Crafting a new materialist care story: Using wet wool felting to explore mattering and caring in early childhood settings


  • Alison Warren Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand


Felting; Care; Early childhood; Posthumanist; New materialism; Postqualitative.


This article presents a methodological account of a postqualitative approach to research investigating entanglements among crafting experiences of wet wool felting and a story of caring in an early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting. The concept of care is understood as central to relationships in ECEC settings. Multiple theorisations shape contours of a conceptual landscape of care. Caring relationships may be envisaged as close, dyadic bonds of nurturing, or as networks of reciprocal relationships among humans, or entangled relations where care happens among humans, non-humans, and materials. From a posthumanist perspective, care stories in early childhood teaching and learning involve much more than human individuals. Early childhood practitioners, children in early childhood settings, their families, teacher educators, and policymakers can benefit from understanding how multiple, diverse components of early childhood settings continually produce care and caring relationships. New materialist theories reconceptualise care where humans, other-than-humans and materialities are constantly produced in intra-actions as temporary outcomes of entangled relations. Bringing materials into view as producing and being produced alongside humans raises possibilities for considering how care matters and how matter cares in early childhood education environments. Playfully, with curiosity, I engage with wet wool felting physically, intellectually, and emotionally. Entangled in crafting processes, I am produced as researcher, as carer and cared-for with materials. Concepts of caring and felting are multifaceted, providing rich contours of meaning. I am enmeshed in sensual experiences of thinking-making-doing, alongside some text from a research study into emotions in early childhood teaching in Aotearoa New Zealand. Contours of concepts of caring and felting are explored through crafting experiences interwoven with writing about care and caring relationships in ECEC settings.


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