Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Learning is Reward Enough

This is how I go when I go like this…

Intelligence is adaptability. Learning is shaped behavior. The ability to learn is the capacity to accept change of set, which is a function of adaptability.

The most remarkable skills coach I have ever had was Major Charles Valko, a former Hungarian Olympic Coach in Dressage. Every time I try to teach anything to anyone, I am grateful for his guidance. He approached training with a deep upwelling of joy that was infectious. I truly think that anyone who rode for him would have followed him through the gates of Hell with courage and confidence.

Pal, my Service Dog, had a really happy weekend. He got to practice his herding skills three times, and he did very well each time. One new complicated skill was added to his repertoire: penning the sheep after working them, and he did it perfectly the first time. It is wonderful to watch him use his gliding, wolf-like trot to move the sheep around the big pen.

His trainer, my dear friend Terri Wilson at Dixie’s Animal Training in Tulsa OK, is the best dog trainer I have ever seen. Terri does not use punishment or intimidation with her dogs, which is why she does such a great job of training sheep herding to dogs whose prey drive is not as obsessional as Border Collies’. Also, every sheep that gets herded for a living probably wishes that it lived with her – she spoils them rotten! (You can see more of her herding skills and the various dogs she has trained over the years at her website. The picture used in this blog is of her dog, Marco, who was a whiz at anything he did.)

While watching my dog work the sheep I taught my friend Claudia to weave on a small bookmark loom. The method I chose was basically “this is how I go when I go like this.” I would first show her what was needed on the loom, then I would take apart what I had just done and she would repeat the step. Her reward for the learning was the positive experience of success.

Pal’s reward for good behavior in the herding ring is to continue working the sheep.

Both of these efforts share a component of associative learning. The rewards are different, and, of course, the tasks are different, but both share a drive to learn and a positive reward. Major Valko was right – make learning a joyful task and the learner will always be eager to learn more.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Newspaper Article About THWW

Tres Hermanas Wool Works Converting To Custom Design
Ponca City News Staff Writer

Tres Hermanas Wool Works at 314 East Grand Avenue has recently reopened after converting to a custom design and weaving studio. Gloria Galasso said the shop will continue to order specialty yarns and supplies for customers, but the business has changed its focus to custom work.

One project Galasso is working on is a commissioned piece for the 101 Ranch Rodeo's 50th Anniversary Queen's trophy saddle blanket, which the shop is donating. The saddle blanket is being woven with wool yarn in hand-dyed colors.

Galasso said the shop has been reorganized to include a design area as well as weaving stations and spinning stations, where she will spin yarn on spinning wheels. "By October, we will be fully laden with gift items," she said.

Galasso currently is weaving a ranch banner on a Chimayo-style walking loom built by Irvin Trujillo, a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow. The loom style came to Spain more than 1,000 [sic] years ago, Galasso said.

Galasso's partner, Patricia Paterson, also is a weaver and often creates her works on a triangle loom. In addition, Paterson offers custom repairs of heirloom textiles. She has recently repaired an heirloom granny square blanket as well as a linen and cotton filet crocheted piece depicting the Lord's Prayer. Paterson focuses on restoring knitted and crocheted pieces. "I do not do quilt restorations, but I will refer customers to people who do that work," Paterson said.

One of the first restorations was a bedspread that a customer's grandmother had made. The spread was made in panels and Paterson was able to take it apart and repair a large portion of the spread with pieces of the panels that were too badly damaged to salvage.

Both Galasso and Paterson are taking lessons in Rio Grande weaving from Northern New Mexico College.

Galasso also is working on an art called needle felting to create a large carousel with five animals, including a horse which is completed, an elephant which is in progress, a swan, giraffe and lion.
Galasso and Paterson often take time away from their shop to share their work with children at local schools and in demonstrations at festivals across the region.

Cheryl Klein, a teacher at First Lutheran School, brought a packet of photos and thank-you cards to Galasso recently from one of her classes to thank the weaver for showing students what her work includes. Galasso took a portable spinning wheel to the school so the students could see first-hand the process of spinning yarn.

The shop also is committed to being environmentally friendly by reducing its energy use. The wool workers use all-natural yarns that are made in the United States and are naturally washed and dyed.

Published Tue, Jun 9, 2009, On Page 2 A

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dove-tailing Our Business

Dove-tailing one business with like businesses is something we are beginning to see more and more of around our town and state. Probably, if you look, you can find something similar in your area. The quilt shop across the street, Completely Quilted, participates in fairly regular “store hops” in which bus loads of quilters go from town to town visiting several quilting stores. (We are always happy when they do that, as it invariably brings interested shoppers into our store, as well.)

Yesterday, June 6, we got to do something that was lots of fun, and that promotes our business. Patti and I spent 5 hours out at Silvertop Farm and Vineyard during one of their agribusiness bus tour stops. There are four local farms and ranches that participate in this area and it is really coming along for all of us.

The four sites around Ponca City, OK, are The Historic Big V Ranch, Blubaugh Angus Ranch, Silvertop Farm, and the historical site of the 101 Ranch (where rodeo got its start).

The Big V is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ranch home was completed by original claim staker, W.H. Vanselous in 1903. Vanselous claimed the land during the Cherokee Strip Land Run. He was the largest mule dealer at the turn of the 20th century, providing mules for both the American and the British Army.

Blubaugh Angus Ranch was founded in 1893 by Cletus Blubaugh. Blubaugh lived in a sod dug-out house for seven years. I don’t know for sure but I think he lived in it by himself. I figure he must have gotten a missus around the time he built the home, judging by the number of descendants in the area.

The 101 Ranch Historical Site is on the home place of the old 101 Ranch (so-called because it original comprised 101,000 acres). Time and fires and neglect have pretty much destroyed the buildings of the place. In its day it was the largest diversified ranch and farm in the United States.

Silvertop, where we spent most of yesterday, is a 3,250-acre working farm, that includes registered Shropshire and Hampshire sheep, registered Hereford cattle, small grain operations, hay, pecan groves and vineyards, as well as nature trails and rolling hills. It is a beautiful place.

My friend and student Tori took her sheep over to get sheared by their shearer. Ramsey is a miniature Shetland wether. He is tame as can be and walks on a leash like a dog. We took him home to her in the backseat of our car, where he rode quite comfortably with our sheep-herding Belgian Tervuren (my Service Dog), Pal. Pal does sheep herding for a hobby and is quite good. He has won several ribbons and titles and he will be spending part of the fall with our trainer and dear friend, Terri Wilson at her facility called Willow Acres Dog Training over by Collinsville for much of this fall. We hope he can get some more titles on before the fall season is over. He really loves doing it. However, he was appalled at having to share the backseat with a sheep. Fortunately, Ramsey was equally appalled and they decided to stand looking in opposite directions so that they could thoroughly ignore one another.

Agribusiness is a growing movement in this part of America. This group calls itself “Salt Fork River Valley Ranch and Farm Tours.” They are enthusiastic about their farms and love to show them off to the busloads of visitors. I think that these tours are popular in part because people are beginning to want to understand the foundations of our history. We are very proud to be part of this movement and thrilled to show the visitors how yarn is made and woven.

While your business may not be able to “dove-tail” itself in with agribusiness, by giving it some thought, you might get in with one or another of the tours that do come through your town. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they can give you information on local tourism. If nothing quite suits, maybe it’s time you start one of your own.