Knit 1, Purl 2: Knitwestern makes its first year count this winter


Source: Sarah Eisenman

Weinberg sophomore Sarah Eisenman (far right) teaches members to knit at an Oct. 28 club meeting.

Charlotte Walsh, Reporter

Imagine a winter without knit hats, sweaters and scarves to bundle up in. It’s hard to do, but even harder for Weinberg sophomore Sarah Eisenman.

In 2015, Eisenman founded Kids Knitting it Forward, which began as a Girl Scouts project and now continues to teach kids and teens how to knit by creating winter items for donation. So when she graduated high school, she knew she wanted to continue knitting, but there was only one problem: Northwestern lacked a knitting club. Eisenman decided to create a club with the same premise, and with that, Knitwestern was born.

“Knitting is really important to me,” Eisenman said, “and I love using it to help other people by making items that they can use.”

Officially founded in February, Knitwestern has spent the past year teaching students how to knit. This week, the group will donate its first batch of hats, scarves and winter headbands to the Broadway Youth Center of Howard Brown Health and will make a similar donation to Inspiration Corporation during Winter Quarter.

The club holds informal knitting sessions once every two weeks, with Eisenman and other exec members teaching students of all knitting abilities. As students become more skilled, she said, they will begin playing movies to provide a relaxing study break.

Knitwestern actually revived a faculty and staff knitting club called CompassionKnit that died out two years ago, Eisenman said. Assistant Director of Creative Writing Jennifer Britton, Knitwestern’s advisor and a former member of CompassionKnit, said Eisenman contacted her over the summer asking about CompassionKnit. When the group became dormant, Britton said she helped Eisenman begin Knitwestern.

“I just really love seeing how students — and Sarah particularly — had this idea and just brought it back to Northwestern,” Britton said. “It’s created this club that’s going to make useful and beautiful things that people need.”

Eisenman said the club received over 100 signups at the club fair and has seen success with its semi-weekly meetings, bringing in about 10-15 students each time. And while Knitwestern currently charges $5 dollars per member for knitting needles, Eisenman said that will hopefully be waived this February once the group begins receiving funding from Associated Student Government.

Knitwestern treasurer Ben Gherman said he loves attending the meetings because they’re so relaxing.

“Because everyone’s knitting, they’re really focused,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “I mean, we still talk and stuff, but it’s quiet.”

Gherman was a founding member of the club, and Eisenman taught him and another friend how to knit last year. Now, Eisenman said, he teaches other members how to knit.

Teaching others is the most rewarding aspect of Knitwestern, Eisenman said, citing the “aha moment” when a member is confused and then suddenly understands how a pattern comes together. But the premise of Knitwestern — learning to knit by creating items for donation — is what sets the club apart.

“There’s just a lot of pride in making something for someone else,” Eisenman said, “especially when it’s something they really need.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @charwalsh_