Knitting is an art form that has taken Chewonki by storm, especially in the past few weeks. Dropping temperatures and autumn weather provides the perfect platform for snuggling up in the flintstones- a technology free space in the Wallace, one of the main buildings on campus- and knitting. Before I came to Chewonki I had no idea how to knit or that I could make things such as hats, scarves and even, for the adventurous, sweaters. I am currently knitting a scarf and I have knit two hats. The sense of accomplishment and pride that I get from wearing something that I made is incredible. It gets bonus points because it keeps you warm too!
Chewonki produces its own wool from the sheep on the farm. It then gets dyed from natural dyes that are grown in a garden that has a variety of plants that are used for dyeing, such as indigo and goldenrod. It is fascinating learning about the different plants that are used to dye wool. This morning I was talking with Megan, the head farmer at Chewonki, after farm chores about the black walnuts that were recently picked and she told me that a part of the fruit can be used as a dye that produces a brown color. After the wool gets dyed it then gets spun. There are two main things the spun wool gets used for, for people to buy and for the weaving looms.
I recently started to learn how to spin roving-the dyed, unspun wool- into yarn under the wings of Sue, the art teacher at Chewonki, and I am incredibly excited to knit a hat made from wool that I spun with my own hands. Learning how to spin reminds me of all of the other things I have learned how to do while at Chewonki such as milking a cow, running a class 3 rapid in a canoe, making foods like cheese and yogurt, and other things that I previously had no idea how to do. Chewonki has given me an opportunity to try new things that I otherwise would not have done. Kate Talano, a semester student says, “Chewonki is a neat place to try new things because it has an atmosphere that encourages exploring new things and you gain confidence while doing so.”
Teachers and students alike are coming down with the fever that is knitting. During the first few weeks here I took an interest in knitting but I did not actually start knitting anything until my wilderness trip, about three weeks into the semester. Currently at Chewonki, during free time and on free blocks I can find at least a few people knitting and on weekends we sometimes have 10-12 people sitting on the couches in the flintsones knitting. It is a great way to be social while also doing something productive. Life at Chewonki is fast-paced and it is nice to every now and then slow down and have something relaxing to do, for me that happens to be knitting. Last week people were really getting into knitting to the point where one of our English teachers had to make an announcement before the semester took the PSAT that we were not allowed to knit during the test. Semester student Ellie Mcgee describes her experience with knitting at Chewonki, “before coming to Chewonki I was afraid that I would be alone in knitting and would be called a nerd for wanting to knit. Instead it became an opportunity to teach other people how to knit.” Ellie is currently knitting a sweater and has achieved yarn master status, she has helped me on one of my hat-making endeavors when it went terribly wrong. My advisor, Chris Percy- who is also the Spanish teacher here- is an avid knitter who is always trying something new in the world of knitting. He says, “Knitting brings people together. It also makes you think about the person you are knitting something for with every stitch you make.” It gives an intention and appreciation for the things I make, whether it is for me or for another person. Keep on knitting on!
-Kayla Morrison, New Paltz High School, NY