March 1, 2007
Grandpa always watched for weather "signs" and predicted accordingly: Groundhog day (Feb. 14, not the 2nd) predicted the next 6 weeks of winter; today, March 1, predicted the end of the month. I'm not sure whether March has come in like a lion or a lamb today though. It has been raining pretty hard all day and we have had some thunder rumbling overhead, but considering what the weather in the Smokies can be like in March, I'm just not quite ready to pronounce today lion-like.
My Appalachian Arts and Crafts students and I have been busy the last couple of weeks doing some spinning on our CD drop spindles. What fun it is to listen to my big football players and my tough guys ragging the girls about being better spinners, and they really are. Most of the boys in the class have spun several times more yardage at a much more consistent diameter than my best female spinner. We are working on a unit I wrote a grant for: Fiber to Fabric. We will be processing and spinning both wool and flax, dying with native plants, and weaving with the yarns we have produced. We are also going to plant madder and flax seeds in the gardens around the courtyard that is just outside my classroom. Next week we will be making cordage from yucca and the inner bark of tulip poplar in the manner of the ancient Cherokee Indians who lived in this area. This unit will also involve several field trips: to see sheep being shorn at a friend's farm, to the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University, to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, as well as to Oconaluftee Indian Village and Unto These Hills. This is a great opportunity for my kids and so far they are really enjoying it. Cassie Dickson, a friend who works with WCU and is a member of the Southern Highlands Handicraft Guild will be working with me on this unit. Cassie is also a spinner (of silk) and a weaver of overshot coverlets. Although it is not Appalachian in origin, Cassie will be bringing her silkworms to class with her later in the semester. We will also be doing some fingerweaving later in the semester.