Last Wednesday, I had ten home school kids and four moms over to my studio for an adventure in stitching. I’ve taught this class at O’Malley Elementary School, but this was the first time I had taught it in my home.
What do I teach these youngsters? They learn about how to felt wool and recycle old wool sweaters, they are encouraged to think originally about what they would like to make with wool, and most importantly (I think) they learn how to cut fabric, thread a needle, create a roll knot, do a stab stitch and a whip stitch, and sew on a button. I have found that it is rare for a young person to know how to do any of these things.
We started the class in my studio. This was a great experience for me. I need to practice talking about my work in front of people, and kids are great audience for that. We had a wonderful conversation about art, materials, technique, and inspiration.
From there we moved upstairs to our living room which had been converted into a classroom earlier that day.
I start all the students out with scraps of wool, a needle, and some Perle Cotton Thread. We practice threading the needle, knotting the thread, and stitching. Once they are comfortable with those skills, they are encouraged to make a headband or a wrist band.
After they make a headband or wrist band, they can create whatever they are inspired to make. I am always amazed at what the students come up with. There is so much creativity inside of them waiting for the opportunity to get out.
I make no mention of this being women’s work–because it is not. Everyone should know how to sew, and everyone should cultivate their inner creativity. And I have found that many boys, just like many girls, love to sew.
Some students spend the entire class focused on making their headbands. Other students move quickly on to other ideas. Neither approach is right or wrong. The students who spend a lot of time on their headbands usually create amazingly intricate work.
Those who move on to other projects get their inspiration from some class samples I have made, a couple of books I have on the subject, and of course their own ideas.
At the end of the class each student shares their work in an oral and visual presentation. This is what my friend Jonny Gray calls the Big TaDa. We both find it is an important part of teaching. Being comfortable sharing your work in a public setting is a great skill to have, plus we all want to see what everyone else has been up to during the class.
If you would like me to teach your students about recycled felted wool and stitching, I would love to do so.
I am linking this post to Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday’s. Check it out–lots of inspiration if you are looking for new fiber ideas to try.