“Maleah is actually finger knitting,” says teacher Marian Casey as she looks around the library at C.C. Loughlin School where about a dozen Grade 5 students knit and chat.
The group has been a fixture at C.C. Loughlin for four years now, meeting during the second half of lunch from January to March. On a normal day there’s more than 20 students spread out at tables or sitting on mats working on a project. On this day, however, the group is smaller and many of the regulars are off participating in the Corner Brook Rotary Music Festival.
Casey is a Grade 2 teacher at the school and she and Marg Kelly, instructional resource teacher, run the group with a little help from some volunteers.
“Initially it was part of the Grade 5 curriculum, social studies, where they did a unit on the olden days,” said Kelly.
When the curriculum changed, the women decided to continue on and formed the group. Kelly said they kept it strictly for Grade 5 students because they wouldn’t be able to handle the numbers if they opened it up to all the elementary students. The group normally celebrates its last session with a special lunch. By then, with a little help, all the children will have completed a small scarf for a teddy bear or other stuffed toy.
The group consists of boys and girls from both the French and English programs.
“We have kids who come here who already know how to knit,” said Kelly, looking around the room. “Some interesting little children.”
It’s interacting with that mix of children that she enjoys the most.
“I only work with children on specific learning issues,” said Kelly. “But this allows me to kind of meet with them socially on another level.”
She said participating in the group is relaxing for the children.
“It’s a real nice social time for them,” adds Casey. “If you just listen, they’re all just chatting away and you’d be surprised at the conversations that they have. It’s like they’re working together, they’re helping each other.”
On Wednesday both Kelly and Casey were impressed that Janes was showing other students how to finger knit.
Janes, 11, learned the technique from a cousin who brought some wool to a sleepover. She had an extra ball of wool and showed Janes how to wrap it around her thumb and work it over her fingers.
“It’s really simple,” said Janes as she explained the process. “And you can keep going until you want to stop.”
She’s made a few scarves by finger knitting, but notes that you need two sets of hands to make long ones, and the long ones can be used as belts.
“It’s a good hobby for when you’re bored,” she said.
“It’s really easy to learn.”
After she mastered the finger knitting, Janes said “I wanted to learn how to knit with actual knitting needles.” It took about three sessions with the knitting group, but she finally figured it out. “The needles are cool,” she said.
Among the boys who have taken up the craft is Tristan George.
“My big brother did it when he was in Grade 5 and I wanted to try it and see if it was lots of fun,” said George, 10.
“And I’ve found it really fun. Just sitting around talking and making jokes. Getting to know each other.”
Like the other students George was working on a scarf. “I’m not done yet, but I’m hoping it’s gonna be a long one.”
After that he plans to try knitting a pair of socks.