Passionate people love to share their passion. That’s why you get to sit and listen to your nephew chatter about trains and your best friend tell you about the fabulous book she just read. That’s why that huge convention center fills multiple times each year with people excited about comic books or Star Trek or knitting.

And that’s why, in those huge convention centers, you’ll find classrooms full of people sharing their passion with others.

How to Get Away With(out) Murder: Teaching Friends & Family How to Knit

I’m one of those sharers. I love to teach people about knitting. I read the history of knitting and discuss knitting techniques with friends. My passions lie more in the knitting technique side of the work: picking the right cast-on for a project, poring over stitch dictionaries, figuring out Elizabeth Zimmerman’s percentage system for my next sweater. My bookshelves are filled with knitting texts such as Maggie Righetti’s Sweater Design in Plain English and Knitting from the Top by Barbara G. Walker, along with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s invaluable text, Knitting Without Tears.

If you snuggle up to me during knitting group, I’ll help you past a tough spot. Present me with a tangled ball of wool and you have my attention. Pull out your latest knitting triumph and I will study it, oohing and aahing about the color you chose and the different knitting technique you conquered.

When I began teaching, I started with Learn to Knit classes. With each new class, I asked why the students wanted to learn to knit. During that time, students opened up and, every other class, I’d hear a new horror story of Knitting Lessons Gone Wrong.

“My grandmother would give me the needles and then snatch them back to fix the mistakes. I couldn’t learn because I barely got the chance to knit at all.”

“I went to a yarn shop and their instructor told me I was holding the needles wrong. I never could hold them HER way and figured I was just useless at knitting.”

“My friend tried to teach me, but I couldn’t see what she was doing. I sure hope you can help.”

As I listened to the stories, my heart ached for my students and for the caring, passionate women and men who attempted to teach them but couldn’t share their knowledge effectively. Who knows how many people in the same sorts of situations never even tried to knit again?!

As we worked our way through that initial class, I was lucky enough to see the light appear in many of their eyes. They could KNIT. They really could. However they held their needles or whichever hand they used to hold their yarn or whatever mistakes they managed to make, by the end of that first session, they had stitches on their needles and knew they could continue knitting.

By allowing the student to find his or her own way into the knitting process, the joy of knitting began to seep into their bones. The realization that the only right way to knit is the way which ends up with stitches on needles helped each student move forward with confidence in his or her abilities.

Hearing those stories and watching my students overcome their obstacles inspired me to share my techniques for teaching people how to knit. Whether adults or children, if you can knit, you can teach someone else how to knit. By sharing my experiences and techniques, I hope to inspire you to share your passion with others in a flexible and generous manner.

After all, there are no knitting police – not even self-appointed ones.

Remember, give a person a sweater and she’ll wear it at least once (hopefully not to her annual “Ugly Christmas Sweater” party). Teach her how to knit and she’ll be amazed at the difficulty of making one of those truly amazing sculptural sweaters with lights that actually light up before she wears it to her annual “Ugly Christmas Sweater” party.

She may even make her own.


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