Knitting Nancy finds new life in young hands

OLD SCHOOL: Bill Owens and Rob Dines from the Shoalhaven Heads Men’s Shed chat with Nowra Anglican College students Abby Bice, Zara Capner, Baxter Scully, Sushada Alexander and Geordie Schreurs about their Knitting Nancy project.

OLD SCHOOL: Bill Owens and Rob Dines from the Shoalhaven Heads Men’s Shed chat with Nowra Anglican College students Abby Bice, Zara Capner, Baxter Scully, Sushada Alexander and Geordie Schreurs about their Knitting Nancy project.

A HOBBY from the past has become a hit among children investigating skills from previous generations.

Knitting Nancy, the oldest member of the loom family, has been adopted by students at Nowra Anglican College as part of a project-based learning program called Blast from the Past – Using Hands and Wool.

At the end of the project the year 4 students must explain why it is important to preserve the skills and knowledge of previous generations.

Traditionally, Knitting Nancies were a wooden cotton reel with nails or pins hammered into the rim at one end.

Wool is woven around the nails.

Teacher Therese Connor needed cotton reels to introduce her students to the hobby but could only find a modern plastic version. 

“So I called the Shoalhaven Men’s Shed and asked if they would make us some out of wood,” Mrs Connor said.

“The guys were great. They made 48 knitting spools and then made 26 flat weaving looms.”

Once they got the hang of weaving, the students were hooked.

They formed a lunch group and would all sit together knitting.

“They love it,” Mrs Connor said.

“The boys are pretty into it too.”

Student Thomas Pratt said knitting was “cool”.

“It was pretty challenging at first, but now I can knit while watching television. 

“I’m going to make a duck out of mine,” he said.

Mrs Connor said the project had grown to involve other people from the community. 

Berry Spinners and Weavers Association and Berry Sew and Tell have been involved offering advice and donating supplies.

“This is a great example of project-based learning where the students discover a little bit of history for themselves.” 

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