It all started with a book, a book I read this summer, a book that became more than just a book. This book became a learning project for EC&I 831 and evolved into something quite special. This book is called “Fish out of Water” by Joanne Levy.
“Fish out of Water” is about a boy named Fishel who needs to come up with a bar Mitzvah project that “gives of himself” back to the community. Fishel or Fish as his family and friends call him has always loved the green, pink, and purple socks his grandmother has knit him. He described them as a loving hug from his Bubby even when she was not there. For his Mitzvah project he decided he would like to learn how to knit and then knit socks for children who were living in shelters or in care to let them know that someone in the world was thinking of them.
It has been awhile since I have done an update, and for good reason. I wanted to have something finished to show everyone, and I have finally done it. Before I share with you I should probably explain where I started, my purpose, and then finally the big reveal.
As you all presumably know I have been teaching myself to knit. It all started thanks to a book called “Fish out of Water” by Joanne Levy. In the book a boy wants to learn how to knit because he wants to make people socks just like his grandma. However, he takes a lot of slack from his friends, and his grandma for wanting to knit because “boys don’t knit.” I have been reading this book to both my 4/5 and 5/6 ELA classes and they are loving it. Many of them are annoyed by the stereotype that boys can’t knit and we have had several chats about this and other harmful stereotypes in society. I am getting ahead of myself because I decided that this “boy” aka me, was going to learn how to knit before I started reading my classes the book. I wanted to show them a real life example of going against the grain, and not listening to what others say.
So far it has been a really interesting journey of learning, talking with others, sharing, and working really hard to accomplish something that started out to be pretty difficult but ended up becoming something that I a proud of.
My journey started here:
I had to watch the videos several times, to try to actually figure out what she was doing. I found casting on pretty easy but everything after that was painstakingly slow and full of growing pains. Once I was pretty sure I wanted to start I headed to Michaels to purchase knitting needles and yarn, and there was my first mistake. In the video Davina (the instructor) talks about getting the correct sized needles as well as the right type of yarn to start learning with. I didn’t listen at all and bought what I wanted to buy. Of course when I got home, in all my excitement, I wanted to start immediately. AND…I failed right off the bat. The needles I purchased were to thin (5mm) and the yarn was also to small. I couldn’t see what I was supposed to be doing because everything was too tightly wound and close together. Oppps.
The journey back to Michaels
I had to go back and get the right size needles – now I was on a mission, I knew that I needed 9 mm or 10 mm needles and a thicker yarn. This time I got it right and came home with:
So that’s where I started. I have had great conversations with colleagues who have all offered to help. One in particular – Pat – showed me how I can sew in the tails of yarn. In the video below you will see what I mean.
The Big Reveal
The last time I made a post I was only about 8 inches into making my scarf and I can’t wait to show you the finished project. Please sit back and enjoy!
In the video above I talk about my knitting journey to date. Please have a watch and let me know what you think.
One thing I have learned about myself is that I am not a good visual learner when it comes to something intricate like knitting. I found it very difficult to figure out what they were doing in the videos until I had a knitting project in my hands.
With my newest project I am not really knitting anything, I am trying to get through the whole ball of yarn so I can learn how to add another ball of yarn to an existing project. This endeavor has taken me forever, but it has been pretty cool to see the progress as this piece of knitting gets longer.
I made a few posts on Twitter – including the author of “Fish Out of Water” Joanne Levy. Not only did she respond but she retweeted with a response. I thought that was pretty awesome.
For the rest of this project, I think I will continue with creating my “thought” videos, and will start to write reflections on my learning. My biggest worry about the project is how long it actually takes to knit, but I am determined to stick with it.
What do you think I should try next? I’ve been looking at knitting a toque and learning the long tail cast on using the video below. Any thoughts? Advice?
To explain this learning project I have to go back to the summer months. At the end of June I always like to take home the new Willow nominees to read over the summer. The first one I read was called Fish out of Water by Joanne Levy.
“Fish out of Water” is a great story about a boy named Fishel who needs to come up with a Bar Mitzvah project – much like we have to come up with a project for this class. His project is supposed to be one that will help people in the community. His best friend wants him to help with his project which is collecting used hockey equipment and donating it to kids who can’t afford to play hockey, however this project doesn’t really interest Fishel. For one her really doesn’t like hockey – in fact he doesn’t really like sports to begin with. Doesn’t really like to do the same things that are stereotypically associated with boys.
His other option is to volunteer his time at the senior home connected to the Jewish Community center, however he is really not interested in that either. The one thing he really wants to do is learn how to knit socks so he can make them for people who really need them.
Now this is typically not an activity that boys in Middle School undertake – and Fishel is met with stereotypes and road blocks throughout his journey. This brings be to my project.
At school we have many classes from grade 2/3 all the way up to grade 6/7 that will be reading book. As a school we are inspired by Fishel, the obstacles that get in his way, and his overall determination to do something that others don’t think he should do. We hope to teach our students that stereotypes can by harmful and that sometimes we need to do the things that make us happy (as long as they don’t hurt others of course). So as Riley learns to Crochet, I will be learning how to knit. I think this will be a really cool project because it will be a real life example of the book we are reading to students come to life. Why can’t boys/men learn how to knit? I want to show our students that we can.
First things First
How to knit – Just like Curtis with his project I have no idea how to knit. I am a complete beginner and have never done anything like this before – and yes several people have already told me that I should learn to crochet instead, but I am determined.
I’ve already started by watching youtube videos and found one in particular really helpful and quite good. If you too want to learn how to knit I highly recommend the Sheep and Stich website. The videos are really easy to follow and for the most part get to the point. Devina – from Sheep and Stich has lots of images in her blog posts and when you watch the videos directly from her blog there are no ads!
So far I have already learned how to “cast on”, how to do the “knit stich”, and I painfully have learned how to “cast off.” However this journey is for a different blog post. My goal for this project is to eventually learn how to knit a pair of socks just like Fishel in the book. Before I do that I will learn how to knit a scarf – to help with the muscle memory associated with knitting, then a tuque, and if all goes well, a pair of socks.
I have already found a handful of people at work who are willing to help me with this project, and I will continue to rely on youtube videos. I am hoping that when more of our classes start to read this book that an excitement grows in the community and more kids want to learn how to knit. I have always found that I am a better learner when I have to teach someone else how to do it.
Documenting my Journey
I would like to document my journey by creating a separate menu area within my blog. I would like to post pictures and videos of my journey, and also vlogs to show my reflection and frustrations. I will also document the wonderful people who help me out a long the way – and hopefully conduct a few interviews with long time knitters along the way.
Do you know of any other great knitting websites, or videos that I would be able to use, or that you have found helpful in the past?
Are you a knitter? Can you offer me any advice?
I still haven’t found a good sock pattern – do you have one you could share?
Do you know any other great resources in the city that could help a guy out?