Homeschooling, Crafts, Design and the Joy of Learning

Last May we pulled our daughter, Emma from school and began homeschooling or non-schooling or… I’ve written more about all of this on the other blog, the one I share with my daughter:  Emma’s Hope Book.  One of the many benefits of homeschooling, aside from the huge relief and plummeting stress level, is that we get to explore, together and separately.  The beauty in exploring is that the goal is to be curious and discover.  There’s no right or wrong and there’s tremendous comfort in that. The entire process of learning becomes one of joy and experimentation without the burden or stress of feeling one should know something before having learned it.

So it was, some eight months ago when I sat down with Emma and asked her what she was interested in learning about.  She typed that she wanted to learn German and take a ceramics class among a number of other things.  So we bought Rosetta Stone for German and Emma began taking pottery lessons at a nearby ceramics studio.  Her teacher, seeing my obvious excitement and interest, asked if I might like to make some things too.  I eagerly said, “Yes, please!”

Learning anything new is full of experimenting, exploring, tweaking, practicing and refining techniques learned.  To dive into something you’ve never done before can be daunting, but only if you are comparing your work to another’s.  Particularly crushing is if you expect you will be able to produce something that is of similar expertise as someone who has been studying and refining their technique for decades.  The exhilaration comes with the process of learning, practicing and improving.  But so often we are not taught that this process is wonderful at all.  In fact, we are taught that it is hard work and the end product, only produced after years of practice and toil, is all that is of value.  Everything else pales in comparison.

I disagree.

This cereal bowl that Emma made for me is perfect for walking while eating.  It has an indentation that perfectly fits one’s thumb while cupping the bowl in your palm.  Why hasn’t anyone designed a bowl like this?  I’ve never seen one before, but oh, how I love it.  This is my new, favorite bowl.

My favorite Cereal Bowl made for me by Emma.
My favorite cereal bowl made for me by Emma.

The platter below?  “It matches” was what Emma typed in reply to my exclamation that I thought it perfect for serving cheese and crackers or maybe a brioche en croute with fresh baguette.

Emma’s Platter

This bowl that Emma made used cookie cutters and then she painted after joining all the shapes.

An Autumn Bowl
An Autumnal Bowl

A few months ago, or maybe it was years, (this is an aspect of getting older, the years feel like months, yet another example of that saying people tell you when you first become a parent – the days are long, the years are short)  I asked Emma if she had any interest in learning to knit.  She said she did, and as I love knitting (I wrote about some of that “here“) and used to design knitwear, I thought we’d start with something simple, like a scarf.  Emma chose a light blue yarn.  After a couple of tries, she lost interest and so I began making a long scarf using an alternating knit 2, purl 2 pattern.  I rarely use knitting patterns or cooking recipes for that matter, but that’s another post.  Anyway the scarf began like this.

Light blue Scarf in alternating Knit 2, Purl 2 Pattern with Navy Blue Chenille infinity scarf in the background.
Light blue scarf in alternating Knit 2, Purl 2 pattern with the beginning of a navy blue chenille infinity scarf in the background.

The finished scarf ended up measuring 87 inches in length and 11 inches wide.   What you don’t see is the other side where I changed my mind after an inch or so and decided to make the pattern more elongated.

The Finished Scarf
The Finished Scarf

This is the edge where I began knitting and decided to change the stitch.  Three times.  The final stitch pattern is a Knit 2, Purl 2 for three rows and then Purl 2, Knit 2 for 3 rows and repeating for the remainder of the scarf.

The I-Changed-My-Mind-Edge
The I-Changed-My-Mind-Edge

I’m hoping Emma will try knitting again sometime, but in the meantime, I’ve started a couple of other projects, one is this deep blue chenille yarn that I’m knitting, using a newly learned brioche stitch, into an infinity scarf for a friend.

The makings of an infinity scarf using a brioche stitch
The makings of an infinity scarf using a brioche stitch

And finally this is one of my ceramics projects.

Pebbles in a Plate
Pebbles in a Plate

For those familiar with my jewelry, this may remind you of something else…

Ariane Zurcher Jewelry - B26 Lotus Collection - 18 Kt Brushed Yellow Gold, 25.08 ct Pink Topaz, 2.69 ct Pink Sapphire, 12 ct Tourmaline, 2.96 ct Aquamarine, 17.21 ct Mandarin Garnet, 4.03 ct African Paraiba
Ariane Zurcher Jewelry – B26 Lotus Collection – 18 Kt Brushed Yellow Gold, 25.08 ct Pink Topaz, 2.69 ct Pink Sapphire, 12 ct Tourmaline, 2.96 ct Aquamarine, 17.21 ct Mandarin Garnet, 4.03 ct African Paraiba

4 thoughts on “Homeschooling, Crafts, Design and the Joy of Learning

  1. Hi Ariane,
    this morning, i found my way to your blog, where you introduced me to your daughter. She is without doubt a light, and is leading a way for a much needed new idea for this world. I am a mother of two children with Autism. My eldest is 18, has just completed her final year of education, and whilst this was a tremendous accomplishment for her, it sadly was not without much heartache and unnecessary distress. And even though she understands and feels joy at what she has achieved at a remarkable level, i asked her, if i knew then what i do now, would you have wanted me to have chosen differently for you, her answer to this was yes. So now i am contemplating deeply on wether or not to put my youngest son through the schooling system. This world is yet to really understand the intricate depths to what Autism truly has to offer, but your Emma is on the path to bringing about the much needed awareness and making the difference that is needed. She could not of course do this without the support of you. I thank her for being brave enough to find her voice and with a fearlessness voice it.
    I wish you both an abundance of luck and happiness on your ventures.


    1. Thank you so much Carly. Our education system (and the entire world) is in such desperate need of a major overhaul, particularly when it comes to the inclusion of those with disabilities. I’m sorry to hear of your daughter’s experience.

      We recently had a speech therapist come to our home to give Emma an assessment. I was so horrified by her tone, the manner in which she spoke to Emma, the things she said… Afterward my husband and I remarked on how grateful we are knowing that we are not subjecting our daughter to this type of wrong-headed, judgmental prejudice on a daily basis, because this woman was like so many in the “field” and, unfortunately particularly, in the education system.


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