The Knitting Club

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Some of my stash yarn

After winter break, I started a knitting club at the high school during lunch. Some of my students laughed at me, some said (patronizingly), “Oh! That’s soooo cute”, and exactly one person came to me with any interest. That’s ok…great things often start small, right? Anyway, I will call her Knitter Zero (because we are about to have an outbreak of knitting!!) until I get her permission, as well as her mom’s, to use her first name.

KZ arrived with all of her grandma’s knitting needles. How exciting! My grandma gave me all of her old needles, too. Since I have only been knitting for a year, I wondered, briefly, as she walked in the door, if I even knew how to teach her to knit (little late, I suppose). We started with a slip knot (for some reason, it took me forever to figure out a slipknot…I know…silly) and a very basic cast on–just the thumb loop one. I taught her how to do the knit stitch, and instructed her to practice that over the weekend. I was in the process of finishing a Sashay Scarf, and she liked that, so I told her I would teach her how to make one the following week if she brought in some ribbon yarn.

When she came back next week, she showed me her stitches, and then showed me her own finished Sashay Scarf. I think someone has caught the knitting bug! And isn’t YouTube fantastic? You can learn pretty much anything…it is how I taught myself how to knit, and KZ used it to teach herself how to make the scarf. Anyhow, since then, KZ has made good progress on a garter stitch scarf. Her first attempt made a scarf wider than she wanted, and I think I convinced her that as awesome as her work was, she would be happier if she frogged it and made it the way she wanted to (and probably, even with the redo, she would be knitting many fewer stitches overall). Next she made a hat for her mom using this pattern, already working in the round, and only coming to me once in a panic…she had changed colors and accidentally started knitting with the tail from a different row (we’ve all done that, right?). I helped her navigate to safer waters, and it turned out very nicely. I’m ridiculously proud of her. I can’t wait to see what she chooses for her next project.

Last week (week 4 of the Knitting Club), a new member joined! I taught Tiffany (I have the proper permissions to use her name) the same way as I taught KZ and she says I will be impressed with her work on Friday. This week I will teach her to purl, and hopefully she will bring her first project idea with her. I told both girls to sign up for Ravelry…hands down, the best place to find patterns.

I am knitting with the girls…still finishing Christmas presents (STILL!) But yesterday, one of my students sweetly asked if I would make him a hat. I told him to pick a pattern and he chose this one. Now he just needs to tell me what color.

I am genuinely excited about The Knitting Club. We may only have three members, but it is a solid foundation and soon all high school students will flock (you know, like sheep…sheep with wool…like we knit with? Ha!) to the club. They will discover the great pleasure that comes from creating something from a ball of yarn. Seriously, I have some ideas I’d like to see realized, such as knitting beanies for soldiers and snuggly caps for chemotherapy patients.

What do you think? Can we make knitting a “Thing” at the high school?

Do you have any ideas for my fledgling club?

By the way, I went a little parentheses-crazy…sorry about that!





Finally! History Through Literature

During my freshman year in college in Ann Arbor, I planned to be an English teacher.  It seemed a natural fit–English had always been my favorite class.  Then I took a few history courses, read the literature assigned to them and decided this was what I was meant to teach.  I switched my concentration and graduated with a BA in History and teaching certification in history and English.  My first job was in an amazing town with amazing colleagues right on Lake Michigan.  I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the career.  (Man, I miss those guys!)

I love teaching history to teenagers–and from that very first year, I knew I wanted to teach a course like one I had taken in high school:  History Through Literature.  I think literature is one of the best pathways to understanding history and I get giddy just thinking about the possibilities.

Well…to get to the point of my story, after 17 years of teaching, I just received the “greenlight” to finally teach my own History Through Literature course.   I am ridiculously excited.

I have already begun creating a template for the course.  Due to our budget constraints, I will actually be teaching the same set of kids in two periods–one will count for History credit and the other for English 11, which I can do with my dual certification.  Ideally, this would be a team-taught course, but that isn’t going to be possible.

I’ll take what I can get.

Is anyone out there teaching a course like this?  Are there any resources you have found especially helpful?

2nd Inaugural Post

Can you really have a 2nd inaugural?  I suppose the President will have a second inauguration, so I can have a 2nd inaugural blog post.

Along with thousands of others, I decided to write a blog.  I was hesitant about the whole blogging thing–is it self-serving? self-aggrandizing?  is it supposed to be?  should I be an expert at something to deserve a blog?

I do love to read others’ blogs, so while the answer may be yes to all of those questions, here I am.

The fact is, I am not an expert at anything, really.  What I wanted was a place to bounce ideas off others, to share things I’m trying, and to opine about things that matter to me, and hopefully to others as well.

I live in Montana.  Never in a thousand years (yes–I do love my hyperbole) did I ever imagine I would live anywhere other than West Michigan.  I wanted to live in West Michigan–I loved it there.  However, true love called and now I am living in a small town with Glacier National Park in my backyard.  I am a cat person, but I now am mother to a gigantic, crazy Newfoundland puppy.  I have two boys who often confound me with their humor and manner of play, as I grew up with all girls.  I have a vegetable garden.  I knit.  I’ve started cooking.  I hike.  I’ve shot a gun.   I am 2000 miles (give or take–not hyperbole) from all of my extended family members.  I attended the University of Michigan and live in an area where my chosen party loses nearly every election in our county.  The only thing that turned out somewhat as I’d planned was my career.  I am a high school social studies teacher (with a bit of English thrown in).  This is all amusing to me, because I am a planner.  I had it all mapped out, but as Burns once wrote “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”.

That said, I would change nothing (except maybe to shed these last 10 stubborn pounds).  I would live nowhere else.  Don’t get me wrong–I’d still like to retire someplace warm, like South Carolina, but some how, some way, this short West Michigan girl ended up exactly where she needs to be.

What about you?  Have any of your carefully laid life plans “gang aft agley”?

Columbia Mountain