Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sustainability in Small Steps

My son is a mega-fan of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit, Lord of The Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. We have all the books and the movies and, often have 'movie marathons' on rainy days. I believe reading the book series will keep us busy for many evening hours over the summer. Often we taken The Hobbit on long walks and I read aloud from it while we're enjoying a snack or picnic outside.

I love to make things by hand, especially things for my home. And I love making things for my son. I think it's important to teach children the value of handmade or homemade things, and also the value of the work to make them. The love, time and energy vested into creating something verses simply buying a ready-made item.

For me, it's a lifestyle choice. It's a way of honoring the beauty of little things, like making a pair of socks or a kitchen towel by hand for myself or someone else as a gift. It's also a form of sustainability. I don't believe you have to move to a rural area and 'go off the grid' to be self-sufficient. Nothing so drastic as that, though for many people, that's a lifelong goal. For me, I am at a place in life for simple sustainability, small steps. Knitting is one of my favorite activities and I feel I'm taking part in generations and generations of sustainability and creativity.

So when it was brought to my attention that some Hobbit gear was needed, of course I was ready with my needles. If you are a knitter or crocheter and not familiar with Ravelry, please visit the site today! It's a great place, like social networking for fiber artists! I entered 'hobbit hood' in the pattern search and came up with a hooded cloak of sorts that met my son's approval. So I cast on using recycled yarn (yarn I unwound from another project. This is a simple process and can be a fun way to recycle sweaters you or your child/children no longer wear!) I had previously made him a 'methril' vest, which if you are a Tolkien fan you will know is a special type of elven-chain mail that offers great protection in battle!

It was slow going as the yarn I used was prone to snagging on the needle, not to mention it was many stitches to each round. When it came to the hood, I was not sure how deep to make it. It's not always easy to follow a pattern exactly. If you are using different needle or yarn than pattern calls for, as I was,  you have to make adaptations often and check to make sure your item will fit, etc.

Then finally, I was done and could present the finished work to my son, who was delighted. He now has a hobbit hood and methril vest. He's still young enough to enjoy dress-up play, which is so beneficial to the imaginations of children. I love to eavesdrop on his play, to hear his imagination in action! And he loved his new 'gear'.

His next mission is to make a walking staff from a found branch, and we've spent many days looking for the perfect one in our woods. He finally found it, and is keen to begin carving the top into some design from his mind. He watched a master wood-carver at a festival recently and is eager to try the craft himself. Of course I will supervise but I'm happy he wants to make his own walking staff rather than simply purchase one.

It's a valuable lesson to teach children the beauty and joy of making things by hand! I love knowing that we have a handmade/homemade home and lifestyle and now my son wants to continue that tradition by making his own items.

Sustainability in small steps.

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