Thursday, September 27, 2007

Teaching Knitting: Ending Your First Lesson

Fair Isle Style Vest
Originally uploaded by
Prelude: Checking out Ravelry had me perusing some of the photos I have of older knitted items, and since I've been talking to people a lot about stranded and traditional knitting, I thought I would share this picture of a vest I did in the early 1980s (I know I made it when I was still in grad school). I made this with some wool yarn that I bought on cones at a yarn outlet in Columbus, Ohio. I got a LOT of this stuff, which is very scratchy--probably genuine Shetland--come to think of it, it's probably jumper weight, though it looks like I knit it up at a fairly large gauge. I remember scouring my fair isle patterns in Barbara Walker to see which ones to use, and how scared I was to cut the steeks I'd used on the arms and neck. Yep, other than the gauge this one is pretty traditional!

I don't have all the old things I made--many acrylic items pilled to death. But these wool stalwarts from the scratchy cone yarn are still here, waiting for me to visit somewhere cold!

And am I enjoying Ravelry? Why yes, I am (though I have been so BUSY with other things that I haven't used it as much as I wish). So far I have found it handy for looking up the actual names of yarns I have used, and to see other items made from patterns I have used. I could use more friends on there, so let me know if you are on, or find me if your number comes up! I am SunaSAK!

Last Words before Ending Class

Different beginning knitting classes have different lengths. I wish mine was a series, not just one two-hour class, but I teach what I am assigned, and am grateful for that! No matter how long, you want to be sure to mention a few things before sending the new knitters out of your nest of safety:

1. Show them how to change yarns. If they are making a scarf of a reasonable length, they will need to change yarns. And even if they are making a dish cloth or something smaller, it helps to tell them this early. Encourage them to avoid knots and show them a couple of options, such as:

a. Knitting with the old and new yarn for a few stitches then weaving the ends
in (works well except for color-changing yarns and some delicate ones where
this becomes too obvious).

b. Changing at the end of the row with a very loose knot and unknitting then weaving in later

c. Spit splicing if they are using wool and you are brave enough to show that.

d. The "Russian Join" if you know that. Just don't tell them TOO many options. They are probably already overwhelmed.

2. Show them how to bind off. I often get them to bind off a few stitches, then un-do those for them. It helps to have done it a couple of times. I refer them to web sites with instructions, so they can remind themselves.

3. Give them any handouts you have made, from places to get patterns to online instructions to help them if they forget.

4. Tell them they can come back for help at any time (if that is your store policy, for store-based teachers). It's in the shop's best interest: returnees tend to buy more yarn!

5. Ask them to do their best to knit at least for a little while every day until they are sure they have it all down pat. Say, "If you don't reinforce what you have learned, you may well forget, or have to come back to be reminded. If you knit every day for a week, knitting will be imprinted on your brain and you will always have the skill. Really."

6. And finally, remind them that knitting is supposed to be a fun and relaxing hobby, not frustrating work. Encourage them to come back for more help If they get frustrated.

Don't forget to thank them and let them know how to contact you later, too. You might get repeat business!

Next: purling and stitch patterns.

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