Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Yesterday I learned that our school is, as always, in a financial crisis (next year we have an additional 75 grand cut to our school)...programs will need to be cut, funding severed, etc... I am so sad that our Foundation cannot afford to send all of us to the January and February conferences at Rudolf Steiner College. I am mostly sad because I get so much inspiration from these conferences, at a time when my own inspiration is waning. Sometimes I just need a little reminder of why I am doing what I am doing and why I like it... Being the handwork teacher is a little lonely at times, and I sure love the companionship that these conferences offer. I suppose I will have to find inspiration somewhere and somehow else !

So....on with handwork. In 7th grade we have decided to make Renaissance costumes, or at least shirts and corsettes to begin... I am using some of the ideas in these sites :


We are using just muslin...I have to watch my funds, they are running low and we still have a half year left!!!

Given the financial crisis, I have to be honest and realize my program may be cut...also, I am not sure anyway whether I will continue or not as any perk for the job seems to be taken away (conferences, smaller class size, assistants...) Oh, well, I have a little time to think on all this. I think we might make felted candle ornaments just to put some light in the day!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Buttonhole, right...

Some pictures of finished juggling balls that the 6th grade will use juggling in the medieval festival next year....

So, 8th grade is sewing, many finishing their PJ bottoms, and while I was checking up on a sewing machine, I noticed someone had scratched--with a pin--out the "on" in buttonhole....and while I thought it was kinda hilarious and wondered how I hadn't thought of that one myself, I also was really mad that one of my students had permanently marred one of the sewing machines (I actually would have appreciated it if they had just put a piece of tape over the letters, and we could have all had a good laugh...). Anyway, no way of know who exactly did it since they won't fess up (would you?)...so, not sure what to do. They know I am really really dissappointed....SO----look at your machines closely....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More October

We had our very first hat finished in 5th grade 4 needle knitting...boy, that was quick!

Also, we (I) decided to make slippers out of felted wool sweaters with the 7th grade, the wet felting thing got a little out of hand, and I have so many students---I am so glad we did a little mini wet felting project to see how it went. My challenge is not having a handwork room, and having to tote everything to each class... Anyhoo, that class is having some self control issues that everyone is working on...maybe we will wet felt next May after some of the behaviour improves, which it will---yup, 7th grade...


Aha, finally have a day to update!!

Our school had there first Michaelmas festival, which we call the fall festival. We made a dragon head out of paper maiche in class 6 handwork, very last minute, but I think it turned out so great!! The 6-ers manned the dragon, and the 2nds put on the play, and then everyone went outside for a mini in school festival. We had many game stations, face painting, giant tears (oh, this is wonderful, the kids try to steal the jewal tears the giant is crying...they are those glass thingies you put in vases, etc...) Apple bobbing, but on string (hellooooo, H1N1, everyone is paranoid!! anyway, it is more sanitary to do it this way, but there is nothing like bobbing in cool water for an apple, especially when your front teethe are missing...) and other race-like activities...it was HOT HOT HOT that day, not very Autumnal...the fall arrived that weekend, the temps dropped like 20 plus degrees!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two weeks in...

Well, it is two weeks in to the school year, and we really have accomplished lots and lots!

5th grade has sanded all four of the needles for 4 needle knitting, we died and wound our wool for our hats, so tomorrow we will do some practice knitting to remember how...I only have two who have never knitted, and the rest I had 3 years ago, so I remember who can knit and who cannot so well....only one student did not like the colour of his yarn, and he sabotaged it by making it all in a tangle...then getting a headache and having to lay down...uh oh, well...he has to untangle that beautiful wool so someone else can use it before he makes another skein of a colour he likes---I wouldn't normally let a student change their colour, but he is the only one who doesn't love love love their wool!!! (we used food colouring, about 15 drops per 1/3 cup, used spoons to drop on wool...I soaked wool overnight in a big bucket with water and vinegar, which I did not measure...but it smelled like vinegar...no rinsing, just dripped until we were ready...then we put the skeins in plastic zip lock baggies and placed in the sun on the black top where they steamed for 2 hours---then we dipped them in clear cool water, no dye came off!!!! Hung up to dry, and voila!!!)

6th grade we are well on our way to finishing our pencil pouches, and some are working on the big dragon head for Michealmas, or for what we are calling our fall festival (in school only...not like a big fest we usually have on the weekends)

7th, well...we felted pouches and made inch worms, and this was all to get ready to make felted slippers...but if I went ahead with that project I would feel that I was rewarding some pretty awfull behaviour, sooooooo...we will be doing something else tomorrow----which I am trusting will come to me in the night???

8th is really coming along with sewing!!!! I have so many students, and really, it is going quite well considering.........

Oh, and I am posting an old pic from 3 years ago of the sign we made for our school in woodworking....they were so darned proud of that sign!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

4 needle knitting hat, fingerless gloves

Well, as I work on a few different computers, I find my photos are sprinkled here and there...I ran across these photos of finished 5th grade projects from last year. I believe the hat was entered in the CA state fair and won 1st place in its category !!!

Paper maiche dragon heads


What a smooth first day, only a few kinks, which is par for the coarse.

I learned that making what I thought was a simple felting project with the 7th grade, as a fun little project (inch worm) that we could then give to our little buddies in 3rd, was not such an "easy" project for these guys....amazed at the struggle to work with the wool! I am glad I started with this, they will need much more practice felting before we start their slippers!

I found out our school is finally going to celebrate Michaelmas, although it may be called something else to avoid any kind of religious connotations that may have for some people....the good news is I get to make the huge papermaiche dragon head with the 6th grade!!! I am so excited about this...the challenge is that I just got that news, and have to have it done in a month, which means about 7 class periods of 5o minutes.....we will have a blast building this!

Also, here are some pictures from last year...sock from 5th, and OH, those piggies!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dyeing wool with food colours

I decided to dye wool with the 5th graders for their first hat on 4 needles. Well, first they will make the needles...I bought walnut dowels, and am very very happy with that choice! Then we will do the food colour dyes...for now, here are some pictures of how the wool turned out that I dyed last night!

Some prep projects for 7th grade

OK so this may seem a little on the young side for a project for 7th grade, but I want them to get used to wet felting and dyeing before we make their slippers...so they are first going to make little inchworms getting used to manipulating the wool, and then a little pouch for the inchworm to live in...the pouch is wet felted around a smooth rock, which I am hoping they will be able to find by the river (if they go on a walk with the main lesson teacher...). Then, we will dye it with food dyes...we are using raw roving. I think that class will really enjoy it...we shall see!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Almost first day

Well, I have 5 more days until my first day of handwork instruction.
We have had a couple of in-service days with faculty and staff, and we
are so fortunate to have such a wonderful group...it just gets better every year!
We practiced a song that we will sing during our opening rose ceremony...it
is not my regular work day, but I think it is important to show a united front, and
I am anxious to see my students and see how much they have grown, or for my
8th graders, how much taller than me they are this year!!!

My projects keep changing in my mind, all these last minute ideas floating
around, my sanguininity is getting the best of me!! OK, focus, focus....

My wild card is the 8th grade...I have too few sewing machines for too many students!!
Part of this will be worked out after the first week, when I figure out where exactly I
will be teaching them and stowing the machines, etc (I am a roving handwork teacher...no handwork room for me!!) Soooooo, I have decided to break them up in groups (we will
be working in teams, which works great for this group) and give each group a part of the history of the sewing machine...they read it and present their part to the class...that way at least I know they know that part of the history, otherwise I stand in front going "blah blah blahh" and they think about what they will wear to the dance on the weekend....I look forward to those presentations! THEN, they get to draw the machine, and label each part. Then, we will possibly learn how to thread...baby steps. They are a rambunctious group!

We also got 8 machines donated to us from Sacramento Waldorf School (thankyou thankyou thankyou) because they are getting all new machines....jealous? a little....BUT we have now a grand total of 16 machines for I think 25 students....HOWEVER I have to spend some time with these machines, as each one is very different, but I think that will be a good challenge for the students...after all, there are many different types of machines, but they all generally follow the same concept...we shall see...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A new school year begins...almost.

Ha! I had high hopes for my blog, perhaps this school year will be the one! I am completely stressed out about this coming year, as my classes have increased in size, most around 30 plus, and I have no assistant, no handwork room (I go from classroom to classroom), and parents do not seem m to be very interested in helping out with the upper grades anymore. I am teaching handwork to grades 5 thru 8...so far. The budget cuts for our schools in Ca have been severe, and so we have increased our numbers of students. I have no idea how this is going to work, but work it will!

Lots of ordering of late, all the usual stuff, needles, fabric, thread, etc... I do love ordering! I want to buy everything and do everything! At the last minute, I looked into Naalbinding, and think this could work wonderfully into 6th grade, maybe 7th curriculum...I just need to learn how to do it! There are good tutorials on line...I had never heard of it, but evidently it predates knitting!

So, this year I ordered plain wool to be dyed for my 5th graders! The first month we will spend sanding and polishing our 4 needles for 4 needle knitting, and dyeing the wool...I am going to use koolaide to dye the yarn, which the kids will love. Yes, it would be nice to use natural dyes, but I decided on koolaide. First project is a hat. I let some students make the hat on two needles then sew it up, especially if they have never knitted before, and often I have many new to knitting students, and new to Waldorf. I do not need to stress them out or make them feel left out by not doing the same project as everyone else.

6th always begins with practicing stitches and making pencil pouches. We will adopt a farm rescue animal, and hopefully visit the farm sanctuary to visit our foster animal! This worked wonderfully last year! We have a new teacher that I have not met yet, so maybe there will be changes. Usually we make juggling balls too (I love this project)

7th and 8th, I have not decided yet...I need to look at the numbers. Smaller classes will get to do more, while 35 plus students might have to work as teams or....we only have 8 sewing machines! Woodwork is put on hold, I cannot be safe and teach woodwork to 35 students, obviously. Plus, there are not enough supplies for that many students at once. I am thinking of having a contest with groups of 5 or fewer to perhaps see what they can make out of old thrift store t-shirts...t-shirt re-con...Later on this.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring break!

Well, it is already time for Spring break. I am headed out of town to Seattle and Belingham to visit friends, and take a road trip with a friend!

Anyway, here are some pics I couldn't post as my computer was sooo sick, and now is better, so I am back in the saddle, so to speak...I am getting a little nervous about some projects not getting done, like our 8th grade woodworking project, and also about running out of projects the last couple of weeks of school because the students were quicker than expected...any last minute project ideas that last a few days?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I am back!

Oh boy, well, my intention was to keep this up weekly, but......

We have been busy bees in handwork! My 5th graders are amazing knitters, and have blazed through every project! I try to have a "giving" project, and ours is blankets, hats and/or booties for preemie babies. The blanket is so tiny, it makes us realise how small and fragile these babies are!

The 6th grade finished their pencil roll-ups, and we then moved on to making our gusseted animal. We chose a pig from a farm rescue named "Peggie Sue" (did I already mention that previously?) I will have some pictures of finished pigs by week's end--they are so cute, and we are making a "pig pen" to keep our completed piggies together and not running all over the classroom! Next, we have begun our tunics for medieval games. The class decided to dye the fabric red, a very suitable colour for this particular class I thought! It was so lovely to see the fabric flowing in the wind on one of the few sunny days we have had. The coat-of-arms and banner are to follow, and more on that later. (for Valentines day we felted hearts out of wool we dyed with kool-aide...they thought that was pretty awsome that you could dye with drink powder)

7th grade has been a challenge, mostly due to the class size, but also due to the fact that it is 7th grade. The big project is chef's aprons, and to my amazement quite a few have finished or are on the way to finishing...for those lucky acheivers, they will be able to create a marrionette!

8th grade is a joy, they all finished PJ bottoms, then the giving project of bags for kids at the children's receiving home (the kids can put their stuff in it and keep the bags). Now we have begun wood carving--first we made frames for practice, and now we are making a lecturn for the school as the 8th grade gift.

I only have a few pictures, my regular computer has been down for some time and holds most of my pictures!

ALSO, during these last months I have attended two Waldorf teachers conferences--both wonderful. More on that later too!