It’s Never too Early to Think about Summer Camp

Learning to spin at summer camp

Learning to spin at summer camp

It’s getting to be the time to think about summer camp, and for me, that means I’m talking about the summer camps I’ve been running the past few years!  However, Tinking Turtle has a couple of changes happening this year (spurred on, in a large part, because of our impending tiny turtle).

As I’ve talked about many times before, some of my most formative years were spent going to a summer camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Camp Chimney Corners.  Summer camps are a great way to foster independence, expose children to new experiences or hobbies, and foster a different type of learning than what school offers.  And I’ve been proud, the past two years, to work with Montgomery College to bring fiberarts summer camps to the DC/Rockville area.

So it’s with sorrow that I say that I will not be running camps with Montgomery College this year.  The amount of traveling I’d do to teach the camps in Rockville, MD would be a little too much for our small family.  But it is with joy that I’m announcing that this year, I’ll be bringing fiber arts camps to my hometown, Ashland, by pairing with the Hanover Arts and Activities Center!

I’ll be hosting two camps this summer:

  • String Theory, happening August 8-12th, is a high-energy introduction to the fiberarts suitable for ages 8 & up.  It features spinning, knitting, basic sewing, weaving and dying.  Students will be working the week through on two different projects, with opportunities to customize and tailor their interests.
  • Next Step Needlecraft, happening August, offers a glimpse into some of the lesser-known handcrafts.  Suitable for ages 10 & up, this summer camp features spinning, punch-rug needlework, needle felting, crochet and dying.  Students have the option of planning and creating a variety of projects, which they will work on throughout the week.

If you live in the Ashland/Richmond area and know kids who would be interested, I’d love for you to pass my information along!  You can find out more at the Hanover Arts and Activities Website.

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!

Catching Up

We’re on the second, and final, week of the String Theory camp.  Two days ago was our messy day, again, and it’s interesting to see how the class ran last time vs. this time.  While the age range of the last camp and this camp are the same, the average age of the kids is wildly different.  It might also help this time I’m more comfortable in the space.

I also can’t believe it’s our last day!

One of the campers in the class yesterday proudly came in showing off her fingerless glove.  For a moment, I thought she’d snuck her project home to work on.  Apparently she had went to the craft store and bought a needle and yarn so she could practice
at home – and had been making more progress at home after she left for the camp.  She was so proud and excited to show me.  Take a look!

Most students are also done with their project bags… I’m a little bit nervous about filling the time on our last day.  Oh, well.  It’s great that they got so much done.

These next five weeks are going to be doozies.  I’m leaving in just over a week for a cruise with my family (a sort of last-hurrah before my younger siblings are all sucked into their respective graduate and undergraduate studies).  It will be a little bit of a working vacation for me – in addition to getting ready for Rhinebeck in October, I  have 4 (count them), 4! designs due by mid-September.  It’s a good problem to have, but I’m going to be working my hands off.  Luckily, two of them are knit, and the other two are crochet, so I’m hoping to save my hands.

Speaking of Rhinebeck – are you planning on going?  I’ve got a variety of classes I’m offering: everything from my very favorite Ooops class to much more advanced classes.  You should check them out!

Summer Camp!

Applying the color to the fiber with sponges.

This week is the first week of several camps that I’m teaching through Montgomery County College.  The camp, titled “String Theory” is all about using string in various crafty ways: the children learn to knit, sew, spin and dye yarn.

This session maxed out with 12 children have been absolute rockstars.  In the 9 short hours we’ve had together thus far, they’ve got a project bag half finished, have created their first yarn, and have gotten several inches of knitting done.  It’s pretty impressive.

The hot microwaved fiber, cooling in the sink.

Today was our messy day, and we spent the first part of the afternoon using vinegar, water and food coloring to dye their own spinning wool.  This evening, as I write this post, I’m ferrying their fiber to a from the microwave to fix the dye.  My hands are covered in red, blues and greens which I doubt will fade by the weekend.  I’m exhausted, but happy.

All the girl’s dyed fiber, getting ready to be dried.

It’s so great to be working with children in a camp setting again.  Some of the girls were so excited by what they were doing they went out and got their own supplies so they could practice at home.  I love teaching children – both because I think skills like these should be passed on, and because of their sheer excitement over learning new things.

Look how vibrant the colors turned out!

What I’ve been working On

Otherwise known as, It’s Too Hot to come up with a real blog post title.

sneak peek – shhhh!

Last week I was working on a crochet top that will be coming out with PieceWork next year.  I’m super excited about it – it’s very rare that I get to work with linen.

The design is a bit of a leap of faith.  I was working with Louet’s Euroflax, which is, by far, one of the smoothest linen’s I’ve worked with.  What I mean by this is that I didn’t find the yarn as harsh on my hands as I’ve found other linen.  Now, that wasn’t to say that that, while working with it, the yarn wasn’t stiff as all get out, but the finished product was worth it.

When I put it in the washing machine and the dryer, it softened up so much, and the drape came out beautiful.

I can’t wait for you guys to see it – though it’s a long way off from publication!

On a slightly different note, Michael and I made pizza the other night, and I think it was the best home-made pizza I’ve had, bar none.  Seriously, it ranks in the top five pizza’s I’ve had in my life.

Part of it was because we used homemade pizza sauce (and the key here, I think, is letting it age in the fridge for a day after you make it).  Part of it was we (accidentally) used whole milk mozzarella cheese.

It had steak and spinach and onion on it, and it was amazing.  I had a piece for breakfast and an piece for lunch, and I have no regrets.  None.

On a final note, I’m getting ready to go to Yosemite the end of this week.  It’s set to be a blast, but I have so much work to get done before we leave.  After we come back, we’re stopping by the farm for the 4th of July, and then I’m launching into a month of teaching a camp.

If you haven’t heard (or you aren’t part of mailing list, which you should be), I’m teaching a camp called String Theory through Montgomery County College.  It’s set to be amazing, and some of the sessions are still open.  The class runs weekly from 1-4.  There’s 4 sessions: the week of July 7th, the week of July 14th, the week of July 21st, and the week of July 28th.  This is a great introduction into some of the needlecrafts, including Knitting, Spinning and Sewing.  I’m Super Thrilled to be offering these through Montgomery County College!

What have you been up to this summer?