A few weeks ago, an acquaintance from work asked me if I be willing to teach an intro to knitting workshop for a few people at his place. At first I thought I was being teased. I have lunch with the guy occasionally, as part of a bigger group, and I know he’s always joking around, playfully teasing people for this or that. I figured he must have heard from someone that I knit, and wanted to score a few quick laughs. I agreed but thought nothing much of it. Until he followed up with an inquiry on dates. And an invitation to the whole group to attend. And questions on where to buy yarn and needles… Huh!
And so, yesterday, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, five of us met up with some warm coffee and lots of fresh balls of yarn. I was nervous – would I be able to explain this to them? I had no idea how to teach someone to knit. I had learned from books and youtube, so I couldn’t even think back to how someone else had taught me. We had settled on the simplest thing – a scarf in garter stitch, just knit-knit-knit to start with. But what about the part which I personally always struggled with most, the cast-on and the first row? Should I just do it for them? Well, that wouldn’t be very pedagogical, would it? Uh…
In the end I just jumped in and improvised. It turned out that the hardest thing to teach them was the slip knot (what helped was showing them how to do it with a finger instead of with a needle). After that we did a simple backward-loop cast-on (not my favourite, but easiest to learn, I figured), and then off they went on their first knit stitches. I worried a lot about what to tell them about holding the yarn (something I struggled with for years), but in the end I didn’t mention it at all, and they each figured out their own way of doing it.
At first there was a lot of cursing. Like, A LOT. Sentences such as “This is much harder than I thought!” and “How on earth is this supposed to be relaxing?” were uttered a number of times. We ripped and restarted a few times. I flitted around from one person to the next, showing them the movements again and again, and watching as their shaky hands slowly figured it out. Amidst this busyness, the curses slowly died off, and silence emerged, punctuated only by the occasional “Oops, I’ve done something wrong, help…” Someone remarked on how it was impossible to knit and talk at the same time. And yet, another 20 minutes later, we found ourselves in the midst of a lively office gossip session, the four of them all the while continuing to diligently work on their stitches. And I looked around, and thought to myself: “Wow, I’ve just created a stitch AND bitch club in less than 60 minutes.”