Building skills, stitch by stitch

* Pictured are the women who completed their caps in under an hour, in second place, Francis Dooms, in first place, Anthea Willenburg, assistant teacher, and in third place, Elaine Sampson, teacher, with Debbie Hiebner, founder of XStitch, and Silvia Baatjes, Xstitch trainer.

Xstitch (cross-stitch) hosted 30 women from Lavender Hill in a skills-building programme at Hillwood Primary School on Saturday May 11.

The women were taught how to crochet, how to read a pattern, as well as how to pass on the skill.

Debbie Hiebner, founder of the Ottery-based NPO, said last year Xstitch came to Hillwood Primary to train Grade 3 pupils to crochet. This year, Keith Edwards, a community leader, invited them to the school to assist parents with reading patterns and to show them how they can do this to help their children.

Xstitch was launched on Women’s Day, August 9 2016, with the aim to have a presence in the homes of unemployed and less privileged South Africans with the help of government and the private sector, to create self-employment and opportunities.

Thus far, the Xstitch crew including 20 volunteers, has trained 813 participants who have crocheted 10 239 caps.

Ms Hiebner said the rule of thumb is that everyone who crochets their first cap must donate it to Xstitch. “They can keep the rest of the caps and sell it.”

Each participant received a bag with wool, patterns, knitting needles and one-on-one training in the session.

Ms Hiebner said the women are taught a basic pattern which they can use to crochet other garments such as scarves, booties, baby dresses and more. “They can google for ideas on what to crochet after learning how to make a cap.”

The majority of the women at the training session had never crocheted before and they were excited to get going. The women were encouraged to crochet as quickly as possible and everyone applauded whenever someone completed a beanie.

Participant Lucy Davids, from Philisa Abafazi Bethu Seniors Club, said she too had not crocheted before, “not even when I was growing up. I know how to knit, but now I can read a crochet pattern as well, and pass on my knowledge to the other seniors at the club.”

AntheaWillenburg,assistant teacher at Hillwood Primary, completed her beanie first.

“I never knew I was creative, but I have discovered lately my creative side. This was the first cap I have ever crocheted.”

Mr Edwards said Xstitch will assist parents and teachers who will then be able to teach the pupils how to crochet. The vision is to complete training for Hillwood Primary staff and parents, then move on to neighbouring schools.

Mr Edwards said there are many benefits of learning how to crochet, such as fine tuning motor skills and coordination .

“Many parents say they are unable to teach their kids, we hope to bridge some gaps. It could also help to
show them how they can assist their kids to understand, because reading is a major problem within our schools.

“Critical thinking and problem-solving will be implemented as well as team building – how they can do things with their families. This could also help with sustainability of entrepreneurial development,” said Mr Edwards.

For more information or if you want to donate wool, contact Ms Hiebner on 078 074 1364.