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Emerson knitting club

Emerson knitting club develops purpose for new passion

Wednesday afternoons are a special time for a group of Emerson Elementary students. The school day ends and dozens of students make their way to the school’s library. They find a comfortable spot, get settled, and start to unpack their bags. After a few minutes, there is yarn, yarn everywhere, in all different colors, wrapped in all different shapes. Another minute passes and work, conversation, and laughter begin. This is the knitting club and the kids love it.

The after school program started in October. It grew from an idea that Emerson Elementary School teaching assistant Tina Thomas had. Form a group at school to help kids develop friendships, gain confidence, and build coping skills through knitting.

“I really enjoy knitting,” said Thomas. “It helps me to center, focus, and find peace in a pretty busy world, so I wanted to pass that along to the kids. They showed such an interest. I think sometimes they need to take a break from everything so fast paced and demanding in their lives. The meditative quality of knitting lets them do that.”

The weekly gatherings include students ranging from 7 to 11-years-old from all kinds of different backgrounds and abilities. Parents and community volunteers have also helped the club, which started off a little chaotic, to find its rhythm. In the first few sessions, the kids learned how to make their own knitting needles out of simple, everyday materials. Several students have used their new skills to work on knitting projects to support the people in the community.

The students showed an immediate interest, showing up in numbers not expected by Thomas. Forty one kids showed up on the first night of the club and the numbers have stayed near that level every week with new knitters starting regularly.

“I wanted to learn how to knit,” said second-grader Efrance Wilson. “I only knew how to finger knit. I’ve learned how to cast on and off and knit. I made a scarf and just started a new one. It’s hard to do but it’s fun. I want to keep getting better at it.”

Some of the knitters are brushing up on forgotten skills.

“I learned to knit in kindergarten, but forgot how to, so I picked it up again pretty quick,” said fifth-grader Oscar Moesch. “I come here every Wednesday. It’s going pretty good. I feel like it’s fun to knit here. We get to help each other to get better at this which is a good feeling.”

The benefits of the club extend past making scarves and hats. Teachers at the school have seen a positive shift in behaviors in the classroom.

“As a classroom teacher, I have seen students make some very positive changes in class after getting connected with the club,” said Emerson Elementary School third-grade teacher Jenna Jorstad. “The students seem more confident and have grown in their skills to work independently and in a group.”

“It’s peaceful here but my favorite part is getting to see friends from other classes who I don’t get to see during the rest of the day,” said fourth-grader Madison Urbick. “By the time this is over, I want to be able to make scarves and blankets. My mom thinks it’s cool and when I feel like I’ve gotten better at it she wants me to show her how to knit.”

“It has been more successful than I could have anticipated, but at the same time it’s just what I was hoping for,” said Thomas.

Students interested in joining the club or parents and community volunteers who want to help out should contact Tina Thomas at Emerson Elementary. You can reach Tina by email at tthomas@lacrossesd.org.