In our modern world, we have become a “product” oriented society. The enthusiasm and appreciation for “process” has been lost. With technology, we insist upon immediate gratification and instant results to meet our ever-changing whims. Vermont Grand View Farm, a sheep farm in the Green Mountains of Vermont, runs fiber classes and summer camps for moms and children in hopes to provide a means to slow down, observe, explore, and create. Children and their moms are invited to spend a week at the farm learning about animal husbandry, farm life, and the many fiber arts of spinning, felting, weaving, and knitting.
One goal for their summer camp focuses on teaching children how to enjoy the “process” of creating, by engaging all of their senses. The farm becomes the perfect tool for meeting this objective as it abounds with numerous opportunities for learning. The setting allows the children to slow down, discover the world around them, and fully engage in the steps necessary to produce a product without distractions.
This July, one group of summer campers met this challenge with much enthusiasm and proved that children can still enjoy the creative process. Within a week’s time they learned how to go from sheep to yarn. They began their week being introduced to the sheep, angora rabbits, and llamas who live on the farm. All week, they cared for the animals, providing them with fresh water and new pastures for grazing and learning about the relationship between nutrition and fleece quality.
Their first day, the children skirted and washed a newly shorn Romney fleece. They learned about lanolin, crimp, and lock formation as well as the importance of careful feeding habits to reduce vegetation from contaminating the fleece. In the days that followed, the children dyed the fleece and learned how to card it into batts for spinning.
By the end of the week, they were ready to spin the wool with drop spindles made with recycled CDs. At last they had yarn to take home with them.
To help them bring all of these steps together and to better understand the “big picture” of where knitted items come from, the children worked on a group mural which highlighted what they had learned. With wool as their medium, the children made the background for their mural using a wet felting technique. After layering the wool into a large batt, they covered it with a sheer curtain and began gently massaging warm, soapy water into the wool. Next, they rolled it up using a swim noodle and recycled pool cover. Now they were able to work the wool more vigorously rolling it back and forth until the wool turned to felt. This piece of felt became the background for their mural.
Once they had made the background wool fabric, the campers were able to begin depicting each of the stages of going from wool to yarn. The children had decided to represent the sheep, shearing and washing the wool, carding and spinning, and lastly knitting the wool. They spent one afternoon making sheep and placing them on the background. Needle felted clouds and flowers were also added.
Over the next couple of days, the children each made felt dolls which represented themselves. The dolls had pipe cleaners for arms and legs which were wrapped in wool. Then, they wound more wool around their figures for pants and shirts needle felting them into place. Using wet felting, they created small wool felted balls for heads and found yarn or wool to match their hair color. Each of the campers decide which stage of the process their doll would engage in on the mural and they began felting and assembling their portion of the mural.
By the end of the week, the children had completed their group project. With smiles on their faces, they proudly presented their masterpiece to their moms.
The children approached their work all week with much joy and laughter. Often, as adults, we sometimes lose sight of the joy in the process of doing something and get bogged down in the steps. We want to hurry along just to get to the end product quickly. The value of taking time and savoring each piece of the project gets lost in the desire to have a final product in hand. When this happens we often skip the process entirely and grab the finished product from the store. The campers at Grand View Farm, fully embraced each day and the tasks set before them proving that there is just as much value and joy in the process as there is in the finished product.
Kim, a home schooling mom, is shepherd to her flock of Romney sheep on her Vermont hillside farm. Kim’s sheep, llamas, and angora rabbits provide the fiber for her mill spun yarn which she sells as yarn CSA shares. In addition to tending her flock, Kim teaches fiber arts classes and runs fiber retreats and camps for adults and children. Her farm offers B&B Farm Stays and invites you to visit their farm for a full farm immersion experience into the wonderful world of wool. Follow the activities at VT Grand View Farm on their farm journal and facebook pages.
VT Grand View Farm is giving away one night’s stay in their Farmhouse Suite which sleeps up to 4 people. Sleep under cozy down comforters in 4-poster beds and enjoy waking up to roosters crowing, farm fresh eggs, and home baked muffins. Relax on the porch overlooking the mountains, visit with the sheep in the pasture, or stroll the dirt roads and forest trails. To enter drawing for this gift, valued at $200 please leave a comment by Thursday, August 18th midnight pst. Winner will be announced on Saturday August 20th.
We have a winner!
Submitted on 2011/08/16 at 8:35 pm
What an absolutely lovely business you have. I would love to see your beautiful farm and B&B! Thanks for the fun contest!