Sherwood High School senior Kevin Pham takes a lot of ribbing from classmates, but that doesn’t stop him from knitting.
Pham and Henrietta Biayemi are the cofounders of Knitting 4 Humanity, a new service club at the school.
One of Biayemi’s motivations for starting the club was that she wanted Sherwood to be recognized for something other than football.
“There are students, in the shadows of the bleachers, really trying to make a difference,” she said.
Biayemi took up knitting about four years ago, after shopping at a Michaels craft store. She saw people buying yarn and didn’t know what they were using it for. When she asked, she learned that the store was offering a knitting class.
“I fell in love with knitting, and have been doing it ever since,” Biayemi said.
She began knitting at school. Soon, a lot of her friends, including Pham, asked her what she was doing and if she would teach them.
That sparked the idea of forming a club at the beginning of the school year. English teacher Maureen Meushaw agreed to serve as their sponsor.
“A couple of years ago I had tried to start a lunch knitting group, but that never took off,” Meushaw said. “I think that Henrietta, and that direct student involvement, was missing.”
Many of the club members are new knitters.
“Knitting is a lifetime skill and I am very proud of them,” Meushaw said.
Pham suggested they make scarves to donate. After doing research, the pair decided to partner with Knit With Love, an organization that sends scarves to third-world and war-stricken countries.
Pham and Biayemi say that while they have both made new friendships through knitting, the club is often the butt of jokes. They are most often asked, “What do you do, knit socks?”
“I get a lot of grief,” Pham said. “Especially from my family.”
Pham, who is also involved in student government and Sherwood’s popular musical production Rock ’n’ Roll Revival, said he enjoys participating in a variety of things.
“I guess I’m not the typical high-schooler,” he said. “I am really involved in a lot of different aspects, and like to try new things whenever I can.”
There are about 15 members in the club, including Pham and one other boy, Eshan Nanda.
“I recruited, or forced him to join,” said Pham.
Senior Matta Sannoh said she already knew how to knit, but hadn’t done it in a while.
“I saw Henrietta doing it, so I picked it back up and joined the club,” she said. “I like that it is a hobby and a stress reliever, but also that it actually helps other people.”
Megan Lim, also a senior, did not know how to knit before she joined the club.
“They taught me, and now I think it is really fun,” she said. “It’s a good feeling to do something like this for a charity.”
The group, most of whom were friends before joining the club, usually meets twice a month during lunch period, but many knitters work on their projects at home.
The club has no funding, so supplies have come out of Meushaw’s pocket or have been donated by her friends. They are hoping to organize a fundraiser to help offset the costs.
Since September, the group has completed 21 scarves, which will soon be sent to Knit With Love. They hope to send another shipment at the end of the school year.
Biayemi said she hopes to boost the club from its “underdog” status, where it gets little respect.
“Even though the other students gawk and make jokes about the club, I want to thank and acknowledge the hard work all the members put in, despite the peer pressure,” she said.
“It’s great when the positive things that the students do get recognition,” she said.