The human hand, so delicate and so complicated not only allows the mind to reveal itself but it enables the whole being to enter into special relationships with its environment. We might even say that man takes possession of his environment with his hands.
The thoughtful words of Maria Montesorri might serve as the mantra for the scores of young girls and boys and their “crafty” elders by participating in LitKnit (www.litknit.org). Throughout the Twin Cities LitKnit groups are popping up as folks of all ages catch on to the idea of this inter-generational community-building initiative that weds listening to and discussing good reads with learning and practicing a handcraft of choice.
LitKnit reflects a blend of Montesorri’s ideas with the spirit of founder Jaime Gjerdingen, a St Paul mom who reflects on the role that reading played in her own childhood. Remembering how reading helped her decipher and interpret a confusing world, Gjerdingen capitalizes on that strength to create communities in which neighbors read, talk and craft together.
Jaime’s vision is of a fairly structured inter-generational environment in which a trained facilitator/skilled crafter guides a gathering of neighbors – neighbors who live on the block or cul de sac, in the housing project or high rise, or otherwise share common space but not their lives. In Jaime’s words, “our goal is the long-term support of these groups, as we believe this engagement creates stable environments for people to truly get to know each other, learn a useful skill and deeply explore ideas together. We’ve found that these activities strengthen people beyond the skills themselves, helping them face challenges with hope and resiliency.”
LitKnit is gaining the attention of neophyte and veteran crafters, as well as supporters that include the Textile Center (www.textilecentermn.org), Crafty Planet (http://craftyplanet.com/about-us), and the American Craft Council (http://craftcouncil.org) housed in the historic Grain Belt Building in Northeast Minneapolis. The Craft Council has even selected Jaime and the LitKnit project as their first member spotlight profile. (http://craftcouncil.org/post/acc-member-spotlight-jaime-gjerdingen) Jaime takes seriously the challenge to offer support for volunteer facilitators. All receive training on techniques, resources, back-up and more. The members of the LitKnit peer circles meet once a month at various locations depending on members’ choice.
As Minnesota readers and crafters think beyond the State Fair and begin to plan for the months to come, the idea of blending books, crafts and getting to know the neighbors takes on a rosy glow.
All are invited to fan that flame by taking part in LitKnit’s inaugural CraftUp event. It’s Tuesday, August 11, 6-8 PM at Surly Brewing Company, 820 Southeast Malcolm, Surly’s much-heralded new site in Prospect Park. ((http://surlybrewing.com/destination-brewery/beer-hall-and-restaurant/#directions. This inaugural CraftUp is open to anyone with a hint of interest in crafting, listening to and talking about good books, teaching craft techniques to young people, community-building – or just enjoying an evening in the company of good people in the garden at Surly’s. $10 suggested donation to support the expanding work of LitKnit.