Friday, March 9, 2012

Yards and Yards and Yards

After yesterday's co-op class, my 8-year-old K declared that she had found a new calling in life: creating yards and yards and yards of finger-crocheted chain. Let me tell you, she is fast! I went in the office for a few minutes to write that last blog post, and when I emerged, I found this:

  And when I ventured out to the dining room, I found this:

So, do you think we've got a future yarn bomber on our hands?

It might have had something to do with the fact that we read this delightful book (which I highly recommend, especially if you have any special love for yarn):

And, speaking of yarn bombing, have you seen this amazing work of fiber artistry? I am in utter awe!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Slip Knots and Finger Chains

For the past couple of months, we have participated in a semi-local homeschooling co-op. I had the pleasure of teaching a class I called "Creating with Fiber" to a group of 6- to 8-year-olds. It was very hands-on, very demanding, and very fun! We learned about wet felting, spinning, weaving, and "looping" (a very basic introduction to knitting and crochet), read some great fiber-related picture books, and hopefully ignited the fiber arts fire within the hearts of at least some of the young students!

I have lots to share about all of our projects and what I learned about what to do next time, but for now I just want to share one thing that I hope will be helpful to others. For our "looping" projects, I first wanted to teach the children how to make a slip knot. This seems like such a simple thing when you've been doing it for years, but for young children it can be a very complex process with too many steps to remember!

I asked my BFF Google for ideas on teaching the slip knot to children with some sort of rhyme or mnemonic. Unfortunately, this was one of the very few times dear Google has let me down! Unabashed, however, I set out to create my own. Here it is, complete with pictures to illustrate the steps:

1. First, place a ball of yarn on a flat surface with the end coming out to the right.

2. Place your left index finger on the yarn to keep it stable. Say, "A frog sat on a log."

3. Pick up the free end of the yarn and make a loop as shown above. Say, "A snake slid over the log."

3. Holding the yarn stable with the left index finger and thumb, make "fox fingers" with your right index finger and thumb. Say, "A fox came up from behind . . . " while putting the right-hand "fox fingers" through the loop from behind.

4. Say, "and snapped his jaws tight!" while pinching the yarn with your "fox fingers" and pulling it through the loop.

5. Pinch both yarn ends with the left hand while using the right-hand "fox fingers" to pull up the new loop of yarn . . .

6. until the knot is pulled tight. You should now be able to adjust the size of the slip knot by pulling on the yarn that is coming from the ball.

Some of my students picked up on this right away, and others needed a lot of support for a while. The "story" of the frog, snake, and fox really makes a difference, though, in helping them remember the steps. All of my students came back this week remembering the story, and most of them could still do all the steps as a result. (I also heard my 4-year-old whispering the story "instructions" to himself all week as he tied slip knots in everything that even remotely resembled yarn.)

The next step after the slip knot was finger crocheting chains. This was fairly straightforward to teach, since I just had them use their "fox fingers" to come up from behind and snap shut on the yarn, pulling through a new loop. Some of my students crocheted yards and yards of chain with this simple finger method (using a bulky yarn) and begged me to let them take some yarn home with them. Ummm . . . okay! Love to see the seeds of fiber-love being planted in the young!