Purls of Wisdom

Melissa Haims

Recent Posts

Getting ready for another fabulous Summer at The Handwork Studio!

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, May 23, 2012 @ 12:42 PM

Summer camp is right around the corner and I've been spending the month of May at Rosemont College in our storage rooms sorting, folding, cutting, piling, and labeling. There has also been an extraordinary amount of shopping, as you can imagine! This image is of the room I'm working in right now!

getting ready for summer camp! 

When I started here 5 years ago we had 2 summer camp loactions; Rosemont College and our studio in Narberth, PA. This summer we will be in 22 locations across 7 states!  I've been sourcing our materials for all of the camps for the last 3 years. Throughout the year my team and I develop a robust curriculum and then research the best vendors to partner with. I look at prices, materials and the manufacturing locations. It's my job to buy the best quality (cottons, wools, bamboo knitting needles) at the lowest costs and pass the  savings on to our clients so our camps can remain affordable. I'm also concerned about sustainability, which might surprise you since (unless you are talking about nature camp) you don't really here about the environment and camp in the same sentence. But... did you know that all of our felt is made from recycled plastic bottles? It is! Additionally, I try to buy local, whenever possible, and I never pay for shipping! (Mostly because I'm buying local and can go pick it up in The Handwork Studio Van!)

The Van!

One of our favorite local vendors is Gaffney Fabrics. I know I’ve blogged about them before, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention them here. As a business partner, The Gaffney family (Joe + Lenore and their daughter, Kate) understands our needs and our students.  The search all year for the fabrics that they think we might like and then we work together to determine costs and quantities. 

I would also be remiss if I didn’t' mention that Kate Gaffney and I went to grade school together and life brought us back together through our business adventures... This photo was taken in the 8th grade. That's me on the left. And yes, Kate is still that much taller than me. But she doesn't have braces anymore.

Miss Melissa and Kate Gaffney

From Fiber Crafts to Fashion Boot Camp, I look forward to sharing our hard work with your campers this summer. 

                      XOXO

                     Miss Melissa

Tags: kids knitting, Story Time, crafts, kids programs, creativity, imagination, teach kids to knit, stitch, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, Fun, kids, fun kids activities, activities, camp, Handwork, Kids' craft class

FiberPhiladelphia 2012

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 @ 06:30 AM

Hi there! Miss Melissa here for a double shot of blog posts. Last week I wrote about the American Camp Association's Tri State Camp Conference and while I was there I talked A LOT about FiberPhiladelphia and promised to share more details... Here they are:

FiberPhiladelphia 2012 is an international biennial and regional festival for innovative fiber/textile art. Exhibitions are happening at more than 40 locations including major institutions and independent venues during the event. They will include work by renowned international artists and a new generation of artists breaking into the field. The first shows began in January and they stretch until June.

Now, if you've been reading our blog, you'll know that March is National Craft Month. But did you know that on March 2nd May Michael Nutter declared by official proclamation that March is Fiber Arts Month in Philadelphia? Well, friends, it's true. At the opening ceremony which was held at Moore College of Art and Design we were treated to a welcome address by Mayor Nutter (at a yarn bombed microphone), an introduction by Dr. Happy Fernandez (President of Moore), another intro by Amy Orr (Executive Director of FiberPhiladelphia 2012) and finally, a keynote lecture by Elissa Auther. She is the author of String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (Minnesota, 2010). Click here to see photos of this amazing event and the opening that occurred afterward at the Crane Arts BUilding! 

Miss Melissa yarn bombing Mayor Nutter's microphone.  Mayor Nutter at said Microphone.

Yes, that's me yarn bombing the microphone that Mayor Nutter, et al, spoke at.


Now, at this point, you may be asking yourself why I am writing about this. What's the tie back to The Handwork Studio? Here's the deal: I work for The Handwork Studio year round as the Director of Curriculum and Education, but I'm also a fiber artist who makes and shows work in galleries. I was drawn to FiberPhiladelphia in January 2011 by a fellow fiber artist and the next thing I knew I found myself on the Executive Board of this fabulous festival surrounded by the most amazing individuals: artists, curators, students, designers and volunteers. Together, we created the single most important Fiber Arts event in Philadelphia in the last 20 years. I am so proud to be a part of this group and promote the exhibitions, support our business sponsors and spread the word.

So please stop by The Handwork Studio and pick up one of our directories and plan your visit to our shows around the city today! You can also find them at many locations around town; check the website for a list of our exhibitions and support your local fiber artists!

Full Disclosure / Shameless Plug:

I have a number of shows during the festival that I would love for you to share with your children, friends and family. Click here for the full exhibitions list and search for "Melissa". You can see some of the work I do when I'm not knitting bunnies and sewing marshmallows!

If you're reading this, chances are you have a little fiber artist at home and in that case I would strongly recommend that if you're in the Philadelphia area between now and the end of April, take them to see Cold Comfort at The Schuylkill Center for Envrionmental Education. This show has been delighting the little ones (and not so little ones) since January and is a real treat, both indoors and out!

little tree hugger at Cold Comfort.

Enjoy!

Miss Melissa

 

Tags: kids knitting, crafts, kids programs, art exhibit, fiber arts, stitch, travel, Workshops, website, National Craft Month, Narberth, Reccomendations, Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, Fun, kids, fun kids activities, project ideas, camp, Handwork, Narberth kids' activities

Greetings from ACA Tristate!

Posted by Melissa Haims on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 @ 12:58 PM

This post was supposed to be about FiberPhiladelphia 2012, a citywide international biennial of fiber arts taking place right this second. However, currently I am sitting in the Atlantic City Convention Center at the American Camp Association's Tri State Camp Conference and I am, as usual, blown away by the professional development that our staff at The Handwork Studio has the opportunity to take part in.

But because I promised a bunch of people that I would talk about FiberPhiladelphia in this blog post, i'll post a few photos at the end with a couple of links and then NEXT week I'll blog in more detail about that.

In the meantime, let me tell you how our staff is preparing for your children to have the best summer camp experience.... 

We are at the world's largest convention for camp professionals learning about the safest, smartest and most efficient ways of providing that experience. Each day we take part in workshops that teach valuable lessons and offer useful insites on topics such as Setting and Reaching Goals, Building and Maintaining Positive Parent Relationships, Creating the Best Possible Young Leaders and Helping Your Staff be the Best.  

The Handowrk Studio Staff (Miss Laura, Miss Julia, Miss Alisha, Miss Eva, Miss Amanda and myself) even taught a workshop about bringing needle arts into other camps and how important these traditional handcrafts can be to children both socially and emotionally (and they are all secretly about math!).  

The very last Keynote Speaker was Rosalind Wiseman, best-selling author and internationally recognized expert on children, teens, parenting, bullying, social justice, and ethical leadership. She is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World, the groundbreaking, best-selling book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. What an inspiring message she sent us, as camp proffessionals, about talking to our children and helping them make the best decisions for themselves. 

What an insightful and amazing experience for our staff!

Finally, here are the images and directions that I promised to a few of you while attending our workshops at Tri State:

Yarn Bombing (aka Knit Grafitti) 

Cold Comfort: Knit Graffiti by Melissa Maddonni Haims
At the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
in the Andorra section of Philadelphia
February 24 – April 30, 2012
Click here to check out more photos on their Facebook page.
 

This could be a great community knitting or crocheting project for your campers who are just starting out with their handwork and will feel a sense of unity when they join their works together to yarn bomb a significant tree or pole on your camp site.

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Yarn Bombing on chicken wire fences 
Shagging... new textile works by Kathryn Pannepacker (& community)
The William Way LGBT Community Center in Center City Philadelphia
March 8 - April 27, 2012
Click here for details about the show.
 
 

These are chicken wire fence peices that have been looped with various types of yarns that have been doubled or trippled and cut into 6-10" lengths. This could be a great project to do on a fence on your site! And you don't have to use yarn - be creative - you could use recycled materials such as old clothes, plastic bags, and maybe do them in your camp colors! 

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Another Project done by Kathryn was was on a loom that was an old garment rack that had been wrapped with a warp in front of the Library in Center City and a could of us Handwork Studio instructors happened upon it one day a few years ago - this is Miss Stephane and I. We pulled over on the side of the road when we saw this random loom chained to a bike rack and, well, we always travel with bits and peices of yarn and fabric so we jumped out and had at it! You could do this inbetween two trees!

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PLARN! Yarn made from plastic bags!

The photo below is of a plarn chair i created in the fall of 2011 that is currently in the Schuylkill Center Exhibitions. 

Here are some links for directions:

http://www.crochetspot.com/how-to-make-plarn-plastic-yarn/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qq3-gppZKY

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Good luck and enjoy! I'll be back next week with more on FiberPhiladelphia 2012!

Best, 

Miss Melissa

Tags: kids knitting, Miss Julia, crafts, kids programs, fiber arts, teach kids to knit, stitch, Miss Alisha, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Knitting, Fun, fun kids activities, project ideas, activities, camp

Handwork Is Where The Heart Is | The Handwork Studio

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, Feb 08, 2012 @ 10:25 PM

Camp fair season is in full swing, as Miss Julia wrote last week. One way to get all of that fabulous summer camp information is from the MetroKids parenting magazines that can be found all over the Philadelphia region. In addition to advertising summer camps and camp fairs, this resource also has interesting articles and fun things to do with your kids at home.

We were so pleased to be invited by MetroKids to submit a project to be included in the January issue and I'd love to share it with you - just in time for Valentine's Day. Homemade Valentines are always the best to create and to receive and you can make this one with your kids with just a few simple materials that you probably have around the house. Especially if you have kids who like handwork...

So while we are busy introducing new families to our family at camp fairs, you can get busy with your kids doing this fun activity, or any of the great crafts Miss Alisha creates on our website for How-To Tuesdays!

Happy Valentine's day from our family to yours!

Love, Miss Melissa

stringcard

Tags: crafts, How to Tuesday, fiber arts, Miss Alisha, Kids Camp, Fun, fun kids activities, project ideas, activities

Let the shopping for summer camp begin!

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, Jan 04, 2012 @ 01:00 AM

The holidays have come and gone but none of my shopping is done! As we enter the New Year, the best part of my job begins: sourcing for summer camp.

As the Director of Curriculum and Education, I spend the school year researching current trends and creating projects that your kids will love. After those projects are chosen we then begin the process of purchasing all of materials we need to make them. We have some really great local partners that we purchase from, as well as some national and global sources, who are always looking for the best products for us to bring to your children in the projects they make at class or camp, as well as the products we send them home with in their summer camp goody bags.

When I research the materials I am always looking for the most natural materials with the least amount of packaging - which can be a challenge. We want to expose the children to the most delicious yarns and fabrics available, especially items that they can identify themselves when they visit a fabric, yarn or craft shop. 100% cottons and wools are the finest, but we've found that blends are what's readily available. We strive to offer our children a great mix of fibers to get them thinking about their choices. Whether it's knitting or sewing, the process of choosing those materials will help your child become an anlytical thinker. And it will give them even more pride in their work.

For this blog post, I thought I would share a video that was sent to me from our local fabric company - it is amazing. The warehouse is huge and it's almost impossible to really see anything unless you're on a ladder or an electric lift!


 

Additionally, I thought I'd include a few images from some of my recent shopping excursions. It truly is one of the most exciting and fun parts of my job! 

We buy our yarn for summer camp and after school classes at yarn warehouses like this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

You cannot imagine how my heart skips a beat when I enter a yarn warehouse like this one. The potential for creation, the colors, the smell of sheep, they are all things that I wish I could share with our students.... if I were Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus I would be shouting "Field Trip!".

After shopping at the yarn warehouse! 

 

 

 

 

 

  

This is the trunk of my car after visiting the aforementioned yarn warehouse!

Melissa during a shopping trip for machine sewing fabrics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

This image was taken by Miss Alisha during one  of our recent shopping spree's!

 

 

 

Tags: fiber arts, Sewing, Knitting, kids, camp

Creative Ways to Spend Election Day | Easy Craft Projects for Kids

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:25 PM

election day fun with kidsMost folks don't think of voting and crafting, but they are two things I love doing.  So I thought it only appropriate to share my thoughts on what election day means to me, how I experience it with my daughter and give you some ideas for easy craft projects that you can make with your own kids to put you in the spirit.

 

When I turned 30, voting became really important to me. This doesn't necessarily mean that I totally understand politics the way I would like to, but I understand enough to be able to make informed decisions on my elected officials.

 

And ever since my daughter, Noa, was born she has accompanied me to the polls. She hasn't missed an election in 9 years, and neither have I. She loves helping me find the names on the ballot machine, pushing the corresponding buttons and hitting the final "VOTE" button that changes the machine over, registers the vote and opens the curtains... all magically.

 

All of our voting officials know us by name because they are all our neighbors. There's coffee and donuts, there's good cheer, camaraderie and political banter. It's something that I want her to understand from an early age and I want her to associate good thoughts with voting. It's about us and our community and the power we have to change it. It's so important for all of us to have a say in our political system, even if we don't understand it like the guys + gals on cable TV.

 

This November 8 you may be met with the joy of having your kids home with you - take them to vote: open up an authentic dialog about it's importance. And watch their eyes light up when the lights go out and the curtain magically opens....

 

You can take it even a step further while you're home, here 4 ideas on what you can do while your kids are home this November 8th! 

 

1. Future Voter Button

I love this project, especially when it's hand sewn and the words are embroidered.

Future Vote Button Project

 

2. Vote for Broccoli!

Personally, I'd vote for cookies....

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3. Felt Cupcake Toppers

Instead of using glue, I'd recommend using a needle and thread to create these cute cupcake toppers!

 

electiontoppers

 

4. Don't have the day off, but your kids do? We also have a one day camp available on November 8th with multiple options for drop off and pick up. We'll have lots of fun craft activities for the kids. You can register your children for full day (9-3) half day (9-1) or just the afternoon (1-3). Click here to register.

And don't forget to vote!

Miss Melissa

Tags: Narberth, Kids Camp, Fun, kids, fun kids activities, project ideas, activities