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Tips for Teaching Knitting

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It seems like everyone at one point or another will have the opportunity to teach someone how to knit, whether it’s a friend, family member, church group or a stranger on the Internet.

If someone has approached you about learning how to knit or you would like to teach someone how to knit but you aren't sure how to begin, here are some tips that should help.

Knitting for Beginners

Some people like to start teaching knitting with the long-tail cast on because, once you understand that, the rest of basic knitting is easy.

I think that, if you want to teach a cast-on method right away, it should be the knitted cast on, because at least that teaches a new knitter how to make the knit stitch. Long-tail can be a little intimidating to new knitters, and may get them started thinking knitting is hard.

But the truth is, a lot of new knitters cast on too tightly and might appreciate it if you cast on for them while they are trying to learn the basic stitches. You can always teach them to cast on after they've made their first little sample swatch.

Start with large needles, at least size 9 or 10 US, and light-colored, worsted-weight yarn. All of these things make it easier for the new knitter to see what he or she is doing, and for the person you are teaching to see what you are doing when you take the needles.

Don't ever use novelty yarns when teaching to knit or working on a first project. They make it too difficult to see the stitches.

First Projects

The very first project for any beginning knitter should be a swatch of about 20 or 25 stitches. The knit stitch should be practiced back and forth until the knitter is comfortable, then switch to purling. When your protégé is comfortable with those two stitches and is forming the stitches relatively evenly, you can teach binding off and move on to a real project.

A garter stitch project such as a scarf or washcloth is a good choice for a first project because there's no pattern to remember. Even alternating knits and purls can be too much for some new knitters.

Once a project has successfully been completed in garter stitch, purls can be thrown in. Again, something easy, flat and small like a washcloth is a great idea.

Tips for Working with New Knitters

  • Be patient and go slow! Sure, knitting seems easy to you now, but it's not so easy for someone who has never done it before. Move slowly and don't get frustrated when you need to show your student something over and over.
  • Get the person to relax. That may be the most important thing. Knitting is intimidating at first, and approaching it with calm and relaxation makes life easier for everyone.
  • Try to work in a quiet spot with minimal interruptions and good lighting.
  • Keep the first lesson under an hour, especially if trying to teach kids!
  • Consider knitting a couple of rows in advance as well as casting on to give the new knitter something to hold onto while learning.
  • Be encouraging and give compliments, even when the knitting doesn't look great.
  • Sit beside the person you are teaching, if possible, so you can easily see what's going on and help.
  • Remember to count the number of stitches you have at the end of each row, and tink if necessary to get rid of inadvertent holes.
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