Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Teaching Moment...

I discovered over the last few months that knitting can be contagious. You sit and knit and others will want to know what you are working on, where you got your pattern, and can you share it with them. I found this to be true at my day job.  On my breaks, I will pull out my needles and yarn to work on my current project.  The rhythm of the needles and the repetition of the patterns are helpful in relieving some of the stress I feel on the job and takes my mind off the oftentimes chaotic happenings going on in the office.  Many times over the last few months, I have had co-workers come up and ask me what I’m working on.  I don’t mind sharing because it’s fun to show off my work and what I’m learning.  From this I have gained a bit of a following at work. 

My friend and co-worker Adriann learned to knit when she was a kid but hadn’t done it in a long time, so she decided to pick up her needles again after she saw the cute baby layette set I made for our friend and co-worker, Judith.  She wanted to make a pair of booties for her sister who is due in August.  She picked a pattern (Baby’s Wool-Tencel Booties, by Linda Burt) from a book I recently picked up and fell in love with – Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Small Indulgences. She had a little difficulty with the pattern she chose, so she asked me to give her some direction. I love it when I get the opportunity to pass along my knowledge and I really love helping others learn knitting – so we walked through the pattern together.  On my lunch break I borrowed the pattern and knitted up the bootie just to get a feel for the pattern so that I could help Adriann understand it too.

Fits: 0-3 months (for very tiny feet)

My version of Baby's Wool Tencel Booties
Yarn: 100% acrylic - Lion Brand's Pound of Love
I soon discovered as I was working through the pattern that it did seem a bit difficult for a novice knitter and even though I tried showing her how to work the row she was having difficulty with, she still couldn’t seem to finish the booties on her own at home. I told her that she shouldn’t be discouraged that even I had some difficulty at first with the pattern and I’m pretty good at reading them. I’m no expert by any means, but I can fumble through it, then after a few practice runs, I get the feel of the pattern and then it becomes rote for me. But she decided that the pattern was just too complicated for her to understand and I suggested she try to find a pattern that would meet her needs and be easier to understand.  So that’s what she did, she found a simpler pattern that was more her speed – little Mary Jane style booties (which were so dang adorable) she picked soft baby alpaca wool and was able to knit them up in no time at all. And when she needed help with a particular row in this pattern I was more than happy to help her through it. I was very happy to see that she didn’t give up and seeing her face when she completed the booties made me feel like a very proud teacher. I now understand how a teacher feels when their student gets that ‘aha’ moment and really gets what they are being taught.

Another teaching moment: About a month ago, there was some transitioning happening on our floor; a small group of workers from the Community Services Department that had moved to another building was being moved back to our building onto our floor.  I didn’t pay much attention to this transition because it was happening on the other end of our floor and it wasn’t really affecting us directly. One day while showing my latest project to a few of my friends at the front desk I was approached by Carol from the group of transitioned staff.  She noticed that I was showing off a knitted item and asked if I could help her with something she was working on.  I’m always happy to help a fellow knitter and I said, “Sure, show me what you’re working on.”

As we were heading to her cubicle she was explaining how she was teaching herself to knit from video tutorials on  I told her that was an excellent way to get started; I didn’t discover video tutorials until recently. I taught myself from pictures in how-to books. She was practicing knitting and purling and she was having difficulty with the how to wrap the yarn while purling Continental style.  I personally don’t knit in that style, but can demonstrate it if necessary.  So I showed her that in continental style if you hold the yarn properly you don’t really have to wrap the yarn like you do in the English style (which many call throwing the yarn). After demonstrating the method a few times she had a better understanding of how to do it. She thanked me for taking the time to show her the method and I was amazed at how happy that little demonstration had made her.  She told me she was a visual learner and that she couldn’t learn from a book, that the videos were easier to understand. But for the life of her she couldn’t remember the purl stitch from the video. And I told her that I would be more than happy to help her if she runs across anymore snags.

These moments reminded me of when I was first learning to knit and had the help of two wonderful women who were always so patient with my many questions and my frustrations on trying to figure out what I did wrong with my project.  They helped me learn to understand patterns and if I didn’t know why my project wasn’t looking like the one in the picture they pointed out where I went wrong and showed me how to fix it (thank you so much Judy & Elizabeth!). 

Now, my friends at work send their co-workers to me when they hear that they need help with a knitting problem.  It’s funny I never thought of myself as a teacher, but I’m finding that these teaching moments have given me a great deal of confidence in my knitting abilities, not to mention that it makes me happy to help other learn a skill that I love and hopefully they will learn to love it too!


  1. I was a teacher for 36 years and retired last year to take care of granddaughter.
    I taught many of my students crochet and knitting over the years but I'm most proud of having taught my mother and both my daughters.
    I have a pattern that is very easy for newbie knitters.

    Susan B. Anderson Page 81 Booties is free and can be found on Ravelry. It is just made up of squares.

  2. Thank you Lupie, I will pass it along to my friend.