Tag: public library

Thanks for the Audios….

It’s painfully clear we’re a week out from Christmas at the library: all the books are in (except the Christmas books, we still have a fair number but they’re starting to look picked over) and the audio books and videos are flying out the door.

People have already begun to travel and parents are valiantly trolling the books on cd, trying to find something that will a) not drive them crazy and b) keep the older children engaged while c) still be appropriate for the three year old. I’m trying to hover with intent a little more by those shelves than usual. There’s the various differences in families: age of the youngest child, fantasy v. non-fantasy, series v. non-series…but those are the general parameters.

Audiobooks have greatly increased in popularity, which I think is fantastic. I listened to George Guidall every night in high school, to the point that it was an instant sleep-inducer for the Incredibly-Patient-Mother for a few years thereafter. And yes, I order the kids/teens audiobooks and it’s nice to see my collections circulate. Keep in mind I’m trying not to whine about the fact that the fabulous new chapter books that are coming down from tech services are languishing….

With the acceptance that audiobooks are not just something for people with poor vision and the wonderful quality and variety we’re seeing of performers and titles, it makes sense that there are some followings of narrators. Among the most recognizable of these is Jim Dale.

Two years ago, if I mentioned the name Jim Dale, someone usually swooned in my presence. No matter the subject previous, I would then be treated to a glowing review of how wonderful he was, how fabulous the HP books were on audio, and how their entire family had listened to those books together. Anything he’d read flew out the door as families coming to the end of book 7 sought something else to appease their ears.

Today I came past my display of new audio books and noticed, not for the first time, that our copy of The Return to the Hundred Acre Woods by David Benedictus is still sitting there. Despite the allure of the sequel to a popular classic and being brought to life by no less than the venerable Jim Dale and being displayed face out on the top shelf of the display area (where other things are going quite nicely)…it’s there, wistfully waiting to be popped into someone’s “car bag” and taken along.

Wonder if that will change in the next couple of full court press “we need something for the drive to Grandma’s” days…

Kids’ Knitting Group: Beyond the Basics

Kids Knitting for the fall ends next week and it’s been gone well. New thing implemented this fall: a six week, half hour Advanced Knitting Techniques. I finish the second round next Tuesday and overall I’d say it’s been quite a success. I have patterns selected that I’d use again to teach the basics and I’ve got some ideas on what to change and do better should I tackle this again.

The regular kids group is chugging right along. They bring projects, ideas, and enthusiasm. I show up with yarn, how to knowledge and piles of books for them to read. We average between 10 and 12 kids per week, not a shabby number.

The advanced tech was about growing the kids who were moving beyond the basics. I taught I-cord, different types of increases and decreases, cables, lace, and we went over (in detail) gauge and reading a pattern. The general goal was to make them more confident and self-sufficient. Up to this point, most of them had good basic skills. They could do one type of increase, maybe two. They might pick out a pattern but they weren’t confident about reading it and the concept of pairing yarn to pattern wasn’t quite kicking in.

Now–they’re doing better. Several of them have moved on to more difficult patterns, coming to me only to read parts of it aloud together. At least three have/are tackled/ing clothing and all of them are learning. I want them to be able to go out and do without me. I’m here to help, certainly, but I don’t want them to feel like they can’t if I’m not available to get them going.

I set up pretty strict parameters to do AKT. It had to be kids I’d worked with for at least a few months–I needed to know their level. They, along with a parent, had to come in and talk to me about what we’d be learning, my expectations of them showing up and doing homework, etc. I wanted commitment and I’ve gotten it. I also had to call one kid out of the rug in front of a parent when homework wasn’t done–but while I came down pretty hard, it was done with the intention of reminding expectations that were previously agreed to by the child and parent.

Watching the kids blossom is incredibly rewarding. They have the skills, they use the skills and twenty years from now, I’m confident that some of them may still be knitting (and probably kicking my tush in the “difficulty” levels). I packed three of them in the car on Friday for the Ewetopia Fiber Shop open house. (Different three from last year) As always, watching their eyes when they see just how much cool stuff is in a really good yarn shop is amusing and exciting. The possibilities and potential leap off the shelf at you–and it’s in ways I can’t even imagine.

Last Kids Knitting for Spring

Tuesday will be the last Kids Knitting Day for Spring 2009 and it’s been a successful third round for me. I’m finishing with about 20 kids who have attended more than once or twice, with an average weekly attendance of 14.

Achievements for this spring:

We had crocheting lessons, and at least one girl took to it like a duck to water.
My lone boy learned how to do stranded colorwork.
We had a really successful competition.
The local newspaper featured the group in the paper.
I was interviewed for a local women’s magazine in reference to the kids knitting group as well as the Knitting in Public Day.
I’ve taught several kids how to knit and myriad other tricks of the trade.
I now have a library of circular and double pointed needles I can use for teaching/loan as needed.
I’ve managed to acquire a swift (winder will be coming), so they’ll be able to use the library one rather than mine.
I’ve book-talked huge piles of books, encouraging them to try new series, new titles, and to trust me to introduce them to new books. A number of them now seek me out regularly in search of something new to read, or willingly accept when I shove a book at them and say “this one made me think of you.”

It’s not a particularly aggressive program, which is one of the things that works nicely about it. I’m ready for a brief break after five months but am looking forward to a break as a chance to plan new and exciting things for them. This fall I’m scheduling two sessions of an advanced techniques course.

In the interim, I promised snacks next week. I have to figure out what we’re having.

Kids Knitting Group: You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get

About six weeks ago I issued a challenge to the room full of young knitters. I held two stuffed animals before them, a floppy looking “dog” and a bear in a ski scarf and cap.

“Knit something for them. ” I said. “It’s due to me on the second week of April. Prizes will be awarded.”

Other than pointing out a couple of new knitting books we’d ordered that had some patterns for stuffed animals, I really gave no further directions. I offered help, yarn, pattern assistance, and said that yes, it had to be knitted or crocheted. But I wanted to see what they would come up with without my guidance every step of the way.

On Tuesday, I saw the results. And they were stunning. Pictures are available here and I really suggest you take a look at them. Keep in mind most of these kids are under 12 and the majority haven’t been knitting more than a couple of years. I was blown away seeing a knitted boat, a dress with elaborate separate collar, dresses with trim and purses, a pullover hoodie, it was truly incredible.

This of course meant I got to go to the yarn store and fuss over what kind of prizes to get. It was supposed to be an encouragement competition so yes, everyone is getting something but for those who really made an effort and reached out beyond their comfort zone–I’m definitely recognizing that. And yes, they are all yarn focused prizes, what better way to continue to inspire them to knit? One is getting sock needles and sock yarn, another materials to make a really great purse (including handles). The prizes will hopefully inspire to help them grow at knitters.

And me? Pleased as punch and proud of their work.

Knitting in Public Day: The Results Show

I feel like an episode of a reality television show, only there wasn’t any voting.

There were, however, knitters. Back up with me to the last week of March, won’t you?

Tuesday evening I picked up Franklin from our local Amtrak station, which is very nice and old fashioned. It’s also home to a really good BBQ place, in case you care to visit. We went downtown though for Mexican food (Tres Compadres was recommended) and had a lovely chat. It was unusual to be able to pull out my knitting at a meal and not have the other person look at me strangely. Granted, I’d brought only my “walking knitting”–garter stitch/log cabin afghan squares that yes, I do knit while walking.

Wednesday dawned early and it was off with a bang. By 10 a.m. I was through a trip to the grocery for fruit and veggie trays, had a coworker agree to pick up the coffee that was coming from a local shop, and was charging about the library. The first knitters (and a breakfast/lunch donut, courtesy of same sympathetic coworker) arrived just before noon.

Knitters trickled in. About half of my kids group arrived as well as a machine knitter who has brought her machine the last couple of years for demonstration. One of the ladies brought fiber and a drop spindle and by one p.m. had a pretty good circle going learning how to spin yarn. I’m a little afraid the kids are going to ask to learn that next fall. A lady from the local women’s magazine dropped by to interview me about having a kid’s group here at the library and encouraging kids to do handcraft. It was a good moment to talk about how knitting helps with self-esteem and self identity. Here’s a chance to let a child choose how and what to make and design and to show that they can create. It’s a very tangible reward to finish a hat or scarf or washcloth, which makes the craft highly appealing.

Raffle prizes also started at 1 p.m. I was very fortunate to be drawing from strong local businesses willing to donate. Overall we had more than 26 gift certificates, books, packages of yarn, etc to give away. I don’t remember who got all of the gift certificates to the yarn stores–one of the mom’s from my Mom Knit Mornings got one and one of the kids got another. To keep things surprising–each winner got an envelope. If they got a yellow post-it note, they got a package (book, yarn, patterns, etc). Otherwise it was whatever gift certificate they’d drawn.

The afternoon sped quickly by and I even had a little time to sit with my kids and correct a purling problem. The kids group had gotten a mention and a BIG picture in the paper the day before, so the Knitter Boy Age 10 was getting a lot of questions about his projects.

At 4 p.m. I made the call for yarn. Had you brought yarn for the swap? Many knitters had and it poured onto two tables. Tina helped me sort and pass out tickets. Then came one more question–how were we giving people access? I pulled off another strip of tickets, took note of first and last numbers, marked the backs and let each knitter who had donated grab one. They then picked in order of their tickets. This of course after they had to wait until 5 p.m., drooling over the selection.

And the yarn went!! I pulled last, having brought 30 skeins of my own that needed to leave the stash. What I pulled was for my kids group. I also received two big boxes of partial skeins in donation to the kids group and promise of more, so I’ll have a refill of my work stash, which is definitely a good and needed thing! At the end of the swap I had two big garbage bags of yarn that will be donated to a RSVP, a local seniors volunteer program. I also, I looked up to see, had a speaker.

Franklin arrived around 5:30 to mingle and meet and greet. We space checked the auditorium and then slowly encouraged the knitters to go downstairs. (I might have done some herding.)

At 6:30 we presented knitted afghans, a community project spearheaded by one of my coworkers, to Place of Grace and the Salvation Army. And then I handed over the floor to Franklin.

He was wonderful. Amusing, engaging, open and honest about being a knitter, particularly a male knitter, and all the challenges that brings us. He reminded us how lucky we are that I take for granted having 4 (technically 5) stores in under a 30 minute drive. Franklin showed off his knitting (a lace shawl he claims is easy), the “angry baby” hood, and a Victorian night cap which has what was then “retro lace” edging.

Afterwards he signed books (a local bookstore sent over an employee with 2 dozen) and we adjourned for dinner with a small group of the knitting faithful. Even Madame Director was able to join us (she’d had to make an appearance elsewhere in the evening).
(Franklin and I)

Overall it was an incredibly successful day, welcoming a large community group and drawing in a lot of interest from passing patrons. And I’d have Franklin back to speak in a heartbeat. The following morning saw us to one of the independent coffee shops and then off to the train. And me back to work to tidy up before heading out to New York.

One note for next year though–in 2010 I want a dedicated all-day minion. Wonder if I can locate a uni or high school student needing volunteer hours.