Warm Up Hyde Park - A Community Knitting Project to Help Those in Need

Akiba mom and avid knitter Tina helps students operate the Addi
Express knitting machine
We have gotten into knitting at Akiba-Schechter! One of our community service projects for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Warm Up Hyde Park: Our students and families have been knitting hats and scarves, which we will distribute to those in need around our every own neighborhood of Hyde Park.

Students tried hand knitting on Innovation Day.
It all began at our Innovation Day in November when we hosted a day full of maker activities for families and students. Kindergarten and Parent-Tot parent Tina Miklas got us into the "Warm Up" project she started last year.

Warm Up America (WUA) began in 1990 as a way to collectively knit or crochet afghans for those in need. 

In 2015, WUA started the Box of Love campaign that encouraged knitters and crocheters to "yarn bomb" communities with hats, gloves and scarves. As Tina is an avid knitter, her husband Dan bought her the Addi Express King Size knitting machine as a gift to help destash her yarn. Says Tina: "Like most knitters, I have two hobbies - one knitting and the other collecting yarn! Yarnaholics call this SABLE - Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy."

Akiba mom Tina helps students work a knitting machine.

Tina found that using the Addi Express was the fastest way to utilize the yarn, and distribute hats and scarves.

Last winter she organized a few fellow knitters, who gathered their stashes and cranked out a bunch of items to distribute around Hyde Park. Since last winter was bitterly cold, her husband hacked the machine with a drill, so that she and her knitting group could produce even more hats and scarves. Now a double-knit hat can be knitted in 10 minutes!

A preschooler is all excited about having finished
the 100th row of a project.
Knitting is a fun activity for kids, as well as a great way to learn about design and the use of color. Led by preschool and Makerspace teacher Emily, various maker classes have since taken up knitting.

It turned out that knitting is a great math tool as well. 

The preschoolers learned about taking turns and were all excited about counting rows and figuring out how many rows each of them was going to complete on the knitting machine.

Last but not least, Warm Up Hyde Park is a great example of practicing Chesed (Loving Kindness) towards our neighbors. 

With many thanks to Tina for getting us into knitting, we are happy to have put this new skill to good use, not only in learning the craft, but also in helping the less fortunate and giving back to our community.

Update posted on 1/22/2020:

Despite the cold and gloomy weather on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past Monday, our group of parents, students and teachers had a fun time distributing our knitwear around our neighborhood:

Left on the chess table in Harold Washington Park, the tag on the hat reads:
"I am not lost!
If you are cold and
need me, I'm
Keep warm & pass
along love!"


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