Monday, June 11, 2018


Some of the yarn spun from the various breeds I've processed
Last winter (not this past winter but the winter before) I took the first level of the Master Spinner program through Olds College in Alberta. I took it off-campus at Spry Whimsy in Stoughton, WI and am very much looking forward to taking the level two class there in October. I was supposed to have my coursework for level one finished and in to my instructor for grading this past February (one year after the class was held). I failed. I failed so utterly and completely that I failed to do anything other than buy fleece (because I love to shop) by February. So I applied for and received an extension till the end of June. The end of June is hurtling towards me, and I *could* get everything done. It would cost me (and by extension my family in terms of my time and attention), but I could finish. And I have been working hard to do so.

Earlier this week I was chatting on Facebook with another woman from my class who is also pushing till the last minute (though for much better reasons than mine), and she made the comment that if I am running short on time I should pick and choose what I can get done. After all, I only need to PASS. So I sat down this afternoon and I figured out how many points are assigned to each section, where I am on each of them, and what I need to do to PASS. What interests me most in the course (almost entirely) is the spinning, and I have that all but done. With one more day spent writing, I could have over 50% (passing) of the coursework done and send it in for grading without even having to do the natural dyeing section or the final project. I could even get those done by the end of next week if I wanted to.

In the spirit of winnowing, I also looked at the various sections and picked out three that I would definitely skip as they are writing only and I don't even WANT to do them--yes, I could regurgitate the facts in my own words, but why? And as I sat working through everything, I flashed back to what Jessie and Zaga have both been asking me for the past two months as I have fretted over the deadline: WHY? Why am I doing this? My answer to them was because I want to. I am taking these courses because I want to learn. Because I want to increase my proficiency in spinning to where I feel that I am a Master Spinner. But do I need to turn in the homework to get someone else's validation in order for that feeling to occur? This past week I have been finding myself cutting corners and doing the work "well enough" to get a decent grade. But the end goal for me is not and has never been a grade! I am not competing against my classmates and other people in the program to see who can get the best score or a perfect score. The only person I want to please is myself, and I am pleasing me by the acquisition of knowledge.

So why I am doing the coursework to turn in? Why not use what I learned from the course as the basis for my own ongoing breed study binder and the beginning of a natural dye book? Why not make myself samples of worsted and woolen and identify the qualities of the different parts of a sheep's fleece and record information on them for a later benefit to me? Why think about/work towards on the grade AT ALL? I know, it's blindingly obvious to you, but it was quite an epiphany to me!

Tomorrow I am going to call Olds College and inform them that I want to audit the course. Auditing costs the same as taking for credit, and I don't get a certificate at the end. BFD. I am not doing this for the certificate. Then I will continue with the work I have been doing on the qualities of the the fleeces of various sheep breeds. I will have a natural dye day or two. I will process all the different kinds of sheep fleece that I bought (and brought to Montana) but didn't do because I didn't need them for the course because they only wanted 10 and I got 20. Now the breeds I have will be a foundation for working with ALL the breeds (that a girl! I have always been an I-must-have-all-the-colors crayon user).

Deep breath in, deep breath out. I have the answers to at least one of life's questions.


Bill said...

Well. Good for you! Sorta why I don't have a Bachelor's in History...

ellen abbott said...

at this point in our lives we don't need grades to acquire knowledge, we just need the instruction.

Bill said...