Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I made a rug! Julia announced as we walked away from her camp pick up area.  It's in my back pack.  Want to see it?

Without waiting for an answer, she swung her back pack off her back and thudded it down onto the pavement.  Sat down on the ground.  Unzipped her bag.  And started digging.

At that moment, Julia, Elliott and I were standing in the middle of the parking lot, crossing through the cars in the drive through pick up line.

Um.  Can we wait until we are in the car?  I asked, fully aware of the disappointment I was creating with my desire to avoid needing to pick her and her backpack up, and run Donkey Kong style across the parking lot, Elliott clinging to one ankle, looping and weaving my way in between speeding cars.  That was my image.  But it probably wasn't really all that dramatic.

I grinned and waved at my friend behind the closest windshield who was cheerfully waiting for me to get Julia and her backpack out of her way.

Fine.  Followed by a sigh and a terse zip.

She forgave me quickly and as we walked to our car she told me all about the process of making the rug.  That they had used hula hoops as frames for the weaving.  And t-shirt material for the base strings and then all sorts of fabric scraps for weaving.  She was particularly excited about one piece of fabric she had found and woven in, a shiny synthetic with sequins attached.


Mid-sentence and mid-crosswalk she stopped herself short, and said, Wait.  I will draw you a picture of it when we get home.  Its hard to explain, but I want to teach you so we can do more at home.

We got in the car and as I threw her lunch box and my bag in the passenger seat and then myself into the driver's seat, I heard unzipping. She was digging for her rug.  And out came this.

It's wonky.  Disorganized.  Beautiful.  In the way that much of Julia's art can be.

I wanted it to be a rug, but it is kind of small.  I guess I could use it as a door mat. But I wanted to stop doing this so I could use the floor loom.  Because the floor loom is really cool.  And no one else seems to want to use one.  But I do.  Because it is so neat how it works.  I'll draw it when we get home, too.

We joked about what her rug could be used for all the way home.

I suggested a doily.  And then needed to explain what a doily was...which is not such a simple thing to do for children who place their wet water glasses directly onto their night stands.  And this doily was going to be a bit tippy for the lamp placed upon it.  I gave up and suggested a trivet for hot dishes.  Or wall art.

Julia suggested pulling the outside ring of fabric tight and making it a basket.

Elliott suggested using it as a frisbee to throw for the dogs.

When we got out of the car in our driveway, Julia was wearing it as a hat.  That was pretty awesome.  And clearly the best purpose for her rug.

As I threw together a fast snack to avoid post-ecstatically-happy mood plummets into despair, Julia sat right down and started drawing.  She drew and then described how the floor loom works, pushing down every other string in a group of parallel strings in order for you to pass your shuttle through, then with a switch in foot pedals, pushing down the opposite strings.  She drew a picture of the hula hoop process, too, how you cut strips of old t-shirts horizontally in order to make the loops, 13 loops to be exact, to stretch across the hoop as a loom for the rugs.  She sketched design ideas for string patterns and bracelet patterns for the next day.  She was talking fast, using a voice and phrases that sounded like a knowledgeable teacher.  And grinning.

Alicia Keys' This Girl is on Fire was running through my head as I layered on protein.  

But also, I was thinking about colors and patterns and threading and looping and textures.  And of the directions and twists and crossing of threads within a fabric.  I was, I believe, thinking about the world in a way more similar to the way Julia does.

She was enthralled by a friendship bracelet maker as well.  A cardboard square her teacher modeled for the group that allowed them to create a nearly perfect twisting pattern.

This morning was rainy.  And we had downpours all day.  I dropped Julia off with her counselor who was holding a large striped umbrella, spinning it a bit as she waited for more campers to arrive.  I also noticed her hair was pink, something I had not noticed the day before.  I watched the two of them move off together toward the art building, quietly chatting about today's plans, both now under the umbrella.

I jogged back across the parking lot to my car, pulling my hood back a bit so I could see the cars as they moved through the drop off line, with Elliott in tow.  And had a moment of realizing that the large splattering raindrops were like the threads on the loom, as were the cars moving on both sides of the street, and Elliott and I were like a shuttle, weaving.  Over, under, over, under.

And we headed straight for the thrift shop for t-shirts of various colors and then dug around the barn to find one of the left over hula hoops from Julia's hula hoop decorating birthday party last year.  I had plans to make wacky fabric creations with Elliott all day.  But he had plans of his own and instead we made complicated and sticky duct tape mosaics of parading animals.  We baked chocolate chip cookies.  And built Noah's Ark with blocks.  That was good, too.

So it often goes with Elliott.  I make a plan, gather materials or ideas for a project, only to have him not be all that interested in doing my plan.  Wanting to come up with his own ideas for projects.  Of course, these ideas are invariably complicated.

But when Julia got home again after Weaving Camp: Day Two with a friend who is at the camp with her, there were two bigger girl buddies who were jazzed and ready to go to town with the old t-shirts.  And so now he was ready to join in.

First, I found them fashioning the t-shirts into hilarious upside down jumpsuits.  Of course.  I mean, why wouldn't you?

And then, eventually, they began cutting their 13 horizontal strips and placing them on the hula hoop.

I think this is what I am loving most about this camp for Julia.  It's seems to be exactly what camp should be.  And her enthusiasm, her joy, her comfort, and her new skills spill right over past the camp day and into our home time in the late afternoon.  She arrives here brimming with new activities and gets to be the expert and teach us all how to do something.

Because, there certainly wasn't anyone else here who knew how to make a rug or a hat or a doily out of fabric scraps.  And a hula hoop.

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