Teen Wisdom

Warm Up America is pleased to share the winning entries in our Hold That Stitch Contest.

Erin and Nicole knittingA Chinese proverb reads: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." These words of wisdom have deeply influenced the way I live my life. In reality, it is often easier to do a job yourself, as opposed to taking the time to instruct someone how to do it. However, if everyone chooses to take the effortless route in everything they do, how will the next generation learn?

With that in mind, I helped organize and start a knitting group in my school and began teaching students in grades 7–12 how to knit. They were all at different levels and in the beginning it seemed hectic to instruct so many people a brand new skill. But as they listened to my instructions and observed how I was knitting, the students were intrigued and desired to learn how. As I hopped around the room teaching student after student I felt important and intelligent. It was so fun teaching these girls and boys something I am so fond of myself.

The best part of of teaching another person a new skill is the satisfaction of seeing their progress and knowing I had a big part in their success. In addition, the group is knitting for a great cause: Warm Up America. Scanning the library and seeing chairs filled with students wanting to knit for a cause is heartwarming and exciting. There is a certain vibe in the air that is warm and contagious. I am confident they in turn will continue to pass on this gift.

I hope I can continue to teach knitting in college as I look forward to beginning SUNY Cortland this fall, majoring in Education. Knitting is a life skill, not unlike fishing.

Erin Durgin
Chenango Valley High School
Binghamton, NY

First Prize Winner

My name is Alison Irons and I am 16. I am presently enrolled in Fashion & Design II. I love my fashion class and my teacher Mrs. Overmyer. Mrs. Overmyer has helped me along in my love creating fashion which included learning to knit.

At the beginning of school we were introduced to the beginning techniques of knitting. Mrs. Overmyer encouraged us from the start by telling us not to get discouraged but to keep trying and by the end of the third day we would be "getting the hand of it." I catch on very fast and was actually well on my way by the end of the first day. Therefore, it was natural for me to become a one on one helper for those who were struggling.

Mrs. Overmyer especially appreciated the fact that I was able to help teach others to knit. Everyone eventually learned and now there are at least a few knitting in class daily.

Not only am I consumed with knitting and teaching other students, I've also taught my mother, grandmother, aunt and friends outside of fashion class. My sister is next on the list.

When I first started teaching my friends, they went to the store, bought their yarn and needles, then came to my house and we "formed an old fashioned knitting circle." We had so much fun!!!

My Mom was the most difficult to teach. It was hard for her to learn to manipulate both needles. I kept with her though; we went at her pace; and voila--within a few days she finally picked it up too. I felt proud for her and also myself. It felt good to know that you've helped someone that really wanted to learn. Since then, she has already knit me seven scarves. I don't mind though, I love them all and greatly enjoy wearing them "for her."

Without Warm Up America free supplies, Mrs. Overmeyer probably would not have been able to do this project, and I would not have been able to develop leadership and teach so many people to knit and make them happy.

Thanks for letting me talk about my AMAZING experience.

Alison Irons
John Adams High School
South Bend, IN