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Knitting projects have Janesville youth in stitches

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Shelly Birkelo
February 16, 2013

— Madeline Hough hasn't missed a week of Knifty Knitters since it began in September.

The 9-year-old Janesville fourth-grader said the Wednesday afternoon sessions allow her to express herself, relax and stay away from the TV.

Wednesday she was knitting bright red yarn into a scarf for herself.

"I've been working on this since Christmas," she said.

Hedberg Public Library began offering Knifty Knitters for kids in grades 3 through 12 in September. It's now offering its second session that began in January and ends this month. A third session will begin in March and ends in May.

Shannon Tollefsrud, youth service associate in the children's department of the library, said she likes to knit, and staff members had heard that other libraries were offering it.

Then Maria Dietrich joined the staff. She had previously worked in a Dane County library that offered knitting for children.

"Our idea with her experience and knowledge didn't make it as scary knowing she had done it before," Tollefsrud said.

Average attendance has been 14, but as many as 17 and as few as nine boys and girls have been attending the weekly sessions, she said.

Dietrich said the old-time craft of knitting is a good after-school activity and allows children to socialize.

It's also fun and helps with math skills. There's a lot of counting, and it helps them be creative," she said.

Kelly Koca, Janesville, accompanied her 7-year-old daughter, Ava Koca, during Wednesday's Knifty Knitters. She said the hour-long sessions offer important socialization opportunities in addition to teaching good manners and patience.

Last week was Ava's first try at knitting. She loved it and has been knitting every day since, her mother said.

Others, who sat around the pushed-together tables in the children's department of the library, worked on projects ranging from baby blankets to wash cloths to doll clothes.

Madeline pulled projects from her knitting bag.

"I'm not sure what this is going to be," she said as she held a piece of knit fabric in her hand and explained the knit-pearl stitch she had chosen.

"Then there's this thing I made by finger knitting. I made it in under 20 minutes," she said.

Madeline was 6 when she learned how to knit from her mother, who was taught by her grandmother. Madeline had knit only one project.

"So, I basically relearned when I got here," she said.

Madeline has no regrets about deciding to give knitting a second try.

"I really like it and do it all the time at home on my own for about 30 minutes a day to avoid watching too much TV," she said.



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