February 2017

Ronda Lowrie

Johannesburg, South Africa

March 2017—Juli Harrington from Kamakura, Japan

And Her Adult Enrichment Class


Let’s learn about Juli and her group in her own words.

 I began knitting and crocheting for KAS in December 2014 as a way to get rid of all the yarn I had in my cupboards. Of course, like everyone else, once I cleared out the yarn I had to buy more as I was addicted to making squares for KAS. My husband continually asks, “Have you completed 35 squares yet?!"

 I was always a knitter so thought I would teach myself to crochet. I found that to be challenging, but loved how quick it was compared to knitting. Having the KAS theme and forum really encouraged me to learn new patterns and improve my skills. In 2015 my goal was to make 35 squares a month. I did fairly well, but only managed 8 blankets that year. 

 My husband and I are both from Oregon, USA, but have been in Japan together for 26 years. Our son attends Saint Maur International School in Yokohama, Japan. Saint Maur has an amazing Adult Enrichment Program. Parents and outside people volunteer to teach classes. There are over 80 classes and tours throughout the year. Parents can take French, Chinese, English, Spanish, cooking from many countries, Ikebana, drama, singing, origami….There are tours to history museums, sake factories...  The list is endless.

  My friends knew I was crocheting for KAS and wanted me to teach them so I decided to offer a “Knitting Blankets” class through the Adult Enrichment program. I enlisted an American friend, and pro crocheter, to help me teach. We decided to offer the class twice a month for 15 people figuring 10 might sign up and not come each time. We now have 20 people and they just requested we do it weekly. They are all addicted as well! 

  Each week we meet in the school cafeteria for 90 minutes. We started out with mostly beginners, so the first 3 months I didn’t get a chance to crochet at all during the class. I try to find a new patterns that build on the previous skills they have learned. We keep a pattern file so everyone can choose what they like to make. Now we have some amazing people that crochet and they all help each other so I can crochet during class, too. We have members who sometimes bring their mothers or guests to class, too. 

  Not everyone comes each week, but we have about 20 people from 10 different countries (USA, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India). I love the fact that KAS has attracted people from so many different backgrounds. I asked many of them why they joined and here is what a few said:

 -to get rid of my yarn

-love to be crafty, but didn’t know how to crochet

-looked like fun

-would never do it at home alone

-used to live in South Africa

-reminds me of my grandmother

-used to know, but forgot and want to learn again

  But, the biggest answer, from most everyone, was “because it is for charity” and “because it’s fun to crochet with friends"

  All of the women are in Japan because of their husband’s jobs. Many of them are here for 2-4 years and then they move on to another country. I asked about jobs before coming to Japan. We have mothers, teachers, financiers and lawyers. Most are trying their best to live in a new country and find the Adult Enrichment classes really help them make new friends and challenge themselves.

  So far our group has made 245 squares, 20 hats and 10 sets of hand warmers. Not huge numbers, but made with joy. 

 Many thanks to you and your group Juli.  What you all have done is such a short time is amazing.  No matter where people come from in the world, KAS is touching their lives.

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  • Just an update on our group. The words I wrote for KAS, about our group, were made into an article for an East Asian educational magazine! As it was written for this forum the KAS website isn't in the article. I wish I had been able to add that in. Knit-a-Square is, so hopefully people will search for it and learn about the great things KAS does. I love being able to spread the word. The article is on page 28.

    • I just wish I had thought to put the KAS web address in. When it was written originally it was for KAS. Hopefully people will google KAS and get involved.
    • That's really great, Juli.

      • Flicking through the pages, Juli.... Wow, what a great magazine!!!!

    • Juli, so wonderful to hear that knowledge of your group is spreading.  Great work!!

  • I enjoyed reading about this beginning and diversity that has created a community. Thank you Juli for evidence that loving is not hard. 

  • How great to meet you through the forum and to learn all about you. It's one of the things that I enjoy most about KAS, that we can meet so many interesting people around the world.

  • Juli, thank you so very much for sharing your story with us.  The forum is where we get information, share ideas, and get inspired by our fellow KASers.  So this is exactly where your story belongs :))  Through your wonderful endeavor, you are allowing those from many different parts of our world to learn a new skill and then take their experience and their love and knowledge of Knit-a-Square away with them.  Who knows how far your lessons will reach!

    Thank you to you and to all of your wonderful group! xo

    • I love reading stories like this and am thrilled it's on the forum for all to see.  Julie, your initiative is an inspiration, especially as you turned your own learning experience into a group project and included so many others on the journey.  I'm sure the members of your group thoroughly appreciate the opportunity to learn a skill and support a worthy cause.  Meanwhile, here in South Africa we are deeply grateful for the squares and other items you are sending.  Big congratulations!

  • What a beautiful and sharing story - thank you.

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