January 2, 2013

Deciding not to Stress over Handwork and Making Bunnies Anyway

So, you may or may have not noticed that I really love the artsy fartsy side (I cannot believe that I just typed that!) of Waldorf Schooling and even though we're not really Waldorfians, we incorporate a LOT of Waldorf art into our school day.  We love wet on wet water coloring, I make those elaborate sketches with poems on our blackboard, and so on and so forth.  The other big artsy thing in Waldorf that I really love the idea of incorporating is handwork. Mostly right now, my sights are set on knitting.  But here's the thing.  My kids super stink at knitting.  Like really, it ain't happening.

I have pinned every single thing about teaching kids to knit.  We know the rhymes and verses and twice now we've made our own knitting needles.  Hannah Jane was really into it for about a second last December.  But it didn't stick with her and the boys just never ever got it.  No big deal, I thought, and I let it go for a year.  But now the boys are both easily at the age where kids are considered perfectly ready to handle knitting and I've given it a good second push with no results. And you know what?  I'm done.

It is simply never going to be Hunter's thing.  I can deal with that.  And Haven is a pretty decent little crochet master, so why stress over knitting?  Hannah Jane is older and more patient and was excited to try knitting again.

So we're working on squares of all kinds and then we're going to turn them into little bunnies of all kinds.  I made my sample bunny today using this little diagram (the original post is in German,  but I don't think you need the words to make a bunny.  This picture speaks a thousand crafty words).

It turned out cuter than I can capture in a picture.  Maybe brown doesn't come across quite as adorably as white does. The kids were quite inspired by the little bunny, though, and are very excited about turning their various knitting, crocheting, and hand stitching into a fuzzy little friend.

For Hunter, I cut out 2 squares of fabric and had him just work on hand stitching around the edge.  We'll flip it inside out and he can use his fabric square to make a little blue  bunny.  Even that simple task really bugged him.  During our craft time, Hannah Jane knitted, Haven crocheted, and Hunter alternated between bragging about how much easier his project was than everyone else's and grumbling about how many mistakes he was making and how impossible it was.  It's not so much that I care if he's crafty.  I simply want him to develop the ability to sit and focus on one thing and stay with it for more than a split second.  And handwork seems like a good avenue for that.  And at least with hand stitching, I know it is easy enough (if he would give it a little attention) that I don't have to feel at all like I am asking too much of him.

If you decide to make the bunny, considered a perfect first grade handwork activity, the diagram above will help you turn a simple square into a bunny.  It does not, however, show you how to make a fluffy tail for it.  So here's how I did it.  And isn't the bunny's little rear end adorable?

Wrap about 2 feet of tail colored yarn around 2 fingers and try not to analyze how weird and wrinkly fingers look up close.

Slip the loops off of your fingers and tie up the middle making a sort of bow shape and then you'll cut through the middle of all of the little loopies making a pom pom to stitch on your bunny tushie.  Voila!

So, I'm taking a deep breath and giving up on knitting for all.  There are other ways to accomplish the goal, which for me was merely honing the ability to sit and focus on some act of useful dexterity.  Crochet and hand stitching will accomplish that just fine.  A mom who isn't ready to throw a knitting needle at the wall is probably a lot more important for a happy, healthy childhood than being able to knit.  And I'll keep looking for these little cross over crafts that can be made from all sorts of stitchery.  If you find cross over crafts, please send them my way!

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