That woad tank was still there the next morning, calling my name. Using fabric scraps leftover from my stitching prep, I amused myself with ombre experiments. Not sure if it will last since many elements of the dye formula had become inactive overnight, but things were turning blue and it was just plain fun.
Later we all packed into the vans for a trip to Montpezat, a 14th century village on the crest of the hill outside my window. At night, it sparkled like a ship at sea. My kind of wonderland. Kaari called it a movie set, so beautifully charming and picturesque.
With hollyhocks. Who could ask for anything more?
The church of St. Martin welcomes visitors who come to view the rare Flemish tapestry from the 16th century. Although the panels tell a story, I got lost in the variety of beautiful wildflowers along the bottom.
After learning about woading and the history of the color, the blues everywhere in the village seemed even more striking.
The woad plant is a natural insect repellent. Apparently, the traditional blue coloring in the doors and shutters originates in woad's ability to protect and preserve wood.
Our walk through town took us to the tiny home and studio of Janine Dassonval, a renowned tapestry artist who creates enormous, wall-sized tapestries on commission from artists who want their work interpreted in this traditional form.
She is one of only 5 people in the world who still create in this format, spending 60-80 hours a week at the loom or finishing the back. Life's work seems a wild understatement.
Everything about her work and studio was mind-blowing and captivating.
Including her cat with woad blue eyes.
Before heading home, we stopped for coffee in the quaint village square. Some pulled their stitching from their bags and got to work. Personally, I was pretty thrilled to see everyone stitching just because they enjoyed it. All so lovely.
After a very full week of scooting all over the countryside, one of the things we still hoped to see were the blooming sunflower fields. Kind of a classic view for this part of France, they were almost ready to open, but just not quite there. It must have been funny to be in our van and watch the heads spin whenever we passed the green fields, everyone on the look out for Yellow. This was our last chance.
Finally, we passed a field that was barely yellowing on the edge - as if it was especially for us. Lizzie made a turn back for a quick stop.
That discovery and photo op was a highlight in such an unexpected way. We got the giggles as we tried to climb into the field over and through a deep drainage ditch, full of overgrown weeds. Holding each other's hands like a little chain, one by one, seven of us managed the challenge. We laughed even harder when Julie let us know that we could walk about 15 feet farther down the road and just step into the field. No ditch. Of course.
So, that's the thing about a trip like this. We started out as a loose group of quiet strangers from different backgrounds and personal histories. As the week wore on, the little events we shared -large and small- really did knit us together (going with the knitting metaphor now since I already used the quilting approach a few posts ago). The rest of the ride home to the chateau was a little bittersweet. Imagining the next day without all this sisterhood was sobering.
... until we got out the woad and wine again that night and had our beautiful farewell dinner in the garden.
A week I'll always remember, with gratitude and many happy memories.
One more post about France to share with you. Paris.