Tuesday, January 3, 2012

preparing for knitting class

Honestly, one of my favorite parts of teaching knitting?  Assembling supplies for my students!  I'm getting ready to teach a class at our homeschool co-op this semester, and I thought I'd share a little of my process with you.
First, I make knitting needles.  I would never send a student out ahead of time to try to find the right knitting needles and yarn, but at the same time I can't afford to buy needles for all of them.  Making the needles saves them (and me) money, until they see if they want to stick with it.  Plus, the wooden needles are not quite as slippery, and that means less dropped stitches.  Besides all that, I just enjoy making them.  I start with dowels, sharpen one end in a pencil sharpener, sand until they're just right, and glue a bead on the other end.  I also rub them down with paraffin to make them smoother.  I'm making them a little shorter this time around, for ease of stuffing into backpacks and such.
I then make up a little pack of accessories - these little printable rulers can be found at MathaTube.  I print them on card stock.  We like to save the in-between strips to use as bookmarks - Lydia loves to decorate them.

I also include a yarn needle and a couple of safety pins.  This time around, I got the bright idea to make little matchbook-style needle books.  It's just a 8 1/2" x 2 1/4" strip of card stock with one end folded under 3/4".  Then I inserted a 4" x 2" piece of card stock in the fold, stapled, and folded the long end up to the staple.  These would look great in printed scrapbook paper for grownups, but I thought the kids would like to decorate their own.  Sorry they're so hard to see in these photos - if you need more information, let me know in the comments and I'll do a tutorial!

I also include a little pair of scissors, and pack it into a ziplock bag so they can keep it all together.  All ready for assembly!

I also give them a 1 oz ball of yarn, and I cast on 15 stitches and work 3 rows in garter stitch with each one in advance. I want them to be able to go straight to knitting, without the discouraging finger gymnastics of casting on.  It's fine with me if they learn that later.  I like to use variegated yarn, because it makes it easier to distinguish between rows.  (Plus, the colors are fun.)  It helps me use up those leftovers I have lying around, plus I often find it at the thrift store or yard sales.  I try to make up extra, so they have plenty to choose from.

Last semester, I gave each student a little tote bag to carry their knitting and supplies.  I noticed that at the end of class, they took the tote bags and stuffed them into their school bags.  Then, of course, all the knitting things would fall out into their school bags, yarn in a big tangle, you get the picture.  This time around, I'm giving them gallon-size ziplock bags for their knitting, and they can stuff it to their heart's content.  Cheaper for me, more practical for them.  :)

I also print out some basic knitting instructions, knowing that as soon as they leave class, they will need a reminder how it's done.  And I wrote up a first "pattern" of sorts, things they can do with that first garter stitch rectangle.  There are three choices and sizes of things to make, so that even the slowest of knitters can make something.  Since I couldn't find it when I needed it, I offer it here, so that if you need it to hand out to a class, you may use it.