They sat in a circle, all eyes on their knitting, colorful yarns slowly lengthening as their needles moved rhythmically, back and forth, back and forth. They kept up a steady conversation, about what they were making, about how else they spend their lives, but the wooden No. 9 needles never stopped their quick movements.Later on in the story you get a ten-year-old boy, sitting there in the hallway knitting with his buddies, saying “With knitting, you don’t have a care in the world.”
“Knitting is like sleeping,” said one of the knitters.
“It’s so quiet,” said another. “I’m usually very jittery, but when I knit, I calm down.”
“You make a lot of friends when you knit, people you wouldn’t think you’d meet,” a third said.
They may have sounded like little old ladies at a sewing circle, but in fact they were schoolchildren at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, N.J. Instead of going outside for recess, they were sitting on the floor in a hallway a week ago, knitting scarves, doll clothes, bags.
Judith Symonds, an instructional aide at the school, started the knitting program last year as a winter activity, something to do at recess when the playground was too wet or frozen. Ms. Symonds taught 85 children and 20 adults how to knit. As others heard about the program, they wanted in, too. It grew so popular that the sessions continued even as the spring thaw came, right up until the very last day of school. They resumed as soon as school started in September.
Now, more than 250 of the school’s 535 pupils take part in the program, which still takes place in the hallway during recess. The principal, Kristopher Harrison, has learned to knit along with the children. And sometimes, the school’s head custodian, Malik Muhammad, also sits and knits.
The program, called Knitting Together a Community, proved so alluring that Ms. Symonds started an evening session so parents and children could knit together. She has also talked to teachers and parents from other schools who want to start their own knitting programs. …
A spokeswoman for the South Orange-Maplewood School District, Michelle Loxton, said that Knitting Together a Community teaches children success through persistence, concentration, control, follow-through and mastery. Knitting itself, she said, improves fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination and brain development.The children say they just like it.
From the sound of it, he and his friends have discovered one of the great truths of knitting: it feels good. Knitting is good. It produces a sort of serene buzz, and every so often you look down and find you’ve finished a cap or sweater. Knitting while chatting with other knitters is even better. (Knitting envy is not good. It’s what happens when you’re at a gathering where others have brought their knitting, but you haven’t brought yours. There’s a distinct sense of deprivation.)
Besides, knitting helps stave off Alzheimer’s. This is great news. It means all those bags in my basement aren’t too much yarn. They’re an investment in my long-term mental health.
Gardening, which is also on the list of activities that stave off Alzheimer’s, feels good in much the same way that knitting does, only you can’t carry it with you in your bag, and it doesn’t use up nearly as much wool.