By Nancy Covert
Down at Orr’s Wagon Shop in Steilacoom, Docent Buzz Brake has been busy at the work bench, crafting sock stretchers.
They’re an absolutely necessity for the current Kids Club project—knitting woolen socks.
This past weekend 16 youngsters from Steilacoom schools showed up for knitting lessons, said Docent Kathy Johansen. She’s a member of the Museum’s Education Committee, as well as a SHSD teacher. Fellow teachers Mrs. Evans, Miss Taylor, and Mrs. Humphries joined her for the session.
Steilacoom Kids Club has a different project each month. In September, for example, it was cider making.
From October through January the club is focusing on knitting.
Mrs. Johansen says she was inspired to teach knitting after she’d discovered the original Sock Stretchers at the Orr Home. The stretchers, she explained, were used to shape drying wool socks, “because wool shrinks when it’s wet.”
Before beginning the project, she continued, she researched the history of sock making in the U.S. America’s First Lady Martha Washington sparked the idea of sock making among Colonial women who knitted socks for soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
The tradition continued, down to WW II, when thousands of woolen socks were knitted for American soldiers.
The youngsters, Mrs. Johansen adds, are enthusiastic about knitting. Several of her former Cherrydale students have joined the session to continue perfecting their knitting skills that they’d begun learning at the school.
“Kids Club provides more time to learn the techniques.”
Who knows? Once the youngsters master the skills there’s likely to be a lot of knitted items produced. Sweaters, caps, scarves…
Even “stockings to hang by the chimney, with care.”
Kids Club meets from 1-3 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month in the SHMA Education Room on Main St. Phone 584-4133 for more information about the Museum’s programs.