I have found that now - this time of year - is when we need handwork most of all. Not just me, as evidenced by the finished knits piling up this February. In hands both big and small, handwork projects are the way we love to get through the days with peace and ease. In the early days of winter, just the shift to inside is enough to uncover latent projects, or forgotten books, puzzles and games. Artwork happens with a flurry in the months that begin winter. But eventually, at just about this point, we all get a little stuck. A little tired of looking at the same pens and paper, bookshelves, and projects in progress. And as a result, I see more unrest, feel more unsettled kids around me, and hear more bickering. The days are getting longer, and warmer, and it's becoming easier already to be out of doors more. We are close! But still...some "new" handworking projects are just the thing for keeping little (and big) hands busy, heads satisfied and hearts happy. They keep the peace, these things. After all, you can't swat at your brother when you're hands are both deep in felt. And you can't call your sister a name when you're counting stitches.
I thought today I'd show you some of the kid handwork we're up to these days, on the chance that it might be helpful in your own hands and homes too.
(Mama and her old bed sheet as a floor surface wasn't around at the start of this particular carving session. Ahem.) Everyone (excepting Annabel) has been doing quite a bit of carving these days. There are spoons, and wands, and spatulas in progress - rustic and unidentifiable as they may be (I'm speaking of my own work here). The kids - and Steve and I - have picked up most of our carving instruction from our friends at Koviashuvik Local Living School. I don't have a great book resource to give you about carving, but can promise that some good information is soon coming to the pages of Taproot!
Harper is having a great time with embroidery these days. I wrote a bit about the earliest of embroidery with children both in my first book, The Creative Family, and in this blog post. Harper has moved past that first burlap goodness and is now fully into linen and the like. He likes to draw directly onto the fabric with a light pencil, then stitch over that with a tapestry needle and embroidery floss (using all the strands). He just finished working on a collection of Valentine's - with his friends' name and accompanying hearts which were turned into "dream pillows". Sweet, sweet.
He - and Annabel too - are also spending a lot of time with the hand drill right now. It's a Fiskar's Hand Drill (like this one), recommended a few years back by Amy, it's become a huge hit here. We have a second now, just because it was in such frequent demand. They do some specific making of things with it, but mostly, with the littlest especially, they just really like making holes in wood. And I think that's just fabulous.
Adelaide has been spending a bit of time this month with her potholder loom - a little different from the classic metal one (which we also have, but that she got a little bored with in years past). This one requires a bit more work - more weaving - but it's perfect for where she's at. When it comes time for weaving (a hobby I am half-jokingly saving for my forties), I think she'll be able to lead the way, after using this.
She's also been playing around with a lot of wet felting, using Artfelt to be specific. It's an interesting process - a bit faster than a traditional wet felting, which I think makes it more appealing to her at the age of eight. I think she's just tapped into the things she could make with this - she really wants to 'draw' with felt, and she thinks this will be a good method for doing so.
And then there is knitting. A lot of knitting. I have taught my children to knit at various points each, sometimes with it sticking and sometimes not. It comes in fits and spurts for some, and with a passion for others. Ezra has been quite content to work on the same hat for about a year now - a few stitches here, a few stitches there. Sometimes ripping most of it out to trade out a stripe for a different color. Oh, he loves the process! And doesn't think much about the product. Adelaide started a cowl last week, cleverly devising a basket she could hook over her arm so that she could walk and knit at the same time, determined to be wearing the cowl by this weekend. Oh, my girl. (For kids knitting instruction - if you're looking for a visual reference for them or you - I really do like Kids Knitting a whole lot for that purpose.)
And you? Is there handworking keeping you and yours busy these days?