Knitting Club at the Library: Week One

So amongst the chaos of raving after-school children that were unmannerly trying to cause utter disaster in my library today, I pulled 8 girls into our auditorium for week one of Knitting Club. It was not intended to be only girls–but only girls signed up. It was supposed to be ten–but two girls were not able to arrive because their father was in an accident and mom wasn’t home from work yet. Rumor had it a half dozen adults were planning to join us (bring your own materials). None did. (Anybody want to come next week?)

So after a morning spent trying to diffuse personality bombs and bring peace, harmony and lightly amusing commentary to the world at large–I now had eight balls of energy to try and bring to heel and knitting.

Okay. So, first we looked at some knitting examples that either I or my roommate had made. They liked some of the stuff, I think either a shawl that I made or my roommate’s ruffle scarf probably would have tied for most popular. Then everyone was given needles and got to pick out a colorful yarn. Now we get to create those first few stitches–a knitting technique called casting on. I’m told that I do it in an unusual way but as far as I can remember, it’s the way I was taught and it works. I’ve taught adults this method with success–usually in five-ten minutes.

The girls took 40 minutes to grasp the concept. Apparently making a loop around one’s thumb with a piece of yarn is difficult. All but one finally managed to get it–with one girl taking it to it like a fish to water (her needle was stuffed with stitches.) Then we moved for the last twenty minutes to basic knit stitch. I have never seen such disasters.

I’m sure my grandmother did–when she was teaching me to knit when I was seven. But by the time I was 10 and older–which is the average age of the girls I have–I was the lone kid in a knitting class as my local library and while not fast, I was pretty good at ye olde basic knit stitch. And after they figured out what I was doing wrong whilst purling and put an adult on me for an hour to watch my hands…I had that one too.

I ended up working in the auditorium for an hour after the class. Until about 6:15 I still had my full complement of girls. Slowly they trickled out until I was left with the two youngest and most frustrated. With one in a chair on either side of me, we went over and over and over the steps: push the empty needle in through the bottom of the stitch, making an X with the needles (empty needle in back); now hold both needles in the X with your left hand (no, your other left hand); the yarn attached the skein is behind the needles and you can pull it out to the right–now wrap it counter clockwise around the back needle (pause to explain counter clockwise) and between the needles; let go of the yarn; Pick up the yarn and the back needle (empty needle, right hand needle–whatever) with your right hand; spread the needles apart a bit–see the yarn you wrapped is now between them? ; Okay, pull the right needle down and make a new loop with that yarn that’s in between it (This stage takes FOREVER); Now slide the old loop/stitch off the left hand/full needle.

Both were incredibly frustrated–one complaining with loud regularity that it was too hard. I kept saying that no it wasn’t and she could do it. Interestingly–while she complained, she also was the most vigilant about wanting to try again. Finally–when she had two needles that were nowhere CLOSE to the same size as each other–she could see how to make the loop. She managed four knit stitches by herself. The other young girl was less vocal but just as frustrated. When I was able to demonstrate to her though without the noise and rambunctious energy of the other girls, she picked up a little faster and said it was much nicer with just us.

Both told me it was “getting easier” and they’ll be back next week. I have four weeks to try and get these girls to make it through a couple of rows of knitting. I told the girls that if/only if it’s dead quiet in the library we’ll add in some extra knitting time other than Thursdays.

Angels and ministers…