Monday, June 17, 2013

show me what you're working with

i shyly asked my new homeschool friend if she and/or any of her children would be interested in getting together to do handwork - to have a sewing circle and/or handwork gathering.  she enthusiastically responded with a yes! and that was enough to encourage me to take the plunge and actually organize an event.  for us.  and for other people. whom i hadn't met and they didn't know me and ohmygoodnesswilltheylikeus?!?

(pause to breathe here.)

the reston librarians are very nice and very helpful.  they don't simply answer questions, they offer ideas.  they know things.  and if they don't know, they go and find out.  they are unsung heroes of any seeker of knowledge, homeschooler or not.  these lovely people got me set up with the online room request system and i used it.

i picked a day and time that i knew would work for me and my new friend.  i sent an email out to the local homeschool group.  and then i held my breath.  (and drank some chai, my personal felix felicis.)

people responded.  people asked me about it at the first park day we attended.  people said they would be there.  people said they couldn't come but wanted to and would like to be able to come next time.  (next time?  i'm hoping it will work out the first time!)

and they came.  those who said they would and then some more.  chance provided us with empty space in the room next door - the very nice librarians opened it up for us.  we moved tables and chairs, located power outlets for sewing machines, quietly and efficiently shifted ourselves to allow others to join in.

diana brought her buttons and beads.  i did not see her for most of the time we were there, but she told me later that she had lots of people interested in what she was creating.

i brought tissue paper and pipe cleaners to make flowers.  each time i looked up from my spot on the floor, there was another child, or two, or more coming to sit near me, asking what i was doing, asking if they could do it, too, asking if i would show them.  of course, my answer was yes each and every time.

the room held a calm energy.  plenty of people talking, but no raised voices.  plenty of moving around, but no running, either with or without scissors.  in between directing one child to cut  paper in thirds, lengthwise, hand-over-hand guiding another's fingers in separating the delicate, gentle tissue layers to form the petals, and commenting on how a color choice resulted in a lovely representation of a real flower, i sensed the flow happening around me.  adults and children, solitary or in small groups, knitting, crocheting, beading.  sewing, stitching, tying, trying.  siblings assisting each other, showing their work to each other.  quiet concentration, satisfaction with effort and result.

fellow maker in her zone

i felt really, really good about how i managed my efforts this morning.  i worked with different ages and abilities and experience and understandings.  the kids were patient, attentive, interested.  i watched their faces light up when they felt the materials in their hands and worked to create something that was beautiful to them. i did not make any flowers, but i definitely was in the zone, right in there with the little flower-makers, boys and girls, all willing and open to include me in their creative process. 

does it fit the definition of a maker space?  i don't know.  but it sure felt like it.  i liked it enough to want to do it again, and i think i have others who want to join with me.  that feels pretty darn good.

addendum: it occurred to me this morning, after rereading this post, that i did not mention some of the treasures which have significantly shaped my thinking and influenced my motivation towards setting up an event/space of this nature (actually, they affect more than just that, but i'm trying to stay on topic here).  lori pickert's excellent book project based homeschooling has a prominent place on my shelf, a ready resource to re-read (because i read it cover-to-cover already).  her blog has been absolutely invaluable and even more accessible to me, offering fresh, thoughtful perspectives and consistently making connections among ideas and fostering relationships among people.  her posts on how to start a project group and the introvert's guide to building community were particularly on point for me when thinking up and implementing this club project of mine.  she inspires, encourages, supports, mentors.  it turns out that i can pay that forward by sharing with others.  so i do!


  1. Yay! I'm so glad this worked out for you!

  2. How fun! Turns out we have a mutual blogging friend (amy hood arts). She pointed out that we might be running into each other, and we have! But you'll have to figure out who I am, just for fun.

    1. Amy says you need a hint. Hmmm....I was the one saying Mondays don't work well for me. And my 10-year-old daughter was crocheting away to your left, I believe.

  3. Wow. Just wow. It sounds wonderful. A great big congratulations.
    And, I have to add -- you are really *moved away* : ( As I read I had to keep reminding myself that the library in the background isn't this one.
    Happy you are finding your way!! (And, miss you, too.)

  4. your group sounds *wonderful*! congratulations! :D

    thank you so, so much for your kind words. <3 <3 <3