Saturday, August 3, 2013

Macramé Meg - Learning/Teaching A New Skill at Girl's Camp

I mentioned back in June that I was preparing for a teaching venture. Well, I'm just now getting around to blogging about it - can't rush these things.  

So, my church hosts a 4 day long Girl's Camp every year for all the girls age 12-18 every year. The camp involves lots of fun activities as well as certifications for general camp skills. One of the required skills is tying knots. Now, when I was a teenager, we hated certification day. It was very boring and each skill was taught be some of the older girls who always seemed to have just learned it themselves that morning in order to teach it. This year they decided to run things a little differently and I was asked to teach the girls how to macramé and they would count that as their knot tying certification.

I agreed to this months ago even though I didn't know much about macramé. I knew it was tying knots and it was popular in the 70s (my Grammy was apparently the macramé queen and their porch was covered in plant hangers), but that was about the extent of my knowledge. So I've been collecting books from the 70s whenever I find them in thrift stores. I also scored a whole tub full of the real deal wooden beads from the 70s for the girls to use - I was pretty proud of this find. I will confess that I didn't actually buckle down and try to macramé until the week of camp, but I lucked out because it is incredibly easy. Turns out every friendship bracelet I made as a kid was technically macramé - it's just tying a series of simple knots in a pattern to make something other than just a knot to hold something. Pretty easy.

Anyway, the day came and I brought all my stuff with me out to Kissimee to Deseret Ranch last Wednesday morning. All was well until the leaders let me know a little tidbit they hadn't mentioned - I would be teaching all 100 girls and their leaders AT THE SAME TIME! If you've ever tried to teach a large group a small craft before, you will feel my pain. My lesson I planned suddenly became undo-able and I had to improvise a group lesson. I quickly made samples of the knots on larger rope and loaded my stuff into a gator cart and was driven about a mile away from camp in the middle of the woods.
This was just before I started the lesson. As you can see from the young lady behind me they were incredibly excited about it, lol.
This is my lovely assistant, Katie, without whom my lesson would have been a huge fiasco. Katie is very crafty and picked up the knots very quickly before the girls got there and she can cut thread like a champ. Thanks so much Katie!
Basically I went over the few essential knots the girl's camp manual wanted them to learn for certification and then showed how to do the project I had planned with square knots (pretty much the heart and soul of macramé). The lesson went fairly well since it's such an easy topic, and then we spent the rest of our time cutting 5 foot strands of crochet thread for the girls to make their own projects. Katie and I were cutting like mad and got them all the colors of their choice. It was crazed, but it went off without a hitch.
Here's the truly interesting part of my trip. Not only was I a mile away from camp, I was also down this steep hill in a clearing with knee high grass. The men hadn't mowed this area so we all were just hoping no snakes dropped by for the lesson - I'm glad to report they did not :) That arrow is pointing to where my table was set up at.
Here are all the girls as they filed in. They had already been at camp for 3 days by this time so they were used to the heat and walking :)
And here's the table set up. I brought my 70s macramé books and put them on the table end for the girls to look at if they wanted - no one did since there just wasn't time, but I was able to show a few examples from them (as well as laugh about a few projects with the other leaders afterward - seriously, a man's tie?). I brought 6 different colors of crochet thread (there was a teal too that isn't pictured here) and I made sure they all coordinated with each other - a wise decision believe me. This way there could be no complaining of being stuck with bad color combos :)
I made several knot samples, but I left them all at the camp when I went home. The white example above (made out of a cheap clothesline) is what consecutive square knots look like. Look familiar? This is how you make those paracord bracelets - who knew it was so easy! I see many of the men in my life receiving these as gifts this year :)
This was my successful example I made for the barefoot sandals. I made another one with pinks and browns, but it was more of a practice run and I really didn't do the knots right. So we'll just forget about that one :) Most of the girls really liked them, which I count as a success since it is absolutely impossible to please that large of a group of teenage girls especially when it comes to crafts. Several of them worked on their projects throughout camp and I got to see a few of theirs finished on Facebook later on, which is always fun.

So I now highly recommend giving macramé a try :) It's easy and fun and the results are very unique (and they always look more impressive than they should for the amount of skill it took lol). Maybe I'll make some plant hangers to carry on the family tradition :)

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