Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spinning Yarn

Pastel Rainbow Fairy Handspun Yarn

Cashmere Merino

Junkyard Fairy Yarn

Spindles, spinning wheels, drum carders, hand carders...all of these can be found around our home. Carding fiber batts and then spinning them up is a tactile, artistic experience, and a nice family project, too!

Spinning on our Majacraft Little Gem II

We learned how to spin and card years ago. We started off with a spindle/carding lesson, then Joey and Mommy attended Camp Plucky Fluff to learn more about making novelty yarns. We've done demonstrations and lessons. Mommy attended SOAR a few years back. We love collecting unusual and pretty spindles.
Camp Plucky Fluff Yarn
Some of our batts
One of our spindles

Sometimes, we participate in fiber swaps. We mail in various fibers (wool, alpaca, angelina, eco-spun, cotton, yak, angora, buffalo, tencel, bamboo, silk, soysilk...) to one person who then mixes everything up and sends us back a batch of fiber. The swap participants come from all over the world! Here is a yarn that Joey and Mommy spun up from a fiber swap. We then crocheted it into a funky hat!

Joey and Ricky have been selling their batts and yarns for a few years, now. The money that they earn goes into their college fund. Wilson just started making some batts of his own!

Joey likes to name her yarns after fairies.
Heathered Mist Fairy, Boysenberry Fairy, and Tree Fairy

Ricky names his yarns after the periodic table of elements.

Bromine Yarn, Iridium Yarn, and Neon Yarn

Friday, May 22, 2009

Making Crayon Scribblers

Well, we've seen a lot of other people make "scribblers", so we decided that it was about time to try! The kids found a large box of old crayon pieces and got to work taking the paper labels off. We worked on this a little bit at a time over about 4 days.

A muffin tin was placed on the table, and everyone got to create their own color combinations.

We preheated the oven to 300 degrees and watched the crayons melt pretty quickly! Once they looked like they had reached a liquid state, we took the tin out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, then placed it in the freezer for 1/2 hour.

Our first batch came out OK...most of them broke. We realized that we might have let them melt too long and freeze too long, so we watched the next batch a little closer.

The second batch came out better and only a couple of the scribblers broke. Our third batch was perfect!

The kids had fun drawing with their scribblers (even the broken pieces!). What a fun way to reuse old crayons and make something that is beautiful and artistic.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lucet - Making a Cord

Children love using the lucet -- it's easy and rhythmic! Similar to spool knitting, the action consists of creating loops from some type of fiber strand (yarn, string, etc.), and lifting loops off. It's a great way to introduce kids to fiber arts before learning how to knit or crochet, and it's also fun to try even if you are an advanced knitter.

Lucet dates back to the Viking era. They were commonly used throughout Europe until the 16th century. Since we've been covering the Middle Ages this year, it was the perfect time to pull out the lucet!

The resulting cord can be used to make jewelry, snakes, bodice lacing, cords for flute cases, purse handles, bookmarkers and more!

Having bobbins for your twine, yarn, cording or string is a nice option, especially if you end up using more than one fiber. Our favorite place to purchase wood lucets and bobbins is Griffin Dyeworks. Wonderful prices, great service, and quality lucets.

Having the lucet out for a couple of months in the "Dell" was a nice way to keep hands occupied or soothed, as needed. Everyone in the family did some lucetting at some point! The resulting cord made a beautiful bookmarker for our Norse mythology book.

A great way to start is by watching some YouTube videos. Here is our favorite tutorial video:

If you learn to lucet, let us know about it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Summer Poem

For our official last week of homelearning this year, we filled our circle time with thoughts of summer! We read poems, sang songs, and talked about what summer means to us. We each shared some of our favorite projects, trips and topics that we learned about this past year. Above is a poem that we created together about summer!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sewing Family Aprons

In preparation for the annual Griffin Dyeworks Dye & Fiber Retreat, we purchased aprons from Dharma Trading Co. for the whole family. Joey found bits of material, including fabric from some old clothes, and she customized the design for each person's apron based on their favorite colors and what they wanted.

Joey talked to each family member, selected material, measured, cut and sewed onto the aprons, and voila! We now have our own custom aprons. Daddy's even has a water bottle holder! We can't wait to use these at the retreat, as well as at home when we do watercoloring, baking and crafts. Thank you, Joey.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Our Play Farm

Joey sewed a playmat earlier this year. She crocheted some flowers, needlefelted a river, felted some rocks by throwing blobs of wool fiber into the washing machine and dryer, and sewed the entire mat out of our old clothes.

Recently, a few animal friends decided to join us on the play mat. We purchased some moveable wood fence pieces on Etsy, and a farm was born!

Some of the farm animals are sewed out of felt, some are made out of wood, while others are crocheted, knitted or needlefelted. The goose came from downinthemeadow Etsy shop. Some sheep and a kitty are on their way to us from mama4earth Etsy shop. The lovely wood mushroom was made by Carle's husband. The puzzle tree came from Etsy, and the other tree is a cut piece of wood from Daddy with wool roving on top. The horse and pig came from Steiner College Bookstore. The rest were made at home by Mommy and Daddy.

This week, Wilson and Mommy were retelling the story of The Four Friends using the play farm. Then, the fences ended up becoming all sorts of imaginative creatures on their own. What fun!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Freehand Artistic Geometry

Ricky, Joey and Mommy have been doing artistic geometry drawings once a week this year. Making shapes out of circles, using a compass and protractor, and measuring with rulers have all been important.

This month, we are trying something new! Instead of using drawing tools, we have been doing our geometry "freehand". First, we started off with drawing angles. After completing our angle examples, we checked with a protractor and realized that we were pretty close! Next, we did some of the drawings from the book Artistic Geometry, such as the Hexagram, and 6 Circles from 1. Next, we will be drawing items from nature, such as shells and leaves.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day at Whole Earth Festival

Mother's Day began with a beautiful breakfast, made by Daddy and Joey for Mommy and Lola (Grandma). Yummy vegan treats and fresh, raw fruit!

We then trekked over to the University of California, Davis (where Mommy & Daddy met, went to college and got married) for the annual Whole Earth Festival. What fun! This event is held on campus every year during Mother's Day weekend. Lots of natural, organic products, demos on composting and solar power, live bands, activists reading poetry, raw vegan food, and wonderful vendors selling kalimbas, tie-dyed clothing and all sorts of arts and crafts.
The city of Davis has more bikes than people, and the college campus is no exception! It's always great to see people biking instead of driving.
We watched the food vendors putting lemon peels into the compost piles.
We stopped by the drum circle on the way out...anyone could join in and drum or dance.
Such positive energy! A wonderful way to spend Mother's Day as a family.