Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

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!

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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!

Treasures from Knitting Class

December 19, 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love teaching knitting. One of the best parts is watching a knitter, novice or one with experience, work through a project — deciphering a pattern, fixing the inevitable mistakes, and finally finishing.

First up, Debbie, a beginner whose patience, good humor, and perseverance are remarkable. She has an eye for her work, which means she can spot mistakes quickly. And, as I say in every class, every knitter — even the most experienced– makes mistakes. Debbie started with a small cotton washcloth, my go-to first project. She’s now working on a scarf (more on that in a future post).

 Next, there’s my down-the-street neighbor Marcia, who’s zipping through projects like a whirling dervish. (Do they knit?!) Her first socks were finished just in time for teen daughter’s birthday. As you can see, she loves them.

 As the mother of two teenagers, Marcia’s become a late-night knitter whose found the soothing benefits of knitting while waiting up for the safe return of said teens. She recently completed a lovely and deliciously soft chromatic cowl.

 In time for Christmas giving, Pam completed a dropped stitch scarf for her teen son. He’s not usually a scarf wearer, but after holding this soft beauty, he declared that he’d definitely wear this one.

 Gillan, a fiber artist, has finished an exquisite sweater and hat for a friend’s child. Regular readers will recall Gillan’s sweater seaming challenge, which she obviously remedied.   I’m particularly fond of her choice of buttons, picking up on the fiery colors of the yarn.   I hope this gives you an idea of why I love these knitting students, whom I proudly dub “Fearless Knitters.”

A Lesson in Seaming

November 11, 2015

Fearless Knitter Gillan arrived at class Tuesday morning with her Flared Baby Sweater nearly finished. She’d ripped out the button bands after her first attempt and had re-knit to her satisfaction.

But she wasn’t happy with her seams, which were bumpy and looked inside out. “What did I do wrong?” she asked.

 Turns out she hadn’t really followed the Mattress Stitch instructions that I’d thrown into her hand at the end of the last class. She’d used a whip stitch, which doesn’t lie flat, and had seamed stitches too close to the edge.

Since she’d put a lot of work into this beautiful creation, she readily ripped out the side and arm sleeves and started again with a one-on-one Mattress Stitch tutorial.  

Although she felt her progress was slow (which it wasn’t, but it felt that way), she was very pleased with the results. This side-by-side comparison shows the difference.


Next step – and finishing touch – after seaming will be button selection. I recommended 5 buttons of different colors, picking up on the fiery rainbow of the Gina yarn. What do you think?

Throw Down & Done!

April 8, 2015

There’s such a thrill to finishing a knitting project. What a wonder to see hundreds (usually thousands) of stitches, formed one by one, that become a one-of-a-kind creation. That’s part of the delight for me, something I try to convey to my knitting students — you’ve created something beautiful with sticks needles, string yarn, and your own skill, patience, and perseverance.

Regardless of the item created — a cotton washcloth, a pair of socks, a lace shawl, a scarf or cowl — and regardless of the various mistakes that occurred along the way (most of which were corrected but some may remain in the finished piece as “design elements”),  each is unique, beautiful, and made by YOU!

Which brings us to Kathy and her Crate & Barrel Throw, completed in yesterday’s class — all bound (binded?) off and ends woven in. The photo doesn’t do the throw justice — it’s soft (knit with 2 strands of lovely heathered gray wool) and has just the right amount of heft for cuddling under on the couch (while curling up with knitting, of course!).

Kathy Shows Off Finished Knit Crate & Barrel Throw

One of the other things that makes finishing a knitting project so enjoyable? Thinking about your next project!

Knitting Wirelessly

March 26, 2015

At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur (and no, I don’t know what a dinosaur sounds like), I’d just like to say how awesome it is to have the Internet as a tool in my knitting teaching and learning tool kit.

In a recent knitting class, Rachel was learning how to make a provisional cast-on for Knit Picks’ Chromatic Circle Cowl, a luscious piece that’s knit “lengthwise.” After I explained the point of a provisional cast-on — to be able to create a seamless circle so that the subtle color changes would “flow” — we found an online video tutorial. Rachel watched, followed along (with the occasional curses and snide comments) and paused, as long as needed to complete the cast-on.

Watching_video

The next week, Kathy decided her next project would be a Pineapple Tea Cozy (not a typo). Before she bought the yarn, I recommended she try the pattern by knitting a swatch with some spare yarn. The pattern looked simple enough, but as my mother says, “anything’s easy if you know how.” And we didn’t know how to decipher the instructions in this pattern.

Using Kathy’s phone and my laptop, we looked through Ravelry projects, searching for notes and tips. Then we searched for videos — “how to knit pineapple stitch” and the like — all to no avail. Then Kathy typed the instructions, “k4tog, p4tog,” into her search engine and discovered that the stitch is also called the “anemone stitch.” That was the breakthrough we needed. One click on a video, and she was on her way.

Anemone_Stitch

Topping Off a Baby Hat with a Tassel

March 2, 2015

Gillan, a fiber artist who’s one of the Fearless Knitters in my weekly knitting class, made an adorable baby hat. Don’t you agree?

Simple Colorful Knit Baby Hat

Since it seemed a little bare on top, she asked for advice for some kind of finishing detail. She had crocheted a flat flower, complete with multi-colored petals, but that didn’t seem right. Neither did a pom-pom. Either one would have hidden, or at least obscured, the beautiful detail of the decreases on the hat’s crown.

My recommendation was a two-color tassel, which would provide a nice finishing touch while allowing the crown stitching to shine through. Knitting designer and teacher Lisa McFetridge has a helpful video tutorial on how to make a tassel. Lisa was the instructor on last fall’s Sheep Ahoy Knitter’s Cruise. (Doesn’t a Boston – Bermuda cruise in July sound pretty tempting right about now?! Check it out. I believe space is still available.)

Look what a difference this topper makes!

Easy Tassel on Knit Baby Hat

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