Sharing what you love with people you love

Sharing what you love with people you love 


Hannah and the results of her dyeing experiments.

It would please me to no end if my seven-year-old daughter, Hannah, was as excited about making things fibery as I am (or even as I was when I was her age). But I also remember my mom encouraging me to do things that she did, and, like Hannah, I was resistant. I wanted to do my own things. Also, I had a certain amount of fear that I'd never be able to do things as well as my mom did (she's very skilled). So I feel like I'm treading carefully, trying to present opportunities for Hannah to try things out, but not pushing. She's tried out knitting and weaving and dabbled in needlefelting—all this she does really very well but it isn't really something she seeks out to do on her own.

One thing that Hannah tells me frequently is that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up. She'd really like to invent things. She'll work endlessly on a series of experiments using the leftover bits of soap and shampoo and other safe household liquids. Of course, I encourage her wholeheartedly in this. I derive great pleasure in making things—I can understand the appeal.


Hannah showing her little sister, Sarah, how to dye with tea.

It was when I looked at some of the things I do in a different light—I tried to see it like a scientist—that I was able to capture Hannah's interest. The other day, Hannah was home while I was working to meet a deadline. She had come into my office, plopped onto the floor, and whined that she was bored. I had an inspiration.

I pulled out some aluminum bowls, some old packets of Kool-Aid, some old tea bags, and made a few quick skeins of white wool from practice yarn on my bobbins. Hannah helped me set up the working station in the backyard and got working on some dye experiments. I encouraged her to see if there was anything else in our yard that would yield a dye. The little scientist was thrilled. In addition to trying out the Kool-Aid and tea, she mushed up crab apples that had fallen from the tree and made mixtures using composting leaves from our compost.

She ran excitedly back into the house with the dyed skeins, each different shades. She was eager to do more "dye experiments" with the neighborhood kids when they came over to play, and the next day she showed her little sister, Sarah, how to make skeins and dye yarn with tea bags. Sarah (who loves washing skeins with me), washed her skeins and found a place to hang them all on her own.

The results of catching someone's imagination are thrilling to see first hand. We often hear similar stories when an issue of Spin-Off comes out—spinners tell us that reading about a technique or a new twist to something familiar will inspire them to try something new. We always love to hear these stories. It is part of what makes what we do so rewarding. And, you never know, perhaps in the future I'll be writing posts about how I can't find an empty bobbin because my kids have filled up them up with their own yarn.

Happy spinning,

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