Lisbon high school teacher shares knitting with students after school hours

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Knitting material that was donated to the school. Contributed

A group of high school students in Lisbon learn more than science, math and history. Math and technology teacher Lauralee Pearson teaches students to knit, a project that began in November 2019 when she taught students to knit with their fingers after school hours. When the pandemic hit last year, they couldn’t meet.

“I’m not quite sure what triggered it,” Pearson said. “I would come home from school to knit and work on a project, and sometimes when I brought small projects to school and work in my spare time, the students always seemed interested. “

Pearson said she had an idea to see if the students would like to learn to knit and spoke with the school principal, who was initially skeptical about it.

“The principal said she wasn’t sure if she wanted the kids to walk around with knitting needles in their book bags,” Pearson said. “But it worked wonderfully. The children, when they entered, had the little knitting projects that brought them into my classroom. “

The group is now known as the Spill the Tea Knitting Club. An average of eight to 10 students in Grades 9 to 12 would meet Pearson after school hours until the pandemic disrupts their meetings.

“While we were at school last year, things were tight due to COVID-19 and we couldn’t meet,” Pearson said. “When the students met me in the hallway, they would say they always knit or email photos of the projects they were working on. “

It wasn’t until the school reopened this year and possibilities for enrichment activities were explored when the idea of ​​starting the knitting club popped up again, Pearson said.

“Knitting is a very important social activity in and of itself for children,” said Pearson. “It brings together different students who wouldn’t normally be together. At first, I was afraid to help so many students, but the students help each other a lot, and when a student knows how to do something, he teaches the other students.

Knitting lessons will resume at the club after school hours for 30 minutes from the second week of October. Meanwhile, Pearson is reaching out to people on social media to donate knitting supplies like skeins of yarn, needles, hooks and stitch markers.

Studies indicate that about 45 million Americans can knit or crochet, and a third of them buy supplies at least once a month.

Christine Macchi, executive director of Maine Fiber Arts at Topsham, said knitting is a tool for expressing artistic ideas about the world.

“Knitting is fantastic as an art form. There are a lot of traditions in Maine, but lately people are taking it in a new direction. Knitting is a tool for expressing artistic ideas about the world, ”said Macchi. “It’s a versatile technique and a lot of people practice it.”

Macchi said Maine is known for its excellence in the fiber arts, and there are cultural heritage travelers who visit Maine to participate in workshops and study new techniques, which then return to their practice.

Knitting is still extremely popular and the quality of the yarns these days has become incredible, according to Macchi. However, she finds it difficult to make a living from knitting, given her intensive and very slow hand.

“You will see people selling loom quilts, but very rarely will you see knitting for sale,” Macchi said. “I don’t see any knitters around the craft fair because it takes so long to create a piece. There are a lot of people who knit, but I believe they knit for their children, their homes and their improvement. I don’t think they’re trying to do it for commercial purposes.

Macchi added that it is difficult to make a living from knitting, but you can make a living.


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