Mittens and books with Robin Orm Hansen in Washington County

What “ordinary thing” can turn into something extraordinary? How do you find your way home? What do the knitted symbols on mittens mean to the people who wear them?

These and other questions were a part of the conversation when Robin Orm Hansen, master knitter and author, visited Pembroke Elementary, Charlotte Elementary, and Beatrice Rafferty School last week. Robin met with students in K- 2 grades, and up to 4th grade at Charlotte’s combined small school classroom. Before her visits, children from Pembroke and Charlotte schools had visited Done Roving Farm, and got to see the process from sheep to fleece to spinning and dyeing.

Some had drawn their own mitten patterns; the 2nd – 4th graders at Charlotte had written alternate endings to Ice Harbor Mittens or focused on a particular story element. Illustrations accompanied their writing and brought the stories to life.

The younger children had shared real life examples of other mittens that had been brought in by teachers and all enjoyed seeing Robin’s collection of different designs, textures, and sizes of mittens. When they worked with Robin, their own stories incorporated kids lost at sea, magical whales and dolphins, and supernatural compasses that helped their protagonists find their way home. Some commented on “how big and warm” the mittens were, and all were excited to contribute to the storytelling and practice finger knitting! “This is cool,” and “we’re making a really long knitting,” accompanied the excitement as each student got to try their hand – literally – at knitting!

At Beatrice Rafferty, the rooms of the K-2 grades were each decorated with colorful mittens, some with the Passamaquoddy words associated with the story, and one was made to look like Aunt Agnes’s store from the story! Students heard a bit of the story summarized by Robin, and about why and how she came to write the book (all had read the book with teachers in advance of the visit). They got to color mitten book marks that would accompany their very own signed copy of Ice Harbor Mittens. More than one student exclaimed, “ You mean this is mine to take home?” They filled Robin’s ears with their imaginative and creative story ideas and spent time writing them down to share. These and the books will hopefully remind them of finding their way home and staying warm along Pleasant Point till our next visit to Beatrice Rafferty in the spring.

Thank you to all schools for welcoming us – we appreciate your support of IRW programs, and we love bringing authors and books to your schools!

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