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Friday, January 7, 2011

'Kids Knit' is a ‘Purl’ of a Program

Kids Knit is a ‘Purl’ of a Program:
Tweens learn lost art 
at Pequot Library
(posted to 1/6)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Southport, CT – Bags full of colorful yarn. The clack of knitting needles. Laughter and cries of “Miss Susan! Miss Susan!”

This was the scene late Thursday afternoon at Southport’s Pequot Library as a small group of girls ages 9 to 11 gathered together to participate in “Kids Knit”, a program open to beginning or experienced knitters led by Children’s Librarian Susan Ei.

The program has been offered annually since early 2006 and has “graduated” about sixty knitters since that time. All have been beginning knitters and predominantly girls. This year’s program began Dec. 16 and will wrap on Feb. 17.

“I started knitting when I was a Brownie,” said Ei, “about eight years old. I first made cute little slippers. My grandma also helped teach me. She was well versed in all those lost arts: crocheting, tatting lace and sewing. I made all of my clothes when I was a kid and knitted from that age on. I’m not a highly skilled knitter like those in the adult group at the library, but I’m steady and can teach beginning knitting really well.”

Ei typically creates programs that speak to her own orientations. “I usually try to explore what I’m interested in and hope that my enthusiasm will carry over into the event. I also like to do programs that are educational and fun.”

A jamming and canning session she conducted this past fall is another example of this type of program. Said Ei, “It encouraged parents and their children to learn something new together that relates to current desires for natural homegrown foods. I really wanted to learn how to do that myself and hadn’t from the women in my family. They canned fruit every season. That doesn’t happen now. There’s a real renewed interest in these activities.”

Another recent program was a Jigsaw Speed-o-Rama that pitted teams against each other racing to put puzzles together. “These programs are good for the brain.”

About knitting, Ei said, “It’s a pastime that’s very relaxing and calming. It’s like a book. When you have a knitting project with you, you always have something to do. It can be a beautiful gift and it’s handmade and very precious.”

Ei added that knitting can also be empowering. “The girls build on their stitches, especially when they learn how to reverse them. They learn to understand what’s not right and how to fix mistakes. It’s very easy to build a new stitch on top of what they’ve learned. And they can choose what they want to make, such as a cell phone case, scarf or even a dog coat.”

This session, Ei will incorporate a cause element with the guidance of Save the Children, to help drive funding for children lacking basic healthcare. The program is called Caps for Good. Students will create baby hats with message tags that will be shipped to newborn health programs around the world and given to new mothers.

The girls are not the only ones learning. “Susan taught us how to knit,” said Fairfield mom Lori Langdon, participating with her 11-year-old fraternal twin daughters Claire and Madeline. “We started last year. We had zero experience before that. There’s a whole world of it that I didn’t realize. Claire knitted me a wallet for Christmas. I’d never heard of that before but it turned out great. It’s been fun to sit around the fireplace and knit.”

Claire echoed her mom’s enthusiasm. “Miss Susan has helped us improve our knitting a lot since we first started. She’s taught us different techniques. Besides the wallet, I’ve made coasters, a scarf and a hat, for my baby sister.”

Classmate Allison Wales, 10, on hand with her fraternal twin sister Kristen, was equally jazzed. “I’m making a bear. In the past, I’ve made a bag, scarf and hat. I love this class because of the fun projects and new friends I make.”


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