Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fiber Arts for the Classroom

002About 5 years ago, I started to crochet which led to knitting and now spinning. Of course, this has resulted in the purchase of an expensive new spinning wheel!

When I was growing up, I remember my mother doing lots of sewing and knitting. Eventually my middle sister became a great seamstress, crocheter, and knitter. I never had an interest in it until five years ago. I didn’t know many people around me who did crochet or knit but when another teacher was making an afghan, I begged her to teach me. I eventually found Ravelry which is a social network for people interested in fiber arts. At first I thought that just meant crocheting and knitting but I’ve found out that fiber arts involves felting, spinning, and a whole range of wonderful things!

Maybe I never noticed before or maybe it is becoming more popular but I’m glad to see this. I was afraid that fiber art might become a lost art.

I’m seeing more Fiber Festivals which is becoming a major money maker in the business world. My husband is amazed when we go to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival. There are swarms of people every year that attend. I dream of going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and to Rhinebeck for the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival.

I notice that colleges are starting to have knitting groups on campus and I’m glad to see young people becoming involved. Knitting and crocheting are not seen as an old woman’s craft anymore. Some high schools are even starting to have knitting groups. I had a few of my students learn to crochet because they wanted to make baby blankets (for their own children or for friends).

I’m also glad to see more men becoming involved in knitting because history shows that men did a lot of knitting on sailing ships.

I believe that learning a fiber art can be very educational. It involves reading and following directions, math skills (pricing yarn, figuring out the amount of yarn needed, measurement, resizing). Spinning teaches dexterity and motor skills whether learning to use a drop spindle or a spinning wheel. Dyeing yarn would be a great way to teach science.

If you are a fiber artist, consider sharing your art with your students. Let them ask questions. Show them some basics. If they are interested in more, you can add lessons but keep them short and simple because you don’t want to overwhelm them and scare them away.

If you aren’t a fiber artist, invite a speaker to come talk about their art. You can go to a craft store and ask them for suggestions of who to ask. If there is a yarn store nearby, consider asking the owner to come talk to your class. They could talk about yarn or even owning a business.

I think the students would be interested in Fiber Arts but may not know how to ask about it or even know what questions to ask. Bringing Fiber Arts into the classroom would be a chance for students to be successful in something besides academics, yet they would be learning academics without focusing on it.

Do you do some form of fiber arts? Do you share it with your students? Please share!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

4 comments:

Sioux said...

Pat--I used to do (in chronological order) embroidery, bargello, counted cross stitch, quilting and now...knitting.

I've never done after-school lessons (knitting) but I have knitted in front of them, since I wear lots of scarves that I've knitted. We have done some projects that involve hand-sewing, however.

My grandmother tatted, and that (I'm afraid) is an art that is almost lost. I never learned from her, and I regret it...

Pat Hensley said...

@Sioux I've never heard of bargello so now I'll have to go look it up. I'm afraid with the loss of "home ec," many of our students are not learning some of these arts. I've heard of tatting and think that would be cool to learn but I've never known anyone who had done it.

Gina Boyd said...

Loonyhiker! I've read this blog of yours for some time... and we're in some of the same groups on Rav. Somehow I haven't made the connection until now. Thanks for the great blog.

Last year was the second year I brought fiber arts to school. I teach third grade. For the last two years, I've written learn and serve grants to teach the kids to knit and/or crochet then make blanket squares. It has been great fun. Last year I brought my wheel in and demonstrated. Then we took a field trip to sheep farm/yarn store where they learned about the sheep, fiber, and bought supplies.

When I was a hard core quilter, I did the same thing with quilting. I love teaching the kids about fiber arts and giving to others since they go "hand in hand" (pun intended).

I have used to fiber arts to touch my kids' lives and show them a way to touch others' lives as well. It's a wonderful experience.

Gina B.
MissGknits on Rav

Pat Hensley said...

@Gina Boyd Isn't it wonderful when different parts of our lives overlap! Thanks for sharing how you use the fiber arts in your classroom! I'm glad to see things like this! (By the way, I added you to my friends on Ravelry!)