24 July 2013

Why I have no more yarn

I am still fuzzy on the details of how it happened, and I swear it becomes less clear as time goes on. Last year, when my wonderful mom-in-law suggested that she bring a small team down, we brainstormed and prayed about what we could teach. We thought about sewing, but they don't have reliable power, and we can't buy them all machines. Administrative skills? Parenting? Then someone (they claim it was me--I am still skeptical) said, "What about knitting?" It wasn't really cultural...I didn't know anyone here who knit, but then again, it would be sustainable once they had the needles, inexpensive, practical...it seemed perfect.

And though the first day was rocky, and I wasn't sure they'd come back, it was an incredible week. I watched these ladies go from timid, frustrated, sloppy knitters to confident artisans creating their own patterns. It was assuredly one of my favorite things I've been involved in here.

And that's the backdrop to how I got roped into teaching knitting to 51 middle school kids at my church's kids' camp this week. Confused? Oh, I haven't even gotten to the good parts yet. On Tuesday last week, I was dropping off a car seat at church...and somehow, by the time I left, I'd tentatively agreed to teach the middle grade kids to knit during the kids' camp for their "manual work" session. (Of course, the title made me think they should be breaking rocks, but knitting's way cooler.) M said she'd text me and let me know how many kids were registered on Thursday. I counted up my supplies: I had 14 pairs of needles, 8 pairs of scissors, and more yarn than I could shake a stick at, thanks to the generous ladies of Women of Worth at Rolling Hills. I felt pretty good about it.

Then she texted me: 40 kids had registered. 40. FOR-TY. I know, I know, it's a very Biblical number and probably had great significance, but I didn't have the resources for that. I shared my concern that trying to find more needles in Port-au-Prince could be a "needles in a haystack" experience, pun intended. Even if we could find them, I wasn't sure that the church could afford them.

Then I thought back to my VBS/Girl scout days...finger knitting. No needles required. Weaving the yarn back and forth on your fingers like a loom, you could make really useful things like...a scarf. (Not terribly useful in Haiti unless you live in Kenscoff, where it's like, 65 degrees. In other words, freezing.) Also, you could make a belt...or something else that's long and skinny like a belt.

Okay, so the actual products would be a bit dull. But it was something. Not getting great answers from M due to a family emergency and running out of minutes on her phone meant that I ran with the idea I had. And run with it I have...I carefully prepared for 40 kids, each with their own brown paper bag with a skein of yarn and a group number. I separated out the yarn to give each group a variety of colors to try to curtail the complaining (i.e. "That's a girl color.") I found someone to watch Peter. (I know what you're thinking--"Like that's hard? He's adorable." Can't argue with you there.) I had Sharpies, which are essential to any endeavor with children as far as I'm concerned. I was totally ready. 

And then 51 kids showed up. That was NOT a Biblical number, and the only great significance of it was that I had no idea if I had enough yarn. I literally asked God to multiply whatever was in the box to make it enough--if it worked with bread and fish, maybe acrylic and cotton were up for it, too. And He did. There was a skein for everyone. Not to be dramatic, but it was kind of a miracle.

I had anticipated the "This is a girl color" argument, but not the "This skein is too small and will not last long enough" argument. This young man chose the pink because there was more of it, and he wasn't the least bit embarrassed until I accidentally told him that he looked beautiful instead of handsome in Kreyol. Even then, there was so. much. pride. (Note the teacher in the background styling a green fuzzy belt. Awesome.)

This is J. She was lucky to get some of the "self-striping" yarn, and I wished I'd had more. The first day was chaotic, and we ended up throwing everything back into the boxes in bags with just the group numbers. In the messiness of it all, her knitting came apart. On Day 2, she quietly started over. The same thing happened yesterday--when I came into our narrow cement classroom this afternoon, there it was, a lump of sad tangles and snarls. I said nothing to her, but watched her patiently start over again...this was the result today. Victory.

This is W. I had showed them a headband and a place mat as an example...and looked over to see him knitting with three strands together. I'd never even thought of that, never seen anyone do it before. Pinterest's got nothing on this kid. I have few greater joys than watching students go from "I can't..." to "Gee, I guess I did..." to "If I could do this, I wonder if I could..."

How did it happen? Again, I say--unclear. It's all a mystery. Much like the second day I came to class, when they started calling me "Tatie Christine," which is like "auntie" for a woman you're not actually related to. They call me over 1,000 times to see how far they've come. We laugh. We start over when necessary. And today, when our time was unexpectedly cut short, I was literally tearing the yarn off their fingers to get them to leave.

Please pray for our remaining two days of class to be fruitful...and not just regarding scarves and belts.


  1. That is totally awesome Christine!

  2. Wonderful! Isn't it great to know that God cares about the little things like having enough yarn?!

  3. That is so awesome! Good job lovely lady.

  4. I love this sooooo much.