Wednesday, October 31, 2007

John C. Campbell Folk School - Day 3


Another lovely day at the folk school. When we got to class this morning, this was how our instructor, Annie Hall, was dressed:

...covered head to toe in spiders of all kinds -- spider hat, spider shirt, numerous spider pins, spider pants, socks, shoes and earrings, and carrying her ever-present spider goblet. (Oh, and Groucho Marx glasses, just for fun.) She says she is channeling Spiderwoman, from native American folklore, in honor of the fact that she's a spinner, and so now, are we.

Do you get a sense of how fun this woman is? No? Then, take a gander at this picture, which I forgot to share with you yesterday:

You see those earrings? Take a wild guess as to what the "stone" is in them. There's a folk school hand-carved, hand-painted wooden top to the first person who gets it right. I'll try and remember to post the answer tomorrow.

As far as my spinning progress, here is my craptastic handspun gallery of shame, thus far:

Left to Right:
-handspun "yarn" from Sunday's spinning class at SAFF
-handspun yarn from Tuesday's drop-spindling efforts
-handspun yarn from this morning's wheel-spinning

(can you say "energized singles"?)

This afternoon, I plied my spindle spun and wheel-spun gray Corriedale singles together into this tiny, crude little ball of yarn:

it ain't pretty, but it's mine

I spun all day today on a Louet single-treadle wheel, and it was not bad, but I'm not in love. For one thing, the wheel is somewhat small, and I didn't like having to lean over every time I needed to get the wheel going clock-wise after I'd stopped treadling. At least the Lendrum on Sunday was leaning towards me, and the wheel was bigger -- less of a strain on my back. A chair with better back support might also help. But I'm still undecided about the single vs. double-treadle. I think I like having one foot anchored on the floor, but then that means the right leg is the only one getting the work-out. Tomorrow, I'd like to try different wheels. Our instructor has a beautiful Ashford, which she loves, so I may give it a whirl. There's a wide variety of other wheels to try -- a Lendrum, a Majacraft, a different model of Louet, etc.

Something else I discovered today -- it's a lot easier to spin from hand-carded rolags than from drum-carded bats of fiber. The latter require a lot more pre-drafting prior to spinning, at least for this novice. However, that still doesn't convince me that I want to hand-card my own fiber. I just need to get better at pre-drafting and drafting roving. Tomorrow, I'd also like to try spinning a little of the commercially prepared (combed?) roving I bought at SAFF, to see what that's like.

I'm still not convinced that I'm going to get a wheel after class is over, at least not right away, but I will definitely try more drop spindling, so will be keeping my eyes open for a pretty one.

Enough about spinning class. Tonight, after yet another delicious meal, I stayed for part of their Halloween program, and sat & knit in the Keith House library with some of my classmates:

while someone told folk school ghost stories. I had to marvel, as I looked around that room while listening to the stories, at all the beautiful handiwork all over the place. The hand-carved plaque above the fireplace, (pictured at the very top of this post); the handmade chairs donated by various folks in the community back around 1928 when the school first opened, whose woven seats have no doubt been caned and re-caned over the years. The gorgeous hand-forged fireplace screen; `the coffee table made from the cross-section of a log. Fantastic landscape paintings that I'd love to buy if they were, by some miracle, for sale. The attention to detail and the marvelous hand-crafted, museum-quality items in every building on campus are a feast for the eyes. The campus buildings themselves are a feast for the eyes.

[Note: I have taken many, many pictures of things I've seen here, but am not going to bog down the blog with them. I plan on uploading them all to Flickr and then posting a link to a slideshow of them in a future blog post, for those who want further eye-candy. Probably won't happen until early next week.]

Later, after the ghost stories, there was a "haunted house" tour, and I broke away from the group at that point and headed back to the B&B. These shorts nights and long days are taking their toll!

And so, I will bid you goodnight.

(Read about Day 4)


Robin said...

Andy LOVED the fireplace screens - especially the one in the community room with the pine cones, etc. You should see my first handspun! Bumpy and lumpy! I'm so glad you having fun!!!

Robin said...

Forgot! You know they have their annual blacksmith auction this coming Saturday. Will you be there for any of that?

rho said...

Moose droppings I bet - :D

I am loving the accounts of the school --- and am suffering from just a bit of envy that you are there

Bess said...

Sigh. Oh I am with you in those smoky mountains. Sigh with bliss.

I know just what you mean about little wheels. I felt like I hulked over the little Kromski I went to try when I first went looking for a wheel. It was a lovley wheel it spun nicely for me, I was just TOO big for it.

One nice thing about a single treadle that you can't do on a double treadle as easily is to move it around and use either foot to treadle. when sciatica sent my back into a spasm, I moved my single treadel so that I could spin with my left foot. since I tend to do long draw by swinging my right arm out to the side of my body, instead of backwards, I found I could spin carded rolags very fast with absolutely no wierd tension anywhere in my body.

with my heavy golding, first off moving it at all is serious business, but second off - with two foot pedals, it's just not as comfortable to treadle with only my left foot.

Many things to think about. Drop spindles are pure joy in and of themselves and you can make perfectly lovely yarn with them. I found I could spin about 200 yards of 2 ply a week in my "off" hours from job and gym and family. So 5 weeks to 1,000 yards - you can make a lot of yarn in a little while.

I think your first 2ply yarn looks lovely. And remember ALL singles have energy. Happy happy classes to you - thank you so much for taking me on this wonderful journey.

sigh again with happiness

Robin said...

I'm loving your posts...You're spinning looks wonderful. I'm glad you are getting a chance to try different wheels, you MUST find the right fit for you, some say your wheel finds you not the other way around.
I'm so envious...
Oh~I have NO idea what her earrings are made of, but I'd guess it's some sort of seed?

emmy said...

This is a fun trip- Thanks Mary,especially for putting so much detail in it. I think your ball of yarn is perfect!!

I was going to guess that the earrings were made of Fairy Stones but now for some reason I want to say that I think they are made from gall stones that she had removed. How's that for wild guessing?!?!?!

Issy said...

I feel like I'm there! Great stories. The spinning results look great to me.
I'm wondering if the earrings are local rubies from the mountains. Or agates. I like Emmy's idea too!!

Syd said...

I just popped in to see what you were up to and I was blown away! I'll have to come back this weekend when I have more time to read all about your adventures. I always travel vicariously through you, you know. Have a wonderful time!

FYI - I met a member of your knitting group, John, last week.

Nikki said...

FIrst I totally get what you mean by craptastic yarn. I referred to mine very similarly. Everyone told me it was wonderful though and I thought they were off their rockers. However, having a little spinning under my belt now, I must say, it's beautiful yarn and you'll look back and realize it's beautiful. :)

Nikki said...

oh... and the earrings... are they some kind of fiber? or silk coccoon?

Robin said...

Could the earrings be cotton seeds?

Brandy said...

are they petrified wood?

norma said...

What fun. I feel like I'm on a journey with you. Thanks for such detailed postings. Could the earrings be coffee beans?

Margaret said...

Home and finally catching up on blog posts. The week at JCC sounds fantastic. I'm mulling a class in January. Don't worry about the craptastic early skeins. First, when you get the hang of it and relax a bit, the overspinning tends to take care of itself. Just slow down and remember to breathe. Second, knitting really does make the yarn look better!

I'm guessing sheep poo.