Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Classes are in session!

Remember how I said I was going to teach a knitting class? Well, I did it! I had 5 lovely students, which was a full class and a really good number to manage. All of them were brand new knitters, except one woman who had learned to knit as a child from an aunt. She thought she didn't remember anything, but it was amazing to watch how quickly it came back to her! Muscle memory is a magical thing. And it was such a great experience that I'm doing it again! I've got 2 more dates lined up on the calendar - both Wednesday evenings, May 11 and June 1. Here is the link if you are interested: http://www.wildhavenfibercompany.com/classes/, or you can give Kate a call at 414-744-0009 to sign up.

So that first class. I wasn't really nervous per se, but I did spend several days ahead of time creating a little packet of basic information about the essential stitches, along with some swatches and step by step photos that I hope were helpful to everyone when they got home.

I also wrote up my version of the pattern that I mentioned in my last post. It probably wasn't strictly necessary, but I wanted to make sure that I was super familiar with it, rather than referring them to something written by someone else. The idea was that I really wanted to give them something useful that they could make with just one skein of yarn that wasn't just a scarf. That long strip of knitting can feel really endless when you are just getting started!

Despite my preparations, man, it's hard to go all the way back to the mind of a beginner. I've been knitting for about 8 years now, and while I definitely don't consider myself an expert (I'm not sure how you can ever consider yourself an expert in an area with as much breadth and depth and history as knitting!), it's been such a long time since I was a beginner that I took for granted that not everyone knows what a "cast on" might be! I'm very grateful that this first round of students was pretty kind to me and was confident enough to ask those questions - otherwise I'd have kept talking thinking that they were with me!

I seriously give major props to those who jump right in and take a class as a very new beginner. It's so not the way I learn, but I think that it would be SO much easier. I tend to hunker down with a pile of books (you should see the pile surrounding my laptop right now, about a whole variety of subjects...the library is my happy place!) or videos. I guess I like to get frustrated on my own? I'll definitely say, that for some things, there is just no substitute for in person instruction. When I started spinning, I did my usual. I got a ton of books, read a lot online, watched some you tube. But every time I would sit down at the wheel? Frustration, big clumps of fiber going through the wheel, not enough fiber going through which led to horrible over-twisted bits of rope, stress. It was just terrible. I was about ready to throw in the towel, but I ended up taking a 2 hour class at Wool and Cotton Co, and it was a world of difference. Something about watching someone make the motions right next to me, and stand over my shoulder to see what I was doing and make just enough adjustments to my technique....I swear within about an hour I was going from making horrible ropey broken bits of twine to something that resembled yarn a person might knit with. I guess I just like to learn these lessons the hard way!

But speaking of learning, I've learned a ton from teaching that first group of knitters - yes, they were all knitting by the end of the first class! Everyone got there by the end, but I know I want to introduce certain things a little differently next time, and I want to have some swatches sort of pre-set so that I can more easily demonstrate knitting in the round vs. in the flat.

I was thrilled to see one of those ladies at open knit night the following week. It's so cool, thinking that I could be part of someone's "knitting journey." I know that it doesn't quite click for everyone right away. I had several clumsy attempts before I made that first "dishrag" out of acrylic yarn while watching and re-watching a DVD I checked out from the library (it's Learn to Knit, vol. 1 if you're interested!) (omg, why didn't anyone tell me that you shouldn't make dishrags out of acrylic yarn!) before knitting really STUCK for me. That was back in 2009. Who knows why that thing inspired me to keep going. Maybe it was just that it actually resembled what it was supposed to....lord knows it didn't actually absorb any water! I don't think I even have it anymore. In any case, I fell down the rabbit hole, and I'm happy to keep falling. I feel like I've ticked off a ton of my goals - cables, charts, sweaters, socks, even designing a few patterns myself. I've got colorwork on the horizon...sometimes I practice continental knitting for a row here or there to try to get ready. (I don't know why that's so hard for me - I learned to crochet long before I learned to knit, so it's not like I've never tensioned yarn with my left hand before!) That's what I love about knitting. It's as much or as little as you need it to be. The simple, meditative repetition of pure garter or stockinette dishrags or socks, or the full attention absorption of complicated lace or cables, it can really always be there for you. You can totally zone out and let your hands work out the stress of your day, or you can throw yourself into complex masterpieces of intricate lace or unusual construction. And at the end of the day, you'll probably at least have warm feet. :)

Oh and if you're interested, I went ahead and added the pattern that I'm using for the 101 class for free on Ravelry. There are links below to both the pdf itself as well as the Ravelry link. Please feel free to take a look and let me know what you think!

download now via Ravelry

pdf download here: