Sunday, August 12, 2007

Needle Arts Mentor

Attention those who love to Knit, Crochet, Cross-Stitch, Needlepoint...

I wrote this piece for the Needle Arts Mentoring Program to help generate interest in their national program that encourages adults to volunteer to teach children the needle arts. Interested?

When I learned of the Needle Arts Mentoring Program (N.A.M.P.) and realized that my niece, Heather’s Brownie Troop was a perfect fit for the program, I jumped at the chance to enroll as a mentor. I’d embroidered quilt squares at 7, tried latch hook at 8 and taught myself needlepoint at 12. As part of a gifted & talented program, I received high school credit for completing 140 hours of cross-stitch during my junior year. I know and love the needle arts and it was time to start sharing my knowledge.

After lemonade & brownies, nine seven-year-old girls sat in a circle and looked at me. For most, “knitting” meant nothing more to them than something their Grandma did. Samantha, however, was a knitter. She knew the agenda for this Brownie meeting and was prepared. As she clicked the latch on her knitting case, she explained that she had received it for her birthday and that it held her “supplies.” She pulled out 2 plastic needles that held 3 inches of garter stitch in neon pink. Hallelujah, I thought, this will help the girls to see that knitting is within their reach.

I started with the basics. I gave each girl a ball of yarn, 2 super cute wooden needles, 2 rubber point protectors and a “How to Knit” instruction book all generously supplied by the N.A.M.P. I began by teaching them a rhyme that will sound familiar:

In through the window,
Run around back,
Up from the basement,
And off jumps Jack.

Around that time, my Mom arrived with my eleven-year-old niece, Emily, to help with the class. I had taught Emily to knit the year before and she loves it. I knew that both of them would be a big help answering questions and offering guidance to the girls. What I did not realize was that Emily’s testimonial about knitting would win the girls over. She rattled off the things she had made and the things that she was working on and in a few short minutes became a celebrity in the eyes of these girls. My Mom, Emily & I were helping the girls one-on-one and sure enough, they started to knit. Dropped stitches, crazy holes, super tight sections, but they were knitting. And the girls started to ask “Can I have Emily next?” My guest knitter was in demand and her encouragement was what these girls wanted. It was wonderful.

If you know how to knit, crochet or needlepoint, I urge you to enroll in the Needle Arts Mentoring program and help give children the lifelong gift of being able to entertain themselves. Teach them a skill that gives them beautiful, tangible results that they can be proud of and watch them explore the endless possibilities within the needle arts.

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