Itching to Stitch: Textiles for Change

Madison Fernandez, ‘17

Itching to Stitch, BHSEC’s new knitting and crocheting club, isn’t just good for the students– it’s also good for the community. The club focuses on the benefits of taking time out of the day to relax for a period while helping others. Partnered with Sue Rock Originals, a textile charity dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic abuse, BHSEC students knit bags, scarves and more to donate to the charity. By donating hand-made clothing and accessories, students support women as they take their first steps towards change and a better life.

All students are welcome to the club, regardless of grade or experience. Many of the club members have never knitted in their lives, and are learning with the help of students who do have experience, while Dr. Marion, organizer of the club, teaches how to crochet. Dr. Marion came up with the idea for the club after she worked with and donated projects to Sue Rock.  Considering that BHSEC is located right around the corner from a shelter that helps deals with domestic abuse survivors, Itching to Stitch works on donating projects to those in our own community. Supplies for the club, including needles, hooks, and yarn, are from donations from parents, faculty members, and Dr. Marion’s mother’s collection.

Dr. Marion shares her own experience with knitting and crocheting, “I have never really learned how to knit, but have been crocheting for just over two years. I taught myself during a long flight between New York and Dubai, and had an amazing tutorial shortly thereafter from a master at crochet next to whom I sat on a flight from San Antonio to New York not long thereafter.  I’ve been crocheting steadily ever since.” Dr. Marion believes that the focus on the motor skills and the hand capabilities needed to knit provides an important counterpart to the intellectual strain of the school and work day. She, and many of the club members, find the rhythmic nature of both knitting and crocheting to be therapeutic. Another benefit of the pastime, she says, is the completed project at the end and the knowledge that it has been created by one’s own hand. “I have really enjoyed watching my skills develop and I love working with the fabulous colors and textures of beautiful yarn,” she explains. She also shares how good of an icebreaker knitting and crocheting can be, saying, “I have had lovely conversations with people in the subway, trains, and planes about their own projects, their memories of a relative who did beautiful handwork, or their appreciation of homemade objects.”

Because of the calm, welcoming environment of Itching to Stitch, each member has been willing to dedicate a free period to the club. Students are welcome to eat, talk, and listen to music as they teach each other and learn how to knit. “It turned out a lot of people at Bard knew how to knit and Itching to Stitch brought something out in them, a sort of rekindling. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen passion like that about creating things and it was a really great thing to see,” says Lily Gordon, Y1. Additionally, there has been the possibility of doing a Knitathon to raise awareness, a mix of money-raising and artistic expression as a way to unify the school. “I think that’s what’s so incredible about this club. It really unifies our school in a community that we didn’t used to have,” continues Lily.  Zoe Fruchter, Y1, adds, “It’s been unbelievable and insanely cool to see people knitting all over BHSEC since the club started up. People in the library, in classes and even on the subway are knitting and crocheting and I think that the club contributes not only to Sue Rock, but also to the BHSEC community.”

Itching to Stitch currently meets Fridays, 5th period in room 412, and an additional meeting time is in the works. Even if you cannot make the current meeting times, you can still check out yarn to knit during free periods by contacting Dr. Marion. Itching to Stitch provides a way to better yourself by relieving stress, and a way to better your community by donating to survivors of domestic abuse.

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