Alexa Straub, 15, is an expert in the art of arm knitting. She should be, after doing it for six years. Thursday morning, she patiently assisted other youths attending Fiber Arts Fun Day in the process of first looping bulky yarn around one arm, known as “casting on,” and then holding onto the tail of the yarn and looping it through on one side and transferring the new loop onto the other arm to make a stitch. Instead of using knitting needles, the young people learned to use their arms as needles as they created loosely knit scarves.
“Once you get good at it, you can practically do it in your sleep,” Straub said. She’s been known to close her eyes while she’s doing it, just to unwind.
Arm knitting was just one of the crafts at Fiber Arts Fun Day, offered by K-State Research and Extension at Trinity Lutheran Church. Others were sewing, cross-stitching and felting. Youths also took a field trip to Prairie Flower Crafts in Alden, where they toured the facility and saw a machine quilting demonstration.
The event was sponsored by Ellis County, Barton County and Walnut Creek Extension districts, with a grant from the Dane Hansen Foundation.
Straub has been crocheting for nine years. She regularly contributes to a blog on an app community called Amino. She also posts projects to Instagram. That has allowed her to make friends from all over the world who share her love of needle arts.
“I have over 3,000 followers,” she said.
A tote filled with several small projects she has finished recently included some fun little toys called “amigurumi.”
The art of making these crocheted toys originated in Japan.
While many patterns are available, Straub is now skilled enough to use her memory and her creativity to come up with whatever she chooses.
“I did this freehand,” she said, holding up a pink flamingo. “I don’t like following patterns; I just like creating whatever I see in my mind.”
She showed an amigurumi a teddy bear she received from a follower from Singapore.
Donna Krug, Barton County FCS agent, recalled how Straub’s mother, County Commissioner Alicia Straub, was also talented in crochet when she was in 4-H. Krug planned to demonstrate hand-quilting later in the day, while Alexa led a crochet demonstration.