Signing up to participate in a playscape swap sounded like a great challenge and a lot of fun! We eagerly signed up through the Bits of Goodness playscape swap and were assigned to make the playscape for a wonderful family in Canada.
Our goal was to make a playscape that was beautiful, useable, and that featured different fiber arts. For our playscape, we decided to sew, crochet, latch-hook, dye and make pom-poms, mostly from supplies that we already had in the house including material from old clothes.
Rug-hooking/locker hooking canvas
Bamboo or organic cotton batting
Sewing trim or ribbon for the edging
Wool and cotton yarns
Pom maker (or make your own)
Needle for hand-sewing
Fabric, felt and/or material from old clothes
Sewing thread that matches fabric
Draw your design onto your canvas.
Dye fabrics or yarns. Use alum as a mordant for colorfastness. Browns = walnut hulls or coffee grounds; blues = indigo; greens = copper, onion skins then indigo, broom. We dyed a cotton yarn with quick dips in indigo.
Using a variegated color for the wool yarn will make the grasses and bushes more natural.
Sew, crochet or latch hook yarn onto canvas with holes (locker hooking canvas works well) to form grass or other terrain.
Cut fabric, felt and clothing pieces to create the landscape. Try greens, blues and browns for a realistic landscape. Sew the pieces on by hand. Use a matching color thread when doing all sewing.
Design your water feature. Joey took our dyed cotton yarn, crocheted a long chain, then sewed it into a spiral for the pond. This could also be done with a lucet, spoolknitter or by knitting an I-cord. She then made the river with rows of double crochet stitches and sewed the river and pond on.
To help with the transition from one fabric to another, consider placing bushes, flowers, a path, or water feature where the two fabrics meet.
Make small poms out of wool yarn using a pom maker and trim to different sizes for bushes. Sew bushes on. Crochet, knit or needlefelt flowers and stones.
Cut a piece of batting to fit the backside. Sew this on around the edges. You can also sew on a piece of fabric or a quilt.
Cut pieces of trim for each edge. Fold the corners neatly and sew. Tack down corners with a bit of fabric glue, if needed.
Now, your playscape is ready to use!
Add knitted animals, wood farm yard structures, or felted fairies. Build fences, bridges and other wood pieces with older children. Roll up the playscape and store in a bag when not in use with a lavender sachet to keep wool moths away.
On natural dyeing, we recommend Griffin Dyeworks
Jennifer Tan, MA lives in Davis, California with her husband and three children. She blogs about homeschooling and Waldorf schooling at Syrendell. Jennifer and her husband enjoy leading handwork and curriculum workshops, teleseminars and consulting with homeschooling families: Syrendell Academy.
Joey Tan is eleven years old. She is an avid dancer and musician who loves to sew, crochet and spin yarn.