2022 has been a busy year for me. My book came out, my son turned two, live knitting conventions and festivals are back on, but during the latter half of the year, I found myself in a design rut.
In February, I decided to try something new. I enrolled Beau into preschool and decided to work there part time. I've been teaching on and off since moving to Indiana and was beginning to miss it.
So I now had two jobs. Full time knitwear designer/podcaster/teacher and now preschool teacher. And it was around this time that I started designing the Frill's Cardi, my first raglan cardigan design ever.
Beau absolutely flourished in his new school. His teachers were loving and kind and gentle and I noticed that he was becoming more outgoing and social since enrolling him.
But I was struggling. Though I loved getting out of the house and playing with kids 3 days week, the US is in the middle of a massive teacher shortage. As a result, I was working a lot harder than expected to make up for inconsistent staffing. On top of that, I noticed that I was being treated differently than my white coworkers by certain members of administration. I remember literally hiding from the owner one day, just to avoid confrontation. Meanwhile, I became more disturbed by the way that the people around me would just casually say racist things to me, usually about other races, as if it was normal to do so. After hearing a few white people say that they like this area specifically because of its conservative views and white neighborhoods, I was done. And when I heard a teacher picking favorites, (and all of these favorites were white), I became scared.
See this isn't an issue with this particular school. This is an issue with every school in US. In the Indianapolis area schools are still segregated. And a lot of white teachers have made it very clear that the Black & Latinx schools are too "ghetto" to be worth their time. And honestly, families have found these teachers are too out of touch with their culture to adequately empathize with their children.
When I was in grade school in NJ, I was often the only black girl in my class. My parents (who both went to public school in NYC during the drug & crime induced fever dream of the 70's) put me in one of the better school districts in hopes of giving me something that they didn't have. But as a result, I was taught by teachers with prejudices. I was blamed for things that I did not do, my hair was called ugly and I was often ignored. And as a result, my grades suffered because if they didn't care about me, then why should I care about them & their lessons.
So when I saw the same behavior being exhibited in my son's school in 2022, I had flashbacks to when I was a child and I became frightened. Normally when I'm stressed, I reach for my knitting. And so I began frantically knitting and grading my Frills cardi as I tried to decide what to do next. Beau was being treated amazingly well in school, but he is a cute 2 year old who loves every single stranger that he meets. What happens when he is 4 with a personality and an attitude? Will he still be considered cute enough to abolish a teacher's prejudices? I even found myself thinking, did he look white enough to blend in with the other children?
I turned to my knitting for solace, but when I would look at the pattern draft & spreadsheet, I felt my brain turn to mush. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't use my energy to design when I felt my body enter survival mode at the realization of having to worry about Beau being treated equally throughout his school years.
I began to voice my concerns to white colleagues and the responses were shocking. About half agreed with my concerns and were not surprised while the other half suggested that it was just my perception of things. (Which, by the way, I knew was not true as I've had random people come up to me, unaware of my afro-latinx heritage complaining about quote on quote "Latinos" about once a month.)
Meanwhile, while deciding whether or not Indiana is a safe place for my son to live, I decided to release my Frill's cardigan. And honestly, I wasn't proud of it. Overall as a human, I felt that I failed and as a result this feeling transferred to my knitting. And I knew that the technical aspect of my pattern writing wasn't where I wanted it to be. And my life and my son's, wasn't quite where it should be either.
I began looking into moving, but I can't bring myself to leave our family, home, and our pocket of heaven that we found in our tiny neighborhood of wonderful people.
Finally, something just sparked. I emailed a tech editor whom I loved to help me correct my pattern. I then quit my job and pulled my son out of school and instead enrolled him into a co-op, where I can still help out in the classroom. If you never heard of a preschool coop, then I'm about to blow your mind. It is a group of families who get together and run a part time preschool. They are usually super affordable, nature and play based, and very hippy dippy. And every family is expected to pitch in . This creates a strong sense of community and belonging.
I found that what I needed for my little family was community support and ironically, my pattern needed it too.
I am so proud of my Frills pattern which is why I started this knit-along.
Our knitting is so interwoven with our souls.
Find the knit along links here