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Archive for June 3rd, 2006

My CityKidz Are Amazing! Sock Week.

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

I teach children to knit at Foster Community Center. It’s a walk-in program (free of charge, a great thing. This means I have a few kids who come as many as four hours a week. I also get a few kids who come for part of an hour to stave off boredom, never to return. Some kids walk to the center from their homes. Some are delivered by their parents, often from homes too far away for walking.

I’ve done this for about 4 years now. In previous years I’ve had a few students (usually one at a time) really blossom and knit complex things. One year I had a girl make several backpacks. Another younger girl in a later year made up some slippers on her own, and made a backpack and a few other larger items.

I’ve historically had kids come to me more for an activity to do with a caring adult, rather than an interest in knitting finished products. I’ve had months where basically everyone knit wristbands (or the related headbands and belts). And that is just fine to me when it happens.

However, this year has been extra-ordinarily different. Not only do I see more larger finished products than ever before, but they are being made by a larger pool of truly active and loyal attendees. And more of my kids actually walk to the center on their own, than ever before. Of the kids who have adults bring them, a lot more of the adults stick around and knit with the group than ever have before. It is a truly different and delightful year for me.

Take this first photo. The young lady is in 7th grade. She learned to knit from me a few summers ago, learned basically how to make the simplest of fabrics, and then mostly disappeared. So a handful of months ago she showed up again. And she had been knitting the whole time she had been away. She was ready to learn new things. She needed a teacher once more.

She made up a purse on her own. She’s knitting a second purse, again of her own design, from fancy yarns folks donated. And a few weeks ago she finished this project: a pair of toe-up footies. They are bulky wool/acrylic yarn donated by Kim at Yarn Garden of Charlotte. She made them on pretty darned large needles for socks, but she made them very close to the way I teach adults.

She turned Dutch heels instead of half-handkerchief heels (I love Dutch heels, they are a great choice and much easier to do). She increased the toe in four sections rather than a wedge. Other than that, she did it all pretty independently. She’s a very good knitter, even compared to adults. Check out the close-up. Great job, huh?

But did she stop here? Nope. She is already done with a third sock, and has cast on for the fourth. In red Lamb’s Pride Worsted yarn that was donated (thank you folks out there for donating such lovely yarns lately). With a bit of dark purple trim using some Cascade Pastaza I gave her. It’s a beautiful design she made up herself. I am kicking myself that I did not take a photo of her first red sock on Thursday, but I’ll get it when she brings the project back next week.

The second child shown here is a fourth grader who is just blowing away my ideas of what a person her age can do. She is modeling her lopi bag as a hat on her head before felting/shrinking it (again, excellent donated yarn… thank you SO much). Oh… and she’s showing off her first attempt at I-Cord, which then became the handle on that bag. (It is felted now, I’ll have to show you another photo soon.)

Now, never mind this child is in 4th grade. I am here to tell you that she also has finished her first toe-up footie. Yes, she turned a heel. I told her what to do but she did it herself. She did have a few hiccups. I did have to go back and fasten a dropped stitch I did not find earlier when she was short a stitch… but hey! She made a footie, and it fits, and she likes how it feels. I’m so proud of her, as she is of herself. See her work? It’s a little blurry but clearly it’s a sock with a proper turned heel. Go, Kid!

And then, here’s my third socknitter. She’s a high-schooler, and has finished one beautiful wool sock. In my favorite color, no less. (I think she’s showing off her yoga here so she can have her beautiful smile in the sock photo… clever girl.)

She knows she will have a challenge finishing the second one (boredom, it’s called Second Sock Syndrome) so is taking a breather by knitting a shrug. (She is making up her own design so as to avoid pattern reading, I really do understand.) I will be there to help her with the second sock as soon as she needs me again.

Another extra special knitter is in 2nd grade. She can recognize knitted garments while folks walk by in the hallway. She is now knitting a feltable bag in the same turquoise wool as the sock you see here. I don’t have an individual photo of her but she’s in the group photo wearing a light blue tank top, holding her turquoise bag in progress. (Note that in this photo there are Kidz from 2nd to 12th grade, and three adults, one whose hands are viewed bottom right, who knit with the child they brought.)

She is the first CityKid knitter to finish two wristwarmers. (When she heard nobody else had ever finished two, she became determined to be the first.) Not wristbands, which are 5 stitches wide and are the starting project in my program. Wrist*warmers*, which were in her case about two dozen stitches wide in garter fabric. The first one she sewed together with a darning needle, the second she learned how to do a three-needle bindoff to make the rectangle into a tube.

I tell my CityKidz how special they are. How they are doing things that many adult knitters will not try. I tell them: “You Rock!!!” It is such a joy to celebrate these youngsters who are actually completing projects, and pushing themselves to do challenging work.

It is worth noting that I did not suggest to any of the Kidz that they make socks. They just see me wearing socks I knit and ask if they can do it, too. Then I hustle to figure out how I can help them do it successfully. Sometimes I make them wait and do another skill-building project first (like a hat on double pointed needles before socks on double pointed needles). But look at them go!

I’m very lucky to work with these young folks. They really make my heart soar. I adore them. Aren’t they the best?