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...
...so 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.