Friday, February 6, 2009


So I had to share this with you, internets: my students knitting with their fingers.

(click on each picture to get the mega-huge version then hit back to keep reading)

Not exactly knitting, but close enough. These are my elementary school fourth-graders, in 4-kumi. The girls in that class are always doing something elaborate and crafty - one day I played the store game with them during the lunch break, and while I could not for life of me figure out how it worked (there seemed to be several shops and a lottery system involved), I walked away with some stationary and a pencil. Yesterday when I walked in, three of them were sitting around doing this:

I immediately asked them what they were doing, and what I picked out from their answer was "muffler," which I have learned is how the Japanese refer to scarves, and not to that big rusty can hanging off the back of the car. It's really more weaving than knitting with fingers - they just kept moving the thread back and forth across their hands, bringing the loop at the base of each finger around the yarn and over the finger. I watched them do it for a bit yesterday, then tried it myself today:I like that last one where my hand looks like a giant spider. Anyway, I thought that was pretty dang cool, and while as a craft it has some limitations, it still makes a pretty neat little end product:

Definitely a child's scarf.

While there are many, many aspects of English education in Japan that make me shake my head in frustrated, furious amazement, art and craft education seems to be top-notch. The elementary kids are constantly making something cool and artsy - and while there is definitely a sense of homogeneity to the finished works (it's usually not "Please draw a person" or "Make a robot from boxes" it's "this is how we draw a person" and "this is how we make a robot from boxes"), there is just such an impressive amount of artistic endeavor. You should see what my junior high kids make - you'd think they were all anime artists. Just check out what the elementary first-graders did recently:
While I would love to say that this yarn monster (I think it's a dog, actually) is my favorite:
I'm afraid my favorite is definitely this Optimus Prime-looking dude. How freaking cool is that?

Also, if you're wondering how and why I was finger-knitting at work - that's kinda how this job is. I had the yarn with me for today's second-grade lesson on colors - I have them run around touching things depending on what color I call out. I've been very reluctant to bring knitting to work with me up to this point - it's bad form to be too obvious in my slacking off, but given how well today's little experiment went off, I might break my own rule.

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