Strawberry Season/ Waldorf Bazaar

It’s that time of year again, when little huts like this pop up all over the Hannover. I love the way seasonal produce is so easy to find. No trouble locating this vendor. Often an erdbeer-hof also offers spargel (asparagus, usually white) since it’s in season as well.

Along with strawberry season comes the annual Waldorf school bazaar. This time I was a contributor to the crafts table, and a salesperson, too. I was pretty proud of myself for handling a few simple transactions, considering that I had to speak and count in German plus make change in Euros. Simple things, but put all together it was a little challenging. Sorry the picture is a little backlit. It was hastily taken with the cell phone, as a lot of these were, since it doesn’t seem to be the norm to snap a bunch of pictures at Waldorf events. I wanted you to see a bit of the arrangement, though. I can’t  take any credit for it, but it makes me want to buy the entire menagerie every time I see it.

That crazy blue thing in the upper left of the picture will be explained later.

Below are some of what I made, in addition to the little Waldorf men I blogged about earlier.

Hot sellers, these little bunnies.

They are made of felt, blanket stitched and stuffed with actual wool, with needle-felted tails. I had never needle-felted before and always sort of regarded it as a craft that must take a lot of training to do properly. It’s really easy, though, at least to do bunny tails. I was shocked. It almost seems like magic. Below are some more felt animals and figures, not made by me.

And here is my needle-felted doll, my first needle-felt project. The blue thing hanging from the top in the earlier picture is also a felt doll.

Here’s a little of my delicious Waldorf lunch from the bazaar. No Waldorf salad. Ha! There were bratwurst, too, but the salads were really the star of the show.

And here, an only slightly-related photograph, of the kindergarten classroom’s laundry that it was my turn to wash. I decided to try impressing the teacher with my mad line-drying skills, and then the set up looked so pretty I couldn’t help snapping a picture. This is a typical German line dryer.  

Have a great weekend, everyone!

The Golden Fleece Hand Warmers: Underwear to Outerwear

These hand warmers began life as perhaps the most expensive children’s underclothes known to man.

Figuring out the right gear for the weather in Germany has been an ongoing education. When my three-year-old’s kind, dear kindergarten teacher told me he needed undershirts, I listened. He needed not just any undershirts, mind you, but silk-wool undershirts, from a boutique. I can’t even bear to tell you how much I paid for them.

Meanwhile, it’s very un-German of me, but I haven’t been able to kick the big ol’ energy-wasting American dryer addiction. Maybe there’s a 12-step program I can enroll in and by the time we leave here I’ll have cleaned up my act. Dryers do exist in Germany, but it’s much more common, regardless of income level, to use a drying rack. I do this some but not enough.

Sadly, this is what happened to one of the costly silk-wool undershirts:

Gasp! All those Euros gone to waste! I couldn’t handle it becoming just a doll shirt, and my daughter had been asking for a set of hand warmers. So I broke out the Kool-Aid (brought from the U.S.) and dyed it, using roughly these instructions.

If I had it to do over, I’d probably use one less packet of Kool-Aid to get a slightly lighter color, but oh well. It’s done. After that I just cut up the middle of the shirt and trimmed the top down so that the arm-piece of the shirt became the thumb-piece of the warmers.

I used an old T-shirt to line the arm warmers and finished them off with blanket stitching. Voila! You could certainly make a similar pair with a shrunken sweater, using the underarm corner as the under-thumb corner.

Waldorf Crafts

My son goes to a special kind of German kindergarten called a Waldorf kindergarten. It’s about the sweetest, earthiest place you could find. They’re very into natural materials and foods and learning through play, fostering imagination. The kids also garden, bake, knit, and weave. Waldorf schools and kindergartens exist in the U.S. but are not all that common, so we feel lucky for the chance to have our son in one.

Part of having your kids at the Waldorf kindergarten means you agree to help out the school in various ways. I’m signed up for the handbarbeitsgruppe, which is the handcrafts group making items for the bazaars. You can imagine what a struggle this is for me. Haha! It’s a lot of fun.

Waldorf-inspired toys are the best in the universe: handmade from natural materials and all about encouraging imaginative play. It’s good for my German, too, although I have to say I prefer it when the group is small because I can follow along a lot better.

I’m really impressed with the quality of the other parents’ work. There is all sorts of intricate needle-felting and doll-making going on. Thankfully, they gave me a beginner’s project: making handfuls of these teeny little Waldorfy dolls (these caps are a Waldorf motif). I can sew just fine but am not really great at detail work. These babies are really simple but start to look special when you do the blanket stitching around the edges (also a very Waldorf motif). The best part is their secret superpower: inside you put pipe cleaners so that they become little action figures when you bend their arms and legs, like so:

Drop and give me twenty!