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Archive for December 18th, 2005

CityKidz Are the Best!

Sunday, December 18th, 2005

CityKidzI teach a group called CityKidz Knit! each week. It’s a free program offered by the City of Lansing, at the Foster Community Center. Officially I take kidz from 7-17 but I have taught as young as 5 yrs old in a few special instances.

I have the knitters for one hour on Wednesday and officially one hour on Thursday. Luckily, on Thursday the knit program ends and then my computer lab begins (we knit in the computer lab) so if people know how to knit, they are allowed to stay and continue knitting until lab is done. No new knitters start learning during computer time, and computer questions get first priority, but honestly often we’ll have two computer kids and six knitting folks, so it’s a good way for the City to get their money’s worth out of me being there.

Frog PurseThe only budget for this program is to pay me for 2 hours a week. All supplies are donated, mostly by folks in my knitting guild and people who read this blog. I seem to always have enough yarn (and lately we’ve had some very high-quality donations, not just the standard Red Heart acrylic). I seem to always be one pair of needles away from running out. It’s sort of odd, because I do have tons of needles but often they are size 5 and smaller, size 13 and larger, or I have one of a set. The ideal needle is size 8 but we do with what we get and we are incredibly grateful for every single thing donated.

I also am grateful for other unusual donations. I have a few folks who continue to bring me canvas tote bags, usually with advertising from conferences they attend (hi, Betsy!), and this way kids get needles home without losing them on the sidewalk.

Knit BookmarkAnd a few years ago, an online friend donated a box of wool sweaters for the kids to sew with. I washed them in my machine on hot wash/cold rinse and then put them in the dryer on “inferno.” They shrunk enough to be cut into pieces, and we had a wonderful time making mittens and bags and bean bags.

I realized this week that I still had a bit of leftover fabric from that first sweater experiment, and I have almost all new kids since we did it the first time. So this week on Thursday, we got out the sweaters and made more mittens. One girl decided to make a wool teddy bear rather than mittens, and I can’t wait to see how that turns out!!!

Sewn MittensMy group this year has just been magical for me. They really love knitting, they dive in with full faith, and three of my knitters are really doing things that are impressive… things that would be impressive if an adult did them.

One girl is making her mom a feather and fan bookmark on tiny needles with tiny cotton crochet thread. It’s going pretty darned well, and she and I are both proud of her progress. The bookmark has knit-in I-cord trim which neither she nor I had done before but we worked through the pattern together. She had not done yarn-overs either, so that was a new skill she learned. It’s looking great.

Another girl, who I started with when she was 7, went away for a while but now is back with me at age 10. Someone sent me a kit for a frog purse a good long while ago and I asked her if she wanted to try it. Look at her results! She made the frog body on double-pointed needles (about size 8, also donated to the program) and she made little balls for eyes, with a bit of embroidery to make it have a black center. She didn’t like the regular I-cord it had for closing the mouth so she made one with red, which she designed as a tongue. She’s very resourceful, often knits without a pattern, just making things up. She did a great job.

A third girl knew cast on/knit/bind off before she came to me. She has since learned purling, increase/decrease, double-pointed-needles, and the works when she got to me. She was ready! (Actually, the 10 yr old with the frog purse taught this older girl how to purl, while I was teaching the youngest ones to knit, our first day this fall.) She is currently knitting the kitty/devil hat from Debbie Stoller’s Stitch N B*tch book, which is seed stitch in the round, followed by decreases, all on double-pointed needles… then it has picked up stitches for ear flaps, and finally I-cord ties. This from a girl who knew garter stitch only when she got to me this fall. I told you this term was magical, didn’t I?

Here we have five of the six kids I had with me on Thursday (we also had three adult relatives join us that day, which is always wonderful). The two I didn’t mention yet, are showing off their sewn felt mittens.

Photos from Thursday’s felted wool/mitten extravaganza: 1) Group shot with bookmark, 2 pair mittens, and scarf (girl on right is making the teddy bear), 2) knitter with Frog Purse, 3) close-up of bookmark, 4) mittens from the sixth child (who left early).