CLARA Healing Institute is introducing its first ever knitting group for adolescent and teen girls! In this group girls will learn the valuable skill of knitting, as well as connect with other girls around their age.
This group will be facilitated by CLARA Art Therapist, Sarah Schelble, MS, ATR-P, LPC-IT. Sarah graduated from Mount Mary University with her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy. She is currently working with adolescents and children as an Art Therapist at CLARA and also works with adults with disabilities at a local art center. I was able to sit down with Sarah and talk to her about her experience knitting and her goals for this knitting group.
When/how did you start knitting?
I started knitting when I was in grade school around the age of six. We had a special class in school where we would learn different fiber and textile crafts including knitting, and it quickly became my favorite class. My mom is also a knitter and we would knit together at home too.
What are the benefits of knitting?
Knitting offers many benefits in my opinion. It’s a useful and practical skill, as you can use it to make things for yourself or others. It can help with positive self-esteem and feelings of pride in oneself, as people generally feel good about themselves and their knitting accomplishments. It’s also a focused repetitive activity, which can help calm the body and relax the mind. For me, knitting has become an important way for me to relax and center myself, especially during stressful times. It’s also a very social activity for me and allows me to connect with others in new ways, whether by sharing a new pattern or giving someone something handmade, often in the form of a themed knitted hat.
Why did you want to start this group?
When I changed careers from being an Applied Arts Educator to an Art Therapist, I knew I wanted to take some of the knowledge and skills I had learned from my time teaching to my work with clients. I personally have found knitting to be very therapeutic and observed that for my students as well. I knew that when I got the opportunity I would want to lead a group that focused on the therapeutic benefits of knitting. So when CLARA gave me the chance to put this group together I jumped at it. Although this specific group is only for adolescent and teen girls, I hope in the future to do more knitting groups with other individuals.
What is this group about?
The group’s focus is all about the self-esteem benefits of knitting. The theme is self love and care, which is why the girls will be knitting a heart shaped pillow to symbolize the love and care they are giving themselves by learning how to knit. This group is also about connection and learning from each other. For me, knitting is a social activity and I hope that the girls make some lasting connections to one another.
What do you want participants to take away from this experience?
I want to say that I hope the participants will come away loving knitting and want to knit all the time, but that may not be the case, which is ok. Really what I hope the participants will take away from this experience is that they are capable of learning and doing new things even when those things are hard, that they are capable of creating something beautiful and worth caring for, and most of all, that they are deserving of self love and care. That last one may take a while, but I hope this group gives them a glimpse of that and it continues to grow throughout their lives.
At CLARA, our services and programming are rooted in our collective values that we are impassioned to share with our clients and the greater community. Through her therapeutic knitting group, Sarah will promote:
C – Connection
A small group setting is a good format for promoting connection between girls. With this small group, girls will be with other girls who are around the same age and may have similar experiences, feelings and interests, to help them feel less alone and belong to something larger than themselves.
L – Leadership
Knitting can translate into a leadership skill because through teaching the girls the skill of knitting and its benefits, they can in turn teach it and promote it to others in their communities.
A – Attunement
Knitting can foster attunement/alignment with self or others, nature, and beyond. Through engaging in the knitting process, the girls can focus on the movements of their bodies, not only individually, but also collectively and globally, and realize they are engaging in a craft that has been around for centuries and utilized by many cultures.
R – Regulation
Knitting can help promote the practice of self regulation, which is important for adolescent girls. Through the repetitive and rhythmic nature of the knitting, the girls can engage in a process that is both focusing and relaxing for their bodies and minds, helping them build internal self regulating strategies for future stressful situations.
A – Agency
Knitting is a skill that promotes agency; a sense of accomplishment, self-efficacy, etc. Through learning how to knit and completing the project, the girls will feel a sense of accomplishment and realize that they are capable of learning new things, working through problems, and creating things on their own.