Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Knitting Class

Two weeks in, and this is what we've done so far:

I bought some Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool at JoAnn's, using my 40% off coupons. I measured out about 65-70 yards, using my big measuring stick (measured 4 feet at a time, so I got about 50 lengths -- I didn't worry about being too exact with this).

I wound the piles of yarn into little balls, using a highlighter as a nostepinde (classy, eh?):

I got out 8 pairs of needles in sizes 10 or 10.5 or 9 -- again, this was a bit random. I cast on 25 stitches and knit 2 rows. I've noticed that the first row after casting on is the hardest to knit, so I thought I'd get them past that. Then I bagged each set of needles plus yarn in a big ziploc, and took them into the first class.

Handed them out to the 8 students, instructed those who already knew how to do a knit stitch (most of the class) to start knitting to sort of get warmed up, and then taught the 2 who had never held needles before in their lives how to do a knit stitch. I knit continental, so I taught them that way.

Then I asked who was ready to learn how to purl, and went around the room showing how to do a continental purl stitch. I encountered some really different ways of holding the yarn. I also observed that we have a mix of continental and English knitters, but thankfully none of the English knitters needed help that day, because, really, that whole business of holding the yarn in your right hand looks incredibly backwards to me (don't tell the students I said that, though, because I keep saying in class that there are lots of correct ways to do this stuff).

I sent them home with their little balls of yarn and needles, with instructions to practice. I emailed them links to various YouTube videos, selected according to how they held their yarn.

Some of them practiced, some didn't. One girl left her yarn at the place class meets, so she didn't work on it. One girl quit. Another girl asked to join. And thus we reached week 2.

Week 2 we worked on how to bind off. And I collected the samples that were finished (one wasn't done yet), put them in ziplocs and wrote their names with Sharpie so I could tell them apart. Although, really, they were fairly distinctive:

The one with the funky shaping in the upper left corner was a girl who already knows how to knit well -- the one who left her knitting in class. She was chatting away while binding off, and started knitting instead of binding off. So I said, "Oh, it's a design element!" which she thought was funny ... so she knit several rows over those few stitches to make a crazy shape. The person in the upper right corner had knit hers at home, and decided to add a bit of different yarn to see what would happen. Middle bottom was experimenting with knits and purls (she had just learned to purl the first week). To the right of hers is the one from the student who just started this week --"Do we have to use all the yarn?" "No, just until you're satisfied with it." She had a crash course in how to purl English-style, marking the first time I've ever done that in my life (glad I watched those YoutTube videos myself so I could fake it, although I admitted my brain was having to work much harder to show it to her). And piece in bottom right corner is from someone who just learned the knit stitch last week.

Close up of the piece featuring all the knits and purls. She managed to come up with a K1P1 rib, as well as seed stitch/moss stitch. She was fascinated that seed stitch had a name -- she was trying to do more ribbing, and "couldn't figure out what went wrong".

I'm now sending all of these through the washer with our towels. Some of the kids have started on cotton dishcloths. Others will start next week. And AnnaBeth is pretty sure she should switch over to our class, so she's working on a dishcloth here at home. The class was billed as "for ages 10 and up", but she'd be the youngest -- most are in grades 7-9.

So far so good. I think. I generally despise leading classes, but knitting is pretty much second nature, so it isn't horrible. So far.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the specifics. I'm thinking of doing a knitting class soon, and it seemed to me that having a few rows already knit would be a good choice.

You seem like a thorough, supportive, and well-prepared teacher. Lucky kids.

TaraChristiane said...

I love the way you are running your knitting class! I have to agree, pre-knitting those first two rows is genius. I may have to steal some of your ideas when co-op time roles around, so I hope you continue to post your notes. :-)

Melanie said...

Wonderful! I love all the different swatches. I tried to teach a knitting class for our last homeschool group. It turned out that everyone wanted to learn how to crochet instead! That was fine, but I had to scramble because I hadn't crocheted anything since picking up my first knitting needles. :)