Monday, July 07, 2008

Spreading the Good Word

This past year our family has been host "Aunt and Uncle" to an AFS exchange student from Japan. I never knew that if you were not able to make the commitment to be a host family, you could still connect with and exchange student in the Aunt/Uncle/Cousin role. The involvement is minimal -- one interaction a month.

Our "niece" taught us how to make rice balls (onigiri). They remain a favorite with the kids. In return, I taught her to knit! Actually, she initiated it. She went to one of my son's indoor soccer games and asked what all the women were doing. We have lots of knitters among the soccer moms. I told her it was knitting and she said, "You show me knit?" BINGO!

She was a very quick student. One lesson and she was off on a garter stitch scarft. The next lesson and she was purling. Our third meeting, I escorted her to the hallowed halls of a yarn store and bought her her own needles, tapestry needle, and yarn. Showing excellent taste, she chose a divinely colored ball of Misty Alpaca.

Being talented and ambitious, she asked to make mittens. Great. Except that she couldn't read patterns, and I only saw her every month. I quickly had her knit a gauge swatch, then calculated a cast-on for her to knit a flat square. My thought was that at our next meeting we'd seam the squares up the side, leaving holes for thumbs, and pull a string through the top to tighten like a hat closure. Not perfect, but the best I could do.

We met for the last time in June. She brought her squares and I showed her how to sew a mattress stitch. She seamed the sides and I picked up stitches to start the thumbs. She took over (her first time on DPNs) one thumb, while I started the other.

She finished the mittens, I snapped a photo, and returned her to her host family an hour later than I'd planned. But she took a finished pair of mitts back to Japan with her, and a few balls of yarn to keep busy with on the plane.

New England Road Trip

Each one, teach one!



Anonymous Sarah said...

Hi! Long time reader and maybe first time commenter...My family has hosted and been liaision to about 70 bajillion AFS kids. I've been meaning to get involved here (as an aunt and uncle) in MI and never gotten around to it.

Could you send me an e-mail with the contact of the area leader around Ypsi? My e-mail is anchorednomad at gmail dot com.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Shelly said...

My family hosted many exchange students while I was growing up, three from Japan. The cultural exchange that we experienced is priceless. Love the mittens!

7:41 AM  
Blogger earthchick said...

Very cool!!!

12:34 PM  
Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said...

and now she can really take off when she returns home where knit and crochet have wonderful lives. wish i could read their great fiber books.

4:59 PM  

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