I’m kind of scared of power tools. I know how to use them, but I don’t have the right benches and clamps to hold things while I work, so I always feel a bit encumbered when working, and thus unsafe. Thus I asked DH to come down to the workshop-of-doom to help me cut some 1x12s for my new loom.
And, of course, the kids wanted to come see what we were up to down there.
I come from a long line of women who worked with textiles, from knitters to factory seamstresses – my mother’s maiden name is even Webb. Watching is great, DOING is even better. My Grandmother taught me to knit when I was five. My hands were too small to use my finger to hook the yarn over my needle, so I had to move my entire hand to put the thread over, a habit I’ve kept to this day. On a visit to my Aunt’s sometime around the same time someone brought her spinning wheel over for an evening around the fire, and she trusted me with her hand cards, and taught me how to make rolags (the bundles of carded fleece from which yarn is then spun). I know I must have made a mess of them, but I loved the rhythm of the process, and watching her spin up my rolags was magic. She *was* spinning straw into gold, as far as my five year old brain was concerned. Between these two experiences (and a lot of family stories) I was hooked.
So what did I do today when my kids wanted to enter the workshop-of-doom? I had them leap into my arms at the bottom of the stairs. I carried them into the shop, where, at a safe distance, they watched Daddy drill 3/8″ holes where I had indicated they should go. Buddy went with me today to buy a new coping saw, as my old one seems to have vanished, and I’ll trust each of the kids with a few passes with it tomorrow, and with the sandpaper after that. I’m sure they’ll want to get in on the warping, too, which is fine by me, since I know I’ll make a tangled mess of it with or without their help. These experiences are on top of the sewing, embroidery, spinning and weaving each kid has already tried over the last couple of years when ‘helping me out’.
My mother didn’t knit, although she knew how. I didn’t see a spinning wheel again for over a decade. These experiences though, for a few days with my Grandmother (who always had to go home to the UK far too soon), and during a single evening one summer with a stranger, lit a spark in me; one that has lead to a lifetime of handwork and enjoyment.
What sparks are being lit for our children?
What sparks can we light in others?
What sparks are waiting out there to light each of us anew?