Wonder Wednesday one-oh-one, well doesn’t that just have a brilliant alliteration ring to it! Here we are flying to the winter solstice. As per usual, this is our only December post, so it is both inspiration and activity.
As we round out this year of unprecedented upheaval, I don’t know about you, but I sure could use a little more grounding. So I thought what better way to get more grounded than by focusing on one of nature’s heaver offerings – stones!
I love rocks and stones. I collect them when I travel, I fill bowls and cups with them, they sit on surfaces as decorations, and they can be found on window ledges and in corners all around my house and yard. Here are 2 funny stories about my rock collecting adoration.
1. In spring 2001 I was returning from Scotland where I had been fortunate enough to do a farm internship at the Findhorn Ecovillage Community. This established intentional community offering world class organic farming workshops (and much more) is located on the North Sea, and let me tell you there are some gorgeous rocks on the beach there.
Well, my bag had quite a few of them in it and at the airport the customs check said, “What do you have in here, rocks?” And, of course the answer was, “Yes!” He thought that was pretty hilarious.
2. Fast forward to about 2008 and my6 year old twin niece and nephew and family were staying in our house for a long weekend while I was away. The young twins discovered the many stones and crystals hidden behind doors and in corners and figured they had hit the jackpot of treasure hunts! They collected the stones and filled their bags with them. Upon returning home, their mom discovered the treasures and called us.
We thought it was hilarious and said they could keep them, but being a good parent and taking the teaching opportunity, their mom made them write apology notes and send the stones back. Well, one twin wrote to us, “Dear Uncle Sean and Aunt Kelly, I am sorry I took your rocks. They were covered in dust so I thought you didn’t want them. Love, Reid.” We cracked up with that hilarious from the mouths of babes observation! Apparently back then I needed to dust and mop the corners better!
Kids and customs agents aside, rocks are just awesome. In China and Japan the ancient traditions of Gongshi and of Suiseki have treated small naturally occurring rock formations as art for centuries. Well, I am totally behind that!
Recently, I learned about the art of rock wrapping and thought wow! Beautiful, historic, meditative handwork, culturally respectful and relevant, fun, involves rocks and natural materials, can be left around for people to find as gifts, or used to decorate and direct traffic within a tea garden (as in boundary stones called tome ishi) – this is right up my alley!
I think this activity offers a lot of grounding experiences to the wrapper because of the sensorial aspects. You have of the weight and texture of the stones in the hands, the contrasting soft feel of the fibers, and you get the benefits of the sustained concentration it takes to wrap the rock in a pattern. Many of the patterns out there are beautifully complex, but we’re doing a simple one here to start.
This activity makes a great Winter Solstice project, since stones are much easier to come by in winter than plants! (This year, Winter Solstice is Dec. 21, 2020.)
You could do this and tie little solstice notes or cards to them and offer them as solstice gifts to other humans or to nature. Use only natural materials that will decompose if leaving them as offerings of reciprocity to natural places, of course.
You could start a tradition where you wrap a rock every winter solstice and feature them in a bowl surrounding a candle as part of your Winter Solstice celebrations, adding a new one every year. The possibilities are really endless.
As this year closes, I wish everyone to stay safe yourself mentally and physically, and to always think of others. Our actions are connected to the whole big web of life. We may be in the darkest days now, but the light will return soon.
Wonder Wednesday 101
Winter Solstice Stone Wraps
Celebrate the longest nights with the grounding aspects of stones and handwork! This is an activity geared to ages 9+ as it takes a level of patience and fine motor dexterity. If a younger age child has proficient sewing skills they would likely be able to do this project with 1-on-1 adult assistance.
Stones, rocks, or crystals. Wider and more flat shapes are great to start with as you get the hang of the process. Very smooth stones make the yarn tend to slip around more so a little texture is useful on the stone until you get the hang of it. Also, the thinner the yarn the more it tends to tangle when long and very small stones can be a little fiddley, at first but are fun once you get the hang of the pattern.
Natural fiber yarn – cotton or wool.
Optional: tape to tape the “beginning tail” to the stone, but not as a substitute for a firm hold on the yarn.
Take a Solstice nature walk and collect some stones. If you don’t live where stones are available, you can buy large flat smooth river rock stones at a garden center or better yet from a local rock shop.
Check out the link below to the Wonder Wednesday 88 Winter Solstice Walk activity to bring more intention to this preparation step in this project.
Once you have your stones, choose which sides of the rocks you want to be the fronts.
This project isn’t difficult, but it is much easier learned by seeing than reading. So here is a video tutorial for you!
(These instruction tips are not designed to be used independently from the video tutorial.)
Keep a firm hold on that beginning tail. Then, make a loop around the front.
Switch back and wrap the string around the backside of the rock bringing the yarn around the opposite side of the front of the rock.
Loop the needle through the first loop, then switch back and wrap the yarn back around the backside of the rock to the front of the starting side.
Thread the needle through the second loop on the opposite side of the original “knot”. The switchback and wrap again.
This is the pattern. Thread through the far side’s loop, switchback, wrap around the back, and repeat on the alternating side. Thread through the far side loop, switchback, wrap around, repeat.
This is what the backside looks like once you get a few wraps. Always keep a tight hold on that original tail and use your thumb to hold the back wraps in place.
Once you have wrapped the stone to your liking, or are coming to the end of your yarn (remember to save enough for the tie off or else you will have to undo a wrap or two), thread up under the knots on the front side.
At the top of the front side wraps, thread the needle through the original top loop and switchback to the alternating side and wrap around to the back.
Tie the tails together at the top of the wraps on the backside. Then weave the ends under the back wraps.
Leave a longer tail if you want to tie a note on to the stone.
If doing this with students, incorporate a rock research and/or research on the ancient traditions of Gongshi (China) and of Suiseki and Tome ishi (Japan) into the work to discover more about the geology of the rocks being wrapped and the culture of the wrapping and appreciation of natural rocks as art.
If you choose to progress in the technique, try wrapping cain, grasses, rattan and more stiff natural fibers around other natural objects such as large seeds, seashells, and fossilized with Japanese ikebana basket weaving techniques and Māori lashing techniques.
Here we have a fossilized dugong bone and a sea bean wrapped, and a shell, piece of wood, and a fossilized shark’s tooth awaiting wrapping.
Write or draw messages onto the rocks themselves before wrapping to further adorn the stones.
Add solstice cards and candles to the rock and turn them into fancy Winter Solstice gifts! Click the link below for more Winter Solstice themed activities.
Check out the book The Return of the Light for Winter Solstice themed stories from global cultures.
What are your plans to receive the benefits of winter nature grounding in these strange days?
Share in the Comments below!
Share pics of your Winter Solstice Stone Wraps on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder !
Seeds to Sprout:
Did you hear? 100% of profits from my Etsy shop through the end of December go to Hurricane Eta Relief in Costa Rica! Click here to check out all the great creative nature inspiration gifts for all ages! I’ll even wrap and send direct to your recipient if you leave me a message in the notes to seller section when you order!
Do you love festive garden teas as much as me? Well, check out these Wings, Worms, and Wonder solstice tea recipes:
Wonder Wednesday 64: Evergreen Solstice Tea
Wonder Wednesday 76: Solstice Sorrel Drink