Friday, September 25, 2009

Tie-dye Monday...September 21, 2009

A lot of unschooling, for us, is about freeing ourselves from old assumptions, patterns, and resistances. For me, one of these has always been the type of involved, requires-directions-to-get-right projects that just always seemed like too much bother.

One of these has always been tie-dyeing. I've always been fascinated with the patterns, and very intrigued by the concept. But I imagined, somehow, that the actual process would be something of a nightmare, logistically, and so I avoided learning more.

Until a few months ago, when I saw an unopened tie-dye kit at our local thrift store, just a few weeks before Annalise's fifth birthday. Annalise loves tie-dye even more than I do, and painting as well. she is still mourning the tie-dye dress she outgrew as a toddler. So, despite the niggling voices in my head telling me I'd regret the decision, I secretly bought it and surprised her with it for her birthday.

This photo was taken by Annalise, on her birthday, after we'd looked over the contents of the package. I have to admit, that did little too calm my anxiety about actually doing the dyeing. So, after a curiosity-satisfying look, I packed everything away again, and put the box well out of reach...

But it's been a while since I could just put something up high and have Lise forget about it. She wasn't pushy or at all rude, but, every so often, she reminded me, and asked when we could do it. I put her off a few times, but it was obvious that, sooner or later, i was gonna have to suck it up and tie-dye with my little girl.

Last Sunday, my dad and Jeremiah made plans for Monday, and the weather was nice, warm enough that we could experiment in our enclosed but not insulated front porch/playroom, which has a threadbare ugly carpet over a cement need to worry about drips,especially since our "work table' is a child's plastic picnic table.

I braced myself for the challenge, and, midafternoon Monday, we brought down the package, opened it, and I breathed deeply while reading the instructions. Annalise was patient, giving me the time I needed to settle into the moment.

Finally, though, there was no further putting-off, and I set up a bucket of soda ash and let Lise guide me through the placing of rubber bands where she wanted them. So far, not too scary - and we had 30 minutes for me to gear up for the next phase while her sunhat soaked.

Jeremiah came home during the soaking, and watched the rest of the process with great interest. After Lise's hat was done, wrapped, and setting, he found a T-shirt to tie-dye, and, as the soda ash solution was still sitting got banded (by me, again, per his directions), and in it went!

Lise had been too intimidated to try squeezing out her own dye, but Miah was eager to try!

His success led Annalise to ask if she could try dyeing her new rocking sheep (bought at a yard sale). At first, I was going to say "no", thinking of the mess that might be, and the sullying of that clean beige "wool"...but those are concerns from a time before unschooling. I bought her the sheep, because she wanted it. If she prefers it in rainbow hues, rather than in natural sheep-color, why shouldn't she have it that way? The porch had already been used to tie-dye, and everything was out - there would really be no harm done to the room.

So I took a deep breath and said, "Why not?" Then I grabbed the camera! =)

It seemed funny, once the dyeing had been done, that I'd put this adventure off so long, thinking it would create a huge mess. Other than the kids' clothes getting a bit more colorful (most of their clothes are well-used, to begin with), and some dye and gloves to be wiped off and disposed of, there really was very little to clean....for the amount of fun we had, the cleanup and setup were very negligible. Lise and I were even able to clown around as we showed off our freshly dyed selves!

The next night, we rinsed out their projects (okay, I got to do that while the excited kids cavorted), then laid them out wet for another photo-op...

When you're five, waiting through a day of setting, then rinsing, washing, and drying, seems to take an eternity. Annalise, especially, was thrilled when she could finally wear what she'd created (and, since the T-shirt Miah chose was purchased before his last growth spurt, she inherited that, too)!

I had a lot of preconceived notions about tie-dyeing. It turns out, as it usually does with assumptions, that they had little to do with reality. Will we be afraid to do it again? Nope. Already planning on it! And, maybe, this experience will lead me to question other assumptions, and grant us new adventures!

May you all try something adventurous soon! =)

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