Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Bouncy 6

I'm bouncing off the walls invigorated energized inspired excited right now!

I stayed up way too late last night because I was nervous about the class. It was nerdy nervousness, too. I wasn't nervous about the actual teaching - that's not an issue for me. I was nervous no one would sign up and I'd feel unloved. Now, it's not like I'm a big name in knitting. I'm no Lily Chin, or Annie Modesitt, or even the Harlot. I'm just me. Not having anyone sign up to take a class from me at A.C. Moore wouldn't exactly be a personal attack of my likeability. But I was nervous, so what can you do.

I wore the green Cotton Fleece tank I knit this summer, because it has an intricate (easy) cable down the front, and I was hoping they'd say "did you make that" and oooh and aaah over it. When I got there, early as I am wont to be, I bought some single point needles and big thick yarn, so that I'd have similar materials to theirs, but larger, and hopefully easier to see. I then convinced myself completely that no one would show up. I went to the front and tried to casually say "can I just see if anyone signed up?" and three people did! Three! YAY!

I went to my classroom and sat down, and right at ten my three brilliant students showed up. One had knit and crocheted a little in the past, but forgot everything, and the other two had both crocheted but not knit. The one who knit before knit English (yarn in the right hand) and I let the other two choose, figuring they'd pick Continental (yarn in left hand) because it's more similar to crochet, which they did. One of those Continental ladies seems to want to knit pencil style (so Susan, I may have to hit you up for tips so I can better help her!) but she was the one who struggled the most, so we'll see how she does when she has her lightbulb moment.

By the end of the two hours, all three had cast on, knit several rows, ripped it all out and started over on their own. If we'd had three hours, I would have started purl, although the one who'd knit before could do it, and her little swatch included garter of all knit, garter of all purl, stockinette, 1x1 ribbing and a bind off! I made sure they knew that there is no knitting wrong, and we talked a little about why the differences in styles of knittings tend to be regional, and we talked about why some people don't like to purl, and that sort of thing. I explained that knitting is really only two stitches, and all the variation is what order I knit or purl the stitches. They did ask if I made the tank top, and they did ooh and aah.
Blushy 4

It was great fun, and they all seemed so excited and all said they'd be back either Friday or next week, and might even stop by to see me at the Knitathon this weekend! Oh, it was such a blast, and I wish I could just do that full time. Tonight I get to teach Lauren to spin, which will be great fun, too! Fiona and the spindles (who are as of yet unnamed) will travel to see her and we'll all play and merry make with fiber!

I do have one thing I'd like imput on - the student I had today that had some experience knit with the yarn in her right hand, but wanted to knit through the back loop. I told her that it wasn't wrong, but it was different, and it would mean modifying her purl to avoid twisting the stitches, but I wasn't sure how to show her a modified purl in that instance. I can do it yarn in left hand, but wasn't sure how to change it with the yarn in the right hand. She ended up knitting through the front loop, but are there suggestions for how to modify the purl to compensate for the twisted stitch if the yarn is in the right hand (I told her she was doing a combination of combination and english, which she got a kick out of). Thoughts?

I plan on doing a lot of work with my own English knitting. I'm such a strong Continental knitter, I think I might impale myself if I had to knit English under pressure... gotta get over that!


Blogger David said...

So, um... why don't they call it "purling"?

2:51 PM  
Blogger erica said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:48 PM  
Blogger erica said...

Reposting the commment that I just deleted (silly me).
I've had a lot of students knitting through the back loop and the only solution I've come up with is to try to break them of that habit. It sounds very snippy of me, but I want all of my students to knit the same way (I don't care how they hold their yarn) but when I'm trying to teach increasing or decreasing, I like to have all of them going the same direction. Last class, I let one girl continue knitting through the back loop and showed her how to purl so that her stitches weren't twisted, but then she ended up twisting her stitches because she couldn't get the purling down. Then when I taught decreasing she started to purl through the front loop as I described in my hand out. She ended up knitting and purling as I taught everyone else, especially after she couldn't get her needle into her stitches. I had to sit with her for a bit and got her going again. That was all within three weeks and the 2nd to last week of the six-week class, she came in with a beautiful wrap and hat that she had made during Thanksgiving. I was so impressed.

I talk about how there are different knitting styles and some people knit through the back loop, but I've always found it so difficult to explain how to untwist the stitch in the purl that I just try to get them knitting through the front loop. It makes my job easier, even though I'm sure there are people who would slap my handles with my needles because they think what I do is wrong. Well, slap me if they must, they aren't the instructor.

Also as you teach more you'll get better at carrying your yarn in your right hand.

I love teaching and wish that I made enough money to do it full-time. :)

5:53 PM  
Blogger Marcia said...

With "English" knitting, there is only one valid reason for knitting through the back loop: if the directions TELL you to for a twisted rib, etc! With Continental or Russian (the way Galina teaches for lace knitting) the knitting through the back loop is necessary to compensate for the "easier" way of purling. Try to convince your student either to knit through the front or learn Combined or Continental. Knitting this way when you carry with the right hand is going to create all kinds of headaches. I had a student in a sock class who insisted on knitting (English) tbl and her fabric was a mess. Not only could she not follow any or the decreasing directions, but her socks came out looking like TWILL and horribly twisted!

11:37 PM  
Blogger Gracie said...

I'm so glad your class went well! I am sure you were a fantastic teacher!

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK I'm going to go against the grain here but - I knit 'english' and I wrap the yarn counterclockwise for a knit stitch and clockwise for a purl. I've recently switched to knitting all my knit stitches through the back loop because if I don't do that I get twisted stitches. For almost 40 years of my knitting life I've had twisted stitches and rowed out on the back side of stockinette. I don't anymore. So, when my student started knitting through the back loop, I let her. When she's a little more sophisticated about it and I can tell her to notice the 'leading' and 'trailing' sides of the stitch, she'll be ready to understand why you'd do it one way in flat knitting and one way in round knitting and what the two different decreases do. Hope that makes sense....

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you wrap the purls in the opposite direction (from underneath, clockwise), this creates a twisted stitch, in which case knitting through the back of the loop will untwist them. I believe this is called a "lazy purl", which I was doing by accident when I first started knitting. It's actually a little easier than regular purling in my opinion. Annie Modessit calls doing the combination of the two combined knitting and has illustrations on her website at
Congrats on teaching!
Rachel from KR

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think, in a beginning class, that it would be a mistake to "let" a student who is knitting Western/English/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, knit in such a manner that she will have to "adjust" or do something else to accomodate this departure from normal, traditional, accepted knitting methods. In my teaching experience, these are usually self-taught students and they have problems following printed directions among other things. There will be no purling difficulties, or need to alter the purl stitch, or twisting of stitches, or difficulties with increases and decreases if the traditional Western method is taught. (There will also be no rowing out.) It will also make life for the teacher a bit more complicated. I know that many say there is no such thing as a wrong way to knit, but in the case of a beginner, I strongly disagree!

1:57 PM  

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