Thursday, September 29, 2016

Waldorf-inspired art classes for kids: knitting

In today's art class for kids, our second in the series of ten, we introduced the concept of knitting.  We started our group out with a classic story about wool, Pelle's New Suit - where a boy goes step by step from sheep to shirt (shearing, carding, spinning, dying, weaving, and sewing the wool).  The kids got to feel natural wool roving noticing how soft it was and a bit sticky from the lanolin still left on the wool.  They saw how it looked when it was dyed, and tried carding with simple carding brushes (just like grandmother does in the story!).  The younger group just got a taste for working with wool by doing very simple finger knitting and creating a wool flower craft with their finger-knit chain.  The older group had the chance to work with knitting needles, learning how to properly roll their yarn skein into a ball (working in pairs to do this was a nice teamwork activity), casting on their stitches, and starting the first rows of a small project.  They will continue to work on this small project over the remainder of our weeks together as a way to continue to practice their knitting skills bit by bit.

Sometimes knitting can feel frustrating at first as you fumble with holding needles and making stitches (for any beginner, both young or old) so working in small doses, with large needles and soft beautiful bulky good quality wool, will hopefully make this more manageable for our learners.  Our theme in all our art classes is simply to each try our best and find the beauty in using different textures, colours and natural materials, not to strive for perfection!  Since these classes are just a short introduction to our different Waldorf-inspired art forms we also hope the parents will continue to explore these various art forms at home with their children.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Practical Herbalist series 2016

We wrapped up our 4 month long Practical Herbalist series here yesterday, with a busy class of making winter remedies like tinctures, fire cider, and cough syrup.  This wonderful group of 14 students has been meeting here once a month (June through Sept) as part of this 4 part series.  Over the months we covered all the basic approaches to making "practical herbal" remedies using simple home medicine-making methods in order to feel confident to handle the basic aches, pains, coughs and colds, cuts and scrapes of regular life.  Students also had the chance to watch the gardens grow throughout the season, harvest and dry herbs, and make further projects at home.  We plan to offer this series again in the new year, and details will be posted over the coming months on our workshop page.

The grand finale of this class was an amazing herbal potluck to end the morning.  Each student brought something to share made with herbs we had talked about during the class (or other favourite herbs).   We love to take our "medicine as food", and so we savoured herbal pestos, herbal oils, salads infused with spruce tips dressing, baked treats with lavender, herbed potato fritatta, fennel-rosehip kombucha, and much more! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mendfulness Retreat at Little City Farm

This past weekend we held our first Mendfulness Gathering here at Little City Farm - an amazing day-long fibre arts retreat that focused on repurposing, reusing and upcycling clothes and working with natural fibres (e.g. spinning and felting wool, natural plant dyes on fabric).  There were 12 workshops that participants could choose from throughout the day, including pattern drafting, creative mending, cyanotype prints on fabric, rag rug making, basket making, and more!  Also great conversations throughout the day, yoga at noon, wood-fired flatbreads and wholesome delicious food at lunch, a free swap give-away area, and mini marketplace at the end of the day.  What a full, inspiring (and rainy) day filled with hands-on projects to take home, and wonderfully creative people all around.  Thanks for everyone's help in making this retreat wonderful, all our volunteers, photographer, workshop facilitators, and participants!

We hope to host monthly "mendfulness" get-togethers (like old-fashioned "mending circles") here at Little City Farm over the winter, to bring together friends, great food, and a chance to share our skills at repairing and repurposing our clothes.  By learning to mend, darn, patch and repurpose our clothes we are not only saving money for our families, but also keeping perfectly good clothes from going to the landfill, and empowering ourselves with new skills to make us more active producers as opposed to passive consumers.  Could you start a mending circle in your neighbourhood?

Here are a few photos from the day -despite the rain we had many busy hands sharing skills and doing beautiful work: