Sunday, 15 May 2011

Naptown Knitters--using knitting for re-entry

A friend from Indianapolis sent me a link to a story about how knitting is being used in a prison in Indianapolis. ( They call themselves the Naptown Knitters (Indianapolis earned the nap of Naptown in the notorious ganster era when Chicago hoods went the 200 miles south to lay low from the scrutiny of police or other gangs.)
I like to think that people who have strayed can find their way back into the social network that holds us together.
I also like this story because recently I have been baffled as to how to get people to understand the power of knitting. All too often it suffers from the image of Nanas who knit matinee jackets for babies or posh hobbyists buying expensive imported wool to make playthings for themselves.
Since its inception (probably not as early as some texts claim, but knitting has been around at least 500 years), it has been practiced by the upper classes or lower classes or men or women or children and gone in and out of fashion dozens of times.
Throughout that varied history,k nitting has been a powerful force for change--both personal and social. It meant eking out a meager income for herring girls and their families or keeping troops alive at Valley Forge. It also meant learning control and achievement. The meditational and therapeutic benefits are beginning to get attention outside the knitting magazines, which is another reason why I was chuffed to see about the Naptown Knitters.
Northern Loops is about that power to take control of some small part of your life and to put your knitting needles to work on a project of your own choosing. When that is a project for the community in which you live, it has the added benefit of reminding us all that we can do something for ourselves and our community. With a little knit and a purl and a laugh or two that's what we're up to at Northern Loops.

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