Education August 2017

Yarn and friendship

The rewards of knitting

I began knitting and crocheting for Knit a Square (KAS) in December 2014 as a way to get rid of all the yarn I had in my cupboards. Of course, like everyone else, once I cleared out the yarn I had to buy more as I was addicted to making squares. My husband constantly asks, “Have you completed 35 squares yet?”

I was always a knitter, so I thought I would teach myself to crochet. I found that to be challenging, but loved how quick it was compared to knitting. Having the KAS theme and forum really encouraged me to learn new patterns and improve my skills. In 2015, my goal was to make 35 squares a month. I did fairly well, but only managed eight blankets that year.

My son attends Saint Maur International School in Yokohama, Japan and it has an Adult Enrichment Program (AEP). Parents and even those outside the school volunteer to teach classes. There are more than 80 classes and tours throughout the year. Parents can take French, Chinese, English, Spanish, cooking classes in many different national cuisines, ikebana, drama, singing, origami, tours to history museums and sake factories, the list is endless.

My friends knew I was crocheting for KAS and wanted me to teach them, so I decided to offer a knitting blankets class through the AEP. I enlisted an American friend, a pro-crocheter, to help me teach. We decided to offer the class twice a month for 15 people, figuring that 10 might sign up and not come each time. We now have 20 people and they just requested we do it weekly. They are all addicted as well.

Fun with friends
We meet in the school cafeteria for 90 minutes. We started out with mostly beginners, so the first three months I didn’t get a chance to crochet at all during the class. I try to find new patterns that build on the previous skills they have learned. We keep a pattern file so everyone can make what they like. Now we have some amazing people that crochet, and they all help each other so I can crochet during class, too. We have members who sometimes bring their mothers or guests to class, too.

Not everyone comes each week, but we have about 20 people from 10 different countries (the United States, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil, Russia and India). I love the fact that KAS has attracted people from so many different backgrounds. I asked many of them why they joined and here is what a few said:

  • “To get rid of my yarn”
  • “I love to do crafts, but didn’t know how to crochet”
  • “It looked like fun”
  • “I would never do it at home alone”
  • “It reminds me of my grandmother”
  • “I used to know, but forgot and want to learn again”

But the most common answers, coming from almost everyone, was “because it is for charity” and “because it’s fun to crochet with friends”.

All of the women are in Japan because of their husband’s jobs. Many of them are here for two to four years and then they move on to another country. I asked about the jobs they did before coming to Japan—we have mothers, teachers, financiers and lawyers. Most are trying their best to live in a new country and find the classes really help them make new friends and challenge themselves.

So far our group has made 245 squares, 20 hats and 10 sets of hand warmers. Not huge numbers, but made with joy.