Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Bangs are Poking My Eyelids.

They look cute, but they poke my eyes.  I got a headband at Wal-Mart (ech) yesterday with a big bow on top, so that helps. . . but I look a bit like a little girl playing princess. 

So, spinning wheels.  I love them.  But I feel I should begin with the beginning of my Fiber Romance, way back in the third grade.

In school, I was stressed.  I was a high strung kid - an overachiever who wanted to do everything just right while simultaneously refusing to speak and pretending to be a cat.  I mean, who hasn't been there?

School was pretty awful.  In pre-school in Maine, I did pretty well.  We played kitchen, there was a deer farm next door, and we went sledding in the snow.  We ate broccoli with ranch dressing at snack time.  All was well.
I have a vague recollection of a place. . . a horror of a place. . . where they Made you eat the crusts of your sandwich and they Made You Nap.  I used to be afraid of sleeping.  I was bad at sleeping, slept maybe 4 hours out of 24 altogether (and never all at once) and then I went to a place where they made me lie down and take a nap (not that I could sleep).  I'm not sure where that fits in on the timeline, probably before the Good Pre-school in Maine.

When we moved, pre-school was fun too!  There was a big swing set, and we learned to write some things, and we did the usual crafts where you make paint footprints on fabric with your name written next to them, that sort of thing.

Then, public school.  We still use a system in this country that was designed to basically educate future factory workers who had no hope for higher education.  It's not my place to be preachy about it,  and I'm sure there are some people who like it. . . I just don't know any.

In Kindergarten, my teacher told us on St. Patricks day that she caught a leprechaun in a paper bag.  There was glitter all around her desk, and she would shake the bag as if her prisoner was acting up.  She told us that if we were good all day, the leprechaun would come out and meet us.  At the end of the day he was gone, and I remember weeping like my heart was broken because I had so wanted to meet him - and it was all my fault, I was sure I had been bad.  My mom explained to me that she was lying, and she had not caught one, and she said she was sure I hadn't done anything wrong.  I was pissed.
In first grade the teacher promised us in the first week that we would learn to write cursive script that year.  We never did, but I did experience the joy of being one of three kids who could read - which meant that we had to read aloud to the class, whole books, a few times a week.  Fear of public speaking, ahoy!
In second grade, I did foolishly well on my standardized tests and spent more time doodling and flipping erasers through the air than paying attention.  I just couldn't manage.  My teacher that year measured in strips of paper with aardvarks printed on them, rather than inches.  Is that the origin of my poor math skills?

And then the neighbors sent their kids to Waldorf School and my parents thought that might be a good idea.  Onward, to a strange and magical place.  We spent most of the time working on art - drawing, watercolor painting, fiber crafts, woodworking, and lots of other fun stuff.  We gardened and build a compost system, and learned French, Latin, Greek, and ancient Egyptian.  We studied history, math, grammar, dictation, mythology (Norse, Old and New Testament, Greek, and Roman), geography, botany, animal husbandry, archery, mythical creatures, and a whole lot more that slips my mind.  It was still school, but it was magical and we had two recesses.  We learned how to weave the maypole, and how to recite poetry in different languages and how to sing songs in Sanskrit.

 And now.... the spinning.  We spun my first month at Waldorf, but I had just arrived for the end of the block and one day all the spindles and drum-carders were gone and I wanted them back!  The wool had smelled like sheeps, and it had been fuzzy and so interesting.  It was only third grade though, and I had missed all the terminology, so I didn't even know what to call the things!  We learned to knit, but I didn't have the attention span for it. . . and crocheting was a stress disaster for me: "put the hook through the hole? which hole?! There are holes everywhere!"  We wove a couple of years later, and made an abstract sort of tapestry that hung on the wall of the classroom.  The loom wasn't huge - we were only in 5th grade and had to be able to work it, after all. 
We moved on and knitting was the only constant, but I missed the other fiber arts and thought about them fondly.  This was, of course, before the internet and before I knew about the wider world.  I thought if my parents didn't know anyone who spun their own yarn, it was a lost cause.
When I was in Junior High (public school again) I discovered Tamora Pierce, whose books I loved and still love more than any others.  I read her first two series, and then there was the Circle of Magic Quartet.  One of the characters has magic with fiber, and fiber craft.  With spinning, and weaving and things of that nature.  And then I had the terminology to ask for a spindle for Christmas!

So I did, and I've been hand-spinning with a spindle on and off since then.  Of course, the first roving I bought was merino, and made me totally crazy!  Short fiber, hard to spin when you're teaching yourself.  And now, I've written you a historical novel.  I'll save spinning wheel shopping for another entry.


  1. I love it! What a wonderful history. :) I'm super-jealous of your time at the Waldorf school. Can I go there now? I don't want to be in an office anymore. I want to make compost piles and weave and spin and learn a million languages and sing in Sanskrit!!!

  2. It was the wonderfullest. And of course all the while, I was seeing Saved By the Bell and sighing over the days I would go to Real High School. Totally overrated!