Discovering Waldorf – ‘Spinning a Tale’

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Discovering Waldorf is a weekly series of articles written by ‘everyday’ Waldorf families. The contributors to this series share their ‘real-life’ insights and inspirations on all kinds of Waldorf topics. This series is not meant to be Waldorf philosophy in its purest form, but rather a snapshot of how we can all incorporate Waldorf ideas into our lives to help nurture and encourage the magic that is in our children. If you have a topic you wish to learn more about (or want to share) on Discovering Waldorf, send me an email at vined(at)ymail(dot)com.
Today’s Discovering Waldorf is brought to us by the wonderful Julia of Ithaca Waldorf Handwork and more. I am one who deeply values simplifying something to is base, especially when working with my children… the activity of gathering the supplies from nature and, together, working out the root of how something works. I have found that my children learn so much from using what they can find on hand for a project, yes, they learn how to make the project, but the deeper learning comes from realizing that everything they need is all around them. Julia presents a wonderful example of such a project.

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Spinning a Tale

When you think of spinning what do you think of? An activity done long ago? Your Grandmother? That beautiful friend that lives down the road? Children?
You should think children, the benefits of spinning with children are very rewarding. When I teach handwork I try to bring the children something artistic but also that which serves a purpose, not something that is pretty for pretty sake. Spinning is one of those activities that brings them a step closer to examining cloth and how clothing can be made. The age of 8 is a great time to introduce one to spinning with a tool ( yarn twisties are a wonderful thing to start them off with in the preschool and earlier year). I like to work with teachers/parents and correspond a house building block with spinning. Working with wool can enhance the practical and functional art form as well as appreciation for colors and beauty.
Win – Win!

Letting the children take loose wool and twist it in their fingers, seeing how thread can form, is a real eye opener for some. Spinning wool with a rock is one of the oldest tool used by nomadic tribes thousands of years ago and can be practiced today by you.

Spinning, (yes the act of swinging and spinning as not to be too dizzy to be dangerous) in general is wonderful for children. The action of spinning, calms the nerves, quiets the mind, settles the child, so that they are able to concentrate better. We are made of spirals (DNA) you can witness the golden spiral in math (the Fibonacci spiral) in nature (sunflowers to nautilus shells) to the cosmos, we experience spiral/spinning all the time. Its natural, its beautiful, its healing. You can check out more by clicking here.

Try spinning with your children – it’s a great outdoor activity as well as indoors and it doesn’t require batteries.

Choose a palm sized rock with nice weight. Purchase some wool roving.

Using your fingers, pull the roving till its thin (don’t hold your fingers too close together – let the wool slide between your fingers ) and then twist it in your fingers till you produce a yarn. Make enough yarn to wrap around your rock twice both ways. Knot it. Slip in a smooth stick a inch larger than the rock on both sides. Twist a bit more in your fingers to wrap a bit under the stick but above the rock.
Create a half hitch loop and slide it over the stick. You now can start holding the roving an inch or two above the stick and spin the rock clockwise. Pull the roving a bit at a time making sure to not let the twist of the yarn extend beyond your right hand fingers.

The weight of your rock will determine the thickness of yarn you can spin. A heavy rock will produce thick yarn and a lighter rock will gift you with thinner yarn. With everything, practice makes perfect. Choose a roving that is not “merino wool top” to begin with – this particular roving is very smooth and might prove too slippery for the beginner. Cooperworth or Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) roving is delightful to start with. Check out Etsy for wonderful selections.

(I’ve had a little trouble uploading the video. If clicking the ‘play’ doesn’t work for you, please follow this link to the same video on YouTube.)

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Thank you for sharing such a gorgeously textured and layered activity with us Julia. I can’t wait to work on this with Kitty. I know that even Teddy will give it a try… the rock will draw him in magnificently. Kitty is so pleased with herself for recently learning how to knit and she’ll delight in knitting with yarn she has spun with her own hands.

Dear friends, if you are at all crafty (which I know you are) please give yourself the treat of popping over to Julia’s blog, Ithaca Waldorf Handwork & More. It is a treasure trove of Waldorf crafting. Oh, the things you make, Julia!

And, if it’s wool you love, you must have a browse through Julia’s shop, Will Ewe Play. She has a gorgeous selection of hand dyed roving and hand spun yarn.

Thank you, Julia.

Here are the other inspiring posts in the Discovering Waldorf series.
Blessings and magic to you!



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