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Counting sheep doesn’t always put a girl to sleep

I’ve found a new passion!


I love spinning.


Actually, I haven’t done any spinning yet, but I’ve had the first night’s meeting that gives us a class overview, met the 11 women in the course, and gotten to know the instructor (her name is Martha.) She is down to earth, has a great sense of humor and a twinkle in her eye. “Martha’s” have it all together.


 


Tonight I learned loads about fiber. Most exciting of all was learning that one can spin just about any kind of animal fur into yarn. My llama fur will come in use and you can bet I’m taking it to the class tomorrow. The angora rabbits they had for sale at the feed store a few months ago are perfect for this kind of thing too. If only I had known! (I asked Neva if she wanted one of these huge fluffy beasts when we saw them, but she said they were too big. Like monster rabbits. Well, next time I’ll buy them, but for me.) I even learned that most spinners prefer a certain sort of dog (forget the name right now) because their fur is a great additive to wool. Would that I had known that before adopting our two big lazy, mischievous canines.  I learned about all sorts of sheep too, of course.  


 


Tonight, I fingered finished yarn samples of all sorts of combinations, and inspected raw wool. I learned about all kinds of methods of dying, with natural elements, like roots, grasses, lichen, and indigo. I even learned that ammonia and a copper pipe make a dye that turns yarn green. We will explore natural dying on Wednesday. Cool.


 


Unbelievably, every woman in the class has a spinning wheel except me. They were family heirlooms or, in several cases, their husbands gave them a wheel for Christmas – out of the blue. Now, I ask you, would you ever consider buying your spouse a spinning wheel if they never mentioned it? Some people consider them pretty furniture accents. And once it has been sitting in the living room for a year or two, the woman starts thinking that maybe she should learn how to use it. Amazing.


 


This week, I will learn all about the many different types of wheels, and I can try them all out so that, should I want to purchase one, I’ll have a good idea of what kind suits me best. The teacher asked me if I’d brought any kind of “equipment.”


I said, “Does a crochet hook count?”


The whole class laughed at me, and said, “You don’t know what you are getting into. You’re going to want a wheel before the week is out.”


They are probably right.


I just was grateful I own a llama because it means I am not a total outcast. Dahli is my loose connection to proclaiming myself a fiber arts enthusiast.


 


I must say, I am delighted with the class. The women are all brimming with enthusiasm and humor and the wealth of information we are covering is exciting. It is Scottish heritage week at the Campbell school, so there are many special events going on. Since they have classes offered in weaving, knitting, and spinning, they have several functions just for those interested in fiber arts, including a tea party at the local yarn circle and a special event called a weaving walk. You don’t actually walk anywhere – you gather in a circle and pound finished woven material and pass it on to the rhythm of a song. This blocks the fabric and tightens the weave. They say it is an old world art that you rarely see, much less participate in. Ha. I picked a good week for this particular adventure. They also have a special Scottish heritage slide presentation and a guest speaker.


 


Tomorrow begins the real work. We start by cleaning wool – there are buckets and buckets of it around the room in all shades and textures. We will not be sheering a sheep because it is the wrong season (they need their coats for winter,) but we will visit a sheep farm on Friday to learn some basics. Mark commented that perhaps he should tag along, “just in case” (chuckle). I’m told there are local sheep sheering seminars, short half day events, which people can attend to learn the basics. Neat. I’m there. I also found out that in Asheville there is a huge fiber arts festival at the agricultural center in late October. (www.saffsite.org) You can see all kinds of equipment, find out about llama, alpaca, sheep and other animal organizations, and all things related to this heritage art form. I asked Mark if he was interested in going. We had such a nice time when we went to Asheville last month (the Victorian Bed and Breakfast) that he said “it’s a go.” Gee – from the seed of an idea, a passion is born so readily. He is certainly making it easy for me to embrace this new “hobby.” I’ll have to make the man a scarf or something.


 


Anyway, I will keep you posted on the daily events. Too bad I can’t write with a Scottish brogue, just to amuse.  


 


I must admit, this morning I was kicking myself for enrolling in this seminar. I’ve been feeling melancholy the last few days and I wasn’t much in the mood to be jovial. However, tonight, I am thinking this was the medicine I needed to force myself out of my funk. Sometimes, you have to take steps to think beyond yourself – to crowbar yourself out of too much inward, (self-imposed) conflict.Controling your attitude and mood, being positive, is an art, I think.



Well , I can’t talk now. I have some reading to do about sheep. You can bet I’ll be counting them as I fall asleep tonight! One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, a llama – hey, how did you get in there, Dahli?


 


      

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

3 responses »

  1. Jaime Woodman Saunders

    This is random, but have you read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? I’m teaching it this year to seniors (Women in Lit). If you haven’t read it, it centers around a dystopia called Gilead and women have been designated certain roles in the society. “Marthas” are the women who take care of domestic duties. Weird, huh?

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  2. I haven’t read it – and I’ve no time for anything beyond my horrendous MFA list at this time, but it sounds interesting. I’ve only known a few Martha’s in my time, but they seem to be “take charge” sorts of women. I’m not surprised by the historical signifigance in the name. They say, when writing, it is very important to know the origion of the names you pick. You are never to just throw out an odd name, unless you understand it’s latin reference or something. This is a technique used to establish more authenticity and impact in a story, even if it is subconscious. Ha. I think I will write a story with a Martha in it one day. I’ll make her the “leader of the band” so to speak. Yea. That would be special.     Thanks for the tidbit. I love learning bits and pieces. By the way, I can card wool now, and I know how to make tweed from raw samples. I can dye with raw minerals too.  Bet ya never thought I’d have that in my repertoi of creative ideas. I may not ever choreograph a dance using this information, but what a costume I could make if I had a need. . .  and this is only Monday. I’ll be a wool wiz by friday!

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  3. I’m sure the costume would look beautiful, but dancing in wool, yuck! I’m just reminded of dancing on sand in huge African dresses and just wanting to die! But keep up the wool spinning. I really do want some when you have a surplus. I’d love to make something and tell people I know the woman who made the yarn. That way I could brag a little on ya!

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