Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Fiddly Sticks

June 9, 2018

I’m a big fan and regular user of double-pointed needles (DPNs), especially for socks because then I don’t need stitch markers, but I completely understand how daunting they can appear to knitters and non-knitters alike.

“Fiddly” is the word I use when explaining DPN use to my knitting students. To be sure I’m using it correctly, I looked up the definition: “complicated or detailed and awkward to do or use.” Or, as the good folks at Merriam Webster say, ” requiring an annoying amount of close attention.” Annoying. That sounds about right.

(As an aside, if you’re on Twitter, you really must follow Merriam Webster. You’ll learn and you’ll laugh — and really, couldn’t we all benefit from more of that?!)

At last week’s Knit 101 class, Lisa learned to pick up and knit sleeve stitches using DPNs. And, true to the definition, she found it (annoyingly) fiddly.

“Aaargh, I can’t do this,” she exclaimed after her first stitch. Her first stitch!

DPN-first-try

I encouraged her to breathe and try another stitch, reminding her that she was only knitting with two needles. The other two needles, dangling nearby and holding 2/3 of her stitches, were just hanging out, waiting until she finished with the stitches she was working.

As you can see, she got the hang of it pretty quickly and finished wee sleeve #1.

Baby-sweater-sleeve

Since baby’s arms are so short, a short sleeve was in order. Wish I could remember the yarn she’s using. Isn’t it fun? I’ll look it up and will update soon.

In other DPN news, I’ve started the sleeves on the Sunshine Coast sweater. Now that the warm weather has finally arrived here in the Boston area, it’s time to get this finished.

Sunshine-coast-sleeve

Advertisements

New Knitter Pride

April 4, 2018

Some WIPs (works in progress) on a Wednesday: Not all of the students in my Knit 101 class are true novices, but every month or so, a brand new knitter walks through the door. Chris and Justin are the most recent, each with their own motivations for learning a new craft.

Ten-year old Chris arrived with his mother, a non-knitter, a few weeks ago and explained he thought knitting looked cool. Yup, you read that right. While he’s got a goal of making a sweater someday, he started with a practice swatch in garter stitch and last week learned the purl stitch. His concentration and quiet pride warm my heart.

New-knitter.jpeg

When Justin walked through the door, I thought he was looking for directions to someplace else! He’s not your typical Saturday morning knit class member: a male, accountant in his late 20s.

His motivation for learning to knit? He resolved to learn 10 new things this year. How cool is that?! So far, he’s learned to bake bread and play golf (at an indoor range until the snow melts). When summer comes, he wants to learn how to water ski. His knitting goal is socks for his girlfriend but, like Chris, happily — and very conscientiously — dived into knits and purls.

Novice-knitter.jpeg

After completing her son’s hat, Louise is working on a scarf (the pattern name escapes me at the moment) in a beautiful variegated yarn. She’s been perusing sweater patterns, so it’s likely she’ll add another project soon.

Louise-scarf.jpeg

Jacqui recently returned to class after a winter hiatus and has cast on a hat. Before she joins the stitches in the round, I encouraged her to knit an inch or two flat, so that it’ll be easier to join without twisting. The subtle color shifts in this Madeline Tosh yarn are exquisite.

Jacqui-ribbing.jpeg

I’ve been spending most of my knitting time with the second sock. I’ll get back to the Sunshine Coast one of these days. What’s on your needles?

Sock2

First Mittens

February 24, 2018

Although already a competent knitter, Jeanne joined the Knitting 101 class at Stitch House a few weeks ago, accompanying friend Jean, a true novice. She’s a terrific cheerleader for Jean, giving her tips and encouragement as she created her first project: a Wham Bam Thank You Lamb neck warmer.

Jeanne arrived at last Saturday’s class with one completed mitten and another nearly finished. By the end of class, she’d finished the thumb, closed a gap in the wrist ribbing, and was done!

Jeanne-knit-mittens2

Feeling camera-shy, she struck the perfect pose for admiring these simple, beautiful mittens. When she commented that they were a bit roomier than she had hoped, I took the opportunity to share a general knitting tip.

Knitting Tip

Before starting a project, make a copy of your pattern and work from that.

  • Note the yarn and needles you used.
  • Highlight each size-specific instruction.
  • Use check marks or your method of choice for keeping track of repeats or numbers of rows.
  • When you’re done, make notes about what you’d do differently next time. In Jeanne’s case, she’ll make the mitten smaller by either using a smaller needle (with same size yarn) or by casting on fewer stitches.

I’ve never knit mittens. At least, I don’t think I have. After my recent memory challenge, I can’t be 100% sure.

Do you have a favorite mitten pattern?

Exuberant Girls with Yarn & Needles

February 10, 2018

Have I mentioned recently how much I enjoy teaching knitting? Oh, I have? Maybe a couple or few times? Well, I’ll say it again.

Every Thursday afternoon since early January, I’ve been teaching fourth- and fifth-grade girls from a local after-school program how to knit. There’s never a dull moment in what is definitely the fastest two hours of my week. Think knitting is a quiet, calm craft? Think again.

Only two students were complete novices; the others had learned in my class last year. Like all knitters, each developed her own style of holding the needles and working the yarn. One had to adapt since her arm was encased in a bright purple cast.

Girls-knit

Our sessions were interjected with regular fits of laughter, occasional shrieks (“Aaaaaah, I messed up! Help! Fix it!”), dancing or floor stretches, and spontaneous bursts of singing. They rehearsing for the fifth grade production of Peter Pan (the junior version — who knew? not me!).

Three projects were finished at the session’s last class this week. A fingerless mitt that will someday have a mate:

Bascp-mitt

What started off as a neck warmer was turned into a headband because time was short and finishing is key to a first project:

Bascp-headband

And a slightly too-large but still beautiful and pom-pom’d two-colored hat:

Bascp-hat-pompom

Their delighted pride at their accomplishments is everything!

Fearless Knitter Finished Objects

February 6, 2018

In November, I started teaching a Knit 101 class at Stitch House, one of Boston’s lovely local yarn stores (LYS). Starting at 9:00 on Saturday mornings, a group of about six or eight new knitters gather around the table for learning, creating, sharing, and only occasionally, cursing. The students include sisters, ages 7 and 9, so we try to keep our language in check!

Stitch-house-knit101

For their first projects, several knitters have made the Wham Bam Thank You Lamb Neckwarmer. Jean is seaming hers in the lower corner in the photo above. It fits my top requirement for a first project, namely that you’ll be able to finish in a reasonable amount of time and experience that surge of pride in your accomplishment. A cotton dishcloth (or washcloth, your choice) also fits the bill when it comes to a first project. Here’s Mary’s creation:

Wham-bam-lamb-cowl

When Helena finished her neckwarmer, she immediately texted her mother in Brazil, who was suitably impressed. Of course.

Wham-bam-lamb-neck-warmer

Julia made a super bulky cowl, which she was delighted to discover also made a terrific headband!

Julia-cowl

This past Saturday, her sister finished a hat, complete with pom pom, for a younger cousin. As you can see, she was delighted. And that’s what it’s all about.

Ella-pink-hat

What have you made that makes you proud? I’d love to hear your ideas for other good knitting projects for beginning knitters?

 

 

 

How to Light a Fire Under a Knitter

May 26, 2017

Most of my afternoon knitting sessions with tween girls consist of a lively mix of joke telling, spontaneous singing and dancing, high volume stories of school, sports, and friends, and occasional knitting. I’ll often knit a row or round for every one they knit.

However, this week, I unconsciously threw down the knitting gauntlet (after all, who can knit with a gauntlet?!) and the results were remarkable. A couple of weeks ago, they’d started garter stitch headbands. Because she’d started earlier, Ella was a few inches ahead of Brigid, and I commented that she could probably finish that afternoon. “Do you think I’ll finish today?” asked Brigid. “I doubt it,” I replied.

Boom! The race began. United in their indignation that I’d doubted their abilities and ready for the challenge, their fingers flew. Progress was measured every two or three minutes.

Headband-measure

They helped each other with the decreases and i-cord. Ella was first to bind off.

Headband-bind-off

While she dashed off to change for lacrosse practice, Brigid zipped through the final few inches and sewed the ends together.

“YOU didn’t think we could do it, and we DID!” Delighted in their victory, they agreed to hold still for a photo.

B&E-headbands

They’re so awesome. I never doubted them for a minute!

Bike Rack Yarn Bomb

May 19, 2017

With all the rain we’ve been having this month, I’d been keeping my fingers crossed that nothing would be falling from the sky during my knitting girls’ field trip to install their yarn bomb. Fortunately, the bike rack that we wrapped was in a shady spot since Mother Nature gifted us a hot (93F, 34C) sunny day.

The first decision was what order to attach the 8 or 10 knitted segments, 7 inch wide rectangles of various lengths. Once each was pinned onto the rack, the installation began.

yarn-bomb-installation

crystal-lake-yarn-bomb

Each segment was stitched onto the rack, then the ends of the segments were connected so the rack was covered in one very long (about 23 feet, 7 meters) tube.

yarn-bomb-install

As always with 10- and 11-year old girls, the conversation was wide ranging and non-stop — mostly about the adventure at hand — and occasionally interspersed with outbreaks of singing!

  • “How long do you think this will stay here?”
  • “I really hope someone doesn’t cut this off or mess with it.”
  • “Is this art?”

The project is part of a city-wide Festival of the Arts, an annual event that usually includes some type of public art creation. This year’s public art is “Hooked on Newton,” a celebration of fiber via knitting, crochet, and (I’ve heard) tapestry that will be installed at a nearby lake. The first official installation is this coming Sunday, but we got permission from the organizers to decorate the bike rack on a week day, so the girls could participate.

They had a blast and were all justifiably proud of their creation.  Me, too.

yarn-bomb-girls

yarn-bomb-bike-rack

 

Nothing like finishing

March 31, 2017

Each Friday, I spend 90 minutes with 7 or 8 fourth grade girls at a nearby after-school program. I’m there to teach knitting, but mostly I just try to keep up with their questions, energy, anxieties, and aspirations.

“Help! I messed up! Oh wait, never mind.”

“I want to knit slippers. How many stitches should I cast on?” Said while holding nothing but a ball of Sugar ‘N Cream cotton yarn and size 7 (mm) needles

“I was going to go on the field trip today but my stomach hurt from worrying, so I decided to come to knitting instead.”

Last week, Lily finished the last couple of inches of a garter stitch scarf, a gift for her aunt who was coming over for dinner. Another knitter volunteered to model. I love her t-shirt — Try And Stop Me — which conveys the fierceness that so many 10-year-old girls possess.

Garter-stitch-scarf

As she carefully folded the scarf and put it into her backpack, Lily wondered aloud, “I hope she likes it. I know she likes these colors but will she like the scarf?”

“How could she not like it?” a fellow Fearless Knitter asked and then confidently answered her own question, “You made it and she loves you.”

So very true.

 

 

Knitting Class in Newton, MA

January 12, 2017

The start of the New Year means the start of a new knitting class. Actually, my classes run on a rolling basis, so students start whenever it fits their schedules. The new year is a time for new adventures, isn’t it?

Fearless_knitting

Regular readers will know how much I love to teach knitting since I’ve mentioned it now and again (and again…).

Interested in learning to knit or enhancing your skills and confidence? Read on….

Would you like to learn to knit? Do you know the basics but are ready to move beyond a scarf?

Or have you finished a couple of projects and are ready to learn some new techniques and become more confident — what I call a Fearless Knitter!

Join one of two knitting classes and attend whichever fits your schedule.

Tuesday evenings, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Wednesday mornings, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Beginners will develop a strong foundation of skills so that they can continue knitting many different types of projects. You’ll learn how to: cast on, knit, purl, create a border, read a pattern, identify and fix common mistakes, and bind off. When you’re done your “starter project,” you’ll select one of your choice — a chunky, soft circular scarf, a colorful hat, whatever!

If you know how to knit and are working on a project of your own and/or are ready to challenge yourself with cables, lace knitting, chart reading, socks, or other knitting skills, this is the class for you.

Cost is $75 for a five-class pass. Class size limited to 8.

Interested? Leave a comment or Email me for details. 

Girls Who Knit

December 9, 2016

For the past few weeks, I’ve been spending Monday afternoons teaching knitting to eight girls at a local after-school program. It’s the most high-energy 90 minutes of my week!

As always when I teach new knitters, a first lesson is to spot and then fix mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, and if you can’t fix them, you’re more likely to give up. Although only a couple of the girls have tried knitting before, each of the 7 fourth graders and one fifth grader is on her way to becoming a Fearless Knitter.

They’ve started with a cotton dishcloth, casting on (knitted cast-on) about 33 stitches, and working a few inches in garter stitch.

I like seeing how each of them holds the needles and yarn, developing her own technique and muscle memory for the craft.

With each stitch, they’re becoming more competent and more confident.

“When I woke up this morning, I dreaded going to school, but then I remembered that we’d be knitting this afternoon. That gave me energy to make it through the whole school day!” A bit dramatic perhaps, but a sentiment that many knitters — including me — share.

 

Knitting Class: Small but Fierce

December 5, 2016

After several years of having 6 to 8 knitters around the table at each knitting class, I find myself with two very small sessions this fall. I don’t know what accounts for the change, and I’m not taking the lack of enrollment personally (at least most of the time!).

What these regular Fearless Knitters lack in number, they more than make up in their creativity, persistence, good humor, and ferocity. Discover a mistake (or many) a few inches into your circular scarf? Realize that the pattern on your stranded sweater is off by a few stitches? Learn the painful lesson that knitting while drinking red wine is not for the faint of heart? (Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about!) These knitting students tackled each project and challenge with vigor and commitment.

Christy, she of the Fox Cowl Hood, recently finished a luscious braided cable cowl. The yarn and pattern are from Purl Soho. With the temperatures dipping below freezing here in Greater Boston, you can bet this cowl will get a lot of wear.

file-dec-04-2-29-52-pm

Gillan’s half-way through a pair of chunky fingerless mitts. The pattern had both of us flummoxed for a while. (And by a while, I mean we each knitted and ripped it back two or three times!) Following it carefully resulted in two rounds of ribbing around the thumb gusset, messing up the rhythm of the seed stitch. Finally, I adjusted the pattern, substituting some PFB for KFB and some (P,K) for (K,P) repeats. Seems to have worked.

file-dec-04-2-29-14-pm

Marcia’s latest creation is a striped cardigan for a lucky baby-to-be. After finishing the neck at our last class, the only thing she’s got left to do is graft the sleeves to the body (underarm grafting, what a concept!) and add some buttons.

file-dec-04-2-30-21-pm

See the yarn near the neck? That’s all she had left — yet again, playing a high stakes game of Knitting Bind-Off Chicken.  Who says knitters aren’t risk takers?!

 

Isn’t That Cozy?!

November 13, 2016

Fearless Knitter Rachel, she of the lovely chromatic cowl among other projects, emailed recently to show off her knitted tea cozy. 


Knit in the round in garter stitch (I think), it’s bright, snug, and sure to keep your teapot warm. 

Rachel’s from England so she knows tea. Looking for a gift to knit for a friend or relative? 

Do you have a Christmas gift knitting list? What’s on it? Mine’s not very extensive and is a secret for now. 

Foxy Knits: Update from Class

November 8, 2016

Christy joined my knitting class this fall and is making an adorable hood for one of her daughters. The Failyn Fox Cowl is knit with two strands of bulky yarn and has provided Christy with several opportunities to learn new techniques. For example, knitting in the round and, as you can see, seaming.

fox-hood-cowl-seaming

The ears are knit separately and include a crochet edging that nicely masks any uneven or not-quite-lined-up stitches. Since I’ve not yet fulfilled my goal of learning to crochet (it was on my summer wish list), we looked up “single crochet edge” in one of my many knitting books and she was on her way.

ears knit separately fox hood cowl

Since she has two daughters, Christy is planning to make a similar cowl for daughter #2. I’ll be sure to update you when she’s finished.

 

Back to (Knitting) Class

September 15, 2016

No matter how old I am, September will always be back-to-school time (at least, here in the Northern Hemisphere). Regular readers will know how much I love to teach knitting since I’ve mentioned it now and again (and again…).

fall-classes

My new fall classes are enrolling now here in lovely Newton, MA. Care to join?

Would you like to learn to knit? Do you know the basics but are ready to move beyond a scarf?

Or have you finished a couple of projects and are ready to learn some new techniques and become more confident — what I call a Fearless Knitter!

Now enrolling for two knitting classes, beginning in late-September.

Tuesday evenings, beginning September 27
7:00pm – 9:00pm

Wednesday mornings, beginning September 28
10:00am – 12:00pm

Beginners will develop a strong foundation of skills so that they can continue knitting many different types of projects. You’ll learn how to: cast on, knit, purl, create a border, read a pattern, identify and fix common mistakes, and bind off. When you’re done your “starter project,” you’ll select one of your choice — a chunky, soft circular scarf, a colorful hat, whatever!

If you know how to knit and are working on a project of your own and/or are ready to challenge yourself with cables, lace knitting, chart reading, socks, or other knitting skills, this is the class for you.

Cost is $75 for a five-class pass. Class size limited to 8.

Interested? Email me for details. 

Knitting House Call

August 9, 2016

On a recent evening, Marcia — neighbor, friend, and knitting student (among other talents) — dropped by for a house call. She had a couple of skeins of lovely yarn that needed winding, and she needed a scarf-in-progress that was in need of rescue.

Like me, Marcia often visits local yarn stores when she travels, bringing home a souvenir of sorts with which she makes a new creation. This summer, her travels took her to London (England, not Ontario) where she bought a yummy skein of I Knit or Dye’s “At Last” silk 4 ply. It’ll probably be a shawl the next time you see it.

I Knit or Dye yarn "At Last" in Swizzel

She’s also picked up some “Extra” from Blue Sky Fibers (here in Ocean Deep), which will become a soft, cozy sweater. Stay tuned for that, too.

skein of Blue Sky Fiber's Extra yarn

Never one to shy away from a knitting challenge, Marcia had modified a cabled scarf pattern by adding an addition “twist” to her latest project. As an accountant, she’s very adept — and particular about — numbers, a very useful skill for a Fearless Knitter especially when it comes to rewriting a pattern.

However, while airplane flights are often fabulous knitting opportunities, Marcia discovered that they’re less-than-fabulous is the knitter has taken a muscle relaxant because of back spasms. It was no surprise that she got her cables in a bit of a twist!

With some careful tinking [to tink (knit spelled backwards) = to unknit, stitch by stitch) and picking up of stitches, we were able to put the scarf back on track.

cabled scarf close up

She can’t recall the name of this natural handspun yarn, but I can assure you that it is lusciously soft and squishy.

 

Two Girls, Two Knitted Tubes

June 1, 2016

Longtime readers have heard how much I love to teach knitting. This year, I’ve expanded my students to include three marvelous pre-teen girls, each a Fearless Knitter in her own right.

At our most recent class, L finished the garter stitch hat that she’d knitted with a rainbow of Noro. She had declared her previous garter stitch hat “too short” and was determined to make this one longer so that it’d droop in back.The last inch or so was completed and careful seaming commenced.

seam-garter-stitch-hat

The result is a tubular “stove pipe” that is gathered at one end.

garter-stitch-hat-tube

A big green pom pom was the finishing touch.

garter-stitch-hat-pompom

I wasn’t surprised when B declared that she wanted to design her own striped leg warmers. Having decided partway through her first garter stitch hat that she’d really prefer to make fingerless gloves, she’s a girl who has an image of a finished product in mind. Leg warmer #1 was seamed, ends woven in (you’ll have to trust us on that since they’re on the inside), and modeled.

Being a dancer, B was particularly proud of her pointed toes in this shot.

stripe-leg-warmer

And she thought the sparkly sneakers were a great accompaniment to the leg warmer. Don’t you agree?

knit-striped-leg-warmer

The Game of “Bind-off Chicken”

May 4, 2016

Anyone who’s been knitting for a while knows the feeling: you’re nearly done your project and you’re nearly out of yarn. Will the yarn last? Or will you be forced to rip out a row or round or make a trip to the yarn in search of one more skein. With each stitch you bind off, you use the force of will (and maybe prayer) to make the yarn last.

Marcia played her first game of “Bind-off Chicken” at knitting class last night.  Eight stitches to bind off and a mere 2.5 inches of yarn remaining. Guess who won?

2016-05-03 20.43.39

She didn’t have another skein of yarn, which she’d bought in the sale bin at a LYS. She didn’t want to rip out a round of the sleeve cuff because it was only four rows and anything shorter just wouldn’t work she felt.

Fortunately, she hadn’t woven in any ends on the entire sweater. When she turned it inside out, she discovered 5 or 6 long strands — a whopping 2 or 3 feet of additional yarn — more than enough to join and finish the bind off. Whew!

Here’s a sneak peek of her sweater. With any luck, I’ll have more photos once it’s finished and blocked.

2016-04-12 19.25.30

2016-04-12 19.25.21

Seeking Fearless Knitters for New Class

March 24, 2016

Fearless_knitting

Regular readers know that I’ve been teaching knitting for several years now and absolutely love it. Just click on the tag “teaching” to see examples of the awesome knitters in my classes.

I’m expanding my offerings this spring. So if you’re in the vicinity of Newton and want to learn or expand your skills, join us!

Here’s the scoop from the notice I put in the schools’ Community Notes:

Would you like to learn to knit? Do you know the basics but are ready to move beyond a scarf?

Or have you finished a couple of projects and are ready to learn some new techniques and become more confident?

Register now for an adults-only knitting class taught by an experienced teacher:

Tuesday evenings beginning March 29
7:00pm – 9:00pm
OR
Wednesday mornings beginning March 30
10am – noon

Cost: $75 for a 5-class pass
Location: Instructor’s home

In this class, beginners will develop a strong foundation of skills so that they can continue knitting many different types of projects. You’ll learn how to: cast on, knit, purl, create a border, read a pattern, identify and fix common mistakes, and bind off. More experienced knitters can expand their skills to cables, lace knitting, chart reading, and/or socks.

Leave a comment or email me if you’re interested. maryannhill82 <at> gmail [dot] com

Another GAP-tastic Cowl

February 10, 2016

One of the most popular projects among my knitting students is Jen Geigley’s GAP-tactic cowl (or, if you prefer, infinity scarf).

The most commonly used yarn is the pattern’s suggestion, Lion’s Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, or its super bulky Thick & Quick. Being Fearless Knitters, though, my students sometimes substitute and create an adaptation.

For example, Gillan, who used a luscious, blue heathered GAP-tastic out of a yarn whose name she cannot recall. But it sure is beautiful.

2016-02-02 12.07.15.jpg

Turning a Hat into Fingerless Gloves

February 6, 2016

For the past couple of months, I’ve had the great pleasure of teaching knitting to three 5th grade girls. We gather at one girl’s house and spend 90 minutes knitting, chatting (and listening) about sports, school, older siblings (ugh!),  and ideas for next projects. “Do you think I could make this?”  “How long do you think it’d take to make this?”

They all started on the same project: a garter stitch hat with bulky weight yarn. A simple rectangle that will be pulled on one end at bind-off and topped with a big pom-pom.

Last week, Brigid decided that she’d rather turn her hat-to-be into fingerless gloves. Why not?

After measuring her wrist, we realized the time – and length- were right. So I showed her how to bind off and then how to seam.

We marked the thumb hole, and she seamed up to that point. Then the top little bit and voila!

She was thrilled — and rightly so. The other two girls were appropriately happy for her and encouraged her to cast on the next on quickly “otherwise you might stop at one.”  So wise!

%d bloggers like this: