To my joy, I am being given more and more opportunities to demonstrate and teach the old fiber arts. Today it was with a camp run by our Local Community Arts (LoCo Arts) organization to a group of kids. They have 7 children enrolled this year and each day they are tackling a different theme. Yesterday they did plants and as part of the day, they made an herbal salve. Today part of the theme was fiber. A friend in our spinning group and I volunteered to work with the children teaching about fibers, how they were prepared and used to make household fabric and clothing. With only 2 hours to work with them, we were somewhat limited, but it was fun. My rusty teaching skills were drawn upon, my friend also having been a teacher, and both of us being grandma’s of small children.
The children were able to handle many different animal fibers and flax. Each child was given a light drop spindle that I had made for them, along with bumps of fiber dyed by my friend and natural colored fiber provided by me. They were shown various types of drop spindles from my whorl less Dealgan brae, top and bottom whorl, and Turkish spindles and how they worked. They took apart a length of string to see how each ply twists in one direction, then the several held together twist in the opposite direction to hold them together and provide strength. They were taught to use their new drop spindles.
In addition to learning to spin with a drop spindle, we gave each child the opportunity to spin a couple of yards of a single on our wheels.
They then walked away from us holding the end of their single, we cut the other end while holding it and gave it to the child, letting go of the middle so it self plyed. Their piece of yarn was then strung with a large wooden bead and tied into a necklace for them to keep.
Two rigid heddle looms belonging to my friend were set up by her and she gave them a demonstration on how to use them and the children were given the chance to weave a few rows on the loom to see how the yarn that they could spin could be used to make a fabric.
The children and their two teaching camp counselors seemed to appreciate the lessons learned and the gifts of fiber tools and fiber to continue to practice with at home.
I thoroughly enjoyed working with the kids, they were wonderful.
Next I get to demonstrate spinning at the historic Smithfield Plantation House on the University campus on July 4 at their Independence Day celebration. It is only for a few hours, but I will also be selling yarn, bar soap, and lotion bars if it isn’t too hot that day.
I love the opportunities that I have had this summer to demonstrate and teach some of the ancient crafts that I have grown to love.