For weeks now, I have been making oblique references to a project I’ve undertaken with the scalawags’ school, which I have given the aptly adorable title, Wool is Cool.
I think the school principal thought I was nuts when I sent him an email last May, telling him that I had a trunk full of raw wool that I wanted to unload on the unsuspecting students of his school. (Maybe I was?)
In any case. He agreed to meet with me, and once I was able to usher him past the “she’s insane” first impression I tend to give off, he saw that there might just be something to my idea.
There are two ideological stances that have pretty much been my lifelong, immutable truths: anything to do with textiles is worth dying for, or at least giving up perfectly good living space for, (thanks, Mother!) and making cool things out of stuff other people want to get rid of is the plumb line of what makes an artist (thanks, Popeye and Daisy!)
My idea was this: wool is freakin’ amazing and kids need to learn about it.
As a proud novice wool spinner, I have lots of enthusiasm. As a practiced knitter, I have a lot of experience. As a lifelong admirer of all things textile, I have some knowledge. As an indomitable creative, I have lots of ideas…
So. Why not use the wool, the nearly 100 pounds of the stuff, to teach kids about just how amazing wool is, give them an opportunity to see it in all of its states (from sheep to sweater, although perhaps not in that order…) and work with it?
Why not:? Said the school principal. And he gave me carte blanche to come up with a year-long program for all 7 classes, all 180 kids in the school.
So. First session, we’ll be introducing the idea that clothes come from somewhere, and it ain’t just the store. Since these are French kids, the fact that this session will start in English and we’re talking about clothes should make it rather fun and entertaining, plus, they already know a little bit of vocabulary.
We’ll be taking magnifying glasses to different kinds of fibers, and determining if the material is knit or woven. We’ll be talking about different kinds of natural fibers and where they come from. This session is about an hour long, and, as a stand alone, it should be pretty fun.
Second session, we will be discovering wool and the wonders thereof. This session is made up of mini-workshops: there will be a game to put the wool in order of its life cycle, from raw unwashed, to washed, to carded, to spun to knitted; a carding station, where they will get to discover carders and use them on wool; a station where they will get to try a real spinning wheel (and discover that it has no sharp pointy thing that will draw blood, unlike what Snow White tries to make us believe!); a weaving station, where the kids will weave on homemade cardboard looms using recycled textiles.
There’s also a photo booth, where there will be costumes of the characters from Le Petit Prince, a little incongruous detail which will tie-in later. (Have I mentioned how excited I am about these costumes?)
Third session is when we get our hands dirty. We’ll be making Mother’s Day corsages out of wool, hand-felted by little hands using warm water, dishsoap, muffin tins, yogurt cups and other recycled stuff. I have tried this activity with my 5 year-old who has zero patience for crafts, and it worked like a charm, in part because we put on music and danced while we crafted. So, word to the wise: make sure you have music on hand.
Session four is all about wrapping it up. Using materials like recycled fabric, recycled cardboard, recycled ribbons, the goal is to be creative and make a package so pretty that every single mom will think to herself, “It’s too pretty to open.” That’s literally my goal here. This step has elicited the interest of quite a few of my mom-friends, who have been eager to unload on me their Amazon boxes, or fabric they’ve had sitting around since their ill-fated sewing endeavors.
With the package will be a little card quoting the Little Prince, reading, “You will be unique for me in all the world…” with a photo of the child in one of the costumes from our photo booth, and an explanation that this little rose was hand-felted from wool from the Little Prince’s sheep. (Woooh!! Poetry in motion!)
And session five is a school trip to the little theme park, Le Parc du Petit Prince, to visit with Musa (the park’s animal keeper) and the animals whose wool we used for the project. Oh, and to have fun on rides, too!
So…there you have it. That’s what’s on the plate this year, and it’s how I hope to liquidate some of the wool taking up perfectly good sunbathing space on my balcony. I mean, I adore having eight giant zipper bags of wool on my balcony and piled on my sunlounger like the next girl, but, it will be fun next Spring to enjoy reading out there again!!
I’ll keep you abreast of our progress, since, you know. I’m kind of interested in knowing the outcome, too!!!!!!!!
2 thoughts on “Wool is, Indeed, Quite Cool”
I love this whole thing!! It will be ah-mazing!!