As senior Sveta McShane strides the corridors of Radnor High School in typical teen gear — layered necklaces, skirt over jeans — she isn’t worrying about her SAT scores. Instead, she’s contemplating what pattern to work into the scarf she’s about to knit. It may seem that all girls do is watch The O.C. and cruise the mall, but at Radnor, they’re clicking away with knitting needles, churning out hats and scarves like Madame Therese Defarge wannabes. And the old-fangled fad has spread to schools all over the Main Line.
“It’s fun and easy,” says Shubha Bhat, student head of the Baldwin School’s knitting service project. Rachael Miller, a junior at Radnor High, explains: “By knitting, I know I’m accomplishing something. It keeps my mind off other things.” Many knitting clubs are service-oriented; Conestoga High girls sold hand-knit scarves to benefit Paoli Hospital’s Meals on Wheels; Baldwin girls donate knitted items to hospitals.
Tina Pardakhti, a Radnor sophomore who learned the woolly art from her mother, appreciates its mindlessness: “When you knit, you can do other things, too,” she notes, “like watch television or read the newspaper.” But there are more old-fashioned reasons to count stitches. Sveta McShane recalls not having anything to occupy her while her boyfriend was away. “I sent him a text message saying, ‘What am I supposed to do for four days, sit home and knit?’ I meant it as a joke. But when he bet me, I knit my first scarf.”