Arts at Audubon 2015

Last night, Audubon Park Elementary held their annual Arts at Audubon open house.  The Weavers of Orlando have participated in this event for many years; it was my first time.  Local artisans have tables scattered throughout the school.  Kids and parents walk through to see demos and do make and takes.  The Weavers of Orlando set up the school library.  We had a floor loom, a table loom, two spinners (including me), and Kumihimo disks for a make and take.  We were inundated for the two hours of the event; we brought 200 Kumihimo disks and ran out 1/2 hour before the end of the event!  Usually, I try to share pictures from these events, but I don’t have any from this one.  We were so busy talking to kids and parents that I didn’t have time to take pictures.  Instead, I thought I’d share some of the things kids and parents said at the event!

The second girl in the room, just moments into the event: “I’ve come to this for 5 years, and weaving is my favorite.”

“Will you make me a snow hat?”

Girl: “What can you make with the yarn?”

Me: “Anything you want!”

Girl: “Shoes?”

Me: “Well, you can make slippers and those are kind of shoes.”

Girl: “Can you make me some?

Mother: “Do you get the wool from a lamb or a sheep?”

Me (confused): “Well, a lamb is a baby sheep.  I don’t know how old they are when they are sheared the first time.”

Mother: “A lamb is a baby sheep?  Shows how much I know!”

Girl: “Where do we get the jellyfish?” (referring to the Kumihimo disks)

Father: “Do you have a cotton gin?  Or know anyone who does?”

This turned into an interesting conversation.  He’s been growing cotton in his yard — the native cotton that grows into a tall bush.  He has bags of cotton, but no gin to clean it.  He’s looked online, the only gins he can find are huge commercial versions, and he doesn’t have time to build his own.  Then he offered me cotton seeds!

I always ask if people want to touch the roving, then the spun yarn so they can compare the two.  I’m still spinning the Cormo, which is super soft.  One girl, probably a kindergartener, just couldn’t stop touching the roving.  She bent down and buried both her hands in the bag of roving on the floor.  “It’s so soft!” she said, again and again.  Yes, yes it is.

A common question: “How does it work?”

My standard spiel, regardless of age: “Every time I press down on a pedal, the big wheel goes around one time.  The big wheel is connected to this smaller wheel by this band.  Every time the big wheel goes around once, the small wheel goes around 8 times.  The small wheel makes all the rest of this (as I generally wave at the bobbin and flyer) go around, including the fiber.  This puts twist in the fiber and it is the twist that makes the yarn hold together.  So when I spin, two things are happening.  With my hands I’m drawing out a little bit of fiber at a time, and this determines how thick the yarn will be.  At the same time, my feet are moving, putting in the twist to hold the yarn together.  The amount of twist is determined by how fast I move my feet in relationship to how fast I move my hands.”

I didn’t notice any eyes glazing over, and several of the kids asked questions after or during the spiel.  The questions were logical extensions of the spiel, so it sounded like they understood.

Boy: “What happens if you move your feet really fast?”
And before I could answer, he says: “You’d have to move your hands really fast too, right?

I love it when someone gets it!

The most common question of all: “Can I try it?”

Me: “No. Not tonight.”

Child: “Why not?”

Me: “I’m not good enough at it myself to explain it!” or “It’s a little too chaotic in here!”

Both are true statements; if I’m going to keep doing demos, I’ve gotta get better at the teaching part!