Maybe you cut the instructions from a magazine, or pinned a tutorial online, or you email yourself with the subject “project to try!” But you have an aspirational hobby collection, right? My collection is larger than I’ll ever know, because I keep finding new things I want to try. So, imagine my pride that it only took one single year before I finally made dandelion cordage.
My son loves the treasure hunt that is foraging, and I love playing with fibers, so we were both excited to make something out of the stems of dandelions. We collected them after the seed head formed. Unlike the vast array of camouflaged wild plants, these stand so tall above the grasses, announcing their presence.Harvesting dandelion stems is so much easier than washing, combing and carding wool fibers. I can wander out my front door, lean down and break a dandelion stem with my thumbnail. Do you know the effort it takes to shear a sheep? Well, it certainly looks difficult, which is why we hire a trained professional to do it.
But my kids can harvest dandelions, without shoes, tools or supervision. Especially when I throw down the gauntlet: who can find the longest stem? We amassed a small pile, and after a week or two of drying, hydrated the stems and tried our hands at making cordage. For a slow task, the pace moves along at a surprisingly satisfying clip. My 12-year-old and I worked at the table and our dandelion ropes got longer at a rate that made us want to keep going. We were racing to get the last of the dandelion stems from the pile between us, neither wanting to stop.
I don’t expect my children to take on my hobbies. They are for me, and while there can be pressure to prove their value, I know that it’s not my children’s job to justify my passion projects. They are valuable to me, and that is enough. I don’t need to learn to play Magic: The Gathering to validate my son’s hobby, either. We are good sports: I have played a few rounds of Magic, and my son has learned to knit a little, and it’s all good.
But the times when we find an intersection in our interests? That’s a moment I treasure.