Tag Archive | gratitude

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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My Purpose

I had the absolute honour and pleasure of helping Wendy with the beginner spinning program last week at HSTA. I get so excited when she asks me to help out. I LOVE watching people learn. I literally get butterflies in my stomach knowing the potential and how this may change their lives like it has mine. The joy. The peacefulness. The outlet for creativity. I could go on. I think I held myself together pretty well, but deep down I was crying tears of joy for them! I know some will fall comfortably in the vortex. Others have their toes on the edge. But this is something they will always have. If they spin today or 5 years from now, the option is still there.

Another thing I giggle about is how somebody gets something set in their mind that they probably won’t enjoy, but once they get their hands on it, game over. For example, there was somebody who wasn’t overly excited about dyeing. The next thing I knew, she was running around making up her own concoction and wanting to get the perfect colour that she held in her mind. I love it!

I just really enjoy passing on what I know. I know that I’m far from knowing a lot about spinning, but I do know enough to get people going. And it felt good. When I wasn’t sure about something, I would tell them how I understand it, but I wanted to double check with Wendy. More often than not, I was correct. I just wanted to be sure that I wasn’t passing on misinformation. It was also so cool to watch them do a technique that I demonstrated.

Sun dyeing at Fleming - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Sun dyeing at Fleming

Sun dyeing at Fleming - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Some more colours

I think I was put on this planet to teach. In fact I became convinced of that when I coached skating. I LOVED working with the kids and watching them grow. There were a couple of girls that grew into amazing skaters. I couldn’t help be think that maybe something I taught them helped them to get to where they were. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a music teacher. There were a bunch of perceived barriers in the way (if I knew then what I know now, I would have knocked them right out of the way!), so that never happened. I’m currently teaching workshops at the Kinmount Artisans Marketplace this summer. I love it. I just love it!

Soooo… I’ve got my sights set. I want to teach spinning. I want to fuel the fire in others the way Wendy fuels the fire in me. Whenever I do a spinning demo, I hear “That’s a dying art” a lot. I tell them that I’m on a mission to change that or “Not on my watch!” I want to suck as many people in to the spinny vortex that I can. That would make the world a much prettier, happier place.

To those whom I assisted last week: You all just blew me away with your enthusiasm, creativity and especially how quickly you picked up on spinning! I’ve seen a few others at the same stage, but I have never seen a class as a whole grasp it so quickly! You all did amazing! I wish you all the best in your future endeavors, spinning and other. I hope to see some of you at OHS Level 1 in 2017 if I don’t see you before. If I can be of assistance in any way, you know how to find me. Don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you so much. I did my best to keep a lid on stuff, but I will say that you helped me through a pretty rough week. I appreciate it. Keep up the good work!

Spinning: Two years later

Wow is all I can say. I just read back on my post about the first time I had spun. I had said that I was going to release the negativity of that day. I didn’t stick to it though because I had actually shared what had happened to upset me that day. I am now going to delete it in a promise that I had made to myself about releasing it. Unfortunately, I’ll probably always have the memories of what happened that day before I started spinning. But if I don’t write them down, perhaps I will forget in time. I hope.

It’s my second spinaversary today! Here are the links to my post about my first experience and my first spinaversary:
A Brand New Chapter
Happy Spinaversary, One Year Later

Oh, my morning started off just absolutely dreadful two years ago today. And I’m going to leave it at that.

Thank God for Wendy.

I was a wreck when I came into that classroom. I had missed the portion about the spindle and with the way the course was set up, there was really no time to go back. So she came over to me and gently said “Let’s go try the wheel.” I walked over and she showed me what I was doing. Then I sat down.

Magic happened.

I really don’t know how to describe it, but I will try. It’s as if everyone and everything around me melted. I was pulled into another dimension where it was me, the wheel and the wool. Nothing else mattered. I was able to shut EVERYTHING off, including the horribleness of what I had just experienced not even an hour prior. I just started spinning. It felt like this was the piece to my life that I had been missing, yet I didn’t know it was missing until I experienced it. I picked up on it like I had done it before. I swear, I had to have been a spinner in a former life!

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I loved spinning so much that my boyfriend bought me my own wheel:

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Since then, I have been going to a spinning group every month. I have taken the Intermediate Spinning Course at Fleming College. I have volunteered my time to do spinning demonstrations. My future is bright too. I will be joining the spinning guild. I will be enrolling in the OHS (Ontario Handweavers and Spinners) Master Spinning Program next August. I will be spinning at Finnegan Lake Gallery next weekend. On the 28th, I will be spinning at Canada Culture Days in Kinmount. I will also be on the Kinmount and Area Studio tour on Thanksgiving weekend.

I have also set the intention to teach. I want to do everything I can to help preserve the art and pass it on to the next generation. Nothing makes me happier when a child sees me spinning and asks me questions about it.

And to close out this post, I think I’m going to do a spinning version of Jeff Foxworhty’s “You might be a redneck”…

If you’re at a fair or a farm and look at sheep, alpacas and other animals and see your next project… you might be a spinner

If you tear your kitchen apart to find sandwich bags to pack your child’s lunch, but you end up finding them in your spinning tote because you were using them for fibre samples… you might be a spinner

If the food colouring you have stored in your kitchen is NOT used for food… you might be a spinner

If you have two sets of pots, two crockpots and two separate heating sources… you might be a spinner

If you’re doing a demonstration when somebody asks if you’re spinning in bare feet because that’s how the pioneers did it and your response is “No, it so that I can “feel” my wheel”… you might be a spinner

If you have more fibre in your closet than you do clothes… you might be a spinner

If you plant your garden based what colours the plants will produce on wool… you might be a spinner

That’s all I have for now. I know there are some spinners that do run across my blog, so feel free to add on in the comments if I missed anything 😉

So here I am, two years later. I couldn’t be more grateful that spinning has come into my life and the timing of it. It sure has got me through some rough times. I’m so thankful that it has the ability to shut everything else off (this is why I don’t spin when my son is around). It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Little Mickey’s New Hat

My Sweet Pea was gone for most of the month of August (and he was NOT happy about that, but we didn’t have a choice). I missed him like crazy. I threw myself in my work and that’s when Minion Hat Mania hit. It was very fitting because he LOVES the Minions from Despicable Me. Every time I worked on a hat, I could see him smiling.

I always try to do special things for him. Especially things that make him laugh. He has giggled non-stop about the Minion hats I made for both of us. So I figured that his beloved Little Mickey should join the club:

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He went crazy when he saw this! And I giggled the whole time I made it!

I’m so glad that he appreciates the things that I make for him. He thanked me just last night for a hat that I made for him over a year ago. I hope his appreciation for handmade items carries on through his lifetime. I sure it will 🙂

The Wheel Just Keeps Spinning!

After having such a wonderful week of spinning, I had the honour of ending with week with… More spinning! On Saturday and Sunday, I was at Gooderham’s 140th Birthday Celebration. I had such a great time! There was a lot of interest in the spinning process. I had quite a few kids asking me questions too, which is really exciting. They’re the ones who are going to keep this art alive. I met a lot of nice people and I made a couple of new connections as well.

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I had put out a bunch of samples of fleece, yarn and tools as a part of my display at Gooderham’s 140th Birthday Celebration

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A seldom-seen kind of photo of moi, in my attempt at 1800’s fashion

After I got home, I completed a pattern test:

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The latest pattern test from Crochet by Jennifer, the Kate Bonnet.

And on the EXTREMELY AWESOME news front… The four Minion hats I put in at Kinmount Artisans Marketplace have all sold! I have been asked to bring in some more. So I dubbed today “Minion Hat Monday.” I’ve been making the bases for hats all day. I will start working on the features tonight. I will have some orders fulfilled and I will have a few extra to put in the Marketplace. It’s all so exciting!

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Assemble the Minions!

Day 1: Intermediate Spinning

This week I find myself back at the Haliburton School of The Arts. I tell you, once you take one course there, you’ll want to keep coming back 😉 This time is a little different (and a LOT more relaxed). We’re focusing on spinning. Wendy, who taught the spinning and weaving portion in the fibre arts course I took, is teaching us this week. She’ll also be joined by Karen, who I’ve never met. I’m looking forward to it! I’m also in a group of delightful women which makes the course even more fun!

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Course materials

The first day we did quite a lot of work with colour. Have you even had one of those moments where you’d just like to smack yourself upside the head because you “didn’t think of that??!!??” Yes, I had some of those today! We did a lot of colour blending with roving. Well let me tell you, this put a whole new “spin” on spinning for me! If you know me (or have looked around my blog), you’ll know that I LOVE colour. Put colour and spinning together and you get one happy camper.

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Colour play on the wheel

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Sample card… This is just so that we can remember how we got those colour combinations. Keeping notes in spinning is VERY important so that you can get consistent results if you spin something you love (or know what colour combinations to not do if you don’t!)

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A variety of spinning combinations from just three colours

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We did a LOT of plying today too. I already knew how to do Andean plying from school. I was introduced to Navajo plying (I realize that this is not the new “politically correct” term, but the other one seems to have slipped my mind since this term has been used for so long). I definitely want to play more with that plying technique because it allows you to keeps strips of colour. That is something that is very appealing to me.

The course is being held at the high school in the music room. So right off the “batt” I was smiling because of all the good memories that room holds for me. That was my home when I was in high school. I think I may see if I can feel anything by standing in the spot where I used to sit for my three years of taking music there. By the way, Pete the Fly is still there. And he’s just as annoying as he was back them. Good times. Good times…

I AM SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY TO BE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!

And to those who think they have “won” and that I would be shut down and curled up in a ball this week… Think again.

WE WIN.

A Random Act of Kindness

God: How do we change the world?
Evan Baxter: One single act of random kindness at a time.
God: [spoken while writing A-R-K on ground with a stick] One Act, of, Random, Kindness.
– from Evan Almighty

I try very hard to not talk about my personal life on my blog. I’ve made a few exceptions. I HAD to share this story. I hope that it serves as a reminder that YOUR random acts of kindness do not go unnoticed.

I won’t go into detail, but I think this past week could easily be described as one of the WORST weeks in my life.

Yesterday I had to take my four-year-old son to the ophthalmologist to determine whether or not the glasses he has been prescribed were effective enough to straighten out his eyes. They turn in from time to time, so there is a chance that he may need surgery to correct it.

On our way for the hour-long ride, he threw up about half way there. This is a child who NEVER throws up (I believe this was in keeping with the theme from my horrible week). The last time he threw up in the car with me, he was just a little over a year old. I got him cleaned up and we went on our way. Well, about 20 minutes later, he threw up again. My poor little guy. So I got him out of the car again and cleaned him up again. This time I took off his glasses and put them on the roof of my car to get them out of the way as I cleaned his little face. I dressed him in a t-shirt that was way too big for him. It was the only article of clean clothing I could find. I then called the doctor’s office to tell them that we were going to be running late. They said they’d squeeze us in, given the distance we had to come.

When I got him out of the car, he asked me where his glasses were. I could feel the colour draining from my face. I already knew the answer and my stomach just turned. There were a million thoughts going through my head and then reality set in: I left his glasses on the roof of my car as I drove off.

I started to cry. I had to pay $300 for these glasses out of the remainder of my student loan money. How on earth was I going to be able to afford to pay for a new set? We went in to the office and explained the situation to the receptionists. After we checked in, I sat in the office and rocked my little sweet pea, both of us quietly sobbing.

Suddenly, one of the receptionists came over and crouched beside us. She said “If it will help you, my daughter has outgrown her glasses. I don’t know what your son’s prescription is, but after you see the doctor, we can have a look to see how close they are.” She had mentioned that they were Spiderman. My son was THRILLED! They were also “transitions” lenses, which means they get darker in the sunlight, eliminating the need for sunglasses. I thanked her for her generous offer. I told her that I had planned on going back to where I thought I had lost them in hopes that they would still be there. But if that didn’t work out, I would certainly be in touch with her. I did all that I could to keep the faith that we would find them intact.

We went in to see the doctor. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much he could do without seeing the glasses on my son. He rewrote his prescription and said he would see us in 2 months. We went back out to the receptionist. I gave her my son’s prescription. She looked up her daughter’s. It was off by just a tiny bit. She gave me her home phone number and said that the offer is there if we need it. I thanked her and we left.

I retraced our steps. I looked down and found part of a lens. Across the road, I found the little frames all bent. I picked them up and then I started to cry again. What was I going to do? HOW was I going to pay for these?

I decided to call the eye doctor in my town to see what could be arranged. The line was busy. I tried again. The line was busy. Then I had an idea to call social assistance to see if there was any way that they would be able to help us out. My phone dropped the call.

Twenty-two minutes later, I received a message.

It was the receptionist. She said that she had checked with the doctor to see if her daughter’s old glasses would work for my son. He said that they would! She left the times when she was available for me to pick them up.

I started to cry. Again. This time it was tears of joy! I screamed at the top of my lungs “THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!!” My son started shouting this too.

This woman did something that saved us so much. It might not have been a big deal to her since the glasses were of no use anymore. But it meant the WORLD to us.

I asked her if her daughter still liked Spiderman. She said “Who doesn’t like Spiderman?” I sense a mother/daughter Spidey hat combo coming on 🙂

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again… Even what you perceive as the TINIEST gesture may mean the WORLD to somebody. I used to think I had nothing of value to give. Having experienced this first-hand, a can of soup means everything to somebody who has nothing. And when you help somebody who has nothing, you inspire them to help those in the same boat when they are in a position to give back.

What goes around, DOES come around.