Things I've learned while teaching other people to knit:
Posted on May 24 2016
Alright, I've been knitting for about 3 years now, which isn't really very long, but in the last year and a half or so my confidence has gotten to the point where I've felt comfortable trying to teach others to knit. Heavens knows I've made some mistakes (Liking thinking SOCKS is a good first project) but I've had tons of fun doing it.
(My first socks were not RSBSY but this Knit Picks Felici taught me a lot)
My foray into teaching started with T, a work friend who had learned to cast on with the help of YouTube but couldn't get any further. When she said she wanted to learn I showed up at the office with yarn, DPN's, my favourite Basic Sock pattern by Margaret Testa and every intention of making her a hopeless addict like myself. Why socks you ask? Well I like to tell everyone that my first project ever was a pair of socks that Ashley had to walk me through. This is definitely the truth but what I've forgotten in the past, is that I actually knew how to knit by the time those socks rolled around. I knew how to knit and I knew how to purl, I just hadn't put those skills together to make an actual project. It wasn't until after I watched T make some of the same mistakes I made when I was learning, that this fact became apparent to me. I would love to tell you about some of these classics (like the time she knit a stitch marker into her project and just kept going) but I don't wanna be mean.
I should also mention that not only did I get the project choice wrong, I also got the yarn wrong. I started T off on department store yarn that might have been ok for a more experienced knitter, but in the hands of a newb, it split and divided in the most horrible way. I didn't realize the disservice I had done her until we were pretty deep into the first sock. If you can, do yourself a favour, start out on a good merino/nylon blend like our Comfort Sock. It's really durable and feels amazing. There are some decent department store yarns that I've used in the past, and while they work, they've never really stolen my heart.
(The family that knits together, stays together!)
My second student was my Mom. At Christmas, Ashley and I gifted unlimited knitting lessons to my mom with some gorgeous Red Sock Blue Sock yarn and her first pair of knitting needles. This time I was prepared. I knew now that socks were maybe a second project idea. I started her with Simple Yet Effective by Tin Can Knits. This cowl is awesome. It really teaches the basics of knitting, purling and also, knitting in the round. What it doesn't teach you is how to twist your stitches so remarkably that you end up with an infinity cowl with three twists in it. For that you need a really special teacher... like me. Hey it's a style, okay?! To be honest, by the time I realized what was going on it was really too late to turn back. In the end, I'm still maintaining that I got the pattern right this time. If you're starting out, this pattern is definitely a great way to learn. Just do what they say in the pattern and make sure you keep your stitches straight.
So I've sort of painted a picture of what its like to be taught by me. Mostly it's just me fumbling around like an over excited puppy showing off all of my new tricks but there are a few pros to having me as a teacher. First of all, I've made an enormous amounts of mistakes while knitting so I've become adept at correcting them or, at least, bluffing my way through and making a mistake look like it's supposed to be there. Second, while there is every likelihood that I may laugh at a really awesome fumble (referencing my knitted in stitch marker here), I try to keep my laughter closer to light amusement than full out mockery. Third, it turns out, and while some people would never believe it, I actually have an abundance of patience that I save almost exclusively for new knitters and small children. Fourth, and maybe the one that will work in the favour of all of my future students, I LOVE watching people learn a new skill. It really is an amazing thing of beauty.
I'm sure as time passes I'll learn better ways of teaching. I don't think I'll ever stop while someone wants to learn from me. The knit community is one I love to help expand because I've made the most amazing friends here. When I help make a knitter, I just make a new friend.