Tag Archive | Haliburton School of the Arts

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)


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!


OHS Level 2: Day 7

Today we prepared for nature dyeing tomorrow. First, we soaked our samples in a variety of mordants: alum/cream of tartar, copper, iron and a couple of others that I can’t exactly recall at 11pm. Yeah, it was a long day.

For those wondering what a mordant is… It’s like a colour booster. Each mordant reacts differently with each nature dye. It’s really quite interesting.

Then we prepared our dye stock. They all needed to soak overnight at the very least. Each plant varies. My group prepared marigold.

It was a fun day. Tomorrow will be even more fun to see the results from the dye pots! The down side is that it will be our last in-class day.

We ended the day with a trip to Marty’s. I picked up some more merino/stellina wool. I also got some nylon with the intention of making some socks someday (I will blend it with 75% wool). I picked up some more of Marty’s magical moth mix and some nettle tea to help fight allergies. And I thought I didn’t need anything there…

As I always do, I had Little Mickey and Pooh with me. I promised my Sweet Pea that I would take them with me everywhere because he left them with me to look after me. So it has become tradition that I take pictures of them doing different things on our adventures. My plan is to possibly put a scrapbook together for him someday.

Fleece for dyeing - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Fleece that was added to the yarn samples

Samples of plants for dyeing - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

A sample of some plants that can be used for dyeing

Dye plants - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Some plants we’ll be using for dyeing tomorrow

I also had a bit of a self-realization moment today. It came to me while discussing group leadership versus teaching. I’ve discovered why I’m not a leader in a group situation if the group has other ideas. If the group is respectful of my assigned position and has an open mind, I’m totally comfortable with that role. I’m totally comfortable in a teaching role. There are some situations where it may be expected or understood that I would be in a leadership role within a group. I have no problem with that unless I’m accosted by a bossy and/or domineering person or people. If my peers don’t respect my assigned position, I won’t argue with them. I have been through too much BS to even try to get somebody to listen to me who clearly thinks they know more than what I do (they may or may not – but I was assigned the role for a reason). I’m weary from fighting to be heard. I have little left. I have nothing left for those who don’t care to open their minds. I would much rather focus my energy on somebody who is open to what I have to share. I may not know all there is to know, but you’re missing out on what I do know if you choose not to listen. We all have different experiences and I enjoy sharing mine. You may even learn something.

The other part of it is that if you think you know better than I do and you screw up, I don’t want that reflecting on me. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve been in a group scenario and the group decided to not listen to directions. If I was taken seriously as leader, there’s a very high probability that that wouldn’t have happened in the first place. I’m very detail-oriented, which is probably one of the reasons I was assigned the role. I would have gone to the instructor to verify if there was any doubt. But hey, you know best, so just go right on ahead. I’ll be over in my corner waiting for instructions.

I think what it comes down to is the abuse that I endured. Everything was always my fault, even when I wasn’t involved. I got the blame for everything. My thoughts, opinions, experience and feedback meant nothing. So now as a result, I’m constantly in cover-your-ass mode. So if I’m in a group that doesn’t want to take my leadership role seriously, I’m not going to kiss there butts. Plus, my ass is covered for when they screw up. If I was in a leadership role and the group actually listened to me and the team screwed up, I would take responsibility for it because clearly I had passed on misinformation. But if the group chooses not to listen to me and there is a screw-up, it’s not my problem, is it?

Teaching/assisting on the other hand, is completely different. If I’m teaching/assisting, obviously I’m there specifically to pass on my knowledge and adhere to the set out curriculum. I’m there for a reason and that reason is because I’m a fit for the job. I was asked what I would do if I encountered a student who gave me a hard time or chose not to listen. Because let’s face it. I can come across as a bit of a pushover. Again, it comes down to choosing my battles. I have encountered a scenario where I had a student who challenged me. It was in dog training, but it was still a teaching job. He was on a mission to make me look like I knew nothing. I didn’t claim to know all there is about dog training. I’m not a behaviorist. That’s a whole other field. I was given a set of guidelines that I needed to follow for my classes and I did. I did it well. I got to the point where I had to tell the student that I was there to pass on what I know, which met the expectations of the company I worked for. I wanted to see him and his dog succeed. But if he had an issue with my methods, he was free to discuss the situation with management. If my classes weren’t meeting his expectations, then he may want to consider finding another dog trainer that can meet the needs I’m not.

After that, he had nothing more to say and my classes went smoothly.

Teaching and group scenarios are two different things. If you’re teaching, it’s because you have worked hard to acquire the skills and knowledge to pass on to others. People are there with the intention to learn from you. You can learn a lot in a group setting as well as long as you go in with an open mind. Many don’t. They judge before you even open your mouth. Who’s losing out though? Not I because I won’t expel the energy on somebody who has no interest in my experience, therefore, does not deserve it.

OHS Level 2: Day 6

What an amazing day!!! Wendy was at the helm today with her first mate, Marty. We did colour blending. If you know me, you know that I’m going to love anything related to colour. I thoroughly enjoyed the class.

Our first assignment was to work around the outside of a colour triangle. My group was assigned the Broken Printers Palette – that means that the cyan was replaced with royal blue (from the painters palette). One thing that I did discover from this exercise is that I’m no longer as determined as I was on the quest for royal blue. While I do love the colour, I’m not so fond of the green/blues that come from it. I think it’s too strong.

Broken Printers Palette - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Broken Printers Palette – all of the printers palette colours except that cyan has been swapped out with royal blue

Another group did the Broken Painters Palette:

Broken Painters Palette - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Broken Painters Palette – cyan was used instead of blue

Painters Palette:

Painters Palette - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Painters Palette

Printers Palette:

Printers Palette - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Printers Palette

Our next assignment was to work on a shade gradation which involved adding various amounts of black to a base colour:

Shade Gradation - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Shade gradation exercise

There was a crossing of wires/jumping of the gun in the group I was in (I was just getting back from break) so we ended up doing an even bigger gradation. It turned out so amazing in spite of not being what we were initially supposed to do.

Ten-step gradation - keepmeinstitchez.worpdress.com

Ten-step shad gradation

I don’t think I would have had any trouble with this portion of the course, but I will say that taking the intermediate course certainly gave me a leg up. I’m very confident about this part. I haven’t entirely decided, but I think I’m going to needle felt the samples for my triangle. We’ll see.

After class there was a fibre-related sale. I picked up some wax conditioner for my wheel and some samples of fleece for my breed book. I also picked up a couple of shawl pins.

Tomorrow we’re getting into nature dyes. I’m pretty excited about this. I worked with nature dyes during the fibre arts program. It will be really interesting to see it geared specifically towards wool. Looking forward to what Louise is going to show us.

OHS Level 2: Day 5

I can’t believe we’re more than half way through the week. This makes me a little sad in some ways (but ecstatic in others because it’s just 4 more sleeps Baby Boy!).

I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did last year. I went out for dinner with a couple of the girls tonight and we were talking about it. I think a lot of it is that I’m in a bit of a better place. I think they way the material has been presented with regards to our homework also plays a big factor. This year we know how to mount our skeins. We don’t have to stress about it. And Beth and Beth filled in some missing blanks today that were total game-changers. I think I said this yesterday, but I’m going to say it again. I’m actually excited about my assignments this year!

Today we really focused on worsted spinning, the prep and the assignments. I really like how it was suggested that we pick a project and work backwards in order to figure out what kind wool would be best and which spinning method would be most effective. I realize it’s not rocket science and this may just be logical to the experienced spinner. But remember… You were once where we are now. I’ve been spinning for almost four years now, but I’m still very green on the grander scheme of things.

I could probably write more, but I am exhausted. My sinus pressure has loosened up, which is good. But it’s left me coughing, which isn’t fun.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow when we get to work with Wendy and Marty for colour study!!!! I don’t think I’ve kept it a secret as to how much I love colour. We’ll be doing a 30 step chart. To say I’m stoked is a SERIOUS understatement!!! Hopefully I won’t be so excited that I’ll forget to take pictures.

OHS Level 2: Day 4

Day 4. Day 4? How the heck did that happen?! Now that I’m feeling better, time seems to be flying by. That kinda sucks in a way (but it doesn’t suck because I get my Goober home in 5 more sleeps!).

We dove right into worsted and semi-worsted spinning today. This was mostly review for me because I had did this during the intermediate course two years ago. I’m feeling pretty confident about the upcoming homework. In fact, I’m a bit excited. I know, right? Excited about homework? Yep. Bring it!

This afternoon we had the opportunity to use different combs. I have a set of mini combs, which I am now in love with – I hadn’t used them before today. I wanted to get a review and make sure that my memories of what I was taught 2 years ago was correct. After all, a LOT has happened in the last two years *sigh* Anyway, it was pretty much exactly how I remembered, but the refresher was definitely in order.

Worsted spinning - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Worsted spinning on the wheel

I also found out the name of my combs that I had acquired from an estate sale. They’re Eliza Leadbeater. Beth A. was telling me that she thinks that there must have been a stand to clamp to the table to hold them in place. So I’m on the quest to see if I can find out. Right now, I don’t think I’ll be able to use them until I have one. I did take pics though, so maybe I can talk sweetly to Dad to rig something.

Wool combs - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Wool combs and the type of stand I’m hoping to get for mine

I was sitting there spinning this afternoon, focusing on my technique. I mean REALLY focusing. I heard Beth A. say something, but I didn’t think she was talking to me. It turns out she was. She had asked me if I was happy. I was so far into the zone that I wasn’t aware of my surroundings. It was pretty funny! My friend had to nudge me. The answer was yes, I was VERY happy!!! LOL

We ended with the annual potluck over at Wendy’s. I’m not one for crowds, but this is a definite exception. There was a totally different atmosphere there tonight compared to last year. I know I was more comfortable because I feel like I know my classmates better. I had an absolute riot!

Tomorrow… More worsted spinning. Bring it!

OHS Level 2: Day 3

Feeling even better than I did yesterday. I was ready to get the show on the road! In fact, I wish we didn’t need sleep. I want to be back at class hehehe

We started the day off with Harriet and doing more work on grading fleece. I find it so fascinating! I commented to a friend that I’d love to learn more about the judging of fleece. Not to be nit-picky, but to help give input/feedback about what spinners are looking for. I’m filing this thought for now, but who knows. At first I was a little nervous about grading the fleece that was put in front of us. I held my breath and did it anyway. Well then Harriet read out what she graded each fleece. I was blown away! All in all, the grades that I gave in many cases were only off by 2 or 3 points. I guess I did know what I was doing!

Fleece to be graded - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Fleece we were grading

Fleece to be graded - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

More fleece to be graded. They were kept in boxes. Nope. Mine Craft sheep don’t produce real wool!

After working on our grading skills, we further discussed our breed book which is due at the beginning of year 4. At this point, I’m in pretty good shape. We need to have 20 breeds and I’m more than half way there. Today pushed me even closer because I traded some fleece with a couple of classmates.

I also got the fleece that I’m going to spin for fleece LOL Spin a pound, get a pound. Now I know some people may want to give me poop about this. My reasoning is that this is a really good way to further strengthen my technique and I get wool out of the deal. I’m nervous about worsted spinning (at this point). I want to get as much practice in as I can for my assignments. I’m sure I’ll be fine, but I want to be more than fine!

Tunis fleece - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

The Tunis fleece I’ll be working with

In the afternoon, we discussed spinning worsted with Beth and Beth (I asked Beth S. if being named Beth was a prerequisite for being an instructor LOL). Wow. What an amazing team! Well, I already knew that Beth S. was an awesome instructor. She helped me with the “ah-ha!” moment that made me conquer the drop spindle (I’ll never forget that!). I had met Beth A. before, but I didn’t know her last name, so I didn’t make the connection. Anyway, she sure knows how to hook a student’s attention! I thoroughly enjoyed the class this afternoon. Well, I did have a bit of challenge with the long draw on the 6:1 ratio. I generally treadle in a slow, relaxed fashion. I enjoy that. But it means I need to use a higher ratio to get the twist I need. Yeah, that didn’t work so well for me. I knew what the issue was though. I will say that I did not enjoy having to treadle that fast. Oh well. I did it. I conquered it. Now I must sleep.

Tomorrow we’re doing more worsted combing and spinning. I know it’ll be fun! Then it’s a potluck tomorrow night.

OHS Level 2: Day 2

We’re not going to talk about yesterday. Yesterday didn’t count, it didn’t happen. I felt so horrible. I’m chalking it up to allergies and sinus infection. I was coughing and I had a bad headache. I didn’t feel like something the cat dragged in. It was more like something the cat coughed up! I mean, I didn’t even take my new Minion backpack and lunch bag with me. I made it through most of the day. I managed to do my paper presentation. I think it went well considering how I felt.

Today was a different story though. It’s like it was a do-over. We spent a large portion of the day spinning on each others wheels and spindles. What a great experience! I worked with some lovely wheels, but by doing so, it made me appreciate the versatility of my Lendrum that much more.

I started my adventure off on a Mud River wheel. This is the part where I kick myself in the butt for not getting photos. Anyway, it was a heavy duty wheel much like an Indian Head Spinner. It was a bit hard to treadle at first, but once I found my groove, I rocked it!

Next I spun on a Golding Travel Wheel. BEAUTIFUL. But it should be for the price of it!!!! The price tag on it is over $2,000! The ratio was a little higher on this one, 13:1. Comparable to the largest ratio on the fast flyer I’m used to at 15:1. It spun like a dream.

Next, I spun on a Chapin American Traveler. I liked it too, but it took some getting used to. I’m used to having to give my Lendrum wheel a bit of a nudge to start. With this one, you don’t touch the wheel at all.

Next I moved on the great wheel or walking wheel. I could just feel the history with this one. I told Wendy that if I hadn’t have done my paper on the spindle head for the Lendrum, I wouldn’t have had courage to try this one. It was a bit finicky when I tried it. It ended up having to be adjusted. I never got a chance to spin on it after it got adjusted though. But I’m not too upset about it – this one belongs to the Haliburton Museum. We have our spinning group meetings there a few times over the year and I’m sure if we asked, they’d probably let us take it for a whirl. Anyway, from what I did spin, I enjoyed it.

Walking wheel - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Spinning on the walking wheel – complete with Little Mickey and Pooh photo bomb

The last of the 5 that we were required to try as part of our assignment was an electric wheel. I’m sure they have their time and place, but I did not enjoy this one at all. I think it’s probably because for me, treadling allows me to feel connected to my yarn. I’m using my energy to put the twist in. This one uses electricity. Cheesy? Perhaps. I’m also the girl who can’t stand to wear sock or shoes when I’m spinning so that I can feel my wheel better. You know, four years ago I would have laughed at myself saying these things. It almost sounds eccentric! hehehe

I had some time left over so I tried out Sue’s Road Bug. I’m not going to say whether I liked or disliked it – the jury’s still out on that one. I did find it a bit difficult to treadle, but the setup was completely different from anything I’m used to.

I think that was it for wheel trials. I wanted to try to Navajo spindle, but the lineup was too long and we ran out of time.

Next we went on to strengthening our wool grading skills with Harriett. I hope someday I know even half of what this woman knows about fleece! I think I probably said that last year too. She helped me have an “ah-ha!” moment today in regards to describing a double-coated sheep breed. I’m also happy with my progress on my breed book. I haven’t started the documentation yet, but I think I’m over the half way mark for samples for the amount of breeds required. I’m hoping to be able to spin a small skein and knit a small swatch. This way it’ll be a good record when searching for the perfect sheep breed for a specific project.

Tomorrow we’ll carry on with our work with Harriett. Then it will be on to combing wool to prep for worsted and semi-worsted spinning with Beth and Beth.

One thing I’ve already noticed about level 2 is that they seem to be more generous with due dates. Okay, the first assignment was by like a week. But a week does make a huge difference. There is also a far bigger time given for the 11 skeins we need to spin as opposed to last year. This is good. Am I going to take advantage of this? Nope. Once my Goob starts back to school, Mama is diving in. Who knows, she may dive in before that!

I was trying to stay low-key about this course because I didn’t want to rush my limited summer time with my Goober. But now that he’s gone (and we have 7 more sleeps to go), I’m stoked. Bring it on!!!!