Internships: How I got started in the fiber world
Her name was Mildred. She was my first mentor in craft; at the time knitting and crocheting. You could say I had a 6-year internship with her.
I was 9 or 10 years old and lived on a farm that abutted the small house that she and her husband Stan shared. Like many of the elders that lived in our neighborhood, my parents would share what they could; for them the newspaper and bread. Every day during the summertime, I would deliver the day-old paper for them to read and an occasional loaf of bread. Stan would greet me at the door with a smile and usually a peppermint candy. I am not sure how it started, but I somehow was asked into the house one day and eyed Mildred and her bountiful basket of acrylic yarn and overflowing projects. She welcomed me in for a few minutes one day to sit and try my hand at crochet. From then on, along with carrying the paper, I had my crochet basket in hand with miscellaneous pieces of scrap yarn that she had given me to practice with.
For Christmas that year, I asked for some yarn to work on an afghan pattern called seashells that Mildred had taught me. I would spend a year on an afghan and give it to my mom for Christmas in return of course for some more yarn to start another. My afghans are still around today, adorning her chair and bed.
The idea of giving and receiving freely was the kind of environment I grew up in.. Gregg and I both believe that the more one gives the more one will receive. Bearing in mind of course that what you receive doesn’t always have to be something physical; memories and education are just as valuable.
Recently, I received a request from a young lady to mentor her for four months about my way of life; an opportunity for me to give to the next generation just as Mildred did for me; keeping a craft alive. She wanted to come and live at our farm, job shadow me, converse with me on a daily basis about how I am able to manage time, run a successful business and farm with the efficiencies that I do.
In exchange, she would work hard doing whatever I needed help with. She and another young couple were planning on starting a farm in the spring and she was inspired by all that I do here and all of the recommendations that were made to her to intern at Nezinscot.
After our initial meeting, I followed up with an email with the precise information of living at Nezinscot. I described a daily schedule, explained that all interns were provided with room and board which included (meals prepared by either myself and or staff, shared spacious living quarters, wifi and laundry), as well as two days off a week.
The response back was very lengthy and I will say a bit disheartening; wanting me to understand why she needed more in exchange for her coming here along with explanations. Private room, mention of a stipend, which came after letting me know that “she was well aware that farmers like myself didn’t have a reserve of cash flow for interns” were just a few of the additional needs required.
Perhaps the idea of giving and you shall receive is no longer being taught or encouraged in today’s household or society? I wished her well in her endeavors.
I could only imagine approaching Mildred and say- “Hey Mildred, I love what you are doing, how about the next time I come deliver the paper, you have 6 skeins of yarn, a knitting basket, pattern, and crochet hook ready for me to start learning.” “Oh, and if its ok with you, I’ll come over for lunch first and you can teach me right after you finish the dishes.”
Actually, let me tell you how that would have gone over. My parents would have gotten wind of it and enslaved me to not only bring over the paper every day, but while I was there, mowe the lawns, water their gardens, and do their dishes as well.
In closing, rather than getting frustrated with this young lady and her different view on how internships should work, I forwarded the email to my daughters and reminded them that if they wanted to get a job/ internship somewhere down the road, that this was probably an example not to use.
This experience, however, did offer me some more insight. Perhaps I am missing the age bracket that I should be teaching my idea of “The Art of Farming” and a “Purposeful Life”
Until next time, keep learning, keep giving and mostly be open to receiving all that comes your way.