25 May 2007

learning from children

This week at my knitting group, a fellow knitter (duh!) and friend was lamenting about not being able to knit with a two-year-old close by (ha, I wonder why?!). I gave her an idea to try at home to maybe free up his little fingers from her yarn and into a project of his own...

Her email to me: "Thank you so much for the sewing card idea for my son. I had some scrap mat board and some cloth ribbon in my craft closet so I made a quick card to see if he was interested. At first he just wanted to tie his cars and trucks up with the ribbon, but then he wanted me to show him how to sew and he was hooked. He does a very nice job."

I love the concept of first using the ribbon to tie up cars and trucks. How funny! I find it fascinating how children think and use what's around them. This is why I have a degree in child development. I also have a daily excuse to play in the dirt and mud, roll in the grass, jump up and down like a marionette in public, and...well, you get the idea. Teachers can act crazy and do things that are considered "odd" by the adult-world standards (whatever they are--remember I'm a teacher and I don't subscribe to that rule book most of the time). Oh, the caveat: the teacher must be with children, the younger the better, to do this. Older children, and especially teenagers, are prone to fits of their own upon seeing an adult veer away from what other adults do (even more extreme if it's the parents involved in the behavior). It is not uncommon to have these older children create a distance between the themselves and the "strange acting" adult, which leaves the adult vulnerable to public ridicule and embarrassment. As a teacher, it helps to have the school district i.d. badge prominently displayed around the neck on a lanyard just in case someone has mistaken you for a crazed mother who has had one too many sleepless nights.

There is the same phenomenon of separation and distancing between a knitter and "muggles" (thank you Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for the reference) when the craft is applied in public. Acceptable public venues seem to be: doctor's/dentist's/hospital offices/waiting rooms, tea/coffee shops, airports, Amtrak train stations, standing in long lines, hotel lobbies, hostels, camp grounds, between classes at university, the Rivercats games (there is even an annual "Stitch and Pitch" game)--to name a few. Public venues that appear to cause long, open stares, whispering, and finger-pointing: lunch-time at work, breaks at meetings, movie theater (before the movie begins), anywhere you would like to get a few rows finished while waiting for something to start or finish because it's the only free time you may get.

Children have no issues doing/working on a project in public...it's a learned trait to pull back those "urges" and conform to social standards. This wasn't always the case. I knit in public, always carrying my basket with me just in case I have a moment or two. It might bother me, but I keep focused on my project and if I get those stares and finger-pointing, I don't see them. Remember, I'm a teacher and am used to being "different". Maybe it's different in other countries. Let me know if it's so.


hapagirl said...

Hello, I'm "de-lurking" to say that I know exactly what you mean! Our behavior in the world that is contained in our classrooms is far different than what would be expected of us anywhere else. As a second grade teacher, I'm a cheerleader, a coach, an actress, a therapist, and a child in a grown up's body. The muggles may not always understand us; but at least our jobs keep us young!

Susan said...

I knit in public...all the time!

The few that stare always come over and ask questions. It's when I try to teach them how to knit or force them into joining a stitchnbitch that they start to back off. ( I need to practice some self restraint )

Thanks for visiting my blog...Still working on the spinning :)

emicat said...

Aside from knitting at my desk at work during lunch hour, this past weekend I knit in public for the first time :) I was getting the oil changed in my car and knitted away in their waiting room. It's still a little uncomfortable for me at times just because I'm a new knitter and I don't want to feel like someone's critiquing my work (I'm probably the only who is, but hey), but I'm starting to ease myself into it a little more and this weekend's knitting in public was a big step for me :)

Sunflowerfairy said...

I knit in public alot. I don't care what people think about me knitting.

I love the idea of the boy sewing too. My son is 18 months and loves to "knit" with me, although I don't let him leave the couch with his needles and yarn- for obvious reasons. Maybe some ribbon and such would be more kid friendly.

Patty said...

First - thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. Blogging is such a curious thing, but I'm really going to give it a go.

I knit in public all the time now. But 50-somethings don't care what anyone thinks anymore, right? I'm sure I look very interesting on the train with my peepers on the end of my nose and my knitting in my lap. No matter. It's way cheaper than therapy!

I thought the site you linked to (HistoryLink.org - Victory Knitting) has some amazing information and photos. Thanks so much!