Hannah Strickland (L) and Meagan Petitt (R) practice their stitches.
By Kris Martinez
Teens looking for a creative outlet should consider the Knit Teen Club offered by the Bloomingdale Regional Library in Valrico. The Knit Teen Club, led by volunteer Ashley Johnson, is a knitting club open to youths between the ages of 12 and 17. It is one of several programs offered by the Bloomingdale Regional Library. There is no cost to participants, and all materials are provided. (The library gladly welcomes donations of yarn and new or used knitting needles.)
The meetings, which are held on the fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m., provide instruction on the basics of knitting. They are also an opportunity to get teens into the library to explore all the great programs and services that the library offers, according to Johnson. “The club provides an opportunity to socialize and make new friends. Plus, knitting can be very relaxing and even therapeutic…once you get past that first bit of frustration over learning a new skill,” Johnson adds.
First time participants will learn how to cast on, do a knit stitch, and cast off. More experienced knitters can get help reading patterns and working on more detailed projects such as bracelets, scarves or yarn dolls. “Basically, if there’s something you want to make, we will figure out how to do it,” states Johnson.
Bethany Gallagher, a first time knitter, attended a recent meeting of the Teen Knit Club. “I wanted to do something other than crocheting little lines,” explained Gallagher. Gallagher’s finished product resembled a stocking.
“It’s very exciting to see what shape might form from a first time knitter. I think it’s important to get something completed. Finishing something, even if it’s just a ‘thing’ gives them a sense of accomplishment and motivates them to make something else,” explains Johnson. She adds that many participants end up with a basic square. It is her hope to collect enough squares to stitch together to make a community quilt.
Knitting classes are not only offered to teens. Adult knitters are invited to attend the Knitting Matters meetings held at the Bloomingdale Regional Library every Monday at 10 a.m. For a complete schedule of events and classes offered by the library, visit www.hcplc.org.