AUBURN — Carol Thomas started out trying to inspire her son. It worked, but she wound up inspiring herself just as much.
Thomas will demonstrate hand-spinning and weaving Saturday at the Lewiston-Auburn Mini-Maker Faire at the Bates Mill complex in Lewiston.
Her son Ezra, 14, and several of his friends will be nearby showing off Lego Mindstorms robots they built, as well as racing solar cars they designed and built.
Thomas said she has Ezra to thank for both her spinning hobby and her inclusion at the maker faire.
"We were at a fiber show when he was very little, about 3, and there were people there that were selling their stuff," Thomas said. "He was chatting with one of the spinners and I turned around and he was on her lap and she was teaching him to spin."
The family left that day with a drop spindle, one of the simplest ways to transform raw wool into usable yarn. Thomas found she had a knack for it and eventually bought better equipment — a spinning wheel and loom. Both will be on display Saturday in the Bates Mill Atrium.
"When I first heard about it, the boys came to mind because of their robots and their solar cars," she said. "Then, I found out they were also looking for crafting and creativity of other sorts. I decided to put my spinning and my weaving out there."
Ezra and his friends, Anthony Blasi Jr., 16, Zach Johnson, 14, Alex Breton, 14, and Jared Cloutier, 14, attended Auburn Middle School together and made up that school's Lego Mindstorm team. Mindstorms are programmable kits — a CPU, camera, sensor and motors — that can be combined with Lego bricks to build robots.
"We've got one set up with a remote control that people can drive and another with sensors," Ezra said.
Now that the youngest members of the group are moving on to high school, they're hoping to move up in complexity and create an Edward Little High School Vex Robotics Team.
They also built solar-powered cars as part of the middle school's Community Learning Center and will race those at the fair.