I've been having a great time this fall and winter teaching a group of 3-5th graders to knit. 14 of them. (10 girls, 4 boys) We only learned the knit stitch, because we were knitting bandages for World Health. (I'm giving them a learn-to-knit handbook next week - Lion Brand gave me permission to print out copies of their online PDF for the class - and I'll hopefully teach a couple to purl and such) Out of these 14, I think I ended up with 4-5 Knitters. The rest are all trying still - which is amazing in and of itself... there are a couple kids in there who are having a really rough time of it, but every week they pull out their needles and TRY. Really. A couple of them have had their knitting ripped out three and four times because it was unsalvageable. They can see that their knitting is not even, has big loops, dropped stitches, looks like a boot (direct quote, there). They still TRY. Every week, they try some more. They might only try for 10 minutes of the half-hour we're together, but not one has given up. This is the best lesson I've learned in my weeks doing this. (I love these kids)
Background - this knitting class is part of an after-school program at my church called Logos. Starts at 4 with large group activities and snack, then at 5:15 they break up into small groups for Worship Arts and Bible Study. At 5:45 the ones in Worship Arts go to their Bible Study, and vice versa. At 6:15 they have dinner, and they head out around 7. Its a good program, my daughter participated last year. Knitting is part of the first Worship Arts time, along with choir, handbell choir, and Reader's Theater, and a couple more options. We're only doing knitting for the first half of the year, next semester I pick up either Reader's Theater or Puppet Theater (not sure which at this point). Last year I directed the Good Friday play second half, and first half directed the choir. The woman who runs the Worship Arts section lets me play to my strengths, and have fun.
Last week I was a bit late (2 minutes), and the kids were in our room knitting when I ran in. The group time before knitting time had run to loud music, it seems. I come in to a room with 5 small groups of kids, overhead lights off, table lamps on. Very quiet, focused group enjoying the peace and tranquillity of knitting. Talking quietly, doing handwork. It was impressive.
We started in October. By next week, we'll have 4 4foot bandages knit. Some will be a bit wide (25 stitches instead of 15), because in the first six inches the knitter added a few too many, but got the hang of it and it seemed a waste to start over. We'll end up with a couple more bandages, because I'll graft together the partials.
And, there will be 4 or 5 more Knitters in the world. Today, one girl brought in a scarf she had started, out of lavender Fun Fur (I think... some furry yarn, anyways), that she is making for her mother for Christmas. (Definitely a Knitter.) (Especially the part where its some too-short-amount of time until Christmas, and the scarf is about 5 inches long) Another was telling me a couple weeks back about how she and her mom sit and knit while watching TV. One of the boys was telling me how he and his mom plan to spend much of the winter knitting and watching movies. Another boy was telling me how with these needles, he has 6 pair. Most don't want the class to be over next week. I know I don't. (I haven't quite worked out how to fit in a Knitting Circle in my schedule yet... but I know of another half-dozen kids at church who knit, and a bunch of adults as well. I'd like to encourage them.)
Tomorrow - I get to gush about my blog readers. TTFN!