Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oughta be Knitting, But...

So I signed up to teach this knitting class. I can't lie, after the first session I was a little dispirited. It is one thing to teach your kid how to knit over a period of several years. It is quite another to teach ten (mostly) strangers to knit in two hours (which was supposed to only be one hour). It didn't turn out quite like I hoped. Still, they invited me back the next week to give it another go, and so I have been trying to find a different approach to teaching the class (one that actually helps the students learn how to knit). Friday I go back to try again, keep your fingers crossed for us all! I feel like if I can surmount this first hurdle, I can share all the cool knitting tricks I have picked up over the years.

Yesterday I felt like I needed to do something really creative and spontaneous. Trying to pick apart the mental processes of knitting so I can teach them to other people... it is just kind of hard for me (which is why I am doing all this in the first place, honestly.). I was reworking my lesson plans, my approach to teaching the knit stitch, and every time I wrote something different down the internal critic sliced at me. A step back, a different perspective, a diversion, was just what I needed, and so I decided to dye some yarn.

I have been reading about dyeing yarn for a year or more. It is one of the knitting peripherals I have been avoiding on purpose. Like my Dad, I have a tendency to get really into something and then about halfway to mastery, get seduced by something else. I didn't want to have to make an investment in dyes and tanks and dedicated equipment, and moreover I didn't want anything to take me away from the knitting I am working on - sweaters for Keith and Delia, gifts for loved ones, my fruit and veggie projects... Oh well, too late now!

It took about an hour, not including the trip to Krogers for my dye. Hello Kool-Aide! I followed, more or less, this tutorial from Knitty, all the while thinking about the hand dyed skeins I have met and loved. The flavors I used on this hank were Black Cherry, Lemon and Orange. I already have at least two more colorways floating around in my brain, and with Kool-Aide coming in at about twenty cents a packet, I think I can even pull it off before my next paycheck comes in!

The yarn I dyed was Homespun Yarn from Bemidji Woolen Mills in Bemidji Minnesota, purchased several years ago from the Needlecraft Barn in Morgantown. It weighed in at almost 3 oz. AND IT STILL SMELLS LIKE FRUIT! Rohn actually ate about 4 inches out of the top of the ball after the photo shoot before I could stop him. He loves yarn as much as I do, but in a slightly different way.


bnicholson said...

That last photo of Rohn is beautiful!
I was thinking about Mom teaching the 4-H kids to sew - she was really quite patient with them. I don't know how she did it! Amazing woman.

Bryan L. Smith said...

You need to develop a "speech" that doesn't sound like a speech. When I teach (or taught)pottery, I tried to remember what worked and what didn't translate to the uninitiated. I used humor to try and distract them from getting frustrated about mistakes. I let them know first thing that pottery (and knitting, I'm sure) takes YEARS to get comfortable with unless you do it every single day. I repeated the same lesson "speech" so many times I can probably quote it today without thinking. I also firmly believe any hands-on group lesson over 90 minutes begins to be counterproductive, but I guess it depends what you are doing.

Serafina said...

Bryan, I agree that a long lesson can become counterproductive.

I'll try again Friday, maybe with Steve's power point idea. Maybe I will make handouts or something.

Willing my students to succeed with my mind powers hasn't really started working yet.