Year Four: The Reward for Year Three

It is believed that year three of the OHS spinning certificate course makes or breaks you. They say that if you get through level three, you will most likely graduate the program.

I’m not going to lie, there were times this past year where I had seriously contemplated hitting the pause button. I didn’t want to quit. Oh hell no! I worked too hard to get to where I am. However, I did contemplate more than once if this was the right time to do this course. This year has seen a LOT of change in my life, both positive and not so much. There has been a LOT of things happen that were out of my hands. It prevented me from getting my assignments done on time. I was determined to get them done though. That’s how I am – I start something, you can bet your bippy that I’m going to finish it! (even all of my yarny UFO’s will be done at some point!). I was so embarrassed when I had to ask for extensions due to circumstances beyond my control. When I explained what was going on to my instructors, they were so wonderful and understanding. I can’t express how grateful I am. Not once have they ever questioned me. I beat myself up, but they had nothing to do with that. In fact, I have been lovingly “told” a couple of times to knock it off, I’m only one person and I’m doing everything in my power. It was reiterated once again today that as long as I’m in communication if something comes up, we can always negotiate.

To me, that speaks volumes. They believe in me. They have believed in me when I haven’t believed in myself. I feel like I’m in the middle of running a marathon and they are cheering me on, wanting me to finish just as badly as I want to finish. That makes me even more determined to finish. Not only have I promised Mom, I owe them too for all of the time and energy they have invested in me over the past 3 years (it’ll be 6 years for Wendy).

This year has such a different feeling. It’s so much lighter. When I saw my classmates, it felt like a big family gathering. I will confess that my anxiety was running a little high due to one classmate. I won’t bother wasting any more energy on her – SHE IS GONE!!!!! The energy in that room this year has just been so wonderful. I don’t think I’ve smiled this much since I started this course. And it’s not like I’ve been miserable!

Saturday and Sunday saw us spinning exotic fibres. We started off with alpaca and llama. Then went on to camel. I think there was another one in there, but I’m pretty tired right now and I can’t remember. I love how our instructor reminded us of all the techniques we know now. I think the difference with this year is that we have options. In the previous years, the preparation and spinning style was set out for us. This year it’s whatever works for us. Having all of these options seemed a little overwhelming! I double-check with my instructor… “Am I understanding this right? We’re using whatever it is we have in our skills toolbox to achieve our best skeins?” She said I was correct and was hoping that that’s what we would take away from this course.

On a side note, I was amused at this whole new approach with spinning. I’m more or less at the same place in my martial arts journey. We spend the first part learning the skills/basics and when/where to apply them. After that, it’s blown wide open to use whatever it is we need to use to get the desired result. It’s the “art” part of martial arts! While both art forms are so different, my enthusiasm is very similar for both. I’m sure it’s the art and creativity I get to practice and release with both.

The last day and a half was spent in the dye room. We were playing with indigo. I have to say that I really enjoyed dyeing this time around. Maybe it was my partner, Mary-Lyn (I had never met her before Saturday – this woman is freaking awesome!). Maybe it was the absence of a bossy, domineering, controlling, sabotaging, narcissistic… Oh yeah, I wasn’t going there… Maybe it was the indigo itself. Or the instructor and her assistant. I think it was all of that. I’m looking forward to my assignment. We have to use 2 methods that we have learned. And then we have to do some overdyeing. I already have myrobalan from my project last year. I’m going to fire up another pot of that bad boy. I’m also planning on getting a nature dye that goes red. I’m not sure which one yet.

One other thing that is different this year is when our dye days were scheduled. For the first three years, they were always the last day and a half of the course – Friday afternoon and Saturday. By that time, we are all so worn out. I think having to do extra math and having the additional pressure of your classmates relying on you to get a perfect dye pot for their samples… It’s all just too much. It will be interesting to see if Friday and Saturday are different this year. At least if you’re tired and punchy, you don’t have to worry about letting anyone down. You only have to answer to yourself if you screw up. I have a feeling that I’m going to be just as enthusiastic Saturday morning as I will be tomorrow.

This afternoon we were introduced to silk. We started off with Tussah silk. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. However, I need to speed up my treadles. Then we spun some Bombyx (cultivated) silk. The really funny thing is that I had an easier time getting a consistent yarn with it! It’s a lot more slippery than the Tussah. It was weird. What was also weird is that I spun an awesome sample “over the finger.” That is NOT my go-to method. In fact, it’s my second weakest method (long-draw being my weakest). I showed my instructor. She told me to save the sample and aim to spin my homework like it because it would be perfect. She was so impressed that she called her assistant over (her assistant was the woman who had taught this section of the course for many years before passing the torch – she knows her stuff!). She was impressed. So there’s hope for me! I shouldn’t say that… If there wasn’t hope for me, my instructors wouldn’t give me the push/gentle kick in the rear I need to keep going.

When I’ve been at my wheel these last few days, I’ve felt the same way I did when I first started spinning. Excited. Ecstatic. At peace. Smiling the whole time. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed spinning. I think I just lost why I was doing it for awhile. I’m so used to having to fight to be happy in many of the other areas in my life. I have no control of that. I do have control over this though. And I don’t have to fight. I just have to be. I have to remember that the chances of putting out perfect samples may or may not happen. Beth “told” me today… It came up about learning curves. I was saying about how when a karate student gets frustrated when they’re learning a new kata. I say “How many times have you done it?” “Once.” “Is it going to be perfect then?” “No.” “There you go. If you’ve been doing it for 10 years and you’re still at the same level, THEN be concerned.” Well, I was told to practice what I preach hehehe

We’re not half way through the course and I’m just flying high, ready to dive in to the homework. Even thinking about tomorrow, my heart starts to race and I have butterflies in my stomach. Geez, it’s like being in puppy love (except that I know that it won’t end up in a messy breakup!).

I’m hoping that I will have more time to update this blog. As I mentioned earlier, this year has just been absolute chaos. I’m hoping to be able to manage my time better. Although even those with the best time management skills would have difficulty with the things that I’ve had to endure. I got through it so far though. Again, this is where I will never be able thank my instructors enough.

Tomorrow is another day. I so can’t wait!

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