Ellen Mason is grounded, practical, talented and so attractive that it’s really tempting not to like her…but you have to because she’s so wonderful that she makes you feel wonderful too. If you watch any room that Ellen has entered, you’ll see people gravitate to her space like butterflies to nectar. Have you met her? Think Laura from the Dick Van Dyke show with the wit of today’s sharpest comediennes…we’re so lucky to have her in our midst! This year she’s playing a double roll at Fiber College…she’s teaching Slip Cover Making for a Small Chair on Friday morning and on Saturday and Sunday she’ll be mentoring a dye tent for attendees who would like to dye material they purchase or bring with them…a chance to create your own art with an expert in house.
We asked her to give us a peek into her mind by answering our interview questions…this is what she said:
I knit, sew, draw and dye. Mostly.
When I was 16 I thought, “If only I could sew and knit all the time, and not have to attend classes about books I really didn’t read.” I might have thought it out loud, too. Today I think, “If only I could sew and knit all the time, and not have to attend the grocery store or make supper.”
My favorite time of the day is when my chores and short list are done and my schedule allows a long spell of focused work time (which feels like party time). If I were more regimented about the chores and the short list, this time of day would roll around sooner.
My proudest career moments have been seeing my work in the wild – I once stopped a man on Cape Cod to say I was the maker of his child’s clothing, and more recently, I saw my Lillian Fay sweater on a restaurant patron.
Priscilla Gibson Roberts’ Knitting in the Old Way is the book that changed my life. It was a gift from my mother in 1985, and empowered me to think for myself, boldly.
My favorite item of clothing is my wedding gown – my Mom picked it out, a simple cotton dress I wore barefooted in our barn. It represents my past, present, and future. While I covet most of my clothes because they’re handmade, they can all be replaced if necessary, all except that wedding dress.
My Daily Practice: Coffee, think, record thinking on a 3×5.
The art tool I couldn’t live without is the 3×5 card – I keep them everywhere and jot down ideas, drawings, schematics and solutions. They are the pages in my life’s journal. I am a process junkie, constantly figuring and answering questions that probably don’t even need answering. The cards all end up in my studio, overflowing and not yet sorted, but there nonetheless.
The words I live by can all be found in the lyrics of Mr. Rogers.
I still get nervous when the lights come on at the end of a sad movie – everyone will see it was me sobbing and snorting. I still get nervous when a sports team will be counting on me to use my gross motor skills, or lack thereof. Why are there not more sewing and knitting games? I would be an excellent contributor. I still get nervous when there will be swimming involved. I still get nervous crossing frozen lakes on my snowmobile. I still get nervous when I know I will need to shake hands with someone, because I have cold and clammy hands. Want me to keep going?
The lesson I keep learning: This is my right hand, this is my left hand. Wait …
I have many favorite spots on this planet (and I have yet to venture far from Lake Winnipesaukee). I feel fortunate to live in New England, a hub for yarn manufacture. And there is no place like home. Home is where I keep my family, my sewing machines, my yarn and needles, my dye pot …
What makes me happy, really happy, is spending time with people who get me, really get me.
To me, whole living means loved ones, food for the brain, time to think, and making.
Unless you’re very lucky, you may have to wait until Fiber College to spend time with Ellen in person, BUT you can read more of Ellen’s words and see her designs on her blog. Odacier.blogspot.com