High School students get hooked on knitting
Black Diamond: Class donates handmade baby quilts to High River Hospital
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 11:33 am
It is an unusual but common sight at Oilfields High School seeing teenagers sitting knitting up a storm in hallways and classrooms.
Ranchers’ sons, athletes and honour roll students were among the 35 Black Diamond Grade 9 students tapping knitting needles as they worked together to construct an afghan for the High River Hospital maternity unit. Knitting is part of the school’s foods and fashion curriculum.
Student Austin Caron said knowing how to knit will come in handy in the event of a zombie apocalypse. If he needs a sweater he can just grab some yarn and start knitting.
“Casting on”, a knitting technique, was Caron’s nemesis during the first couple of days, but he soon mastered the skill and is now making himself a scarf.
Knitting is not new to Hannah Grimwood, whose grandmother taught her the craft at the age of eight. She was one of the few students thrilled to learn it was a part of the curriculum.
“I was so excited,” she said. “It’s just nice that I can sit and do my own thing.”
Anne Lowry, who was hired to teach the foods and fashions elective to cover a leave of absence, did not know how to knit and took some quick lessons from one of the school’s secretaries.
Announcing the unit to her Grade 9 students brought the typical response one would expect from teenagers — they were not keen on an idea.
“There was a lot of moaning and groaning from basically everyone,” she said. “They see it as an old lady thing.”
Lowry ignored their protests and invited three community members into the school, including a mechanic, to teach knitting to the students in small groups.
Each student attempted a 10 by 10 inch square, would frog it (pull the stitching out) and knit again until they mastered the skill. Students who lost a stitch were sent to the office to have the secretary get them back on track.
Before Lowry knew it, students were in the halls knitting between classes and during their lunch break. She even noticed some knitting in other classes.
“We have students with behavior problems that if they’re struggling in class will pull out the knitting,” she said.
Lowry was also surprised to see who took a liking to the skill.
One boy, who she thought had no chance of getting it because of his large hands, caught on quite quickly. Another boy with his arm in a cast also had no problem mastering the loops.
“I was amazed with how many kids who struggle in other parts of school were able to do that really well,” she said.
Once each student completed a successful 10 by 10 inch square, Lowry had three friends stitch them together and knit a border to create two baby afghans. She showed the final products to the students last week.
“It’s so important that they saw there was value in what they did,” she said. “It helps with their self-esteem. Just look at what they produced.”
High River Hospital maternity unit clinical nurse educator Sharon Dalrymple collected the quilts at the school last week and is eager to give them to moms in need along with the baby packages donated by the Millarville Ladies Seniors Guild consisting of blankets, sleepers, diapers, books, wipes and onesies.
“From time to time we have people come to have babies that need a helping hand,” she said. “It feels good for us to be able to be able to give them something.”
The students are also happy to give a little, including Grimwood.
“I was excited that they weren’t just going home and that they have a purpose,” she said. “Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes and it’s nice to learn you are helping someone. It makes me feel good.”