A McPherson Arts Alliance class called Pick Up Sticks and Knit lived up to its name this week.
The three-day class began Tuesday with instructor Lorrie Kessler of Oh Yarn It guiding girls through the hands-on process. It didn't take them long to pick up the skill and make creations of their own.
The students began finger knitting and were later shown how to use needles. Throughout the class, they will learn how to cast on a needle and perform a basic knit stitch.
Emma Mirkes, 10, said she took the class because her mother used to kit and her aunt would make her scarves and hats in the winter.
"Knitting is just interesting to me," she said, "and I love to do things that are art."
Avery Howard, 11, said she enrolled in the class because her grandmother knitted her and her siblings blankets. Sister Peyton, 9, said she enjoyed looking at the projects in the Oh Yarn It shop and wants to make a dress some day.
"They're picking it up so fast," Kessler said. "I am so impressed."
The instructor said the skill is simply a muscle memory. Once beginners get past the learning stages, it becomes routine and meditative.
Kessler picked up the hobby, along with crocheting, sewing and embroidery, more than 30 years ago.
"Some of my oldest memories are sitting with my great aunt while she was knitting and listening to the way her (metal) needles clacked, and I just loved that sound," she said. "I started when I was 7 ... and I never stopped."
There are several reasons for this.
"It's sort of like, if you're a book reader, you say 'One more page,' and then five hours later you realize your one page has been an entire book," she said. "Knitting is the same way. You say, 'Let me just finish this row' and then you realize that 57 rows later, 'Maybe I should stop.'"
Kessler said it also allows her to relax and keep her mind on tasks. Coworkers used to comment about how she would knit during meetings to stay attentive.
"There's nothing I don't like about it," she said. "I like the fact that it's meditative, so I sort of leave the world behind."
This love is something she hopes to pass along to her students. She hopes they stick with the hobby as it secretly improves cross brain development (due to the use of both hands) and triggers the same part of the brain as meditative states, according to researchers.
"I hope that if nothing else, it gives them an appreciation for fiber arts or the inspiration to explore other fiber arts because it's an amazing thing," she said. "It's a very small, portable hobby that you can take anywhere and when you're done, you've got something for it."
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