Monday, December 13, 2010

Spinny Tour 2010, Part Three:Sedalia Master Spinner Class

It's been a long cold month since I came home from my last spinning tour, but the warm memories still linger.  And some of the best memories are those from Sedalia, Missouri.

I went there the first week of November to teach Level One of the Master Spinner Program for Olds College.  I thought I was pretty well prepared, but there were a lot of wild cards in the mix.  New material to teach (I'd never taught Level One before), unknown surroundings (a church basement in a city I'd never been to), and mystery supplies ( I had ordered fleeces from a MSP student in the area, but not seen them yet).
And I had a co-teacher, the lovely and talented Coleen Nimetz, which was new for me, too.  AND I was staying in a haunted hotel!

The beautiful and historic Hotel Bothwell is located in downtown Sedalia, and is on National Geographic's list of the 10 most haunted hotels in America.  I checked in on Halloween, and the desk clerk, Donna, was only too happy to regale me with ghost stories as she took me up to my room in the old, original elevator...

The room was lovely, with a great big bed and a bathtub that looked about as old as the hotel.  Even after watching The Walking Dead and hearing the stories of the hotel ghost, I slept like a baby.

The next morning, I was up and off to work.  Level One, for those of you who are not familiar with the Master Spinner Program, is fairly basic.  We work with wool, starting with the fleece, sorting, washing, and prepping.  Then we move on to the differences between woollen and worsted spinning.  Throw in a little spinning wheel mechanics,  some nature dying, and an introduction to blending with silk and there you have it.

The 16 students were from all over the US, including Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, and Texas.  They were split nicely into two classes of 8, with Coleen teaching upstairs and me and my rowdy bunch in the basement.

We started out Monday morning with sorting fleeces.  Time to find out what I had bought.  It turned out I had ordered...

...magnificent fleeces like this Romney, supplied by Lorry McDonald at BlackWater Treasures.

My class could hardly wait to get their hands on it either...

... sorting the fleece into 6 sections and grabbing samples to use in their homework.

We also sorted a gorgeous Merino and an equally lovely Icelandic fleece.  Then we did a little spindle spinning and washed some fleece to work with the next day.

Tuesday morning, we carded for worsted and woollen spinning, then started to spin...

...with everyone making a lovely, balanced skein on their very first try!

We continued on spinning through until Wednesday, when we began to prepare for our natural dye day.  We tied and labelled skeins, prepared our alum mordant, and soaked a few of the dyestuffs that needed to be prepared in advance and left our skeins to do their thing while we went home to rest up.

And that was the night I was visited by the ghost.  I had gone to sleep with my iPod plugged into my ears, as I do when I travel, and was sound asleep when my TV went on.  There was nothing on the TV but snow, even when I changed the channel.  I  thought that I had maybe hit the remote in my sleep, so I turned it off, then on again.  The channel I had been watching before I went to bed came on, even though I had been changing the channels on the remote, which seemed odd to me.  I'm afraid that I was a little skeptical that this event had been caused by a ghost, and laughing at myself for even thinking it, I turned off the TV and plugged my earbuds back in and snuggled into bed.

The damn TV turned back on.  To snow.

I sat up and said, "Thank you for visiting, but I have a big day tomorrow and need my sleep."

And the TV turned off.


When I told Donna the story the next morning, she told me that that was one of the ghost's favorite tricks, and that she must have liked me to turn the TV off, because she is known to keep turning it on all night.

(Insert Twilight Zone theme here...)

Ghost or no ghost, there was a natural dye day to run.  Coleen and I had decided that I would run the group, with her floating and troubleshooting, so I started barking instructions and got the group going.  We created pairs, one from each class, and assigned them a dye material.  In all, we had 8 teams and we managed to dye and modify 32 skeins per student, for a total of 512 skeins.  The colors were amazing...

...clear and bright. (Except for some rather disappointing Brazilwood liquor that had gone over)  The students all worked together... it hardly felt like I was working at all.

Everybody went home tired and they managed to drag back in on Friday morning for one more day of spinning and blending.  And then, it was over.  Just like that.

Group photos were taken.  Email addresses were exchanged.  There were hugs, and tears.  And a new crop of Master Spinners have started their homework.

I enjoy every classs that I teach, but the enthusiasm of this particular group was absolutely infectious!  I, of course, conducted myself with my ususal dignity, and commanded the respect of each and every student...

Coleen and I treated ourselves to a lovely dinner in the Hotel Bothwell, in the very restaurant where Harry Truman was convinced to run for President, and a good night's sleep before we were shuttled off to Kansas City for more adventures.

By the way, Jacey has been blogging about her experience here.  She was in Coleen's class, but the two classes pretty much did the same things, and we came together for dye day.  Those are her arms above, modelling the lovely colors, and here she is, respecting my authority as her teacher...

...Yeah.  Just you wait.  I may just be teaching you someday.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Procrastination At Its Finest

So...I've sat down to blog the rest of Spinny Tour 2010 a couple of times, but I appear to have the attention span of a dyslexic bonobo on meth right now.  I am finishing and sending out proposals for 2011 teaching gigs, I am wrapping up Fibre Week work for 2011 and laying groundwork for 2012, I am baking cookies and making gifts for an event that is still 2 weeks away.  In short, I am living in the future in my brain, making it hard to focus in the present.

Today is the day I try and bring myself back to reality.  So far, not working.  I wrote all morning, then, somehow, deleted the whole thing.  Nothing wrong with the post, just gone.  Poof!

I thought I could remedy this situation as my cookies baked this afternoon, but that is not working out for me either.  Can't sit still long enough to see a thought through to the end.  Because the oven timer keeps buzzing, no doubt.  I am sure it has nothing to do with the sugar rush brought on by my enthusiastic sampling. (A good cook ALWAYS tastes everything before feeding it to others.  I'm just  doing my job.)

Still, I feel the need to blog.  So I'm stealing this meme thingy that seems to be making the rounds again amongst many of the blogs I read.  It's supposed to be all revealing and stuff, but really, this is the internetz, people!  I'm not about to go into really creepy detail.  Besides, my Mom reads this blog.

101 Things You May Not Know About Me

1.  I have a really high I.Q.  Like Mensa, creepy nerd high.

2.  I secretly like math.

3.  And I'm pretty good at it.

4.  Ditto physics.

5. Using these two disciplines, I have been working to expand time so that there are enough hours in a day to get everything done and still get a good night's sleep.

6.  I am failing miserably at this task so far.

7.  I am remarkably stubborn and not easily discouraged.

8.  I often fail to recognize a lost cause.  (See #7)

9.  I almost never make snap decisions, even when it looks like I do.

10.  I also believe that decisions have to be made.  Debating your options can only go on so long.  More that two shakes and it's playing with yourself, so to speak.

11.  I have a very juvenile sense of humor.  Talking about shafts and orifices, butts and tips,  or saying puni all make me go tee-hee-hee inside.

12.  I swear a lot when I spin and knit.

13.  I swear more when I weave.

14.  When my kids were little, I tried to teach myself not to swear because I did not want to be a bad influence.  I substituted words that started with the same sound, like sugar, and mother...fathersisterbrother!

15.  Some of those substitutions still slip out today, even though my kids swear more that I do now.

16.  I admire my kids.  A lot.  They are, each in their own way, all remarkable human beings.

17.  I take full credit for the fact that my kids are, each in their own way, all remarkable human beings.

18.  I love being a mom, even though my kids are all adults, or close enough to count.

19.  It's harder being a mom when your kids are all adults, or close enough to count.

20. My children made me who I am today, and I know that is a better person.

21.  I could still be a better person than I am.

22.  I try very hard not to be judgemental, no matter how awful someone seems at first glance.

23.  Having said that, I must confess that a fashion Nazi lives in my head and makes comments about people and their fashion choices.

24.  I like nice clothes.

25.  I chose clothes based on fibre content, comfort, style, and price.  In that order.  (Except for the notorious yellow sweater.)

26.  I am frequently annoyed by how little most knitters and weavers know about string.

27.  I often suspect that Ravelry is a tool for evil.

28.  I often feel the same way about the whole interwebz.

29.  I sometimes long for a simpler time, with no TV, no computers, no cell phones.

30.  I know that I would not adjust well to that lifestyle.

31.  I sometimes turn everything off and light some candles and spin and pretend that I have adjusted to that lifestyle.

32.  I would go crazy without music.

33.  Music today is not any better or worse that it was when I was a teenager.  There was crappy music then and there is crappy music now.  Likewise, there was awesome music then and there is awesome music now.

34.  I like rap.  Not hip-hop.  Rap.

35.  I love opera. 

36.  I miss grunge.

37.  I consider Leonard Cohen a minor deity.

38.  Christmas carols often make me cry.  Not sure why, they just do.

39.  I love Christmas for the lights, the pine trees, the cookies, the knitting, the coziness.

40.  I hate Christmas for the pressure to socialize with people you do not see any other time of the year and the whole "perfect present" syndrome.

41.  I make most of my Christmas gifts.

42.  I will not go into a store or mall on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday in December.

43.  I don't like stores or malls much, anyway.  They are full of stuff that people don't need and usually can't afford.

44.  I suspect a rabid Marxist lurks not far beneath my small-l liberal surface.

45.  I believe in moderation in all things, therefore do not allow any portion of my personality to become rabid. 

47.  I like the path of least resistance.  That doesn't always mean I take it.

48.  I am basically very lazy.  I will spend hours trying to find the easiest way to do something.

49.  I am very patient with others, except for the idiots that always seem to get into the self-checkout line right ahead of me..

50.  I am very impatient with myself.

51  I love to cook.  And I'm pretty good at it.

52.  Baking calms me down and focuses me.  You can tell I've had a bad day if there are suddenly a lot of muffins around.

53.  I don't really like muffins all that much.

54. I do like cupcakes.  Cupcakes make everyday a party!

55.  I think everyday should be a party.  I always find some little thing to celebrate, even if it is just getting through the day alive.

56.  I intend to live to 103.  I do not know why I chose that age, I just did.  It seems like a good age to live to.

57.  I do not intend to ever grow old.  I may, however, become decrepit.

58.  I do not trust modern medicine.

59.  I have had 6 surgeries and 11 broken bones (mostly fingers and toes, 3 of those at Fibre Week!).

60.  I need to have surgery on my knee and probably would have had it by now if I trusted modern medicine.

61.  I don't really trust any institutional system.  It is my humble opinion that they are designed to be non-functional in order to keep the  management busy and employed.

62.  If I ruled the world, systems would be efficient.  I cannot stand waste, duplication and redundancy.

63.  Also, if I ruled the world, the people who do the actual work would get paid more than the management.  Teachers, nurses, and day-care providers would be the most highly-paid professionals on the planet.  Next to plumbers.

64.  I appreciate plumbers more than anyone else on the planet.  I have spent a lot of time with them lately.

65.  I have lost any respect I may have once had for roofers, though, now that I know that they shove their garbage down people's sewer vents.  And that some of them pee there, too.  Ewww!

66.  Witnessing bad parenting makes me sad.  We all have our different styles, but whacking your kid or calling them names in a supermarket is not a style choice.  It is bad parenting.  Actually, it's bad parenting where ever you do it.

67.  I do not believe there is ever an excuse for cruelty.  It is not funny.  It is not taking control.  It is not cool.  Be excellent to one another.

68.  I also do not appreciate holier-than-thouness.  Especially when it is founded in false beliefs and bad information.  I'm looking at you, PETA.

69.  I do not understand reality television.  Why is it entertaining to watch people behave badly because they think it will make them famous?

70.  I do not understand why people think being famous is a reason to behave badly.  I miss positive roll models.

71.  I love clothes, but I hate the way the fashion industry treats women.  Any industry that consistently tells you how inadequate you are to sell you shoddy, overpriced merchandise has got a few issues to work through.

72.  I am a feminist. 

73.  And I think that feminism has failed women.  And feminists.

74.  I believe that the traditional gender-based work that women have done for the last 20,000 years is what has led us to civilization, not the wars, machines and get-rich-quick schemes of our male counterparts.

75.  I tend to get really worked up about this topic.  So much for moderation in all things!

76.  I tend to randomly change topics when things start getting intense.  It is my subtle way of heading off ugliness.  Most people do not consider it subtle.

77.  I like to read, but have only read 1 fiction book in the past 5 years.

78.  I do a crossword puzzle every day.

79.  I prefer to do a cryptic crossword puzzle every day, but the Globe and Mail is so damned expensive!  And hard to find.

80.  I love Mexican food.  Real Mexican food.

81.  I also love Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese food.  Asian in general, I suppose.

82.  I could live on nothing but sushi and avocados for the rest of my life.

83.  I would require the occasional medium-rare steak to supplement that diet.  But otherwise, I could do it.

84.  I do not have a favorite color.  I love them all!  (Okay, maybe yellow not so much, but we could still be friends.)

85.  I do not think that It's a Wonderful Life is the greatest Christmas movie ever made.  I try to avoid watching it.

86.  I also do not like the Harry Potter movies.  The books, yes.  The movies, no.

87.  I loooove horror movies.  Even bad ones. 

88.  I enjoy being a woman of a certain age and experience.  I would not go back to 20 again for anything.

89.  Okay, I do miss the knee I had when I was 20. 

90.  I will be 50 in July of 2011.

91.  I intend to celebrate all year long, doing one thing I've always wanted to do each month.

92.  I picked the first thing after a couple of glasses of wine:  January's thing is going to see Cher perform in Vegas.  She is leaving Caesar's Palace after February 5, so this may be my last chance.

93.  I should never do things after a couple of glasses of wine that will cost me $3,000, but I occasionally do.

94. I am still in love with my husband.  He's a nice guy, when he isn't snoring.

95. My life has not been perfect.  I kind of like that.

96.  I am a perfectionist, but I understand that sometimes perfect comes in unexpected forms.

97.  I am grateful for the wonderful people that string has brought into my life.  Some of my best friends are string people.

98. I don't really mind doing the laundry, it just pisses me off that I am the only one who ever does it around here.  C'mon, people!

99.  I used to be afraid of spiders, but now they are my personal totem.  Hey, anybody who spins is okay with me.

100. I have a terrible memory.  I honestly can't remember what I wrote for number 1...

101. ...but I have 8 dozen cookies, 2 pans of squares and a blog post to show for my afternoon!