One of the project I completed when my son attended our local Waldorf playgroup was a knitted garden. In the Waldorf curriculum, crafts are considered an integral part of education developing, fine motor skills, concentration and an appreciation for the unique, handmade items.
I pursue a number of crafts with The Hamster using both man made and natural materials. My experience at The Waldorf School however, reintroduced me to some crafts I had attempted as a teen and abandoned over the years. Watching parents perform “meaningful work” or creating handmade items is another important tenet of Waldorf education. While I now manage to integrate crafts into my life on an occasional basis, last summer was the year of the knitted garden.
At many, if not most, preschools, story time is an important part of the day. At Waldorf schools story time does not involved reading a story, it involves the teacher telling a story, often accompanied by a puppet show. In Waldorf schools, “puppet’ often means “doll” or what we might call, “figurine’. This appears to be a case of “lost in translation” from Waldorf’s origins in Germany where “Puppe” means, literally, “doll”. So, my knitted garden was made specifically for use by The Hamster as a story cloth. That is, it provides a backdrop for the elaborate pretend play stories that he creates. As this developmental stage will most likely end soon, my garden will transition into a wall hanging - an advantage over knitting socks which don’t transition well.
Fortunately an enormous amount of knitting skill is not required to make a simple knitted garden. One could create elaborate and creative stitches….if one knew how, but mine include nothing fancier than a simple knit stitch and an even simpler crochet stitch. But, since this project took me 6 months to complete; it is likely not one that I will attempt again any time soon. Besides, how many wall hangings does one need?
I started with 1 yard of burlap and 1 yard of felt, both purchased at my favorite fabric store. The burlap was placed on top and the felt folded over and sewn with a simple blanket stitch to make a frame for the garden. Obviously this required some trimming of the burlap and a few choice words to get it even. Then all that was required was knitting a variety of squares about 10-12 stitches wide and sewing them onto the burlap.
Of course after about 5 of these squares I got the hang of this whole process and found this great site which gave me a number of new ideas. In the end, I made probably 20 squares, some of which I crocheted, some I felted and many of which weren’t squares at all. The theme is “The 4 seasons.”
In terms of relative simplicity, I have to give this project a “plant life could do it”…the only requirements are time and a family willingness to allow one to take over the dining room table for six months.