Nope. He’s not knitting, he’s not reading either. I started to think about these things on my drive home from dog training class tonight. The conversation was sparked when I mentioned Isaiah didn’t read, he’s 7. I explained that we were following the Waldorf ideals in our homeschooling and someone else piped in, “well is he knitting?” That made me smile. Somebody knew their Waldorf. Nope, he’s not knitting. You see, Isaiah is all boy. I have often wondered if I would ever teach him to knit, honestly. I have enough of a problem with it myself, and didn’t know how to pass it on without embracing it. However since denial is often a comfortable place for me, I figured I would start the process, and cross the knitting bridge when we came to it. So keeping in the tradition of Waldorf, we started from the beginning. We bought a sheep fleece, I had no idea how to go about doing this, so I googled of course. I found a very nice sheep farmer who was happy to sell me half a fleece at a very reasonable price since we were using it for homeschooling. However the idea is for him to actually see where the fleece comes from, and this farm was about 3 1/2 hours from our house, so instead we went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, which was only 1 1/2 hours away. This turned out to be a tremendous event! We had a blast! I love traveling with Isaiah, we are good companions. But the event itself was awe-inspiring for both of us! Living in a relatively urban area, it just felt like we were experiencing “real” America.
Honest living, hard-working, people who used their hands to do what they love. I am a sucker for hands on work (even though I can’t knit). Beautiful wide open skies, no highway noise, just the wind…..the smell of sheep. Yes, the smell of sheep. After that day, I loved the smell of sheep. So we learned where a sheep fleece came from, we saw all kinds of sheep, we even got to watch a sheep shearing demonstration! That was amazing. Do you know a good sheep shearer can shear a sheep, without a nick, in under 2 minutes! And the sheep don’t even move! It’s like they have no idea they can kick and get away!
Isaiah really wanted to be the photographer for most of this journey, so I let him. By letting him photograph, I learned something about him. Something I already knew, but never imagined would translate to sheep and wool. My son wants to spin. He wants to learn how to spin on a spinning wheel. Not a drop spindle, but a spinning wheel. Why? He is fascinated by spinning wheels, by the way they move and how they work. Personally I don’t think he cares that the outcome is yarn. But to him it is a beautiful machine. And so, he took pictures of about 50 different spinning wheels. Here’s a best of:
We met a wonderful lady, Luci from Sheeping Beauty, who offered to teach Isaiah to spin at the spinning show in Milwaukee in the spring. He was so excited, if she didn’t live so far, I am sure we would already be visiting!
From this point it was time to move on to our wool. Well you got a fleece, now you have to clean it. And let me tell you something, fleece is dirty! Whoa! Some of the stuff I got out of there was NASTY! But it was also really cathartic, funny huh? Isaiah helped a little, but the water was pretty hot, this was mostly a mommy job.
Then I carded the wool using two dog slicker brushes. Much cheaper than wool carders! It took me a little while to get the hang of it. Believe it or not, Isaiah understood the concept better than me and explained it to me. But after showing me how 🙂 he had enough and let me do the carding. Once again, seriously cathartic.
I tried to figure out a way to engage him in all this wool work that was benefiting me so greatly, and I did find a way. I googled again, and found out we could dye the wool with Kool-Aid! And so…..
So, then we had all this wool roving….but no one to spin it. So, I decided to learn how to needle felt! It is amazing what you can learn on YouTube! And so, we began to needle felt, as before, Isaiah was interested for about 5 minutes. I on the other hand was completely enthralled.
I made Princess Carolee, and the little acorn bowl behind her. I made lots of things, it feels good to do things with my hands. It’s funny…..I never expected that both Isaiah and I would get the Waldorf education. I never thought I could be this mom. I am OK with him playing while I sit in the same room as him creating someone new for him to play with. I have made him a mayor, a robber and I am working on the Sheriff now. He has agreed to get rid of all his plastic figures if I replace them with felted ones. Seems like a win win to me.
So, no, he’s not reading, or knitting. But this kid is living! He’s living a life I only wish I had when I was his age. He’s getting to learn how things are made, by hand, from the ground up. Not just molded plastic. Real toys made out of real materials, that feel alive in your hands. It’s the best possible education I could want for him, and me!
How to dye your wool with Kool-Aid: Easy Peasy! Boil a pot of water, less for more color (or add extra packets) Mine were one packet each and the color was nice and strong. Add the Kool-Aid once boiling (no sugar!) stir till dissolved. Turn the heat down to simmer, throw in your wool, push it down with a wooden spoon but don’t agitate it! That will felt it. Keep an eye on it, but in about 20 minutes, the wool should have soaked up all the Kool-Aid leaving the water relatively clear. Turn off the heat and let the water cool, once it is cool enough, rinse it gently under water THE SAME TEMPERATURE AS THE WOOL. This is very important, this can felt it too! Then voila! dyed wool! Let it dry, like I said I used a baking rack over a towel with a fan. Or you can be a traditionalist and use a screen outside, not in direct sunlight. Have fun with it! It’s a blast!