When the youth outreach program was eliminated at the community center where I’d worked one summer, my supervisor and I became concerned that our kids would have no place to go and that we’d lose contact with those who’d come to rely on us. In response, we collaborated to establish Northside Knitters and set up our program at a nearby branch of the public library.
During the summer I’d used knitting successfully as a means of teaching math concepts, but in the process I’d discovered that when hands are busily engaged in creative work, discussion flows. Our knitting students—both boys and girls—would talk about their lives and their concerns as they worked on basic stitches or more complicated projects. My colleague, meanwhile, brought her background in counseling to bear on the discussions.
Through our association with the public library, Northside Knitters was able to meet weekly for nearly two years. It eventually grew into a diverse, multigenerational program supported almost completely by donations of project materials.