Thursday, August 26, 2010

Knitting And Education

Recently I was in a discussion about knitting and education. How do we interest the next generation in knitting and fiber arts in general? Granted there's been a huge resurgence in fiber arts, and knitting has never been more popular.  But how do we maintain that interest?  How do we make sure that a century from now knitters don't go the way of the Shakers, reduced to just a handful who are more a curiosity than anything else?

I teach knitting and must say that my students represent a wide cross section - male, female, young and old.  If I did the numbers, I would say that most of my students are in their 20s and 30s.  I guess the real concern is how do we make sure that school age kids have an opportunity to experience the fiber arts.

I know a man in his late 70s who was taught to knit in public school. I'm curious if there were other schools at the time that taught knitting. I do know that in some countries knitting is part of the school curriculum.  

Over the years I've taught many children to knit.  All of my own kids know how to knit . . . not because I threatened them with a knitting needle but because of exposure.  Living in a house full of wool with a mother who knits every day, being dragged around to every sheep and wool festival in the region . . . you have to at least give it a try, right? But not everyone has a wool-obsessed mother.

One model that I'm aware of is the EspaƱola Valley Fiber Arts Center. This center offers a full range of fiber arts classes for both young and old.  In the summer they have a wonderful fiber arts camp for kids. With the budget cuts that most schools are facing, it's not likely they can add fiber arts to their curricula.  I know that many yarn stores offer knitting classes, but their mission isn't fiber arts education.  Fiber arts centers like this one seem like a good alternative to reach out to the next generation of fiber artists.  If you know of a similar center or some other model, leave a note in the comments.

I don't have much in the way of pictures.  I've been busy . . . 

. . . busy brewing new colors.


Taos Sunflower said...

You're so do we keep these things going? I didn't realize EVFAC has a kids' camp. Great model. I love that the Waldorf school makes knitting a part of their curriculum. Every time I heard one of my customers say they were afraid to knit socks, I'd quietly tell them about the day I witnessed a class of 5th graders, turning heels, quietly, on their socks...

Stephanie/Dirty Water DyeWorks said...

What an inspiring story! There are so many things I love about the Waldorf philosophy, and knitting is at the top of the list.