Today was my first day working with the Somali refugee women as a volunteer knitting instructor. When The Princess and I arrived at Kateri Park in SE Portland, we met the two women organizing the class and another volunteer but no students in sight. Eventually they showed up, eager to get going, which was gratifying. We started out with yarn and needles donated by Mabel's and some of my very kind and generous friends. I decided I'd cast on for them and let them work on learning the knit stitch. I was surprised at how quickly most of them seemed to catch on despite my often awkward instructions. Their English is very limited and I realized the usual beginners' rhymes would only be confusing so I cut it down to the basics: in, around, back, off. It seemed to work.
I was pleased to see how many of the women took the needles from me as I was trying to demonstrate, anxious to get to work. One kept trying to indicate that she was left-handed which I've never really factored in while teaching someone to knit. After a few frustrating rows, she grabbed the needles, turned everything around and got to work figuring out how to do it her way. I look forward to seeing what she's come up with by next week. The women seemed to have a great time, hanging out, schmoozing, and laughing at their mistakes. The began to help each other out, and the smiles as a row was completed were priceless. I am so grateful that I fell into such a wonderful opportunity.