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Archive for October 18th, 2008

Photo Catch Up: CityKidz Knit/Foster Center Goodbye

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

This one is a bit hard to post. Please bear with me if I meander with my words a bit.

I have worked for the City of Lansing, both as a contractor and as an employee, since probably 1993. I started out as a contracted community education instructor, teaching computers when they got a grant which bought them 4 machines with Windows 3.1 on them.

Over the years I taught computers, then we started a computer lab where I supervised. I would knit while waiting for kids to ask me for a new game, and they started to beg for “sticks” and “string.”

It took me 2 years to talk my then-boss into letting me start a program. I had two adult volunteers, Luann and Jean, and a handful of teens who knew me well and were able to do basic knitting functions. I had piles of kids, but with that support we made it work.

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Over the years that program (I called it CityKidz Knit!) changed and became different things, sometimes after school, sometimes summer program. In recent years it has become harder and harder to make the schedule they needed work for me.

I was a “temporary employee” (on payroll but re-hired every fall) for most of the time I was at Foster Center. This year more paperwork was required for me to be hired, including a doctor’s letter saying I was physically capable of doing my job. Except I was between doctors and nobody would write a letter for me without me paying a fee for a physical (which would probably equal about 1-2 weeks’ pay). This requirement is surely important for a soccer coach; but it was not something I wanted to pay for, to teach knitting 2 hours a week.

I decided that was my cue to just step down and start doing things in a new way elsewhere. So I moved out of my room, maybe 3 weeks ago. It was hard, and I was glad to have some moral support for the day. Some of my knitters from previous terms came by (we had made a date for this on a previous week).

I let them “trick or treat” and take as much yarn home as they wanted and could carry. Above is a photo of me with my CityKidz knitters on my last day at Foster.

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One mom and a brother of a loyal knitter helped me pack up the boxes that contained my own personal belongings I had accumulated there through the years (including my beloved poster of Sojourner Truth with her knitting).

One special item on the wall was a poster-sized electric green version of the poem I use to teach kids to knit (with their right hand controlling the yarn… they don’t all have the coordination to do it any other way). We made the poster for an open house one year and it has been on the wall ever since.

It turned out that my boys at the tifosterbye.jpgme did most of the decorating of the poster. They included names of other kids in the program, although sometimes they were unclear how to spell those names. I find it charming. They also drew a few hand-held electronic game gizmos. Love it!

When I worked with the computer lab, I had kids who wanted to play the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing games. I would not let them do it by looking at their hands, as true typing skill can pay the bills and fill hungry bellies (been there myself).

When I was gifted with a pink feather “boa” wrap for Christmas one year, I took it to the lab to cover hands during that game. Much fun. So on my way to the car on the last day at Foster Center, I wore a pink feather wrap to the car. Sam took a photo of me:

The necklace is a finger-knit boa which was a gift from a kid knitter. I had knitter A. do the photostyling for this photo… thanks to A. and brother Sam and mom, for being my help and my support that day.

For the record, I am teaching kids at Rae’s Yarn Boutique on Wednesday afternoons from 3pm to 4:45. It’s an extension of the program I had this summer. Kids buy a pass good for 4 sessions, for $20. They can share a pass, sell it to a friend, whatever… but there are no refunds. They need not attend every week.

I’m hoping to attract kids from very-local schools after they get out, there are 4 within walking distance. It is a different thing than a walk-in program (CityKidz Knit! was free to the kids) but this is how I have to do it, to make it work for my current life situation.fosterboardsm2.jpg

The new program is called Knitting Rocks! (The kids like this name, and I wanted it to be different than the program at Foster, since it does have different parameters.)

I still can take donated needles and yarn, though the few kid knitters I’ve kept are allergic to acrylic and sometimes other synthetics (yes, really… so is Rae and a baby I know… and I can’t tolerate polyester, myself), so natural fibers are appreciated at this time. I can use a few tote bags, but am not in need of piles of anything but needles and wool/alpaca/mohair at this time.

Oh… for anyone who has given up double-pointed needles in favor of a circ method, if you have double points in sizes 2 to 10.5, we can use those as well. In larger sizes (8 and up) , we have plenty of heavy metal DPNs but not wood, bamboo or plastic.

For the record, donations to Foster Center were tax deductable. Donations to my kids now only pay back in good karma. For some of you, that will be enough. Others, I do understand if you go elsewhere.

I don’t know who wrote the first “I love you Lynn!” note on the board. Young D. added to it. That touched my heart. Since I still work on the East Side and I dance at Foster, I still do see “my Kidz” from time to time. They know I still like them but it’s hard for all of us to adjust.

It went rather well, really. What will tomorrow bring?

Photo Catch Up: Harvest Gathering

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

I’m just going to post a bunch of photos for several posts, just to show you photos I took and never put up here. Usually you guys like pictures, so I’m thinking this might be fun for all of us, delay or no.

Back in September, about a month ago (dang), we went to Harvest Gathering up in Lake City, MI and had a great time. We stayed just one night and crammed in as much as we could while we were there.

Here’s a moody photo of Jen Sygit’s set, with Brandon Foote at left and Drew Howard/Captain Midnite at right:

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Another of Jen’s set, this time with Katie Grace and Cap’n. Notice the bouquet in sap bucket I showed earlier in a mood shot:

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Here is a closeup Brian took, again moody because of the odd lighting and my camera’s quirky moods with stage lighting. Behind the bass is me (in beret), then a woman whose name I think is Darlene, then Susan Fawcett in the straw hat, then Jen herself. I was honored to be included, it was really fun to be part of this one piece:

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Here’s Chris Bathgate and his zillion-piece backup band called “the Hail Mary’s” including a brass section up in the rafters, top left:

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Drew Howard in a rare lead performance, with friends. After a month I can still identify Brandon Foote, Seth Bernard, Jen Sygit, “Daisy” May Erlewine, probably Laura Bates, Mike Shimmin on percussion, and Susan Fawcett. This is an all-star Lansing/Northern Michigan roster of musicians, let me tell you:

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It was just plain a lot of fun, and this year was not frigid as it had been last year. Maybe next year we will stay for 2 days. It’s a thought…