by Len Lear
We all know that boys like to play in the mud, play football and wrestle with each other, and girls like to play with dolls, dress up, sew and knit. Right?
Not necessarily. In a role reversal, Mt. Airy artist/writer/photographer Kim Soles has been teaching area children, both boys and girls, to do handwork, including sewing, for six years, and the boys are turning out to be enthusiastic students.
(Soles runs a Sunday Sewing Circle on the third Sunday of each month at the Cedar’s House Café, 200 West Northwestern Ave. The next one is Oct. 16, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., for children ages 5 to10 years old.)
“Children are eager to sew and finger-knit,” said Kim, 52, “boys especially. I found their ferocious desire to work with yarn interesting. It was as if I couldn’t supply them with enough yarn. And these were active, sport-oriented boys.
“It has a major calming effect and creates a social circle time for them to talk about what ever comes to mind. No screens…real-live talking.
“The young boys and girls sit for hours sewing felt, some with their own ideas, and others I helped with project ideas. Their need to sit, be mindful and take projects to completion is a natural instinct that schools and video games do not provide. This past summer I served many children in my summer camp and began to thoroughly comprehend the extraordinary benefits.”
According to Paula M. Riley, of Chestnut Hill, her sons — Kyle, 9, and Casey, 7 — learned to finger-knit at Soles’ (nine-week) camp. “I am so glad you are doing a story on this,” she said last week. “They both love to finger-knit. In this age of mindfulness and parents trying to get kids to relax without screens, finger-knitting is a wonderful way to help kids chill out. This offers them quiet time and an activity they can easily perform and quickly see an outcome. My boys use the fruits of their labors in many different ways, from jewelry to weapons!”
“I think it is good for everyone to have handwork skills,” said Soles. “Along with calming the mind and finger dexterity components, sewing circles enhance mindfulness and create a positive, social environment.”
Before moving to Mt. Airy, Kim was an accessory designer in New York City for 10 years. Once here, her home furnishing designs were purchased, produced and distributed by Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters for six years. Her graphic accessories also sold at Henri Bendel, Barney’s New York and boutiques across the U.S., Canada and Japan during the late 1990s. Her work appeared in Women’s Wear Daily, Teens and Brides Magazines and the Anthropologie Catalog.
Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, and she has self published a book about her nature-spirit photography titled “Photographing Home — Nature Spirits Unveiled,” as well as two art photography image books. And her “Peace Came Over” is an illustrated poetry book that offers a message of “Peace visiting and coming to stay.”
Kim also worked part-time for the Wissahickon Environmental Center and a landscape design firm, as well as a Wellness Center in Mt. Airy that is now Mt. Airy Psychotherapy and Wellness.
The author/designer/poet/photographer began shooting photos when she was 5 years old and has never stopped. Her photos have been exhibited at Allens Lane Art Center and the High Point Cafe in Mt. Airy. “Photography is more of a love and survival method, rather than a business venture,” she said. “I have always longed to capture the amazing world around me and share it with others. It is meditating and nourishing.”
Soles also teaches “Kid’s Click Nature Photography” as a fall and spring 6-week after-school course at Morris Arboretum. “I tend not to spend a lot of my time trying to exhibit photography. As an art photographer, the cost of printing and framing an exhibit is costly. I use my website as my gallery and have a large following on my Kim Soles Photography Facebook.”
Soles has also authored “Pearl Twists,” originally written as a three-page flash-fiction piece for adults that turned into a book for middle-grade kids ranging from 9 to 12 years old. Kim insists the story reaches across the ages, though, because its underlying messages relate to joy, freedom and possibility. “Pearl Twists” is still undergoing the editing process. “Manuscripts have their own timing, and I’m dedicated to giving it the attention it needs to find a publisher it deserves.”