making with kids and reknitting brioche

Last week I got to meet the group of first and second graders that I’ll be visiting a few more times this summer for fiber-art fun. They seemed to really enjoy getting to feel the raw wool and play with different fibers and try out knitting a few stitches last week. I won’t be joining them this week, because I had a pre-scheduled appointment during the Thursday volunteer hour that I just couldn’t move, so instead, I decided to use this week to test out kool-aid dyeing with my daughter and her neighbor friend, so that I could get a sense for what will and won’t work when I try it with 10 first and second graders. I was mostly following the instructions on the Knitpicks blog.

We had a hard time finding “interesting” colors of kool-aid packets; the only colors that any local stores seem to have are blue, red, and purple. (I do see a huge variety pack with lots of colors on Amazon, but I’m not sure I want to get THAT many packets of kool-aid!). The girls ended up taking very different approaches; my daughter layered the red powder on thick and then added some blue speckles, while neighbor friend went with a lighter touch and just the blue.

Kool-aid dyed mini-skeins

I had them dyeing mini-skeins that I’ve wound off of an undyed superwash worsted weight; I think the mini-skeins are around 20 yards apiece. I tried having them each “decorate” their wet mini-skein with powder on their own little square of saran wrap, but that was a disaster (and if a pair of older kids can’t manage it, there’s no way a classroom full of younger ones will!). So for the class next week, I’m going to scrounge up as many small glass microwave-safe containers as I can so that each kid can have their own little container. We’ll make it work!

Progress on Waterbearer Reknit

I’ve also been working on the reknit of my Waterbearer Cardigan. So far, remaking is going smoothly. I’m being really diligent about marking my place in the pattern, both in the row-by-row text instructions (for the parts that aren’t brioche) and for the brioche charts, and it’s all good so far. The next step is to knit the fronts to the underarm, and I know that’s where things might get tricky, because you’ve got to follow the shaping instructions for the underarm but also keep track of your place in the brioche pattern, and because brioche is more compact than stockinette, you also have to keep track of doing an extra short row in just the brioche section every 6 rows of stockinette. But I’m going to keep marking up my pattern and only knitting on this sweater when I can actually devote the necessary attention to it. It’s ok if it takes a while. It’s not like my wardrobe has a sweater shortage! But I do look forward to being able to wear this one when I finish it.

Progress on Waterbearer Reknit

Since I write to process things, I also just have to say that as the parent of a 10 year old daughter, with a 12 year old niece who lives in Ohio, it’s been so hard to read everything about the case with the 10 year old Ohio rape victim who had to travel to Indiana for an abortion because of Ohio’s draconian laws following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I’m guessing that probably most parents of 10 year olds have a hard time thinking about their child’s bodily autonomy being violated in those ways; it’s horrifying. But I also have been thinking about what this piece in The Cut says: that a 10 year old child should never have to be the face of this fight for abortion rights. I do understand why this case captured so much attention, and why people like President Biden have used it to make their points: if anything could make the forced-birth contingent recognize and feel shame for the impact of their policies, this case feels like the one that would do it. But in using this case, we’re honestly playing into the forced-birther’s framing. Because, with some exceptions, they’ve always been a group that views some abortions (namely, the ones THEY get) as moral, justified choices and others as selfish abominations; it has ALWAYS been about judging whose abortion is morally worthy and whose is not. And we see this play out in one of the main reactions we’ve seen to this case: those who support forced-birth say, well, this case wouldn’t “count” as an abortion, wouldn’t actually be illegal, even while supporting policies that do not make exceptions. And by holding this poor child up as an example, we risk conceding that we, too, think that abortions are something you have to earn by being a sympathetic enough victim, rather than part of a fundamental right to bodily autonomy that all people who can become pregnant have simply by virtue of existing.

And it’s not like this case has actually made anyone in the forced-birth contingent feel ashamed or rethink their policies; they either pretend their policies wouldn’t apply (as mentioned above), or pretend the case didn’t actually happen, or they just straight up say, without any shame, that yes, this 10 year old child who is pregnant by rape should be forced to carry that pregnancy to term and give birth to a child despite being a child herself. So what has been won by using this case? Perhaps it is worth it to bring that final ghoulish perspective into stark relief for those who are on the fence; perhaps that’s why the Indiana doctor who cared for the child spoke about the case in the first place, to drive home the very real impacts of these laws. But I worry so much for the little girl at the center of it; I hope that she can remain anonymous, but even if by some miracle she is able to remain anonymous, I also know that at some point, she will see articles referencing her case and know that her trauma was tossed around so publically, debated, disbelieved, etc. That’s…a lot for a child to carry, especially if they aren’t choosing to carry it.

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