By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
Cullman County Assistant Extension Agent Raydonna Sims, whose specialty is family and child development, will be teaching several interesting classes this year. The upcoming class schedule has some great crafting ideas for the winter since these skills can be done sitting in front of a crackling fireplace in the comfort of your own home.
Sims taught herself to sew at the age of 10 so that she could make Barbie clothes. By the time she was 22, she had graduated to quilting, later she made her children’s clothes.
“When I turned 40, I went to Wallace State Community College and took all the basic courses,” said Sims. “I learned then that I love the classroom.”
Since then Sims has spent a lot of time in the classroom teaching things she loves and is passionate about lap quilting and making hooked rugs.
“The lap quilting class is for true beginners,” she explained. “Since this is a heritage class we use only basic hand tools, like scissors and freezer paper.”
Starting out with good quality fabrics in a multitude of colors and patterns, Sims leads students through the steps of choosing which fabrics they want to use, cutting the pattern and hand piecing them together. Then, in the second segment of the two-part class they will learn how to press it onto the freezer paper. “There is a lot of difference between pressing and ironing,” she pointed out. “I also teach them how to properly use a thimble, because you have to use a thimble to hand sew.”
Students will use a basic nine-patch pattern. “Lap quilting is easy to learn and students will be able to finish it up at home. I always do a follow-up with them to make sure that they aren’t having any problems.”
All materials will be furnished and students will have a lovely wall hanging, table runner or baby quilt when this project is completed.
Another craft that Sims is passionate about is rug making. She shops yard sales and thrift stores to find old, worn blue jeans and kaki pants for classroom materials. “You can make a whole rug with recycled materials without having to use any special tools,” said Sims. “This project is very economical — you can make a large trivet or a small rug for just a few dollars.”
The method for this craft is known as Navaho knotting, or slip-knotting. “I taught myself because we had some requests for this art, and it is very easy to learn,” she said. “Most people love it because there is really no investment.”
Sims often finds pants for as little as sixty cents a pair at places like The Foundry. “It takes about three pairs to complete the large trivet that we make in this class.” (see schedule below for dates and times below).
Later on this year there will be a class for people who have land that they want to make productive. “The Farming 101 classes are designed to show people how to utilize their land, even if they only have a few acres, to make it profitable or to help provide for their families, or both,” said Sims.
In this series, people will learn the best methods of truck farming, how to raise chickens, goats, cows, pigs and other livestock. “These classes go in depth to show people how to get the most out of their land, including learning about pesticides and even how to keep their own books. We have extensive instruction manuals and handouts that they can use as reference materials in the future.”
The Alabama Extension Service is a community service organization. Classes are offered according to interest and demand. “We get lots of calls for various classes,” said Sims, who also teaches lessons in such old-time crafts as cheese making and butter churning as well as sewing crafts.
According to North Alabama Agriplex Coordinator, Rachel Dawsey, all classes will be taught at the Heritage Center, 1714 Talley Ho Street, Cullman 35055, however, registration for the sewing and Farming 101 Classes is at the Extension Office, and registration for Farm Kids Classes is with the North Alabama Agriplex. “Farm Kids classes are family oriented and parents attend free, admission for children is $5,” said Dawsey. Contact Dawsey at 256-297-1044 for more information.
Classes are brought to the community by a partnership between the Cullman County Extension Service and the North Alabama Agriplex. Upcoming classes include several different crafts and fun farming know-how for kids.
Jan.8 and 10: Hand Quilting with Raydonna, 6 to 8 p.m.
Feb 2: Farm Kid’s Club, Seed Starting, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Feb 5: Farming 101, 6 to 8 p.m.
Feb 9: Recycled Crafts, 9 a.m. to noon
Feb 19: Farming 101, 6 to 8 p.m.
Feb 21: Rug Making with Raydonna, 6 to 8 p.m.
March 2: Farm Kid’s Club, Worm Farming 9 a.m.
Farming 101 will be scheduled over a 6- to 8-week period, beginning March 5 at 6 p.m. The second class will be held on March 19 at 6 p.m.
For further dates, visit cullmancountyextension.com or contact Rachel Dawsey at North Alabama Agriplex on Facebook.
The classes are designed for all ages, interests and skill levels. “There is something here for everyone, from storytelling to Farming 101 to recycled crafts,” says Dawsey. “You can also rent the Heritage Center for your events now.”
The Cullman County Extension in conjunction with the North Alabama Agriplex, is happy to sponsor these classes for the entire community. For more information, call at 256-297-1044 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a complete list of classes offered by the Cullman County Extension Service, visit www.cullmancountyextension.com.
Upcoming classes for 2013 Farm Kids Club
Feb. 2: Seed Starting
March 2: Great Gourds!
April 6: Cattle Farming
May 4: Storytelling
June 1: Natural Dyeing and Spinning
July 13: Bees and Honey
Aug. 3: Ice Cream Social with Old Time Games*
Sept. 7: Rodeo/Horses
Oct. 5: Worm Farming
Nov. 2: Apples*
Dec. 7: Holiday Crafts*