May term knitalong to build community

May term knitalong to build community

Malinda Berry will teach knitting during May term.  Photo by Julia Baker.

Malinda Berry will teach knitting during May term. Photo by Julia Baker.

Knitting will be one of the primary homework assignments for students enrolled in Spiritual Writings of Women for this year’s May Term. The course will be taught by Malinda Berry in her final teaching course at Goshen College.

According to Berry, one of the main projects will be participation in a “knitalong,” which involves several knitters committing to the same project at the same time, either in separate locations or in the same community. “It’s a term that started in the knitting blogosphere,” said Berry, visiting scholar in religion and women’s studies.

The project is inspired by Psalm 139:13, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Students will work together to knit squares for two separate quilts. One quilt will be donated to the Elkhart Women’s Shelter, and the other will be for Berry to take with her as she begins her role as instructor of theological studies and the master’s program director at Bethany Theological Seminary (Richmond, Ind.) next year.

Berry hopes to involve other students on campus as well as community members in the knitalong with weekly gatherings. She hopes to have at least six gatherings during May where knitters can get together around a campfire or coffee table to discuss theology or literature from the course and knit together.

Depending on students’ knitting interest and skill level, Berry has a number of different knitting projects up her sleeve. “One whimsical project is knitting a uterus doll,” Berry said. These little dolls look exactly like a uterus, complete with fallopian tubes.

Pipe cleaners can be inserted into the fallopian tubes to serve as arms. “Regardless of what gender we are, we all come from a womb,” Berry said.

Another side project will include knitting dish cloths to send with former professor of education Marge Mast to sell at the Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale in Texas.

Other class time will be spent studying women’s voices through time, using both literature and film. Texts will include novels and books focusing on topics like medieval women’s mystics, and Jungian archetypes. Films such as “The Joy Luck Club” will elaborate on women lives through generations.

“Generations of women show how they fit metaphorically into our lives,” said Berry.

Berry is currently recruiting people of all ages to both contribute yarn and participate in the knitalong with the class. “May term is a non-traditional learning setting, so let’s take advantage of it and do some non-traditional things,” Berry said.

For more information, visit Berry’s knitalong Web site: http://www.goshen.edu/~malindaeb/malindaeb/Knitalong/Knitalong.html, or e-mail her at malindaeb@goshen.edu.

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Written by Laura Schlabach

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