Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fun with Fiber

The substitute teacher part of me likes to torture students. Not seriously, but it is fun to mess with their minds a little. This I did to my junior high knitting elective students on Thursday.

We played a little game I coined, "Fun with Fiber." What is that, you ask? Well, here goes--

I have been working on knitting swatches of different fiber yarns that I own, such as cotton, wool, alpaca, etc. I had ten distinct yarns that were 100% of the particular fiber. Knitting ten swatches instead of starting the Anemoi mittens was pure pleasure, let me tell you. All in the name of education. I labeled them A, B, C, etc. Then I made up a "test" form for them to match to the swatches. I also came up with a fact sheet that we went over as a class beforehand that discussed animal fibers and plant fibers (spellbinding for me, but they were not quite as thrilled as they should have been).

Then they went at it. They did it in pairs, and it took FOREVER. They were so stumped that we barely made it through all of them before class time was over. Even Alex's teacher tried (we use her classroom and I taught her to knit a short while ago). The girls were "eyeing" the prizes, which were some fun novelty yarns I had gotten on sale at Michaels/Joanns. I told them the prizes would have to wait since we were out of time. When I went to the papers to correct them, I found the sad state of fiber knowledge in the youth of today.

The best student scored 5 out of 10. That's not a passing grade folks. Even Mrs. S. got 3 of 10. I'm thinking on Tuesday they get to have some more fiber torture lesson before any free yarn is handed out. Many of them were obvious (scratchy acrylic, Peaches n Cream cotton, Cascade 220 wool, Tussah silk (from Artfibers that I haven't even knit with yet), and rough hemp cord. I thought it was going to be pretty easy, so I threw banana fiber, soy silk, and bamboo in there for interest.

I grew up with weekly sewing lessons in 4-H from the time I was 10. I knew what different fabrics felt like probably even before that, due to my time spent being dragged to fabric departments. I was a feeler. I liked it. I wonder if I was a good shopper when I was taken there by my mom, or if I acted like Alex does when he has to go with me. I don't remember. I do know that the knowledge of fabric and fiber carries over to shopping for clothes, so I think this is a good lesson for these new teenagers to learn. Maybe we'll even talk about washability on Tuesday. A little laundry lesson will sure spice things up.


Anonymous said...



Tracylinney said...

Do you think you could gain interest from those jr. high girls with tidbits about fibers/fabric knowledge being essential as a fashion designer &/or decorator? I wonder if next you should offer to teach a sewing or quilting class to further your molding of the youth of today? Hummm?

Cindy said...

Maybe that would be great if I could get PAID to do it. Our school has a way of taking lots and giving back little.

I would love to interest girls in sewing and knitting. I am very glad I learned to sew, it is a valuable skill that is not often seen anymore. I'm a dying breed...