Tuesday was the last knitting session at LPL for my kids. Here's a picture from our Library Flickr account.
I started a child focused knitting group here nearly two and a half years ago for a number of reasons, my own knitting compulsion not being the least of them. It was a small group at first: four or five knitters. Things waxed and waned and when I regularly had six, we counted it a success.
Now, I consistently have a dozen to fifteen. Most of the knitters are home-schooled. Only one is in high school, the rest are late elementary through middle school. Though one boy has been valiantly with me from the beginning, it was primarily girls. This last session two more boys have consistently joined us, though others have flitted in and out.
Over time, things evolved, as they do in all classrooms. I started bringing in piles of books to recommend to them-- with most of the books heading directly towards the checkout afterwards. I led two sessions of advanced knitting techniques so that they were confident to pick up patterns on their own and tackle lace without fear. I held a contest and was stunned by their creativity. I taught them how to make needles and stitch markers, and why putting a piece of yarn in bleach can help you determine what it's made of--which is good when you've lost the ball band. I introduced them to Ravelry and we took a field trip far far away to the land of Upstairs Adult Non-Fiction so they could see where the adult knitting books were, as most of my knitters are far beyond the basic how-to-knit books they mass produce for kids, though the Scrapbooker (non-fiction selector) has added what more difficult material she could find.
And with the understanding of their parents that it was NOT A LIBRARY RELATED/CONDONED/SUPPORTED FUNCTION: I took a six of them to a yarn store. Seeing their eyes pop as they contemplated all the delicious options was priceless.
And they grew--both in skill as knitters and vertically as children are wont to do. From slowly suffering through the knit stitch, the first cast on, the first finished square to the projects currently in progress: two sweaters, three pairs of fingerless gloves, two scarves, three pairs of socks, a couple of bags, and I'm not sure what else... They've made Christmas and birthday gifts, knit for new babies and grandparents, but mostly for themselves. I've hopefully taught them it's not wrong to devote time to making something beautiful for yourself. They're more confident in their craft, even if they are still hoping that I'll fix all the mistakes and help them figure out what happened when it's all gone wrong.
I'm grateful for the trust of their parents. Children often express themselves more easily when adults aren't present and while I was always in the room, I was their Fearless Leader, so often I didn't count as they discussed school, siblings, and life. Parents were supportive as I suggested a social networking site for knitters and cases of new books for their kids to read and talked endlessly about yarn, knitting techniques, knitting books, knitting humor. They brought the kids in week after week after week and let me teach, coach, cajole, and shove.
I'm grateful to the kids for their enthusiasm and determination. I ripped out their knitting numerous times and said "Okay, do it again." I lured book review after opinion out of them, endlessly asking what they were reading. I challenged them to think beyond squares and garter stitch. And I learned more techniques than I can begin to count when--faced with a question or idea--I had to say "Sure, we'll start that next week." so that I could frantically run home and find instructions on how one did whatever "that" was.
So why end now? Because while it hasn't died a slow death, things have changed, parents do get tired, and I'd like to see what else we can offer elementary/middle school students. I'm ending with a group of now confident knitters and things have evolved to needing just a minute of my help--and then a lot of socializing while they knit. Certainly they're welcome to come to the library to do that, and I've told them that this ending doesn't mean they can't ask for help or book suggestions. I certainly hope they do continue to come and find me.
It also means my hobby can moreso retreat to being that, rather than a work obligation, which will be nice.