Woodstock Area Job Bank

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This week, I made the crazy decision to combine a full week at the Job Bank with a full week teaching a class of third graders to spin wool.   Nuts, right?  I used to do a lot of fiber arts projects with children before I became the Job Bank director.  I loved it. Kids are fun and enthusiastic and full of energy. That was the problem with my decision.  I forgot how much grown-up energy it takes to keep up.

For this project I had the children first make wooden spindles and then I taught them how to take raw, unwashed sheep wool and clean, dye, pick, card, and to spin it into yarn—two and a half hours a day for five days.  The school calls it “Wool Week.”  I call it “A Riot of Color.”

Mitchel said, The washing is gross.” He strongly and correctly suspected the yellow parts were sheep pee, which alternately delighted and horrified his class mates.

Dylan said, “Grape unsweetened Kool-Aid (our dye) tasted good and turned my tongue a fantastic shade of purple.

Alice said, “I ate a whole package of green apple green Kool Aid last summer.”

I told her, “Your stomach is probably permanently green.

Mary thought, that was gross too!

Raven said the picking—getting the knots out of the clean, dry wool—was relaxing.

Carding was a great success until Jon tried to card Addison’s hair— which was not OK.

And so it went all week. On Friday, when we had successfully made yarn from fleece, I said that we would finish with a spinning circle. All seventeen of us, myself and the classroom teacher included, would sit in a circle and spin together.  I told them it was the perfect way to spend a chilly, damp March day.  I told them it was OK to chat with their friends.

And that is what we did. Fifteen eight- and nine-year olds, a slightly amazed classroom teacher, and one very tired Job Bank Director, sat in a circle with mountains of rainbow Kool-Aid-dyed fleece piled in the middle, spindle spinning together.  It was a tiny piece of magic in the middle of an ordinary Friday.  It always happens and it always amazes me that even in our modern, fast paced society children are so willing to embrace something new.

I put in a lot of time as the Job Bank Director trying to convince businesses and individuals that our students are amazing talented people.  They are.  Sometimes it is exhausting to work with them.  Sometimes they do eat green Kool Aid- and think to card their neighbor’s hair, but getting to the spinning circle is always worth the effort.

This spring, when you need to find a worker to help in the garden, clean out your basement or do some data entry in the office hire, a student. Be patient, don’t expect them to be just like you or like any adult. You might be surprised—Kool-Aid makes great hair dye too.

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