire dinner one night: 
lamb sausage, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Photos by Rose E. Martin