Monday, December 17, 2012

Wet felting slippers with 7th grade

Wet felting with 7th grade.
Wowee, these kids are amazing and fun and loud and kooky and all the things you could imagine from a 7th grade.  I decided to wet felt slippers with about 30 7th graders at the same time in a classroom with one tiny sink ... and it has been fun and a real learning experience...I have never done this before, so I am learning quite a bit.  It has been fun, frustrating, soapy, stressful, loud, impressive, and more.  I think they really have enjoyed it thus far, but at this point I think they are learning mindfulness and not rushing ahead as some are not turning out the way they should, but no fear...patches, needdle felting, sewing will fix all that in the end.  Like we always tell them "If you can't fix it, feature it"!

Monday, October 1, 2012


Awe, look at this two headed dragon!  These 6th graders really were so inspired this year...and I was totally "hands off" and let them do whatever they wanted, and look what happened!  

At our school we call Michaelmas "courage day", so no-one mistakes the day for something religious since we are a public charter school, and although it is not, we have to be careful I guess...silly really.  The day begins with the 2nd grade doing the St. George and the Dragon play, the 6th graders play the part of the dragon as well as make the dragon (it is very cute, they are also class buddies, the 2nd and 6th grade, so it works out so well!)

It was a super hot day, near 100 degrees!  After the play, the whole school participates in 
"Courage day" festivities, where we have various feats of courage...pretty fun, but oh so hot!

After our play, I went over the Sacramento Waldorf School to watch their Michaelmas play, always a treat to see what the parents and children of the 6th grade come up with for their dragon!
This one was fire breathing!

Well, I need to muster the courage to slay some personal dragons, but it is just too darn hot in these parts!  That will have to wait for cooler weather, even the dragons are seeking cooler places....
Happy Fall !

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Almost Michaelmas

Well, things are heating up...literally it is going to 100 degrees this weekend in Sacramento!  The last weeks have been in the 90's, and it is getting difficult to believe it is is making the natives restless!

It is time for change and introspection, but the weather is not cooperating!  

The first two months of a handwork teacher's year are so very nice to your handwork teachers, they work really really really hard....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Biodynamic Gardening


Did I mention I have added another 4 classes in Biodynamic Gardening?  I am helping Farmer Jim with 5 thru 8 one day a week, transforming our garden into a place of beauty!  I love this day!  I get to be out in the sunshine, get dirty, and enjoy the kids in a different environment.  These pics were from the 8th grade, who harvested and gave it to the kindergarten for soup, and their big job is the enormous compost pile!
They wanted to eat the carrots so badly, but it was a good exercise on giving...

Friday, September 7, 2012

8th grade quilt

Remember that quilt we made last year as a wall hanging for the school, but I never took a picture of the finished product?  Well, here she is in all her glory...the pic is taken at an angle because it is hung on the stage which is at the moment storage for all kinds of stuff, so this is the closest I could get.  You can see where some squares never made it, but it still is pretty awsome...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Steiner on handwork, in a nutshell.

While going through my notes on the history of the sewing machine, its role in the industrial revolution (not to mention economics, as it was the first household item to be bought with the HP , hire purchase, system...think "rent to own"...Singer had a good business partner in Clarke...time to live beyond our means, woohoo!)
Oh, I do digress...what I came across was a notion, perhaps a quote but my notes do not show a quote, so I am assuming it is a rephrasing maybe from Rudolf Steiner...of the whole purpose of handwork in the Waldorf school:

Steiner stated that the purpose (of handwork) was not necessarily to teach a particular skill, but rather to inspire a mindset of confidence and connectedness in the individual.

Oh, and this is my fave picture of Rudolf...about the age of my own son...

Yarn dye 5th grade

First week of school has been a whirlwind!!

Between school starting and a huge wedding in Lake Tahoe, with out of state family visitors and weeks of fun activities, it has been pretty crazy staying on top of things!  Last relatives left yesterday, and now I can concentrate on school...that said, I am pretty impressed by what we got done.  At times it felt like I was running a marathon!

So, here is the batch of dyed yarn from the new 5th graders!  I didn't get a shot of it drying on the fence darn it, but here it is hanging in the window of the classroom (this is about a third of it).  The colors are vibrant!

We used only Kool-aide this year!
We soaked the hanks of wool (untreated hanks from Brown Sheep) in a water and vinegar bath for a couple of days first.
Then, the wool is pulled out, coiled on a plastic wrapped table, and the Kool-aide is sprinkled on top.
Coils are put in gallon plastic bags with the child's name on it and set in the sun on the black top play ground.
Bags were brought in at the end of the day and stored for a few days until next class time-rinsing.
I fill three large pails with cool water, the kids pull the yarn out, gently dunk, dunk, dunk...squeeze like milking a cow (don't want to felt it!) then hang it up to dry.  I was amazed that not a DROP of colour came out of the yarn!  It is really really really colour fast, and it soaked up every bit of it!
These will make a hat and two wrist warmers for each child in 4 needle knitting.

The colour of the Kool-aide dye is the colour of the ice cubes on the packet, NOT the colour of the packet itself (thank you Victoria...)
Next year we may mix the Kool-aide with a bit of water to be spooned on the yarn, OR the yarn has to still be pretty wet to soak up the crystals...
It easily takes 2 hours to dye with 30 children.

From the wedding...and baby makes three!
Love my boys...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Verses (first day of school 2012)

Oh my, first day of school and opening ceremonies are tomorrow!  (we have a rose ceremony where the 8th graders give a rose to the first graders, so sweet...)  Seems like yesterday my son was doing this!  Now he is off living his adventure in the big city !

Fourth grade opening verse: 

From as far as the stars,
To here where where I stand,
I come to use my right and left hand.
The things I create
Are done with great care.
My fingers to help me,
and friendship to share!

(with hand movements...)

Closing verse:

Work together,
Hands and heart.
Truth and beauty,
are never apart.

Then I say,

"Follow your heart,
in all that you think,
in all that you say,
and all that you do."

My verses for other grades include:

May our hands complete our work with patience,
May our work be done with care,
May our fingers work as friends together,
And may we our friendship share.

I have fourth through eighth grade this year...wish me luck!
Oh, and I would love love love to hear your verses you may use!!!  I am always looking for new inspiration, especially for upper grades verses!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Ah, there is something about the beginning of the school year and amassing all the supplies...nothing like digging your hands into a bag of wool roving!

I am so happy I bought this roving from a local business, literally a bike ride away for me!  A yarn and everything fiber arts shop called Rumplestiltskin . Their web site is :  and I recommend them highly, PLUS their huge assortment of roving is $2.25 per oz., which is a great bargain, and even better for me with no shipping charges, plus bonus points for supporting fiber arts in my own community! (one day I will figure out how to use links within my blog...why doesn't that happen automatically? I'm swamped, will have to figure that out later...otherwise you will have to do the old fashioned way of cutting and pasting in you them, they are awsome)
This gorgeousness will be used in the wet felted slippers I will be doing with 27 seventh graders!!!  (did someone say "SOAP FIGHT" !!!  Cleanest they will be all

Saturday, August 18, 2012

6 count aida cloth

Well, this stuff is the gold standard of cross stitch cloth for Waldorf 4th graders (the 6 count aida cloth, that is), and it is incredibly difficult to find.  I had ordered a whole bunch 4 years ago, and we thought there was enough for this year, but we were oh so very wrong, and a week out from school starting!!!  Originally I special ordered it from Charles Craft after speaking with sales dept. there, and it took eons to arrive as I recall, and I didn't have that kind of time (if you go to their web site, it is not something they carry regularly, I am sure I paid an arm and a leg for it!)

Sooooo, I finally find it on this site called and they can get it too me within a week...whew...I have no idea if it is the real stiff stuff that I like to use, but I hope so.  It is originally from Wichelt, but their site is all in Euros, so I went with the company in the US.  The cost was about 15 bucks per foot (67 inch width) and I got 3 feet of it to make our pin cushions.  I have 2 fourth grades this year, each with 30 kiddos!!!  Our school is now double tracked up to Fourth!  We are bursting at the seams!

Does anyone out there have a better source for this stuff??  It seems so pricey, doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cloth Marionettes

I will use a lot of information from this book:

by Lucy and Grace Morton
This is one of the best step by step marionette making books I have ever seen!  I can't believe I hadn't seen it until now.   Got it for next to nothing used on Amazon.  

 I will use many of the patterns, and there are a few "check-list" type pages that really is a step by step guide, so great for kids !  So much of the work I would have done is already done for me.  I still haven't decided whether to do needle felted heads or not, the heads on these are sewn/stuffed heads.  The stringing is more complicated than I will do too, but it is nice info to have anyway.   I would also do these with hand sewing, not machines (because it would be for 7th grade).

Nice felted head tutorial, if I choose to felt the heads...(they would be much bigger, but shows the basics)

Off to make a prototype!  School meetings start tomorrow...what was I doing with all my free time this summer???
Ummm....oh, now I remember what I was doing with all that free time... :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Self Doubt

Well, it's about that time of year when self doubts comes creeping it....this happens every year.
I question whether I am cut out to teach children, whether I can do as good a job as I would like to...
Who am I anyway to teach these children?  Surely someone else is more qualified...blah blah blah...

Oh I hate this when this happens!  I am a wreck the first day of nervous like it was my first day ever...gah!

Am I the only one that goes through this?  I would think after 9 years of doing this I would be more confident...or something.....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

7th grade handwork 2012-13

7th grade handwork is complicated this limitations due to the "no handwork room" issue...sooo, we shall start with finishing up last year's project, the raffia hats.  It'll be tricky, there will probably be some new students, and a couple have left, so the dynamic of the class could change drastically.  I will feel it out for the first couple of weeks, but this is what I would like to accomplish with this class.

Finish raffia hats.

Boiled wool slippers (which we make from cutting up old felted sweaters)  I would love to make our own felt for these, but it is cost prohibitive...

Needle felting...start with needle felting something on the slippers maybe.  I really want to make soft marionettes with them, and needle felt the heads, hands and feet.  That is a ways down the road, so I will feel that project out.

Some simple woodworking, thinking about something like this:
...although I think this would be better for 6th grade....

Somewhere in there I would like to do a giving project for each grade, but have not come up with what yet!  Suggestions?

**Oh, I have to add to this...with much thought I have come to the conclusion that I will try to do wet felted slippers with this class, the kind like this:

LOL, that's me with my slippers!  I think it will work, I will take small groups of no more than 10, while my assistant Robin leads them in the raffia hats.  They may want to needle felt a bit on them too.  Wish me luck, the last time I attempted this the class ended up having a soap suds throwing battle which made me never want to do it again!  (it was just soap suds for goodness sakes,  but I remember feeling very disappointed and a little angry...hopefully if that happens this year I can laugh it off?)  I think it will be a great experience with this class!

After all that is done, we have options.  Marionettes? Renaissance shirts?  I will be meeting with the class teacher to see if there is anything he would like to see happen...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

8th grade 2012-2013

Let's start with 8th grade curriculum this year....
I have the challenge of working without a Handwork room, our school is bursting at the seams and they needed my room for a classroom.  We are double tracked all the way to 4th grade now!  Great for our school, not so great for classroomless me :(
Oh, but it is just a challenge, and with some clever maneuvering , we will make it work!  Woodwork may be put on the chopping block (sorry, couldn't resist) for now, as that is a space hog.  Perhaps some simple whittling (I digress, let's stick to 8th grade, right?)

So, since we will be working in one room, my assistant and I have decided to split the class, one half working on sewing and the other working on inkle looms.

We will begin the year together going over the sewing machine, it's role in the industrial revolution (did you know that in Sacramento, where I live, one of the major streets, Howe Ave, is named after Elias Howe of sewing machine fame?  He is also buried here)  We will put the "human sewing machine" together, and take one of my vintage sewing machines apart, oil it, and put it back together.
It is nice for them to see the mechanics that really have not essentially changed since the invention (with the newer machines one can't see inside.)
After this, we will split the class of about 30 (I don't have the class list yet, could  be more or fewer, but I order and plan for 30 to be safe).  I am storing 5 sewing machines for 15 students to share in their classroom, each student making pajama pants.   I use a simple pj pant patern with elastic for the waist.   The other 15 will be working on inkle looms.  After a few months we will switch.
I have to leave a few months at the end of the year to work on a gift from them for the school, TBA.  (last year was a quilt wall hanging)

My source for the inkle loom is

Pine box traders mini inkle loom.  Great price, and they deliver so fast!  I ordered 12...might have to order more!  They are just the right size, and will make a strap 5 ft long.  Love it!
I haven't decided whether to use yarn or embroidery floss...maybe both!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Year 1012-13 planning

Raffia Hat Making
Here we go again!  Planning the next school year is a little daunting sometimes....especially because I like to mix it up a little, while some things never change, I have pretty much carte blanche to add any projects that strikes my fancy, and fits a particular class.  For example, at the end of the last school year I stopped everything we were doing with the 6th grade and started raffia hat making....I saw it as a homeopathic remedy for a bit wild and out of control class (well, more than a bit actually....).  I saw all that wild rafia having to be formed into some semblance of organization, and I thought that was exactly what I would like to see happen with this pull themselves together into something harmonious, useful and beautiful.  Did it work?  Well, actually it did.  Pretty cool.

I ordered the 35 lb. hat grade raffia, which will last me for years!  I also ordered the book Raffia Hat Making by Ann Fennell from the same source.  Pretty basic stuff.

Skills needed:  Braiding skills, for more advanced students, a 4 strand braid was used.  I like that better as it lays flatter.
We just braided and braided and added more raffia and braided and braided and then starting with a spiral sewed it all up (like a rag rug) and formed it the way they wanted.  It is surprising how each hat turns out differently, and not always the way we want!  We will still be doing this at the beginning of this year, no-one finished (some took the project home over the summer)

Now, go out and make a hat!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Empty Nest Book Reviews

Enpty nest book reviews.

OK, so I am not turning this blog into an "empty nest" blog, but I do intend on including more personal musing mixed in with the usual handwork thing.  I think that doing that will make me a little more interested in posting more often, because frankly, it was getting a little boring trying to just stay on handwork related subjects all the time.

So, just wanted to say a few words about a few books that I have recently read regarding "empty nest syndrome", feeling that I needed some affirmation about what I was going through, and this is what I found:  In general, these books did not make me feel better, but worse.

 Beyond the Mommy Years, How to Live Happily Ever After...After the Kids Leave Home  by Carin Rubenstein, Phd.  Well, this one was full of well investigated situations of cross sections of women from all over and how they deal and cope with mid-life empty nest.  The title is misleading, it is NOT a how to book.  It left me feeling both hopeful and hopeless, and actually made me feel kind of anxious with statements like "the fifties are a last chance decade"...yeah, like I needed that.  Read it if you want, it was pretty matter of fact.  The chapter on sex was depressing as heck.

The Empty Nest, 31 parents tell the truth about relationships, love, and freedom ater the kids flly the coop  edited by Karen Stabiner.  Read this if you want to cry for days.  I was feeling pretty good about things, then I picked this book up and had a crying breakdown that lasted for the entire book.  It was torturous.  So, if you need a good cry, which you probably are not a stranger of if your kid(s) just flew the coop, this is your book.  I wish I never read it, it took me days to get back on a happy track!  This is what I call a " misery loves company" kind of book.

133 Ways to Avoid Going Cuckoo When the Kids Fly the Nest by Lauren Schaffer and Sandy Fleischl Wasserman.  This book is a quick quirky read.  It is a humorous look at the ENS, and I think does the job quite well.  Fun to read, good advice, nothing that will leave your heart in tatters on the floor.  Great advice, some I took on, like NOT making knee jerk decisions the week after your kid is gone, like throwing all his stuff out (which I almost did), moving (which I thought about), quitting your job (gave that some thought), etc.  Very pragmatic advice, I wish I had read it before so that I didn't fall into booby traps that would start the water works (like sitting in my son's room crying, shoulda closed that door for a while until I was ready for that one!  That said, the fact that it was in this book made me feel a little less crazy, and for the record, I can easily go in and out of my son's room without a breakdown a month after his launch)

Anyway, that is about all the books I will read on this subject.  Did they help?  Not really, but the last one did a little bit and made me laugh when I didn't think I had a laugh left in me!

Well, I had one more read left in me evidently!  Just finished Fun Without Dick and Jane, Your Guide to a Delightfully Empty Nest by Christie Mellor.  This book is a possitive look at life after kids, and won't allow you to look at things in a negative light.  Pretty uplifting overall, I would have tossed it if it started to get wallowy in misery...(she also wrote "The Three Martini Playdate" and "The Three Martini Family Vacation", so if you read those, you know what you are in for!

Now to finish up my handwork curriculum, I intend to have everything set and ordered by week's end. Next post will be all about that!  Onwards and upwards !!

(oh, and the picture is my son in his 6th grade play as Merlin)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh boy oh boy, I have been away from this for a while!

I put all my extra time into my son's senior year at Sacramento Waldorf School.
I am forever grateful that he decided to return to waldorf for his last two years of high school, and I think that decision was life changing for him in a very positive way.
He is now living in the Bay Area, he was antsy to leave home and be independent  from the day he was born it seems.
What a dynamic beautiful intelligent talented young man!  

I am in the throws of ENS (empty nest syndrome) for which I was totally unprepared!  More on that later, but it is getting better.  It has only been a month, the first two weeks were brutal (read:  laying in his bed sobbing for hours...uh oh, not good, but I have discovered not abnormal!)  Anyway, it is FOR REAL, and looking back the whole senior year was kinda was preparing me for this, lots of lasts (last first day of school etc.)  The absolute most emotional day was the senior walk through, where the seniors are honored by each class from K through 11th, and they sing them songs and offer flowers, and at the end each senior has a huge bouquet of flowers!  Loved and cried every minute of it!  
So, as far as HANDWORK goes, I am in the middle of fine tuning some curriculum for the next school year and putting in orders for supplies.  I promise to get back to that and posting more often to help anyone out there also teaching handwork!  It will be an interesting year, my first without having a son in school, so most of my attention will be teaching handwork.  I literally have to have everything nailed down by the end of this week, as my niece is getting married in Lake Tahoe just when school starts, so I don't want to have to worry about work and can fully enjoy the week of family filled events!

Sunday, February 26, 2012



I think I will include this in the Handwork curriculum....I can also see a woodworking project out of this!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Western Waldorf Teacher's Conference

Wow, the Western Waldorf Teacher's Conference was AMAZING and all about handwork!!! My particular break away workshop was felting slippers.  Luckily, the green wood workers were right outside my window, so I feel like I got tutorials in both.  More pictures in a few days when I have more time, but here is a look:

(oh, and the insights from Angus Gorden of Ruskin Mill were so inspiring,   more on that later too!)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February Western Waldorf Educator's Conference

 Off to February Waldorf Teachers Conference!  I'm prepared to be inspired...already am after a rousing speech from Angus Gorden (I'm sure I spelled that wrong...) from Ruskin Mill !!!  This one is all about handwork and the importance of it especially in these days of so much media!  Oh, I am so excited!

 'A Radical Re-Visioning of Waldorf Education'
“To meet the future, we must turn the ship of Waldorf education one hundred and eighty degrees towards the arts, aesthetics, and the practical life.” – Rudolf Steiner
“...right education requires a co-working of teachers, doctors and biodynamic practitioners” —Eugen Kolisko.
In this conference we will work with the Kolisko imagination of the cross-disciplinary hub of pedagogy, health, and biodynamics. A Waldorf curriculum that is braided with biodynamics offers an opportunity for a new consciousness of the human being and the earth and a re-imagining of practical learning and aesthetics.
Materials from the earth, whether they are gold, beeswax, wool or wood, can be lifted through the genius of the hand towards service. Through the production of rose-gold balm, honey, felt slippers or a wooden stool an aesthetic emerges that inspires and reanimates practical learning and teaching. These deeds of transformation require sensory engagement and lawful movement— a right relationship to the three planes of space. We can observe the movements of how the practitioner performs will-intentions and movement-intentions that facilitate not only wellbeing, but also social health.
This educator’s conference should be seen as a coherent event in which the participant is guided to an understanding of the role of practical education and movement as a powerful aide towards incarnation. In the practical arts workshops the participant will enter directly into experiencing how will-developed intelligence engages the power of imagination and can deliver an inner sense of wellbeing. Ruskin Mill Educational Trust has actualized these insights and has implemented a practical arts curriculum over the last 30 years.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

8th grade project to give to the school this year is a wall hanging quilt...this is the design they made:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First finished hat and wrist warmer set of the school year (5th grade 4 needle knitting)!!!  Look at the hand dyed yarn!  I love this, I love how every single child dyed their own wool!  Socks are next (the sock yarn was bought variegated yarn...pre-dyed).  Not every student will finish all three projects, but most will....this is a class of go-getters!