Yes, I can teach ~ really, I can

Do I start with only a sock class? Hell, no. I’ve got to start with 2 classes held on one afternoon: one class is three 1.5-hour sessions (socks); the second is 4 1.5-hour sessions. This means teach a sock class for 1.5 hours, take a half-hour break, follow-up by teaching a class on a complicated shawl for 1.5 hours. What was I thinking? I understood going in that knowing how to knit and having knit a pattern are not the same as having the skills to teach how to do either. What I didn’t understand was all the personalities I would have to deal with as a new teacher at the LYS I dearly love.

Several unexpected things happened to make both the first sock class and the first Catkin (a beautiful shawl by Carina Spencer) class more stressful than they typically would have been. No need to go in to that here: what I learned from those first 2 classes is much more important.

For a newbie teacher, having fun the first few classes is not important: having fun hopefully comes later when students communicate their happiness and the shop owner is happy with the teaching. If fun for the teacher is not to be had, move on and drop the teaching.

What happens first to many new to teaching (please this can’t be just me) are the complaints from students and violating some shop rules. Learn from the complaints; learn the shop rules.

So given hindsight (we all know how that works), here is my list of what I believe will help me & possibly others (I know at least a few people are reading this)  as I move forward in this new venture into the world of teaching knitting classes –

  • give the shop owner a class plan – notes (no matter how good), a highlighted pattern, and a list of what is to be covered are not enough
  • have a syllabus for each class in a series – it may also serve as a good handout for the students
  • include on the syllabus an estimate of the time it may take to cover each item (and remember, it’s only an estimate)
  • ask the owner if it is possible to schedule classes to begin 15-30 minutes after the shop opens and to allow 15-30 minutes between the end of one teacher’s class and the beginning of your class
  • take a look at the classroom – try to get a feeling about how to work within the space especially if it is small and confining (typical for a small shop; space is expensive
  • meet with the shop owner one to two weeks before the first class and after she or he has reviewed your class plan: take notes at that meeting; ask the owner what you may encounter in class that you may not be prepared for (e.g. a quirky student, students missing a class and wanting a make-up class); how does the owner handle a last-minute class cancellation; what advice does the owner have; and, whatever questions I haven’t thought of to date
  • know that the unexpected most likely will happen; we can only do our best
  • screw-ups will most likely happen, too – learn from it, do the best damage control possible and get over it

The most difficult thing for me is developing a tough skin. I had a tough skin when I worked in neuroscience labs for 15 years and then spent 20 years in a business dominated by men. Teaching knitting classes is different: it’s personal. My knitting transitioned from a skill to a passion about five years ago. I can’t seem to complete projects, design knitwear, or learn about fiber and knitting quickly enough; and, it’s dear to my heart.

The real test will come during the next class sessions. Yes, I will give my class plans and syllabi to the shop owner and request a meeting a few days in advance of the classes.

I still think the Catkin is gorgeous.

Catkin

WIPs ~ a personal record

On my needles (listed in order of cast-on with the most recent listed first) –

  1. Summer Solstice by Heidi Kirrmaier – a cardigan knit in stockinette. If not for the unique construction and working with Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (a joy to work with), this project would drive me mad.
  2. Vanilla Socks – plain ole socks knit from the cuff down. Cast these on to have something compact and mindless while waiting in the prospective-juror pool. The project mostly sits. Did not get called for jury duty. Yay! It was a really yucky case.
  3. Zigzag Top by Marianne Isager – fabulous design, simple to adjust size, fun to knit. Taking me forevah ’cause I keep getting distracted; I’ve had to rip back several times simply because I can’t seem to understand the written word. Marianne Isager is one of my favorite designers.
  4. Gothic Spire Socks by Cookie A – really, really have to get these off the needles. I work socks “in tandem” to avoid second-sock syndrome. First sock is just past the gusset; second is midway through the gusset so they are practically finished. Such a cleaver pattern. These were supposed to be for my sister, but they are too tight for her. Guess I’ll just have to keep them. My first project with String Theory Caper Sock. Very yummy!
  5. Color Affection by Veera Välimäki – According to Ravelry, 4,331 knitters are either working on or have completed this shawl; an additional 6,982 knitters have it queued up to knit. I love Välimäki’s designs. Not a fan of garter stitch, but the end results are gorgeous. My first project other than socks worked in all Bugga! from the Verdant (formerly known as the Sanguine) Gryphon. Bugga! is awesome and one of my absolute favorite yarns.
  6. Winter Berries by Marjorie Dussaud – set this scarf aside because I wanted to work on summer stuff. It’s really in hibernation even though I didn’t officially label it zzz.

So what did I do today…. purchased another pattern. I was only going to add it to my queue (#70), but noticed it was selling for 40% off ($3.60) until July 14. Derecho by Laura Aylor is a stunning shawl and looks like such a fun knit. I can’t wait to cast it on. Hope I have the perfect yarn in my stash, but then my LYS is having a 15% off sale this month.

There is a seventh WIP; yes, a seventh.The real #1 deserves it’s own post.

A foray into the blogosphere

I am an avid knitter expanding, like so many others, into knitwear design. Figure if I start blogging about it, patterns will evolve into print. My first design is this shawl, but it has yet to manifest itself completely to the written page. In other words, I started writing the pattern and it waits patiently to be finished. The pattern name is Winging It. Used Kauni Wool 8/2 Effektgarn, ~650 yd.

My first written pattern (hope to post it to Ravelry by week’s end) is this hat – Laura’s Hat. Very simple. It’s okay to start with a simple pattern. In fact, that’s probably better. Get a little experience under my belt. Big yarn: ~90 yards of Debbie Bliss Como. Most of my knits are in fingering or DK weight, but big yarn seems to be popular and who doesn’t like a quick knit….

now a free Raverly download

I have taken quite a few knitting classes, but no classes focusing entirely on how to design knitwear. I hope to bring home several new skills after my trip to Manchester, New Hampshire in October for Interweave Knitting Lab.

For today, this is about it. Just one more photo to share. Found this lovely on a potted plant near my side door.

Orgyia definita – Definite Tussock Moth – Packard, 1864

This catepillar eats tree leaves; however, there has to be an infestation for it to cause significant damage. So glad I can simply enjoy the critter for its very brief lifespan.