Nathan Ragan, left, and Trent Trask, both 11, spend part of their Blues Break spinning wool and learning to knit socks at the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp.

Photo by Melinda Dudley

Nathan Ragan, left, and Trent Trask, both 11, spend part of their Blues Break spinning wool and learning to knit socks at the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp.

Students try their hands at fiber arts during 4-H camp


— Eleven-year-old Trent Trask has been knitting for years and has amassed quite a collection of homemade hats, but at the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp this week, he tackled his first pair of socks.

Trent demonstrated his new techniques on circular needles, and showed off the variety of stitches involved in his craft. He was careful to demonstrate the proper technique - "in, around, out, off," he recited. Many young nonknitters misinterpret the process because it is not accurately represented in cartoons, Trent said.

"Everyone says I'm an exceptional knitter. I say I'm just OK," Trent said. "I don't get made fun of much most people just think my hats are cool."

"The guys are actually the best knitters," said Karen Massey, organizer of the 4-H Fiber Arts Camp and an extension agent with Colorado State University. "They're more patient."

At 4-H Fiber Arts Camp, held during the Steamboat Springs School District's winter Blues Break, students split their time between four different fiber arts: felting, knitting, sewing and weaving. Young participants proudly modeled some of their creations Friday, including hand-woven belts that had just finished drying.

"Our goal here was to have all the kids leave with something they made," Massey said.

"And these kids are going home and teaching their parents."

About half of Fiber Arts Camp's 40 participants already were involved in other 4-H programs, Massey said. Nearly 20 local volunteers taught and supervised during the four-day program.

"There's so much talent here in Routt County," Massey said. "The local yarn shops have all donated their time and supplies."

Instructors taught about local fiber arts history, in addition to teaching the kids something new to do with their hands, Massey said.

"I like learning how to do stuff I've never done before," said 10-year-old Mariah Hoots, as she finished weaving her first rug on a loom.

Nathan Ragan, 11, showed off his spinning skills using local wool, including some brought by instructor Loretta Davidson from the sheep on her ranch. Spinning was Nathan's favorite activity of the week, with felting slippers a close second, though he noted that the felt projects "smelled awful."

"Nathan's a really good spinner," Trent said. "We thought of his future - it'll be sitting in front of the TV, spinning. And eating."

In his second year at the camp, Nathan was so gung-ho about fiber arts that he asked his parents to buy him sheep so he could raise his own wool.

"They said no," Nathan said. "But I'm working on it."

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail


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