The Power of Knitting

Today as I worked with a group of young knitters in an elective class. I flashed back to a knitter I had several years ago. There used to be a time when I had the time to teach any student who was interested how to knit.

Nick was one tough customer. I heard about him pretty much from the day he entered school in Kindergarten. The demands being put on him made him angry because learning and the expectation of school were just so hard for him. He had his ups and downs (lots of them unfortunately) all the way through school. He was still pretty tough by the time he arrived in my room in fifth grade.

I made the offer to teach knitting and he surprised me by taking me up on it. We sat side by side. His fingers started off awkward like all new knitters do but eventually he developed a rhythm. I taught him the rhyme:

“In through the front door,
around the back.
Out through the window,
off jumps Jack.”

I remember watching him concentrate on his knitting. Lips pursed together and forehead wrinkled. I learned that he needed metal needles because sometimes he would knit too aggressively and snap the wooden ones. I also figured out that he only knit in school because he didn’t want his dad to know that we has knitting.

I learned the power of knitting for Nick one afternoon. I was working at my desk while my class was at music. About ten minutes after I dropped them off, Nick came storming into my room and threw his body into his seat. He slammed his hands down on his desk and I though he was going to throw it. Instead, he reached into his desk and yanked out his knitting. An ed tech came in shortly after and I gave a gentle head shake for her to stay clear.

He wrenched the yarn around the needles and muttered to himself. I was glad I had switched him to the metal needles because the wooden ones surely would have snapped in this knitting session. I kept working at my desk and he kept knitting. I kept my eye on him and watched the tension ease out of his body through his knitting.  I could see that the tension in his knitting also decreased.  When I could see he was knitting in a relaxed rhythm, I knew he was approachable.and we were able to process what had set him off.

During fifth grade there were many times where knitting served as a stress release for Nick.  Knitting also kept him out of trouble during inside recess.  At the end of the year his knitting needles were bent but they still worked.  I gave them to him and he took them home.  I often wonder if he kept on knitting.



  1. love this piece on so many levels, not the least of which is I am also a knitter who finds it is the one thing that allows me to unwind enough to sleep well at night.

  2. What a great idea! It seems so soothing to Nick. I, too, wonder if he kept knitting. My fourth grade teacher taught us to knit and I still remember the color and feel of the pink slippers I made.

  3. I enjoyed reading how a solution not typically found in schools was powerful for one student. You cared a lot to think of something different to help Nick.

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