While at the Campbell school with Mark, I spent time looking through the brochure again. The atmosphere is serene, the people wonderful and the environment artistically enriching. You can’t help but get jazzed to take another class when on the grounds. I’ve been wanting to take a spinning class and saw that it is only offered twice a year. They do offer other spinning, such as spinning flax and silk, etc. but there are only two classes in the material I am interested in – wool. I’ve talked to people in this class in the past during lunch, and I’m told it is a very “labor intensive” class. Translated, that means, “You never stop, you have to get up close to yucky animals, get all sweaty, and work like a dog for the week to accomplish the deed. Not as fun as we thought it would be.” I guess, many people who come to the Campbell school for a relaxing creative break from the drudgery of life. Spinning wool tends to be contradictory to that goal. But I am dying to learn how to do it and I like getting messy. And I guess I don’t need to remind you that the same process used for sheep’s wool is used for llama wool. I do have a long-term plan for this skill if I can master it.
The five-day class is very productive and each day covers a different element of the process. The first day, you go out and sheer a sheep. Considering my recent experience with the llama, I assume I’ll be a natural. I like sheep. Well, actually, I’ve never been within a dozen yards of a sheep, but I think I will like them. I’ll learn how to get the wool, then pull the burs from the raw material and wash it, and comb it into fluff. Then, I’ll spend a day learning to use natural dyes to color it, then spin it into wool and last, spin several thin strands into interesting yarns with texture. The results are amazing. Naturally, spun yarns cost about 60 dollars a skein, so I’ve never bought any. Frankly, wool can be scratchy and it is a bit too exorbitantly priced for me – I’d rather go for chashmere when it comes to actually purchasing some upscale fiber. But I will get a kick out of knitting something with yarn I’ve made from start to finish all by myself – I wouldn’t mind doing this at home in front of a TV just so I can say I did. And like I said, I think I will like the sheep part.
Mark saw me reading about the class and rolled his eyes and said, “I am NOT buying you a sheep for Christmas. Let’s make that perfectly clear.” Hum. Never say never, dear.
Mostly, I think learning an old world skill such as this will be vitally helpful when I return to writing historical novels. I will graduate from Lesley in June (The heavens open up with a mighty crescendo) and then I can’t wait to get back to writing the kinds of stories I love. (With, hopefully, more skill than before.) I will be creating characters that spin, weave, make clay pots and who knows what else with total authenticity by the time I am done with all these classes.
Anyway, I found a “Sheep to Wool” spinning class offered in Feb., a very good month for me, so I went into the office to put myself on the “list.” As a local resident, I can take these classes for half price, when and if space is available after full paid registrations are in, so I just put myself on a list of any class I am interested in and let fate determine whether or not I’ll take it. I figure if I don’t get in, I can always try again later and so far, I’ve always gotten in.
The office knows me. The receptionist said, “If you really want this class, we are offering it in two weeks on Scottish Heritage Week and there are two spaces in the class. I’ll put you in for half price today if you want.”
The spinning class is usually full and I know getting in as a local for half price will be difficult, so I was pleasantly surprised. She pointed out that the session starts Labor Day weekend, so some people don’t want to commit. This meant my snatching up the class now would be a lucky break and it guarantees I get to participate. But honestly, I am drowning in school work this term, so I shouldn’t commit to anything. I told her I’d think about it, and I signed up for a soap making weekend class in March – another class that is always full and is only offered twice a year. I decided to pay full price for this one since I’ve not gotten in the three times I’ve tried –It’s only a weekend course and March is a good month for me regarding my masters. I’ll be almost done.
So, I went back into the demonstrations to sit with Mark, thinking all the while about that darn spinning class. And don’t ya know that a half hour later, I went in and registered. I just couldn’t resist. Then, as I was leaving the office, the receptionist said, “And in case you forgot, you also are on the list for the wooden book class in late Sept. and it looks like you’ll get in. We’ll be seeing a lot of you.”
Hell! I’d forgotten I put myself on that list over six months ago. I’d never have pursued the spinning class this season if I remembered that. But, I am dying to take this class too. It’s a class that makes books from scratch. You use wood covers and leather, with naturally made fiber paper and hinges and such to make incredible turn of the century books. They are beautiful, for journals or to write poetry in. I visited the class last year, and talked to the teacher and students. It is a tedious and difficult skill to master, but the product is so original and personal, I have to learn. I figure a beautiful, empty book like this would make a very special gift for a teacher or someone who writes. I’ve signed up before, but the class occurred when Mark’s dad first got sick, so I had to decline attending. I can’t bail again.
So, it looks as if I am going to be very busy (artistically) in September. Eek. I will have two classes at the Campbell school, which at least will give me good fodder for writing assignments for my non-fiction professor (he enjoys my craft escapades and my animal/wilderness stories and is encouraging me to write a memoir about this mid-life adventure I’m undertaking. I write two essays a month for him and it is always fun to have an inspirational new subject about which to write.) I guess this means In Sept. I’ll be missing sleep to keep up on my homework. This is my hardest term, with the hardest professor. I am supposed to write another 100 pages of my book this month, and I can barely eek out ten a week as it is. Sigh.
To top it off, my parents are coming up to visit Sept. 27 for a week. Actually, I’m thrilled they are coming. After all that we have experienced with Mark’s dad, I have a compelling urge to spend time with my own parents. But it does mean I have to get on the homework bandwagon now. Woe is me.
Anyway, I guess Sept. will be an eclectic blog month. I will take you with me on this journey into the past to lean about where wool comes from and how it feels between your fingers in raw form. I will share the sound of a sheep when you are robbing him of his fur, and take lots of pictures! I will then complain mightily about how sore my fingers are when I make a book and do the meticulous binding by hand.
Sometimes I think I approach life as if it’s an all you can eat banquet. I’m the person that heaps way more on her plate than her stomach can handle, just because it all looks so appetizing. Bad habit, ’cause in the end you always end up too full, feeling groggy with a food-hangover, burping and sighing– all of which doesn’t bode well for a gal’s sophisticated image.Ah well. Beats starving.