Tinking Turtle’s Summer Camps: Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and More!

young child learning to sew

Sewing with Next Step Needlecraft from Tinking Turtle Designs

It’s that time of year again: the weather is warming (despite all the rain we’ve had this week), and on my walk this morning, I found the first delicious blackberries.  It’s summertime – and it won’t be long now until school wraps up and those hot days will be around the corner.  It won’t be long until Tinking Turtle’s Craft Summer Camps start!

For me, this means a shift in Tinking Turtle’s focus: I’m beginning to get ready for the summer camps that I’ll be running.  They’re one of my favorite parts of the year.

You see, way back before Tinking Turtle was a name written on a piece of paper, before I’d even dreamed up my first pair of socks, I was a camp counselor at Chimney Corners Camp.  I’ve talked about CCC (as it’s known to campers and alumni alike) before: it’s the place where I met my longtime friend Becca, and where Mr. Turtle proposed to me.  CCC’s been a huge part of my development as a person – not only personally, but professionally as well.  CCC was the place I taught my first students: figuring out how to break down knitting, crochet, embroidery and cross stitch to campers aged eight to fourteen.  I was only about seventeen myself, and I had very little clue what I was doing, but I figured out.

Since then, I’ve continued to love working and crafting with children.  I worked as a nanny for many, many years, and last year I ran the camp String Theory through Montgomery College.  It was a hit and a blast, and this year I’m adding to the lineup with two new classes: Next Step Needlecraft and Knockout Punch Rug Needlework.  Let me tell you a bit about the classes:

String Theory is my flagship class, now in it’s second year.  It’s a variety introduction to needlework

young girls showing off their finished knit mitts

Finished knitted mitts from String Theory!

and crafting for both boys and girls ages 8-12.  Campers learn how to knit a fingerless mitts (or two!), sew and decorate a project bag, learn to process, card and spin fiber, and the basics of how to dye wool.  This year we’re offering three sessions: 7/20 – 7/24 from 1-4 pm, 7/27 – 7/31 from 1-4 pm, and 8/3 – 8/7 from 9 – 12 pm.  You can click on the links to find out more and signup!

Because we received such a great response to String Theory, we’ve added Next Step Needlecraft.  Intended for campers who loved String Theory and want to learn more, or for older students looking to learn some more interesting crafts, it’s a great next step.  Students learn how to crochet, how to spin yarn, the basics of needle felting, and how to create stunning punch rug pieces.  This class is meant to sink students’ teeth into needlecrafts you don’t get exposed to nearly anywhere else.  This year I’m offering two sessions: 7/20 – 7/24 from 9-12 pm, and 8/3 – 8/7 from 1-4 pm.


My last class: Knockout Punch Rug Needlework is a very focused class.  Unlike the other two camps which focus on variety, this one dials down into the art of rug making.  In this class students will have a lot more independence to learn, plan and execute one, if not two projects.  This class focuses on giving students the independence to decide and plan their own projects, and my help to make them a reality.  We’ve got just one session of this camp, so if it sounds like something your child would enjoy, make sure to sign up as soon as possible. Knockout Punch Rugs will run 7/27 – 7/31 from 9 – 12 pm.

Child learning to knit with multicolored yarn

Learning to Knit in String Theory

If you’re looking for a great crafting camp for the summer, these camps are for you.  Don’t have children of your own?  Tell your friends about these camps.  Teaching kids crafts improves dexterity, problem solving and creativity – and preserves these traditions for the next generation.

Let me know what you think about the camps – and what other crafts I should look at adding to the repertoire!

Other Stitchings – Embroidery

As I mentioned before, Michael and I spent New Year’s up at the Farm.  We invited a few friends, including the friend I’ve had the longest, my best-friend Becca.  She was one of the bridesmaids at out wedding, and I’ve known her since I was 9 years old.

Becca and I riding in the back of the Jeep

Becca is amazing.  She’s smart, articulate, and willing to challenge people and make the them think.  So when I was trying to think of a bridesmaid gift for her, I wanted something was representative of our history, and something that was hand-crafted.  Something that showed thought and intention as well as love.  (As I’ve said before, there are few people who are knit/crochet-worthy for me, and fewer still who I’m willing to do other crafts for.)

I decided I was going to do some embroidery for her, of our old camp logo.  Chimney Corners Camp and Becket Camp are a sister and brother camp in the Berkshires, and the camp where both Becca and I grew up.  The camps both have lovely logos now, but the past logo was of a lake-scene, three paper-white-birches, a sailboat and pine trees.  In a very simple sense, it was actually a scene you might see in part of camp, while hiking around the lake.

There are many older staff members who are very attached to the old logo (some even have tattoos of it!), so I knew it would be the perfect thing to embroider.

Originally I only planned to do the outlines of all the different elements, and then color the rest in with crayon and iron it.  This method is how I normally do embroidery, as I have strong negative feelings toward working fill stitches.  So I did that on the pillow, even ironed on the color so it looked nice, and then decided that the pillow really called for everything to be filled in with stitches… everything except the paper birches, which would remain the white of the pillow.

Well, I was working up to the Nth hour, and had to wrap the gift just before we left for the wedding.  I told myself I’d get a picture of the pillow once Becca opened it… and promptly forgot.

But Becca is amazing, so she brought it to the farm for me to take a picture.

And in the joy of seeing friends, I forgot all about taking a picture of the pillow until she was leaving.  She was patient enough to remind me as she packed herself out of the farm just as the daylight was making its way over the field.

Embroidery, Chimney Corners Camp, Old Logo, BCCYMCA
Chimney Corners Camp Old Logo

Isn’t it pretty?

New England Fiber Festival Recap

This is going to be picture-heavy, but it’s worth it!

I spent this last weekend in Springfield, MA.  I was teaching at the Fiber Festival of New England

My grandmother and I, early in the morning before I head to NEFF.

(sometimes called New England Fiber Festival, or NEFF).  I grew up in Massachusetts.  My family lived outside of Boston when I was little, and we often visited family in other parts of the state.  Even when we moved to other states, I returned back to MA for summer camp at Chimney Corners YMCA Camp each summer.  Going to NEFF, in some ways, was a little bit like coming home… especially because I crashed with my grandmother, who lives nearby.  It meant that both my mother and grandmother could send me off on Saturday morning.

NEFF is an incredibly well-run event, and I can say that both as a teacher and the support I received, and as a participant, when I returned on Sunday to browse and network.

NEFF, Classroom Space
I got to NEFF early, so I could check out my classroom. Aren’t they nice?

One of the highlights of the trip was my second class, Hairpin Lace Scarf.  Our group had a bit of some adverse conditions – there was a fashion show and another class with a miked instructor just adjacent, but everyone kept a great attitude.

I had two great experiences happen during the class.  The first was when an old family camp friend walked in (Sue B!) and informed me she was one of my students.  I was so happy and excited to see her – I had not been expecting her to be there!  It took me a moment to recover myself I was so startled, but in a wonderful, wonderful way.

Then, nearly an hour into my class, as we’re making great progress I look up, and in the doorway is my Aunt Sue!  She had stopped in with her sisters to say hello.  It’s thanks to my Aunt Sue that I have the only picture of myself teaching from the weekend.

Tinking Turtle, Teaching, Hairpin Lace
Shot from my Aunt’s Camera-phone, I’m talking about Hairpin Crochet.

Having both camp friends and family stop by was SO incredible.  Living in Washington, DC, I have a wonderful network of people that support me in my endeavors.  Being able to have an opportunity to teach at a venue located so near my family and camp friends meant that my childhood support network could roll out the carpet to support me.

On Sunday I returned to the event with my mother and my best friend (again, from Camp, I’ve known her since we were both 8 years old!), Becca.  Both my mother and Becca coped well as I dragged them from one booth to the next telling them about what I loved.  It’s such a rare opportunity to share with people I love the things I love.

I’ll close out with some pictures of the event, with captions.

Melissa Jean, Buttons, Ceramic, Camera, NEFF
Melissa Jean‘s fabulous buttons, each one signed on the back and absolutely lovely.
Decadent Fibers, Sample, Cap Sleeve Top, Irina Poludenko
A fabulous stall by Decadent Fibers.
Pattern Is #15 Multidirectional Cap Sleeve Top by Irina Poludenko
Felt Pumpkins, Decadent Fibers, November, Fall
Also by Decadent Fibers, these cute pumpkins!

Wandering Wool, Rainbow Yarn, Gradient Skeins
Pretty Gradient Skeins by Wandering Wool.  I kept admiring her stall and samples –
turns out she’s from DC, pretty close to me!
Wandering Wool, Rainbow Yarn, Shawl, Cowl, Samples, NEFF
A few different samples in Wandering Wool‘s Stall.
Alpaca, Mustache, NEFF
This (girl) alpaca looked like she was rocking the mustache for November.

German Angora, Rabbit, Fiber, NEFF
German Angora Rabbit.  Nearly took it home.

Chimney Corners Camp

I’ve talked a little bit before about Chimney Corners Camp, which is located in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  I started going to the camp in 1995, when I was eight years old.  I continued to go until 2008, which was my last year.  I worked as the Assistant Waterfront Director.

CCC, as the camp is known to insiders, has been a place of incredible growth throughout my life.  It’s where I learned to get along with others, how to be a leader and a follower.  I learned that you can love a place without it being perfect.  CCC has been my home when my family moved several times.  It’s where my childhood friends are, and where most of my formative experiences have almost all taken place.

I’ve been thinking about doing a design series to talk about my process, from sketching, swatching, grading, the whole gammut.

My question is, what would you like to see?  If you wanted to know more about a designer, the process, etc, what would you like to know about, and what would you find most interesting?

Let me know in the comments.