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.

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