Knitting for Charity, an adult enrichment program at Saint Maur International School

By on June 20, 2017

I began knitting and crocheting for KAS (Knit a Square) in December 2014 as a way to get rid of all the  yarn I had in my cupboards. Of course, like everyone else, once I cleared out the yarn, I had to buy more as I was addicted to making squares for KAS.  My husband continually asks, “Have you completed 35  squares yet?”

I was always a knitter so thought I would teach myself to crochet. I found that to be challenging, but loved how quick it was compared to knitting.

Having the KAS theme and forum really encouraged me to learn new patterns and improve my skills. In 2015 my goal was to make 35 squares a month. I did fairly well, but only managed 8 blankets that year.

My husband and I are both from Oregon, USA, but have been in Japan together for 26 years. Our son attends Saint Maur International School in  Yokohama, Japan. Saint Maur has an amazing Adult
Enrichment Program.

Parents and outside people volunteer to teach classes. There are over 80 classes and tours throughout the year. Parents can take  French, Chinese, English, Spanish cooking from many
countries, Ikebana, drama, singing, origami….etc. There are tours to history museums, sake factories too. The list is endless.

My friends knew I was crocheting for KAS and wanted me to teach them so I decided to offer a “Knitting Blankets” class through the Adult Enrichment program. I enlisted an American friend and pro crocheter, to help me teach. We decided to offer the class twice a month for 15 people figuring 10 might sign up and not come each time. We now have 20 people and they just requested we do it weekly. They are all addicted as well!

Each week we meet in the school cafeteria for 90 minutes. We started out with mostly beginners, so in the first 3 months, I didn’t get a chance to crochet at all during the class.

I try to find new patterns that build on the previous skills they have learned. We keep a pattern file so everyone can choose what they like to make. Now we have some amazing people that crochet and they all help each other so I can crochet during class, too. We have members who sometimes bring their mothers or guests to class, too.

Not everyone comes each week, but we have about 20 people from 10 different countries (USA, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, and India). I love the fact that KAS has attracted people from so many different backgrounds. I asked many of them why they joined and here is  what a few said:
-to get rid of my yarn
-love to be crafty, but didn’t know how to crochet
-looked like fun
-would never do it at home alone
-used to live in South Africa
-reminds me of my grandmother
-used to know, but forgot and want to learn again

But, the biggest answer from most everyone, was “because it is for charity” and “because it’s fun to
crochet with friends.”

All of the women are in Japan because of their husband’s jobs. Many of them are here for 2-4 years and then they move on to another country. I asked about jobs before coming to Japan. We have
mothers, teachers, financiers and lawyers. Most are trying their best to live in a new country and find the Adult Enrichment classes really help them make new friends and challenge themselves.

So far our group has made 245 squares, 20 hats and 10 sets of hand warmers. Not huge numbers, but
made with joy.

About Juli Harrington

Juli is a Saint Maur International School parent and currently chairs the school’s Parent Support Group.

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