Friday, 21 December 2012

Thank you

It's not unusual at this time of year to reflect on the past year and to think about the good things that have happened, the less good and the changes and opportunities that have opened up. 2012 has been a very memorable year for me for all these reasons.
Sadly at the beginning of the year my dad died - suddenly and painlessly but as you can imagine was a dreadful shock to our family. We have been coming to terms with it, preparing ourselves for parting with our family home with happy memories by holding one of the loveliest weddings I have ever been to in the garden and realising what a supportive and kind group of people our friends and family on the Isle of Wight are.
At the end of May my contract as project manager at Knit for Peace came to an end as the funding ran out and after a few months rest and reflection,at the beginning of November I took the step of becoming formally self employed as a freelance knitting teacher, designer and doer of anything else fibre related. I have been extremely fortunate to be able to work and teach in some of the loveliest yarn shops in London, do some one to one teaching, launch my first paid for design and start working in an east London school as knitting teacher in residence to their parents group.
It's this last role that I just wanted to talk about in this post as it's the part of my working life that really draws together my enthusiasm for sharing my knitting skills and my belief that if you can bring people together through some sort of creative activity the community can benefit a number of ways.

I was asked to work with the group by a wonderful woman that I have worked with before in her role as a school governor at a school I worked with last year. She has been appointed as attendance and community liaison worker in a school where attendance and absenteeism are really problematic and the relationship between parents and the school has been very poor.

We started the knitting group about a month ago and it has grown every week. Most of the mums are originally from Bangladesh, many of whom speak very little English but are very keen to learn to knit and crochet. Everyone starts off by knitting a small piece to go towards making a group banner then we move on to something the women want to knit for themselves or their family. We have bottle covers, scarves, hats and snoods on the needles now. We were delighted to welcome a Somali lady this week who despite speaking no English and never having knitted before had mastered the knit stitch by the time she left.

While I am working with people on their knitting skills my colleague is able to engage them in conversation and start to understand what some of the issues around school attendance and the relationship with the school are in an informal and non threatening environment. Such has been the success of the group we have secured funding for me to continue working with them for the whole of next term.

And to absolutely put the icing on the cake, one of the mums who I taught to knit a couple of weeks ago reached into her bag and produced this mug and thank you cosy for me.I'm not ashamed to say that I had a tear in my eye.

Moments like this remind me that I have made the right decision to do something I really believe in. I may never make my fortune but some things are way more important than that. I have discovered that I have some absolutely wonderful friends who have supported me and put opportunities my way and I hope I have done the same for them.

I'm really looking forward to what the New Year holds. There are bound to be ups and downs but it will be exciting.

I hope everyone who reads this blog has a happy and peaceful holiday season and a lovely new year.


Cybèle de Jong said...

What a lovely post.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CCK said...

I love what you do, thanks for sharing.

Natalie Lyons said...

Really pleased its working out for you ;-)

Natalie Lyons said...

Really pleased its working out for you ;-)

Panhandle Jane said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post!

littlelixie said...


Rachel Porter said...

What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing!

Rose Red said...

What a great thank you gift - and so beautifully knitted. I love the idea of the knitting group for parents - what an excellent way of bringing parents together, (hopefully) solving some of the issues for the school and their kids, and teaching such a great life skill. There should be more of it.
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas - I found the first one after the loss of my dad to be hard, but we got through it, and continue to dodo. Hope you have a wonderful 2013, building on your successes of 2012.

Ally said...

Congratulations, Jane. I know what a great teacher you are.

Mary said...

May you have ever more success doing what you love...and may the gifts you share continue to produce the lovely returns represented by one coffee mug with its cover knitted in appreciation.

Rani A said...

Wow. This is amazing. To take your love of fiber and be able to do something like this. I'm a teacher and I am so impressed with this informal way of connecting with women from other cultures. Building that trust between those parents and the schools can be difficult. I'm inspired by you.

That mug cover is . . . is . . . the best kind of present. From the heart. Bravo!!! Happy holidays to you and yours.