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Archive for November 6th, 2003

CityKidz: a Good Week

Thursday, November 6th, 2003

Well, my CityKidz Knit! program is progressing beyond my wildest dreams. I had a great week. Yesterday I had 14 kids and today I had eight. They don’t all stay the whole time, but they keep plugging right along.

I have a few kids working on knitting in the round. One is working on a beautiful mohair hat, and two are making Christmas stockings. The kids working on stockings are fairly new knitters, and they are doing very well. We are going to make afterthought heels, and both kids have already knit in some waste yarn to mark where their heels will be inserted afterward. This is a great way to learn about socks without worrying about gauge and working on tiny needles. I do have a few kids who don’t celebrate Christmas, but these two do, and so this project worked out nicely for them.

But the big delight this week came from my relatively new knitter who has sort of taken off as though she always knew how to knit. I think she is 11 years old, in 6th grade. She has been with me either five or six weeks. The first week she made a wristband and she hasn’t turned back since. She made a little purse as the second project, I think, and a small hat for her Raggedy Ann doll. Then she determined she wanted to make a backpack. I have walked her through making a backpack, mostly using Melanie Falick’s Kids Knitting book (I do change a few things so that I think it will be easier for the kids, but the basic proportions and look are out of the book.

The backpack project has a lot of techniques in it. First they make a garter stitch rectangle as the bottom of the bag (I have them learn to knit back and forth on circular needles, a new thing for my kidz). Then I have them learn to pick up stitches (the book has you sew the sides and bottom together at the end but this keeps them from twisting the stitches on the circular needle and getting a moebius strip). Then they learn to knit circularly until they need eyelets for their drawstring. For the eyelets I teach “Knit two together, yarn over” and how to count stitches (the book does it differently). They knit a few more rows and then bind off more than half the stitches, starting to knit back and forth on circs in garter stitch again. Oh, and there is a buttonhole in there toward the end of the flap.

Then they get the magic of learning I-cord (a tube of knitting made on double pointed needles). The kids love making I-cord. And then after the I-cord is made (they need three, the way I teach them… two for the shoulder straps and one for the drawstring). So this is a pretty adventurous thing for a kid to choose as her third project, but I was sure she could handle it so we went right ahead.

Last week, she not only came back asking for the next directions on how to make her backpack, but she showed me the wristwarmers she had made. I had made a sample wristwarmer in my classroom so kids could see they could make that project. It is just a rectangle of garter stitch, folded over and sewn together in two places, one long seam for the wrist and then stop in time for a thumbhole. Then at the top edge another tiny seam above the thumbhole. Well, this girl not only made them that way, she decided to sew together parts of the top edge so that she had finger holes for all her fingers. And she made them without any instruction from me. She just saw what I made, and made her own. She’s going far, soon.

Today this same child brought me a doll she made out of yarn. One of the other girls decided to put the doll down for a nap, and so we took my own wristwarmers and put them down as a bed, and let the doll rest. Then after the doll had taken her nap, this second child sat the doll down and was teaching the doll how to knit, by saying the little poem to the doll as they knit together.

Oh, and second child has come a long way in about 3 weeks. She used to only finger crochet, she found knitting difficult. I then got her a knitting rake to start a hat. Next thing you know, she wants to make a Christmas stocking in the round. I go right ahead with this idea. She came back today with about 3″ knit, and she switched colors of yarn. Then she asked me “Ms. Lynn, will you teach me how to knit like you do, the way they knit in Germany?” So this kiddo learned to knit continental, with me showing her how to do it only once. She likes it better than the American way. She enjoyed telling people today that she was knitting German (I did teach her the word “continental” but that was harder to remember than German, I guess).

Another great stride happened this week with my child who has had difficulty with boundaries. She used to grab things away from people and she would say “I want that, can I have that?” I would tell her that I had plenty to go around but that her actions and words needed to be gentler. That she needed to ask before touching someone else’s property. We have been working for a while on this. Well, last week she started catching herself about half way to grabbing things, and then she would ask to touch. I noticed, and congratulated her on the change.

Well, today we had a new boy in the group. And he started to touch my eyelash-yarn stole I started yesterday. Of course, he did! It is so touchable and so irresistable, I can understand. Well, formerly-grabby girl turned to him and informed him that he needed to ask before he touched that, because it was not his. Woohoo! I’m getting through to these kids. Mind you, the reason they grab is because they are enthusiastic. I’m trying to encourage the enthusiasm but make the room a safe place for everyone.

Enjoy the pictures of my kids. First is the backpack, up close and personal. Then a small shot of the knitter wearing her pack. Doll taking nap, doll being taught how to knit. It was definitely a good week for CityKidz Knit!