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To Olds and Back again.

Fiber week 2016 is over.  I thought and thought about this post all the way home.  In case anyone wants to know it’s around 21 hours to drive there and back again from my neck of the woods.  Luckily, I only had to drive homewards.  My husband and kids picked me up when class was finished Thursday and we spent the weekend in the Canadian Rockies.

Let’s start with Olds.  It’s TINY.  A bit shockingly so.  It’s an AG school.  It’s an AG school in the way, that the US AG schools probably started out as before they grew into the multi discipline powerhouses that they are today.  We had our classes in the building that adjoined the green houses… It has a name, and when I unpack my map, maybe I can come up with it.  Anyway, the campus is old and many of it’s buildings are more industrial than beautiful.  However, their library and alumni building is beautiful and the dorms I stayed in were brand spanking new and delightful.

Did I mention, it’s an AG school?  They have a brewery on campus… that sells it’s stuff.  Yes, they do! And the local restaurants carry it!  Amazing!20160619_180426.jpg

They also have a meat market! And the greenhouse was having a plant sale BOGO…  I was so tempted but knew I would not make it across the border with a plant.  It was very disappointing because let me tell you they know how to grow plants! On the day of the sale they put up these bouquets on the tables in the atrium.20160620_122359.jpg

OMG the Peonies.  They were huge.  As big as shrubs HUGE. And they had20160620_202335.jpg

YELLOW!!!!!  I have never before actually seen a yellow peony!!!!

Ok, enough about the gardens, this is supposed to be a recap of LEVEL 5 classroom work. It turned out that our level 5 class was a conglomeration of several different level 4’s.  We all ended up together and became this year’s level 5.

After the last 4 levels, level 5 was dare I say mellow.  It appears we have learned most of the skills we need to go on.  So level 5 was introducing man made fibers.  These would be Nylon, Polyester (which thankfully we no longer really need to speak of or spin), and all the regenerated fibers:Rayon, Tencil, Bamboo, soy silk, and corn fiber.  We also get to spin angora (bunny) and Yak.  We moved on to Hemp (can’t wait to share that one with you soon).  Also we learned how to use fiber reactive dyes on cotton.20160621_144846.jpg

There were several interesting moments, like we were given 20 grams of raw wool to take back to our rooms and wash so we could card it into rolags the next day.  Luckily the dorm I was in had VERY hot water right out of the tap.  Which is great because I had no way to boil water.  So I used the Margaret Stove bar of soap method which worked great. 20160622_064946.jpg

That fleece was kind of crazy nice.  Our teacher bought it from the fleece show happening on the weekend.

The biggest thing about going to fiber week for the first time, was mingling with spinners from other levels.  All of a sudden I was part of a group breathing rarified air.  I was “Level 5” almost to the end.  Everyone was in awe of the Level 6 group who spent the week taking what amounted to a practical exam of what they know.  Up to now, I have only ever met other people in the same level so we have all had to do the same assignments.  It was interesting hearing the lower levels frustrations and successes.  Some of the complaints I heard made me laugh “we are learning woolen vs worsted again!,” this from a level 3 student.   They have not yet come to see the spiral curriculum.  Because I hate to tell you ladies (not being sexist, there were two guys in my class) but I am actually referring to the ladies in the above comment. Level 4 talks about “true worsted” and level 5 we learn “true woolen”.  In Level 6 my guess is that we demonstrate that we “know” the difference between the two and how to make them.  Again Level 6 is a practical exam.

One afternoon our teacher took us to the library on a field trip.  We were to look at level 6 projects from the previous graduates.  This was to get us to start thinking about our in depth study.  My mind was so not there that day.  I looked at all these books by previous graduates and thought “none of this is what I want to study.”  I was at a blank.  I had no ideas, no plans.  Many people in my class knew exactly what they want to do.  That was a bit of a shock to me.  Luckily, I have time.  Level 5 homework has to be submitted before they will even allow me to pick my topic.  I can submit an idea before that but it is not “locked” in place until I finish Level 5.  This made me feel better.  I need to find something that I can really sink my teeth into.  Something that will make my brain work.

In many ways level 5 felt like it was getting us ready for next year.  Our teacher would ask us to identify the best fiber to use for a certain purpose or a certain TPI.  (Yes, more TPI this year).  What would we blend for a specific effect?  How would we spin something to achieve another effect?  We are supposed to have the skills at our disposal to make decisions and create yarns with a variety of fibers to get what we want.  Fun….

By far the best part of being at fiber week? I got to spend an entire week talking about wool and spinning with other people who are just as passionate as I am about wool and spinning.  I got to spend an entire week with my friend Ric as we both looked ahead to what level 6 will hold for us.  I also got to meet a whole lot of new fiber friends whom I hope to see again next year!

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