Monkton attempts to set a new knitting world record

MONKTON — Watch out world, a team of Monkton Central School first- and second-graders is poised to break a new record.
The students in Barbara Yerrick’s second-grade class and Suzy Way’s first- and second-grade class have joined forces to break the Guinness World Record for team finger knitting, currently held by a group of Austrian fourth-graders at 3.85 miles.
Finger knitting, which Yerrick explained is great for improving children’s fine motor skills, is done without the use of any tools (other than one’s fingers) and creates a chain-like, yarn rope that can then be used to make a wide variety of objects like blankets and scarves. Students have taken initiative on the record attempt and teachers have incorporated it into their curriculum.
After Yerrick taught students how to finger knit in September, an activity that she teaches every year, soft-spoken second-grader Sierra Petrocelli ignited the world recording breaking effort.
“Me and my friend Emily were having a play date,” she explained. “We started finger knitting and then we thought of breaking the world record. We told my mom, she looked it up online, and then we started doing it.”
Since Sierra sparked the idea, the students have been working diligently on this project every day.
“We call it our world record attempt,” said Yerrick. “Until we get the official surveyor measurement, we should call it an attempt.”
If the students’ measurement is correct, they’ve already surpassed the record.
“According to our unofficial measurement … we had four miles last week and we measured 1,220 feet today, so we have a little over four miles,” Yerrick said on Thursday.
But the distance alone is not enough to gain a spot in the ranks of Guinness World Records.
On June 8 at 9 a.m. in Monkton’s Morse Park, the measurement will be finalized. According to Yerrick, numerous steps must be taken to formalize the number. The students need logbooks charting their progress, a well-respected community member present, a surveyor to take official measurements and a video of the measurement.
“The surveyor is the person that makes sure the measurement is accurate or inaccurate,” explained second-grader Sarah Lavigne.
“We’ll take this to Morse Park probably in a wheel barrow,” said Yerrick, pointing to an enormous ball of wound finger knitting. “The official measurement has to be notarized and certified, and we have to put all of our video and digital documentation on a CD and send it to Guinness. Then, they’ll let us know.”
She encourages any members of the community or press to attend the June 8 event.
How long will the children keep on knitting?
“We will continue all the way until June 8,” said second-grader Christofer Wolak. “That’s Sierra’s birthday.”
This challenge has not only been fun for the students and teachers, it’s also been a great educational tool.
“What’s wonderful is that there are incredible opportunities to learn from and apply what we’ve learned to this project,” said Yerrick.
The students have charts to keep track of their data, and they monitor their progress using graphing software. They then set weekly goals that they try to achieve.
“Some weeks we’re ahead and some weeks we’re behind,” Yerrick said.
To measure the length of the finger knitting, the students work together. One student rolls the ball of knitting from one side of a 10-foot carpet to the other, and on either side of the carpet different students track even or odd numbers.
“So, if we knit 50 lengths, that’s 500 feet and 55 is 550 feet,” explained Christofer.
To ensure that the measurements add up, a student in the middle keeps track of the lengths with an abacus.
“The abacus is quality control,” added Christofer.
“This system the students thought up all on their own,” Yerrick said.
The students find time to finger knit when they finish their work during a 30-minute free period called “Explore” and during a 15-minute period called “Read-Aloud,” where the teacher reads a story to them.
Despite having time every day to work on this project, the students wanted to speed up their process.
“Did you know that Christofer figured out how to do one-finger finger knitting?” asked second-grader Joseph Hemingway.
Yerrick had never encountered the one-finger method until this year. All of the children swear it’s much faster.
One day, Christofer wanted to expedite his finger knitting. He tried a variety of styles and — voila! — out popped the one-finger finger knitting method, and the students have been using it ever since.
“It’s really a collaborative effort and they’ve persisted. I really like that they’ve stuck with it, and they did a really good job,” said Way.
After the students have officially broken the record, the school will honor them in a “hall walk,” where they will walk through the halls of the school as all of their peers cheer them on. Then, next year, they’ll use the finger knitting to knit blankets and scarves for charity.
“We’re a really tiny town compared to a lot of towns and we have two classes trying to break a world record,” second-grader Sarah said. “It’s a big thing! It’s just kind of exciting.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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