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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Teaching and Other Remedies


The week after Easter seems to be a good week to do something different. With children holidays and generally more free time to us we look for things that we do when we have the indulgence of time to ourselves.  So it is a really busy time for me as other people's time usually translates into bookings for teaching textile making.

I thought three very different classes and took my girl to learn a new skill herself.

The Fibre Club- Teaching Craft as a Group Development Excersise

I did my usual Tuesday Felting class with starts around 19 and finishes between 21 and 22.30 depending on the project and time we need to catch up with each other. It is a small class of 2-4 people and I love teaching it because for me it is great way to share skills in a long stretch of time. I have found that talent and ambition are just one of the ingredients in our practices.  Perseverance, is just as important. Seeing a student of mine coming to my classes with many ideas, but not great passion to develop skills and seeing the progress in the last three years from holey shapes of uncertain bird nests to imaginative hats which consist of strong designs and balanced use of colours and fibres is a thrill. Look for yourselves:

It is a different dynamic when the size or the complexity of the project is not an issue. It allows for quality and expression that gives great results. It also allows to achieve results much closer to your vision as the level of trust on both sides allows for a jumping start.

The Fun Activity -Doing Craft as a Team Experience

The thrill of teaching people that have never seen or done what you are showing them is different. It allows you to revisit everything that you have felt at the beginning when you started discovering the medium- wonder, possibilities inspiration and loads of fun. Loads of fun!

So it was great to get a 'thank you' letter from my team building group that I taught in The Constant Knitter. I love showing beginners how to cover bad stuff with handmade wool. 

So my favourite class to teach for beginners is a solid felted ball. 
1. You just take an orphan sock, scarps of yarn and remnants of fibre. 
2. Put the scaps in the centre, colver them with laid wool fibres
3. Dunk them in soapy water.
4. Now start felting them. Just massage the wet tangle in your hands till t transforms from hairy wet mess to smooth felted ball. Sometimes you need to add more fibres at the end stage if you do not want your ball to have a face on it, but sometimes it turns out perfectly smooth from the start. 
5. The great thing about this project is that you could embellish it at any stage, by adding beading, embroidery or taking away some of the fibres.

Showing it to people always feel more offering a therapeutic strategy rather than teaching craft....

The Master Class- Training Advanced Craft Lovers

This the one that comes great rewards. It aslo comes with great challenges as a teacher. There is a lot of problem solving and often significant amount of soul searching before and sometimes after the event- would I mange to achieve the vision of the person, would I be able to maintain the level of quality that we are all aiming at in a new project that would offer me unexpected challenges? 

I have to admit that some projects end up further south than is healthy for relentless optimism.. I am currently on sample 5th of the Shouting and Shaking scarf that I described in the previous blog.  And although being through this process more than once I know some tricks- 1)I have asked for help from experienced maker, 2)I have got some learning sources to find out more about the technique I am still not sure how it is going to go...

But when you are teaching others you need to be able for all these pitfalls. Learning through others mistakes is dangerous game.

So I am delighted that Ruth, who came to make a top with me ended up with a great top. She was not mad about the project that I had in mind (oops!) so she suggested a tunic which we designed on the spot, then using a pattern that she had I devised a felting pattern- most areas increased by 30% apart from neck- no increase and sleeves just 15% increase. It was very exciting that Ruth loved the Blue Faced Leicester and mixed it with superfine Merino.  Believe me I know how nerdy this sounds, but cannot help it- Blue Faced Leicester is not celebrated as much as it deserves. I was really interested to see also her account on the experience in a wet felting group. It is interesting to see the day through her eyes.

This week my daughter had her first lesson in knitting and it was very emotional experience for me. I hope she gets to love making things just like me. It is a great way of discovering.

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