Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lessons learned class day 3

Okay, here is my big lesson for the day - if you are going to send 6 8yo's home with their own knitting needles, make sure to bring extras to the next class, because there will be some who don't remember to bring them back!
So I had four students with needles and two without. Time for plan B - how about more finger knitting? This time with more fingers. I hadn't expected to teach this, so I hadn't done a lot of practicing on it, which meant I was a little rusty. Thankfully, one of the students was quite adept at the technique. I had her demonstrate it figuring in part that she would speak their language better. Low and behold, I learned something from her! My way of doing it involved wrapping the yarn around the fingers twice and then lifting the bottom strand over the top. She wrapped four times and then lifted the bottom two over the top. This makes for a thicker cord.

Only one student had done any significant knitting over the break - she had three inches on the needles already. A couple had at least remembered how to do the backward loop cast on.

I worked with three students who had needles on the actual knittng. Holy mokes does this take a lot of patience and then some! I explained, I demonstrated, I explained, I literally held their hands. I don't mind at all, but I can sense them getting frustrated with themselves. I know they want to just be able to knit, but as with so many things in life, we just have to go through the process of learning how first. And then, we have to practice, practice, practice to get good at it.

Despite the challenge, they all seem to be having fun.

I have been getting just a little knitting done myself. This friendly croc was a gift for my nephew. I have to admit that I started it in July. I am happy to say that it took just 9 months...
This sweet little doll is from a eleather for a Ravelry Wee Swap. Isn't she just darling? The hat has a tiny little flower on it. And that itty bitty sock just blows me away.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Class Day 2

I thought I was fully prepared to face my seven little will-be knitters having already gotten a taste of their rambuctioness and silliness. I spent more than an hour making balls of yarn I bought for the class (note that if you want to turn one skein of Cascade 220 into three, it's 220 feet per ball. Being a bit math challenged, I actually converted to feet and then divided by three to get the number of feet I needed!) I even untangled bunches of yarn that had become nearly hopelessly tangled by dp (dear puppy) during an unsupervised romp. I then diligently printed out instructions and practiced. I opted for the long tail cast on figuring that it is a quick way to get loops on the needle and it would be easy enough for them to learn quickly.


I had it all broken down into easy peasy steps - or at least what I thought were easy peasy steps. I was met with a uniform chorus sung by seven of, "Huh? What are we supposed to do? I don't get it." When I started to hear "I can't knit," I started to get worried. I know that a kid can get discouraged easily if she feels she can't accomplish the goal.

Thirty minutes into the class, I scrapped the cast on and switched to the backward loop. I don't like it for learning since it's so loose, but there wasn't time to teach the knitted cast on and I really needed them to make some progress. It's relatively easy to learn - certainly easier than what I was trying to do anyway. Most of them got it but we had just 15 minutes for the actual knitting part. I can now definitively report that this is not nearly enough time. Just as my young students were sort of starting to get it, their parents were arriving to take them home. I guess the good thing is that none of them wanted to leave when the class was over! (My apologies to all parents who were in a hurry)

We now have a two week hiatus for Spring Break. I wonder if some parents are going to learn how to knit just so they can help the kids along?

I need to remember to get more pink yarn. I probably could have gotten away with getting only pink yarn!

This is a good exercise for me in seeing how far I've come as a knitter. I remember those early, frustrating days of wanting to whip through even just a simple square. I also remember becoming totally addicted once I finally got the hang of it. Now I'm just trying to spready the love!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Knitting Kids

I think there are exactly 52 ways to mess up a slip knot and my seven students discovered each and every one of them. I expected that teaching this fundamental element of knitting might be a little challenging, but I didn't realize it would take up more than half of the class.
They are, at least, an enthusiastic bunch of girls who got just a little frustrated at not getting the knot immediately. Mostly they just seemed to have fun trying. I will say that I am glad there are no more than seven, however!
I tried showing them everyway I could think of - setting the loop on the table, wrapping the yarn around their hands and wrapping it just around their fingers. There are just only so many ways to explain it. We had barely enough time to learn that and basic one-finger finger knitting. I'd hoped to move on to four-finger finger knitting but that just wasn't going to happen. I also made the grave mistake of thinking that 15 minutes was enough time to teach pompoms. Oh no, not by a long shot. I was frantically trying to tie off bundles of yarn one at a time when parents were arriving and wondering (like I used to) why the teacher was taking so long to send them to the lobby! I think I sent everyone home with at least a little bit of yarn to practice on.
The highlight was when the cooking class in the next room started to get loud. One little girl said, "They're out of control. We're calm because we're knitting. Knitting calms you down."
Yes, that's a large part of why I knit it calms me down (when I'm not getting frustrated from having read the pattern wrong or dropped a stitch while frogging.)
P.S. I will confirm that it generally helps if you read the directions. I finally did that for the yarn meter - now I know why my count was so far off!

Monday, April 05, 2010


So I've chosen four bright colors of Cascade 220. I have 7 students. That means splitting up skeins. That means I finally get to use the yarn meter my wonderful husband bought me for Christmas (with heavy hinting). The thing is, it measures feet. Skeins and patterns are in yards. I know, how hard can it be - three feet to a yard, right? It's just that I can't do these things in my head. I tried to recruit DS into helping, but he was too absorbed with posting to facebook.
Class starts tomorrow. Finger knitting and pom poms? I'm planning on saving the Cascade for the real project. I'll get them started with my scraps. I don't have much left - I'd given away bunches to my older daughter's class before I knew I'd be doing this. Even so, everywhere I look there are little bits!
So, will they knit outside of class? I probably shouldn't expect that. They have a lot going on and homework, plus moms who probably don't knit.
I'm excited and nervous all at the same time!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Indecision Central

It's all well and good to think about teaching knitting in the abstract. Teaching one-one-one is pretty simple -round up some needles and spare yarn. But now I've got a real class on my hands. A class that needs structure and organization. And supplies.

I have a hard enough time picking out yarn and patterns for myself and now I have to do it for six little people I've never met! White? Pink? Blue? Purple? Verigated? Wool? Superwash? Six skeins of the same color? Six different colors? I've loaded, unloaded and reloaded my virtual shopping cart several times already! I'm spending more time stressing about this than I will spend teaching.

I forgot that I don't like this part of teaching a class - choosing the supplies. This is the only thing I don't like about teaching beading classes. I drive myself crazy trying to make sure that I'll have the right color for everyone.

In this case I have just $10 per student and six weeks so I have to think ahead to the projects.

The class starts Tuesday.