Saturday, March 12, 2011

Loosening Up

There was something so precious about it, so beautiful. I wanted to smile, and cry and laugh out loud.

I'm talking about a teenage girl learning to knit. *Sharona is in an emergency care cottage at Baptist Children's Home where I teach a weekly class.

She learned quickly, but was the tightest knitter that it is humanly possible to be. She'd wrap the yarn around the needle as if it had to hold on for dear life. Her face would scrunch up with each stitch--terrified the yarn might slip off the needle.

That first night, I tried to joke, "Sharona, honey, you've got to loosen up." Maybe I wasn't smiling enough, because a pained looked flashed across her face. I wanted to kick myself--really hard. She'd probably endured enough criticism without adding to it in a knitting class.

Over the next few weeks, I made sure to smile and joke with her about "loosening up" and assuring her that most new knitters knit tightly for fear of loosing stitches. I showed her several techniques for creating looser stitches. But nothing helped. Her first project, a face cloth, continued to be ferociously tight.

But, miracle of miracles, last Thursday night she sat down at the table and the last inch that she had knitted during the week was absolutely perfect. I was so happy for her. I congratulate her (pat myself on the back) and she simply said, "Yeah, I finally got it."  Later, I take a break in the class to watch her knit.

She's not using any of the techniques for controlling tension that I taught her. She is doing the most unique and creative thing I've ever seen a knitter do. As she wraps the yarn around the right needle, she simultaneously wraps it around her left index finger.  Then, she knits the stitch as tight as ever--biting her lip and pulling the yarn so tight I wonder why it doesn't break.

Then, with the new stitch safely on the right needle, she removes her left index finger and is left with a large loop which she then cinches up to form a perfectly-tensioned stitch. Oh my. This is where I want to laugh out loud for the joy of witnessing such creative problem-solving abilities. And then cry imaging how much practice she's likely had with problems to solve.

That class was Sharona's last. She's moving from the Children's Home today and into foster care. I pray God keeps her. I pray she feels him tightly holding onto her.

* Name has been changed to protect privacy.