Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Aaaaahhh Finger Knitting

This week begins the second quarter of the school year and an almost all new crop of newbie knitters. I have a few returnees who will be great helpers with all the newcomers and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do beyond the beginning projects. But interestingly enough, from the 21 second quarter knitters, 12 of them are boys!!! I love it. Boys in knitting class make for a very nice balance to the what is usually an all female atmosphere. They bring a sense of humor and a calmness. They deal with knitting frustration in a more relaxed “Oh well it’s no big deal,” manner. Whereas girls are more likely to see themselves (and dramatically act it out) as total failures when they drop a stitch. I’m excited to work with a more-boys-than-girls class this quarter to see how they influence the classroom climate. I’ll also be challenged to find projects to inspire them...scarves and purses abound in project books and my boys do not get excited about such patterns.

The first project I do with my students is finger knitting on four fingers. Students choose yarn from the class stash that is either bulky weight or they choose two skeins of worsted weight. As I’d never finger knitted before teaching this class, I found some great directions in an article from Throughout the class session I repeat, “Behind, in front, around, behind, in front, around…” Finger knitting is a great way to explain and demonstrate to beginners what knitting really is. How you take some yarn and make it into a fabric by making loops and connecting those loops with new loops. I often refer back to it when we move to needles as they take one loop off a needle over the top of another. It seems to work for most.

And, believe it or not, it quickly separates the fast learners from the not-so-fast learners. I’ve seen some very strange looking fabrics coming off fingers when the directions aren’t followed. While some students are still figuring out how to wrap the yarn for the first time around their fingers, others already have a scarf in the making. While some students are eager to bind off their four stitches and jump to needles, others beg to continue finger knitting for days/weeks on end.

But, regardless the speed they learn to knit, with confidence I told them all today, “You will all be knitters.”

And they will.

Get ready. Here come more junior high knitters.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Would Do it for Free

Before I ever set foot in a junior high school classroom, I pretty much thought anyone who chooses to teach junior high is a little strange to begin with and spending too much time with 12 and 13 year olds only magnifies those...uh...interesting personality traits. To be honest, I was slightly afraid of the Junior High child. People in that age group have such an unpredictable way at going through life. One never knows what will be blurted from the mouth of a junior higher. We all went through that awkward time in life, some more gracefully than others, and can remember the "weirdness" that took over our personalities for awhile. I've never sought out to revisit that particular time in my life and didn't really want to be reminded of it by seeing too many junior highers at once and certainly not on a regular basis.

That being said, I'll admit I was a little excited about teaching a knitting much that I didn't quite stop to think that I would be stepping into the world of Junior Highers.

I've taught the Knitting class for two quarters now. I see junior highers every day (the class count averages between 16-18). As with most situations in life, my fears of what it would be like were much worse than reality. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the time the students are actually quite nice, somewhat intelligent, occasionally really mature, and on most days charming and endearing.

After the first few weeks of teaching the class, I was amazed at how much fun it was to teach knitting to junior highers. I would talk about it every day at home to my husband. "This student said this," or "so-n-so learned how to purl," etc. It seemed I should not be having so much fun at work, after all work is supposed to be work. But it was all my husband could bear when I announced one evening that this job is so fun that I WOULD DO IT FOR FREE!!!

Since then, it has been the question in our home,regarding any task or job that one might do, "Would you do it for free?" My 12 year old son is in search of finding that magical job that my husband would do for free. Frankly I would wish that everyone (especially those I love and hold dear to my heart) could find that great job in life that is so fulfilling and fun, that they would gladly do it, just because it's great.

I love knitting and I find an immense amount of satisfaction in passing on the talent and skill to another, especially a young person.

Especially a junior higher.