A 2015 – 2018 Top 100 Knitting Blog!
I love to teach knitting. I love everything about it … designing new classes, picking apart the steps needed to successfully knit a particular project, offering other tips and hanging out with students.
In my classes, however, I don’t focus on teaching new students how to knit because I’m much more interested in teaching them how to become a knitter.
My goal when teaching is not simply to show students how to wrap yarn around a needle, my ultimate goal is to turn everyone into lifetime knitters because there’s more to knitting than sticks and yarn.
Think about how you refer to yourself.
Do you say, “I know how to knit” or do you say, “I’m a knitter”? There’s a difference between the two, and it’s not skill level. Knitting is a continuum from the first time you pick up knitting needles until you cross that threshold and become a knitter. Every knitter’s journey is unique and ends in different places.
Time is not necessarily a factor either.
I have students who have been knitting for less than a year who are already passionate about their knitting and intrepid about trying new things. On the other hand, there’s my sister-in-law, Karen, who knits a garter scarf once every few years. Sure she knows how to knit but she doesn’t consider herself a knitter.
So what does makes a knitter a knitter?
Stash: Let’s face it, without stash you’re just not that into it.
I’m not saying you need bins full of yarn, but knitters feel the lure of the next project, the pull of the yarn, and we certainly lose our ability to avoid the impulse purchase.
As you can see here, I’ve started accumulating sock yarn since socks are high up on my design list for 2019. That includes these 3 lovely skeins from Space Cadet, a soft gray yarn by Coop Knits and my go-to sock yarn, Cascade Heritage.
You’re part of a community: Knitters understand they are part of a larger community; we hang out in yarn shops, spend time scrolling through forums and love seeing what everyone else on Ravelry is knitting.
You understand knitting conventions: Like any hobby, activity or sport, knitting has a common vocabulary. Pattern abbreviations, chart symbols, and sizing standards form a language that looks like gibberish to outsiders but allows us to share our love of the craft with each other.
You set yourself up for long-term success: This is where many knitters struggle. If you’re in it for the long haul, you need to take the time to develop good habits (or break bad ones).
I see this all the time when students come in and comment on the speed and ease with which I knit. It’s not by accident, I switched to continental knitting well into my knitting life. When I did so, I paid particular attention to the issues and bad habits I had developed as a thrower. How I held my straight needles and yarn resulted in slow uneven knitting. Now I only knit with circular needles and wrap the yarn effortlessly around my fingers.
As a result, knitting is a joy and I can do it for hours at a time. But it all started with a 9-hour drive from San Francisco to San Diego and endless rounds of stockinette.
We always take a few minutes at the start of class to review knitting mechanics, but working on fundamentals while learning a new skill is not a good match. Want to change your muscle memory long-term? Then you need to go back to basics and knit something simple.
This Knitting Bricks scarf or blanket would be a good choice. It’s 95% knit stitch with enough detail to keep you interested.
Your Knitting Skills Checklist
Every student that signs up for a class gets this checklist, no matter their experience level. There are often things that even people who have been knitting for years don’t know or have been doing but don’t know why. This might include knit one in the row below or that when a pattern says ‘sl1’ it means purlwise with yarn in back. Another favorite thing to learn is starting the long-tail cast on without using a slip knot.
My Knitting Skills Checklist is organized like this:
You may notice purling is in the Next Step category after k2tog, slip stitches and yarn overs. That’s because I like to make sure new knitters have mastered the knit stitch and related good habits (mostly tension and yarn holding) before adding purls. That last section includes some of my knitting innovations and non-standard techniques that I use a lot in my designs.
I haven’t included every knitting skill on the list, that’s not its purpose. For example, there are multiple ways to decrease but understanding k2tog vs. ssk also adds the element of learning how stitches are oriented and that decreases lean, so they get their own check box.
Your Knitting Homework!
Take a look at the list and see where you are on your knitting journey. What missing skills stand out for you? Which ones do you want to work on this year? You’ll see I’ve left a few empty boxes – can you think of core skills or concepts I’m missing?
Learn to Knit & Learn to Teach Knitting
I’d like to develop a Learn to Knit class this year for both students and teachers because even before I became a teacher, friends were always asking me to show them how to knit.
It will include five or six patterns with progressive difficulty, skill goals for each and video support. Your feedback on what to include in the checklist will help me organize the projects.
Visiting Reno? If you are ever in the Reno / Tahoe area I would love to meet you and/or have you in one of my classes at Jimmy Beans Wool. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or look up the current class schedule here. Fair warning, I will try to convert you to continental.
P.s. WordPress just rolled out a brand new editor. I’m a bit wary because while everything looks good on my screen, the email version does not always match. If things look wonky, just click on over to the blog.