Friday, October 5, 2007

Teaching Knitting: What Is Knitting Literacy?

Blue Felted Hat
Originally uploaded by sunasak

Suna of 2003 in a very simple felted hat that she made 12 of in 2003 asks, what skills should the beginning knitter know before setting out for more knitting adventures? For example, this hat only requires that you know how to knit in a circle, cast on, knit, and decrease. Is it a beginner pattern?

(And by the way I sure wish I could find the source of that pattern again--I guess the website is gone--good thing I printed one.)

Knitting Literacy

So, once you have the new knitters casting on, knitting, purling and casting off, what other knitting skills do they need to know? Opinions may vary, but I like to try to teach, or at least show, them these things, especially if the beginning class is a series:

1. Knit into the front and back increase.
2. Knit 2 together decrease
3. Yarn over increase
4. Slip, slip knit decrease
5. Changing to a new skein of yarn
6. Slipping the first stitch on the edge of a piece
7. A simple 2-stitch cable
8. Picking up stitches
9. Common stitch patterns: seed stitch, ribbing
10. Make 1 increase (this can be tricky, so only do it when you think they are ready)

How do you teach them all? I like creating a sampler dish cloth where each technique can be practiced. I often just make one up, but having a pattern to give out would give the students the chance to learn to read patterns and familiarize themselves more with the abbreviations and terms used in knitting patterns.

Hints for Teaching the Skills

When teaching SSK, clarify what slipping "as if to knit" means and show why it matters. You can introduce the saying, "knit now, purl later," which means you slip as if to knit if you are making something now (like an SSK) and as if to purl if you are doing something later (like slipping stitches to a holder, or slipping for a mosaic pattern).

When teaching yarn over, also show them what to do with an extra misplaced one (drop it and distribute the extra yarn across a few stitches). Then show what to do if you realize you forgot one while on the next row, which is to grab the "bar" between stitches and not twist like you would for M1. This will leave a slightly smaller hole, but it will do.

For picking up stitches, let them know a crochet hook can be a helpful tool.

[I will add more here later]

Why am I listing all these things? Because really, to make any sort of project with shaping or patterning, you will need to be able to increase, decrease, and manipulate stitches. I know it can really be frustrating to people teaching classes in a project who find out the students don't know any increases or decreases, etc. Of course there are many other ways to increase, decrease and manipulate stitches, but it helps to go into a project class with basic knitting skills--it makes it easier to learn more specialized or advanced techniques.

So, if you turn out a beginning knitting student with many or most of these skills, the teachers of their future classes (remember, that could be YOU) will be very thankful. You will have created crafters who are knitting literate!

Hey, Thanks

I am getting really useful suggestions for lace wedding tops. Please keep thinking of ideas and posting them to my October 4 blog entry! Think of me if you run across anything that might be appropriate in a pattern book or other source as well--I have so many that there's a good chance I own it and forgot about it. Or I could get it!

PS: I was awfully sleepy when I wrote this, so if it makes no sense, forgive me.

1 comment:

  1. I aspire to teach someday. I assumed it would go knit, purl, increase and decrease, knit and the round, then I would ask "what do you want to do now?" I think lace (but not necessarily with lace weight) is a good next step. But really, at that point, it's a case of what excites them.


Suna says thanks for commenting--I love comments!