I miss teaching.

It’s been a few weeks – month? – since I’ve taught a class. I miss it when I don’t (and, like cooling hot chocolate, I develop a sort of skin – a barrier – that makes me fearful of jumping back into the teaching again. Hard to explain…)

Anyway, last night my knitting group came by and we had a lovely time! I got to show off the manse again, always exciting, and as a bonus I got to show off Hannah and Max. Atticus and Kiki showed themselves off with mixed results (I hope “Lady Poodle” is recovered by now…)

But for me one of the best facets of the evening was a new knitter (fresh blood!) or, rather, creating a new knitter!

I’d asked her to come a little early so I could get her up to speed, and by the time most of the folks arrived she’d been knitting Stockinette Stitch and Garter like a pro! I taught her both Combination and Western purling (Harvard grad = she could get it FAST!) and then just for yuks I had her do a few rows of ribbing.

She was amazing. She really has an intuitive sense for knitting, and I cannot wait to see what she chooses to make as her first project!

Because she was ribbing so beautifully, I had to show her cabling without a cable needle, which made everyone laugh. I’m hopeful that I’ll be seeing a lot of cabled stuff in the knitting group.

Ironically, I’d just received an email from a sister Combination knitter asking me how I teach new knitters, here’s what I wrote back:

When I teach new knitters I start by handing them a needle with about 10 rows already worked in St. st. I show them the knit and the purl (combination purl) and have them do about 10 rows in St. st.

Then I show them Garter. I explain my theory about inserting the needle into each stitch so it’s “happy” (not twisted) and I make sure they notice that with these sts the needle is entering the stitch differently than before.

Then I show them the Western purl and explain this is how most folks in the US knit, and that it will turn their knit stitch around so it’s worked in the same manner as the garter stitch.

I’ve had EXCELLENT success with this, it gets knitters going right away with St st so they’re not afraid of the purl. The concept, “The way one wraps the stitch in one row impacts how that stitch sits on the needle in the following row.” begins to make perfect sense.

In the following class I’ll have them do ribbing, and then I leap right into cabling.

It isn’t until class #3 that I teach new students how to cast on. For me, casting on is comparable to skipping. You don’t have a kid learn to walk by skipping. Once a child understands how to walk, skipping is easier to comprehend.

One knitter was working on a beautiful project – the Yoga Matt Carrier from IK (oh, lookey, it’s designed by my friend, Alison Will Green!) It was lovely, but she’d gotten off her count so the lace was a little skewed.

She bravely ripped out the errant rows with such confidence (the cat was pretty happy about that…) and soon we got everything set right.

I discussed the joy that is a nice collection of stitch markers…

I noticed that she was working off of written instructions, so I offered to chart the pattern for her. It’s an odd pattern to chart, the repeats don’t sit immediately on top of each other so there’s that leap of faith thing that sometimes happens when a chart doesn’t look like a rectangular box.

I’ll be interested to see if it helps her, or if, after starting with the written instrux, it is just confusing. Everyone learns and understands differently.

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