Amy Almendinger

When I was in 4th grade, I learned how to knit for a 4-H project. The garter stitch pincushion I made never got used, but my love for knitting was born.  Mittens and scarves made out of my mother’s scrap yarn were my specialties back then. When I got to high school, I would occasionally tackle a sweater or afghan when I could pool together enough money to buy matching skeins, but big projects often went unfinished. As the County Fair approached each summer, I would be doing the last-minute scramble to sew seams and hide threads while juggling the other half-done sewing and art projects I hoped to finish in time to earn some blue ribbons.

I “graduated” from 4-H and moved on to college, trading my knitting needles for paint brushes and drawing pencils.  Although my Bachelor’s Degree was in English-Secondary Education, I paired it with an Art minor so that I would continue to have an artistic outlet.  I dabbled in a variety of media, having more fun experimenting with color and form rather than developing any specialties. When I started my first teaching job, grading essays became my regular pastime and my creative endeavors were limited to finding clever ways to help teenagers improve their writing.

After 8 years, I left teaching for a short time to raise my family. As the nesting tendencies settled in during my pregnancy, I picked up the knitting needles again. That new baby would need a hand-knit sweater to wear home from the hospital. Soon I was knitting baby hats as gifts for my friends who were all starting their families as well.  But a return to teaching brought on the paper grading load and my creativity again was relegated to whatever it took to keep teenagers engaged.

More than 25 years later (and no longer an English teacher with papers to grade), I’m back to knitting baby hats (and hats of all sizes)–sometimes for gifts but mostly for sale as I’ve tried to resurrect the artist that lay dormant for all of those years. Three years ago, I bought a small loom and have been playing around with various yarns, starting with scarves and moving to wall hangings. Like those years in college when I couldn’t stay focused on one medium, I find myself simply enthralled with fibers, a little felting here, a little macrame there, maybe throwing it together into one large piece. I spend most of my yarn winding time in Stillwater, Minnesota where I live full-time with my husband Jim, but we spend as much time as we can at our house on Madeline Island.