Textiles for the Win! - The Benefits of a Unique Hobby for Your Child


Textiles for the Win!

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Finding a unique passion that can fuel your child’s interest in learning is a gem worth digging for. Some kids like writing, others like sports, while certain explorers collect rocks or butterflies. Whether your child is six or 16, when it happens, the day when you know they have found a skill or interest to be passionate about, it’s a huge relief, and sometimes your own biggest challenge. If that area of interest leads them toward a future career, consider it a bonus.

For our youngest daughter, Arlene, that winning interest is textiles. Specifically, spinning and weaving wool, although she also enjoys sewing. This did not start out as her passion, but it developed slowly over several years. Her first sewing project, that I remember, was a wearable arts project for 4-H. It was followed by various levels of success and frustration in her 4-H sewing projects. The good thing – she continued to try.

Arlene’s determination to try something new with textiles led to her passion for working with wool. As a youth volunteer at Conner Prairie, she jumped at the chance to learn to spin wool into yarn. That was several years ago. Each year, as she attended training, her skill level increased. That led to wanting to learn how to weave. This year was her third year weaving. What Conner Prairie offers is a truly unique opportunity for youth volunteers to gain additional skills in many historic areas.

For Arlene, one of her favorite areas of learning is historic and modern textiles. Her high school transcript contains multiple credits in fiber arts, as well as textile history and design. This year, instead of leading a team of spinners in the youth program, like she has the past two years, she asked their adult mentor, Sue, if she could mentor younger team captains and help prepare them, not just for this year’s state fair competition, but to share some of the more advanced skills Sue has taught Arlene, so these younger captains would be better prepared for next year after Arlene ages out of the youth program.

Your child’s passion might be music or dance. It might be woodworking or aquatic animals. Make room in your schedule to allow them time and resources to pursue those passions. Those passions are the things worth sacrificing for, because those areas where they are passionate will open doors for them to grow in ways you have not yet imagined. As a young child, Arlene didn’t really talk much. It took her a long time to overcome her natural introverted nature and be comfortable talking to strangers. Even now, at 18, there are times when she would rather not know the answer than ask someone she doesn’t know for information. But – when it comes to textiles, she has lost that shyness. She will ask whomever she needs to in order to get the information she wants about achieving a particular color when dyeing wool, or how to fix an issue she encounters when weaving.

Give your children opportunities to find their unique passions, and then watch them push themselves to learn more about that subject. For Arlene, it was textiles. At this year’s state fair Sheep to Shawl competition, Arlene arrived as a helper, not as a team member. She was confident enough in her textile skills, and the skills of the youth captains, that she was content to help Sue and watch others compete and succeed. Before the competition began, one of the adult team members approached Arlene. One of their members had an emergency and could not attend. This adult team asked Arlene to join them for the day. She checked with Sue, and then switched hats for the day and became an adult spinner. Now she has an adult ribbon to add to her youth ribbons from past years.

I’d call that – textiles for the win!


Carol and her husband Kurt are in their 15th year of home education. With one graduate and one high school senior, Carol writes with a practical look at the whole journey of home education. Focusing on experienced based education and frugal ways to teach and learn well, Carol offers encouragement that anyone, even working moms, can homeschool successfully. Carol writes for her local newspaper, the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and reviews books for several Christian Publishers. You can find her love of nature, field trips, and lifelong learning on her blog: Home Sweet Life.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

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