OHS Level 4 – Best. Spinning Week. EVER.

Disclaimer: You are going to see references to various animal fibres, fur and hair. The instructors of this course have gone out of their way to ensure that they have sourced it from ethical vendors. The hair/fur collection processes include collecting fibres that have been shed, combing the animal and sheering the animal. Where I’m going with this – I don’t want you to think for a second that the animals were slaughtered just for their fur/hair. There is no way I would source fibres in this way and I know for a fact that the instructors wouldn’t either.

All I can say is wow.

Reeling Silk - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Reeling Silk

I had such a hard time getting things done with Level 3. I know I mentioned in my last post that I had questioned many times over the past 6 or 7 months whether or not I should hit the pause button with this course. I sought guidance from Wendy because I knew she would call a spade a spade. I shared with her all that was on my plate. She acknowledged that it was a lot, but I really needed to keep going because it will be so worth it. Level 4 is the game-changer. It’s when you get to have fun. It’s “playtime.”
I saw her in the hall after the second day and told her she was so right (again! hehehe)

Silk = MIND BLOWN

Tussah Silk - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Tussah Silk

Oh my goodness, I have a new favourite fibre. I have a whole new respect for silk and those who work in the industry. One of our exercises was to reel silk. All I’m going to say is that really for me, it was an exercise in non-verbal creative vocabulary expansion. The silk thread kept on breaking, but I did not utter one curse word. Verbally. We also learned how to make Mawata. That’s is the art of making silk hankies from cocoons. The cocoons were boiled in water with a measured amout of washing soda in order to degum them. This gets rid of the sticky substance that holds the cocoon together. Once the coccoons are degummed, they are manipulated in a warm bath of water with a splash of vinegar (to neutralize the effects of the washing soda). You start off with a little blob and then you work it out to be a square. It is then stretched over a frame and dried. From there, you can either stretch them out and spin them or you can dye them. I’m looking forward to playing with some dye. I have an idea on what I want to do, but I have no idea if it will work. This is the fun part! We have a small article that we need to make out of silk. I’m going to check the assignment to see if I can use silk hankies I make myself. Is it more work? Yep. But I want to play!!!!! Will it happen? Who knows. If it doesn’t happen for the assignment, it WILL happen someday. Life won’t always be this crazy.

Mawata - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mawata (silk hankies)

On Friday we got to spin some more exotics with Beth S. Oh my goodness, this woman was vibrating with excitement! Which was fully contagious! When I’m super excited about something, I vibrate the same way. And yes, I was buzzing too! What an informative class – from fibre harvesting, the rules and regulations to yak polo (yes, yak polo is a thing. Teena’s hubby has been elected to start a yak farm so that we can get a couple of teams going – we’re hoping to challenge the Level 1 class in the future – the guanlet has been thrown ladies!). I was amused with my yak-spinning experience. I struggled BIG TIME with the roving. Roving is normally the gateway; the warm-up to the harder stuff. Not this time. When we were asked to spin “from the cloud” (it’s basically a pile of uncarded fluff in your hand), I rocked it! I don’t get it. I’m also not going to over-analyze. I’ve found that to be a dangerous practice with this whole course. If it works, just go with it! Don’t ask why. Just do it, love doing it and love that you can do it! I never got past spinning the yak. We were given some mink fibre (NOT a pelt – the minks are still alive!) to practice our technique before we take on Quiviut. Quiviut is musk-ox fibre. It is very precious – I do believe that Beth said it ran around $50/oz. Yeah. I’m not going to let that scare me though. I’ve made the executive decision to give myself a loving smack upside the head if I get perfection paralysis this year. Again, going back to the reminder of the fact that we’re all still green when spinning these fibres. Even our most experienced instructors were beginners once! 

There was some Cashmere thrown in there too. I know there is more, but I’m suffering from the annual OHS course hangover – I’m not hugging the toilet, but the coffee tastes extra good this morning and I don’t have the capacity to make life-altering decisions. Brainy no worky… It’s a wonder I can come up with the words for this post!

Yesterday we started off with Angora bunny fur. Again… Le sigh… We started off by blending it with some Merino wool. If you’re not familiar with wool types, Merino is one of the softest, if not THE softest, wools available. I spun up a few samples with blending and then straight Angora. When I got them on the sample card, I compared the feel. There were a few giggles when I commented that the Angora made the Merino feel like sandpaper. I will reiterate – Merino is just gorgeous. What I wouldn’t give for a Merino fleece… The Angora was just THAT soft!

The final portion was what I have been waiting for for soooooooooo long… I won’t say that it’s the reason I’m taking the course, but it sure did sweeten the pot when deciding to not tap out…

Dog Hair.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m a pet sitter at some point or another. My beloved Kirby was my “pet project” when I was doing a service dog internship in 1999. Panzer was the reason I became a dog trainer through PetsMart. And then there’s Radar – Dad’s reason for getting out of bed. Needless to say, I LOVE dogs and the fibre supply here is endless!

I did have an idea of what was coming. I’ve seen Marty’s work over the years and I helped her on the studio tour. I also cleaned some fur for her too at one point. I did okay, but I still didn’t get out all the hairs that she needed removed. It takes longer to clean/process the dog hair than it does to spin it! The spinning part of it – I’m not worried at all. I’m more nervous aware about not getting enough of the guard hairs out. Marty said that it’s not something you can do all in one sitting. You’ll lose your mind. She said that she makes herself clean a handful before supper each night. That I can get on board with. I think I’m also going to invest in a good light to help with the process. I know this is going to become a thing. It’s inevitable with the other areas of my life.

One of our assignments is to spin a skein from whatever dog hair we want. That was a no-brainer for me. I’m going to spin up some Radar. Dad has been collecting hair for me pretty much since Radar came through the door. I’m excited to do this! I don’t know what I’m going to make from it, but I do know that I’m going to make something.

Oh, and it’s not “dog hair yarn.” It’s “Chiengora.” I cracked up when I saw that term. People are so funny. They will ooooh and awe over how soft and gorgeous the yarn is. But the second some of them find out it’s dog hair, they suddenly start sneezing and their allergies flare up. Meanwhile, they have been in the room for a considerable length of time. Allergies stem from the dander, not the hair itself! Sheesh!

Well, that’s my two cents of Level 4. I have a few Level 3 loose ends to tie up, but I’m hoping to be able to better document my Level 4 journey. I always take process pictures, but it’s the time factor with the posting. I’m starting to think that I should just post with few words and carry on. I may just do that.

I’m ready. DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!

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