Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Knitting with Children

Learn to Knit with Your Kids
By Brenda Massei of Pail & Pie
At a local outdoor trades fair my boys and I saw a woman dyeing and drying wool yarn. Her skeins looked like drying pasta on handmade racks and drew us in. Naturally, I started asking her about her yarn and then steered our conversation towards knitting, a favorite pastime of mine. She pointed to my sons, then ages six and four, and said, "How old are they? On the prairie, that one (pointing to my six year old) would be knitting his own socks or he would have cold feet." My son looked at me and I at him in disbelief. Hand knit socks by children? She had my attention.
Beyond having warm toes on the prairie, knitting has many other lifelong benefits. Waldorf schools have children knitting at the first grade level citing benefits such as focus, concentration, left to right progression pre-reading skills, fine motor skill development, delayed gratification, and confidence building. Ruldolph Steiner said children should knit because it was working on their minds. Children must problem solve, pay attention, and form judgments while knitting. He believed that repeat movements created stronger mental connections, linking a child's thinking to his fingertips. Knitting learned as a child can be carried on through adulthood and has been cited as providing health benefits like lowered blood pressure and chasing away depression.  A little while after I was inspired by the yarn dyer, my six year old son learned to knit, to both of our delight. 
Hand Knit Hackey Sack by Girl Power
Simple ways you can get started knitting with your children:
1. Contact your local senior center.
A mother in our homeschool group had this great idea. Knitters love to share knitting and seniors love to see children. She has learned to knit alongside her son at the local seniors center through weekly social knitting.
2. Visit the local yarn shop.
Most local yarn shops have classes, some free, on beginning knitting. It's good business for them to teach you, so take advantage of it.
3. Search your library.
Perhaps you aren't ready to "sign up" for classes, but are interested in learning at home. Search your local library for books and DVDs on knitting. Ask your librarian to order in a specific book or DVD if they don't have it on their shelf, they almost always can.
4. Browse.
Youtube.com has many tutorials on how to knit. It can be helpful to have the ability to pause and repeat. 
 Hand Knit Wool Barn Bag by Pail and Pie
5. Call Your Local Waldorf School.
Chances are very good that someone who works at the Waldorf school knows how to knit. A simple phone call could yield more information or connections, if not lessons.
6. Check out Ravelry.com.
This website is dedicated to bringing "ravelers" together. Click on the "groups" button at the top bar and find local knitters. Contact them through the site for more ideas on knitting.
7.  Ask.
In conversations with the neighbors mention you would like to learn to knit. I always appreciate my friends as amazing resources. At the mere mention of a topic there is usually someone who can chime in. Perhaps the neighbor's mother knits or perhaps she just saw a free class at the library you missed. You never know unless you ask.
Simple ways to share knitting with your children if you already know how to knit.
It may sound silly, but just letting your child see you knit is a good way to introduce them to it. Your enthusiasm for a hobby can become enthusiasm for them. When they ask if they can try, take advantage.
2. When showing your child the knit stitch teach them this rhyme:
In through the front door
Come around the back
Out through the window
And off jumps Jack.
3. Find simple patterns.
Waldorf patterns are amazing for their ability to turn squares into the sweetest little animals. Some books to try are Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick, A First Book of Knitting for Children by Bonnie Gosse and Jill Allerton and Creative Play for Your Toddler: Steiner Waldorf Expertise and Toy Projects for 2-4s by Christopher Cloud.
4. Be Patient.
Knitting can be confusing and challenging. I have a niece desperate to learn but having trouble with it. We just try it sometimes and leave it alone other days.
Hand Knit Woodland Garland by Pail and Pie
5. Try different things.
If you knit, you have different needles and yarn around. My son learned on very large needles with thick yarn. Others have said their children have learned on small needles. Everyone is different. You can experiment and see what your child has the most success with.
6. Guide their hands.
My younger son holds the needles while I knit. He tells me he's knitting with me. I have held, guided, and showed him the process while knitting my projects.
7. Try finger knitting.
If knitting is not working out for you, don't despair. Try finger knitting or crochet. The repetitive motions are beneficial no matter how you stitch it.

Hand Knit Doll by Girl Power
 Let us know how you learned!
Thanks to these sites for their articles on the benefits of knitting: 

"InThis First Grade, Knitting and Stories are the Focus." WBEZ Blog. Linda Lutton. May 31, 2012.  
"Knittingand Crochet Offer Long-term Health Benefits." PRLOG. Editor Caley Walsh. Feb. 9, 2009.
"WhyTeach Knit and Crochet?." Craft Yarn Council.com.

Make Your Own Handmade Knitting Needles ziezo Crafting and Living in Kenya blog

A special thank you to Brenda Massei for this post!
 Please visit her Waldorf on Etsy shop:  of Pail and Pie
as well as visit her blog:  Pioneer Kids

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Indigo Forest

Today we welcome Kellie from the Waldorf on Etsy shop,  The Indigo Forest to our blog!
 I have always been crafty. I was brought up around incredibly gifted parents, so I suppose you could say it's in my blood. It was actually at the urging of my mother that I should start a shop. I thought it was a great idea, but didn't have a real starting point. I didn't have a clue what I would sell. I started brainstorming.
 I figured it was good to go with what my passions were. I am very much into the natural world. I love working with natural materials. I started thinking that wool might be a good place to start. I started experimenting with wool and discovered that I loved it! 
  Soon, woodwork and my mother's leather work followed and the shop really starting taking shape. I also work in the subjects that I am passionate about, such as breastfeeding! I am a big supporter of breastfeeding, birth, and attachment parenting.
I also have an interest in Waldorf education and am inspired by the many beautiful Waldorf toys/items out there, which has led me to create some of my own Waldorf inspired items. 
The Indigo Forest has been a labor of love for over two years now and I hope to keep it up for many more years to come. It has been a dream come true for me to be able to stay at home with my little ones and create.  
The constant support from so many different people, including my own family, is what keeps me going and I am so grateful.
To see more items from The Indigo Forest visit Kellie on Etsy.  You can also connect with The Indigo Forest on Facebook as well as follow Kellie's two great blogs:    

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Learning About Eurythmy

A World on Movement & Expression
 Eurythmy was introduced into the curriculum of the first Waldorf school by Rudolf Steiner in 1919.  It is a discipline of original artistic movement that strives to make language and music visible. 
Needle Felted Angel
"If a human being reveals through eurythmy-gestures what his being inherently possesses as language, and enables the entire soul experience to become visible, then the mysteries of the world may be artistically expressed."
-- Rudolf Steiner
Rainbow Play Silk
  The aim of eurythmy is to speak and sing through movements and gestures that reveal to the eye what language and music bring to the ear. The movements of the eurythmist reveal inner soul experiences and relate them to the surrounding space. These movements can vary from simple hand gestures to those involving the whole body.  
 Compositions of pure eurythmy can be performed with or without accompaniment by language or music. Those performed without accompaniment are often profoundly meaningful for audiences and can be an essential contribution to the repertoire.
Rainbow Play Silk
No matter what age the individual, everyone can benefit from doing eurythmy.  The lessons begin in kindergarten and develop right up to the twelfth class in tune with the maturing growth of the pupils. “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.” - Paul Klee
Needle Felted Sun Goddess 
A special thanks to the Discover Eurythmy website for the information and quotes in this blog post.  For more information and to explore on your own please visit their website.