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This Knitting Fits Perfectly: Knitting as part of school curriculums

June 13, 2012

A number of years ago, I taught art to kindergartners through 4th graders in Williamstown, MA. One of my favorite, and most successful, units was fiber crafts, including weaving, stitchery, and knitting. I found that the older boys, in particular, loved the needlecrafts. In fact, they resisted moving on to other media and really did want to “stick to their knitting.” So, it was no surprise to stumble on a wonderful article in the Guardian about a trend toward teaching knitting in elementary schools in England. Those Brits have got a good thing going!

“Boys are taking up their knitting needles at Dog Kennel primary school, south London.” Photograph by Frank Baron for the Guardian ©, October 17, 2011

It’s not always easy to incorporate crafts like knitting into a crowded school day, especially when preparing for standardized tests too often squeezes out opportunities for teachers to riff on their own special interests. Knitting, weaving, and other crafts are often an integral part of the school day in Waldorf schools, but much less so in public schools. My sister-in-law, who teaches art in a large public high school in a Philadelphia suburb, offers knitting, but also recognizes the difficulty of hands-on help when class size makes it difficult to rescue everyone’s dropped stitches and unintentional stitch-count increases. It’s encouraging to see that some yarn shops have active and enthusiastic classes for kids. New York’s Knitty City is one great example, with two different weekly classes by age group: Grades 2-5 and Grade 6+.

Cat Bordhi created an entire curriculum for teaching knitting in a public school setting. As well as listing websites and books about teaching kids to knit and kids’ fiction and nonfiction books related to knitting, Cat offers her own inspiring experience teaching in Friday Harbor, Washington. This resource is no longer available on the website listed in the appendix of The Knitter’s Life List, but Cat graciously allowed me to post it here, and it’s also again available on Cat’s website. Let’s challenge those knitting British kids: could there be a Knitters’ World Cup?

Knitting in Schools

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 13, 2012 8:04 pm

    This is great to hear. I know a high school teacher who taught one of her “problem students” to knit and crochet. He does both during her class and not only has his behavior improved, but his grades have too. Turned out he wasn’t a “problem” kid after all, just one of those hands-on learners.

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