Saturday, November 13, 2004

This is me! Posted by Hello

The First Post

Well, having given up my livejournal to the ever-growing blob that is my high school knitting circle, I've decided to try keeping a personal blog for a change.

With any luck, this will be a place to vent, to laugh, to write, and, of course, to track my lovely lovely knitting projects.

I will admit it, I'm not a very good knitter. In fact, I can barely knit. But you know what they say: Those who can't, teach. Usually I want to thump whoever says that, but in this case its true. I took my semi-OK knitting skills, and offered to pass them on to any of my students who wanted to knit.

How do you start a high school knitting club? Well, this was my response to my professor. (I'm taking a univeristy course to make myself a better teacher. Did I mention I took up knitting to relax?)

Steps to running a knitting club:
1. Realize that underprivileged students make up most of your student body.
2. Realize that your student body is depressed by the fact that, when they raise enough money to buy the snowsuit fund 18 whole snowsuits, they are immediately overshadowed by the 300-400 snowsuits purchased by the elite school in the next cachement area.
3. Visit local yarn stores. They usually have a bin of charity yarn, extra balls returned by people who overbought, that is to be used to knit mitts, hats, etc for charity. Ask for their support.
4. Present your idea to your student body. Offer to lend them needles, give them yarn, and sign off on volunteer hours if they knit to support the snowsuit fund.
5. Clarify that volunteer hours are set by the completed piece, and only available on those items given for donation. Mention that pieces must have at least three or four rows knitted in front of you, so parents/neighbours do not simply hand the student a knitted article. Repeat, a lot, that just buying clothes doesn't count. Repeat also that knitting for oneself, one's family, or anything other than the charity mentioned must be done on one's OWN yarn (available at local yarn shops, above).
6. Wait for 5 or 6 kids to sign up.
7. Realize that it's Ramadan, most of your students are Muslim, and derive spiritual brownie points for charity work started this month. Then realize that this traditional craft is also supported for female students who are generally not encouraged by family to be out after school. Realize also that kids are generally fundamentally nice giving people, and that poverty, while hindering the ability to give, does not hinder the desire.
8. Almost pass out when 56 to 60 students show up the first day. Search frantically for more donations of needles and yarn, posting pleas on interschool e-classifieds.
9. Almost pass out a second time when teachers, ex-teachers, friends of ex-teachers, relatives of friends of teachers, etc. drop off approximately $7500 worth of yarn...and NO needles.
10. Repost plea for needles, with addendum of no more yarn please. Realize that this second email is NOT forwarded to the same people as the first was.
11. Watch needles pour in, as attendance likewise increases to 100+ students, and knitting becomes cool.
12. Marvel as the ladies in the main office, teachers from the developmentally delayed classes, EA's, math teachers, and others all turn out ot be knitters too, and leap in to lend a hand.
13. Fret as yarn donations continue to pour in. Fill all the cupboards of a science lab. Fill all the empty shelves in the book room. Pack the trophy case. Watch as students hurry to finish their first project in order to get "dibs" on the "cool" yarn displayed in the library.
14. Realize that almost all of the kids are knitting for fun after all, and not for volunteer hours.
15. Having grabbed tiger by the tail, hang on TIGHTLY.

Yes, I plan to get media attention for this. *grin* I mean "Underprivileged ESL immigrant teenagers learn heritage craft to donate warm clothes to the the snowsuit fund (in Ottawa's winter), and blankets to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario" plays rather well, doesn't it? Especially the lovely picture of my blind student helping her 8 month preganant married cousin to fix a dropped stitch. I'm just waiting for completed projects sufficient to make a good photo op.

SO ...that's how.

And we got the media attention too. Loads of it. Canada Now ran the story in the Ottawa area. CBC Newsworld picked it up from them and ran it across Canada. Lots of attention.

So here, here I think I'll try to stay quiet. Shhhh. Quiet. Good, that's good.

This blog is just for me. Me and my knitting. And occasionally my family. Well, me, my knitting, my family, and my paranoid pseudonym, since I can't actually post under my real name. Students are amazingly web-savvy these days, eh? Me, my pseudonym, my family, my knitting and you. (and maybe the Spanish Inquisition? NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquistion)

Did you think I'd forget you? You're half the reason I write, you know. Of course, you only exist out there in my imagination until I hear from you.

Welcome in.