4 the fun of it

Fiber Arts Camp gives kids exposure to old, new hobbies

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Karen Massey, R.D., left, offers some knitting advice to Strawberry Park Elementary School student Joylynn Phillips during the 4-H FIber Arts Camp at Colorado Mountain College on Feb. 23.

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4-H Youth leader Karen Massey, R.D., bottom, helps Aleigh Aurin, an 11-year-old from Steamboat Springs Middle School, spin wool into yarn using a compact disc as a small spindle at the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp on February 23, 2007.

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Nate Ragan, a 10-year-old from Strawberry Park Elementary school, works on his sewing project at the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp at Colorado Mountain College.

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Heather Nereson, a Hayden Valley Elementary School student, talks with friends while she makes fabric with a loom during the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp at Colorado Mountain College.

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Nissa Parker, a 10-year-old from Lowell Whiteman Primary School, works on her sewing project at the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp at Colorado Mountain College on Feb. 23.

— Heather Nereson loves the color purple.

She wears a purple hoodie sweater. She weaves shades of purple into her homemade scarf. And this summer, at the Colorado State Fair, Heather left with a purple ribbon.

"I went to state fair, and I won," Heather said in a barely audible voice, holding up her championship scarf.

Heather, a Hayden fifth-grader, may be soft-spoken, but she can weave. With the guidance of instructor Lauretta Davidson, Heather has become one of the state's best junior weavers, a statement supported by her ribbons and ware.

"There is a long process to weaving," Heather said. "It's easy to learn but hard to get good."

On Feb. 23, while enjoying a day off of school, Heather brought a sampling of her projects to a 4-H Fiber Arts Camp.

A requirement to be in 4-H is for one to share what he or she has learned to someone else. Heather fulfilled her sharing requirement by demonstrating how to weave for a group of women and children who participated in the 4-H camp at Colorado Mountain College.

"It's difficult to stand up in front of a group and tell them what you know about something, but it's powerful for learning when you have to turn around and teach it to someone else," said Karen Massey, organizer for the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp and extension agent with Colorado State University.

Enrollment for 4-H is underway, Massey said, and now is a good time to sign up so people can start projects to exhibit at this summer's Routt County Fair and, possibly, the state fair.

Many 4-H projects require months of preparation, planning and production. Documentation also is an important part of all 4-H projects, so thorough record books also must be kept.

"The bottom line is there are a lot of things kids can learn, but with 4-H they learn by doing," Massey said. "These projects require kids to really delve into something and do it with their hands. I think a lot of people don't realize 4-H is learning by doing."

Massey also believes there is another popular myth out there: That 4-H is just a farming and ranching thing.

"That's the thing I'm trying to overcome a little bit," Massey said. "If you are living in town, there are still a lot of projects you can do."

Sure, raising a steer and showing it is more difficult to do within Steamboat Springs city limits, but making a model rocket or putting together a photography display is practical.

Massey grew up participating in 4-H and did show horses, but she also prepared baked products and created sewing, knitting and quilting projects.

"Those were the things I liked," she said.

Massey's love for homemade products helped spark the idea for the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp. In addition to giving children something to do while on vacation from school, camp allowed children the chance to refine a skill or learn a new one.

"My grandmother taught me how to sew when I was 5," said Hannah Winegarner, a third-grader at Strawberry Park Elementary School. "I had forgot, but I am here to learn how again."

Hannah and Aleigh Aurin, a Steamboat sixth-grader, showed off their homemade pillowcases.

"We had to pin this together," Hannah said, holding up the side the pillowcase. Then, she flipped to the inside of the pillowcase.

"We had to zigzag stitch to hold it together," Hannah added.

Aleigh already participates in 4-H, but Hannah was thinking she should go to the county fair to exhibit her sewing and knitting products.

Gauging the popularity of the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp, which hosted nearly two dozen children busy quilting table runners, knitting hats, sewing purses and felting pillows, Aleigh and Hannah may have company.

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