Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tech Savvy Knitters

So I'm thinking it went something like this:

Student A: I need some needles.

Student B: Get some on ebay.

Student A: I don't shop on ebay...I'm...12.

Student B: I can get you some needles on ebay.

A few days later...

Student B: I won the ebay auction for some needles.

Student A: How much?

Student B: $1 (plus $7 shipping)

Student A: Cool.

A few more days later...

The needles are in! Six pairs of straight needles, a gauge tool, and a stitch holder.

You know how you get excited and motivated when your shipment of yarn or tools comes in? Check out where this guy's (student A) motivation led him.

He MADE THIS! His own needle holder out of a binder! Look at the staples to divide for the needles. This is genius. It really is. In addition to the needle holder, he also made this:

A wallet of his own design. It's two knitted rectangles, from different color yarns, perfectly dollar bill size and very neatly sewn together. And to top it off, he sewed on the coin pocket. At his unveiling of the wallet to the class (he made most of it at home), he was immediately commissioned by another teacher at our school to make an identical wallet for purchase. The wide-eyed class was in awe.

I have another tech savvy student who is whipping out iPod socks with cables.

Her own design and it fits the Nano perfectly.

Finally, my fearless beginning knitters are making SOCKS! It took me 15 years of knitting before I attempted socks--before I even thought socks were a worthwhile project (since you can buy socks for $4). But these students have totally bought into the idea and we currently have three socks in progress.

My students are stealing my heart.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Speakin' Their Language

Once the students finish their dishcloth, I have them work on the "Advanced Sample." I implemented this a few quarters into this job as I was pulling my hair out trying to teach K2togs and YOs one at a time to students who were trying new patterns a bit above their level. So I decided to put some common stitchery into this one little swatch and it has really paid off. Now when they graduate on to a pattern of their choice, they shouldn't get too stuck with some of the basic stuff. The advanced sample actually is based on the sample from the Sweater Workshop, by Jacqueline Fee. In her book, she takes the reader through a series of ribbing, increases, decreases, buttonholes, and more. The idea is that when you're done with her sample, you have all the skills you need to make a sweater.

So our sample is scaled down, but same idea.

We have a cabling section, ribbing, color change, increases, decreases, fairisle, and YO buttonholes.

As one of my students was on the decrease section, she pointed at the pattern and said, "I don't know what that is." The pattern read: k1, s1, k1, psso. So I slowly read it to her pointing to each letter: "knit one, slip one, knit one, passed the slipped stitch over." Her response? "OMG! It's like IM!" I was actually very impressed with myself for knowing what she meant, though I have never texted anything in my life. But it got me thinking. This junior high group of kids, so quick to learn new technology--even when it means learning a new language like text messaging--will learn this knitting technology in the same way. Once they complete their advance sample, I can speak to them in knitting language. When a student asks, "What do I do now?" I can reply, "You will K2tog at the end of needle one and SSK at the beginning of needle 3." And they will understand MY language!!

I enjoy their look of understanding as I speak this new language and also the look of confusion and awe from the newbies, which, in turn, adds to the esteem of my more advanced students.

Well, got to go, talk to you later. Oh...I mean GTG TTYL!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Leave It To the Children

One thing I have learned as a teacher is that I don't have to rely on myself for all the ideas and creativity for my knitting class. Junior highers are chock full of them. We have a teacher at our school who had been out ill for some time. One of my students had the amazing idea, all on her own, to begin knitting a scarf for this teacher and to have each of the students in the class have a turn at it. We used the feather and fan scarf pattern from the Mason-Dixon Knitting blog. The pattern was easy for me to teach to the one student, and in turn, easy for her to teach the four row repeat pattern to each of the other students. I loved watching her take on this project and she motivated the other students to participate. Beauty (sigh).