How Knitting Behind Bars Transformed Maryland Convicts
December 7, 2011 11:24 AM   Subscribe

After she retired, Lynn Zwerling decided to teach knitting to prisoners. The program has seen some success.
posted by reenum (19 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not gonna lie, this made me do the Snoopy happy dance™ for several minutes after I read it. 3 cheers for Lynn, Sheila and Lea.

This is awesome, thanks for posting.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:34 AM on December 7, 2011

Fascinating; I'm a newb knitter, and I too find it incredibly soothing. Good for her for being persistent with her idea.

I immediately flashed to this, though.
"Look, I don't know what you guys put into my cryo-sludge, but when I thawed out the first thing I wanted to do was knit!"
posted by epersonae at 11:36 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

So what is this? Is this Awesomefilter all of a sudden? Since when did the mods start letting posts that are amazing and cool that you'd probably never find otherwise become the norm? I propose a full on stoppage of reading until this post is...

Oh wait, sorry, something came over me for a moment there, beg pardon....
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:40 AM on December 7, 2011

I can remember my grandmother trying to each me to knit years ago... "pearl 1, knit 2, pearl 1, knit 2"....I think.

Maybe this is why I only ever successfully made a cat blanket.
posted by Bron-Y-Aur at 11:43 AM on December 7, 2011

What a great story! Thanks for sharing this, it totally made my day.
posted by xedrik at 11:44 AM on December 7, 2011

Not THAT surprised by this. I mean, knitters are awesome people and pretty often that awesomeness rubs off and make the world a bit better.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:45 AM on December 7, 2011

I like this very much indeed. I wonder if they made their hats in the first picture in the first link.
posted by spec80 at 11:45 AM on December 7, 2011

I love stories like this--while there are some irredeemable nuts in all of them, prisons are like a field of (relative) success waiting to be harvested.

(And, yes, the article discusses the wardens' fear at the inmates' having needles--they probably only get to use them in the craft room and don't get to take them back to their cells.)
posted by resurrexit at 11:52 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

In the second article, I appreciate the way that both reporter Jill Rosen and the knitters refused to fall into the trap of sentimentalizing the prisoners.
They thought the guys were fundamentally good fellows who perhaps made "some bad choices." But soon enough they realized that these were men who had beaten people, written bad checks for thousands of dollars, and in one case, kept someone locked in a room. One was a child abuser. "That one was hard," Rovelstad says.

"They are criminals," she says. "Most have hurt someone in some way. These are not good boys. But we've become fond of them."
There really is a lot of amazing reporting being done at the local level across the country.

Oh and yay, knitting!
posted by ErikaB at 12:03 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

A way for people to get into that flow state, and a way for them to have some 'normal interaction' time. yay!
posted by rmd1023 at 12:10 PM on December 7, 2011

This is wonderful. I especially love the fact that they are able to make comfort dolls and hats for children. Almost everyone has impulses to share and give, regardless of past actions and/or deep character flaws. I lead contemporary art workshops in a maximum security juvenile detention center and the kids for the most part are amazing, engaged, and desperate to have a creative outlet/voice. They aren't even allowed to have pencils or paint, let alone knitting needles so I'm a little jealous!
posted by stagewhisper at 12:25 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Where is their Ravelry page? I would like to donate some money or supplies.
posted by zoetrope at 12:28 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]
posted by amber_dale at 12:30 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

This made me incredibly happy. What a great idea!
posted by lriG rorriM at 1:25 PM on December 7, 2011

*envisions a remake of The Shawshank Redemption in which Andy Dufresne spends twenty years surreptitiously knitting a sturdy escape rope.*
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:32 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you scroll to the very bottom of their blog, you can find a donate button. Shhhhhhh... don't tell Paypal. I donated $15. I've just started knitting again, and I found this story very moving.
posted by kimdog at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2011

Also on the blog are lots of pictures of the guys they teach to knit!
posted by kimdog at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2011

This makes me miss Oz, especially the inmate dog training arc; while efforts by people in the real world were earnest and well-meaning, they were ultimately up-ended by the world that was Oz. As a member of the real world, I like stories like the knitting, but as a consumer of narrative, I'm compelled by the subversion the Oz writers always pulled off.
posted by stevil at 3:08 PM on December 7, 2011

Thanks for this - I've just been reminded of Fine Cell Work, which in turn reminds me that my husband was looking for ideas of what to buy me for Christmas. I could do with a nice red cushion for the living room...
posted by calico at 3:52 PM on December 7, 2011

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