Monday, June 4, 2012


When I knit something that I intend to teach in a class, I keep detailed notes about how I knit the item.  I try to keep in mind places in the pattern that might be troublesome for students, and I try to make notes or charts for them to help them through the hard parts.   I also have to try to judge how many sessions would be needed to teach the item, and how long each session would be.  All while keeping in mind that in a group of students, they all may have a different way of learning and taking in the information I'm giving them.

Despite all this careful consideration, I still get major butterflies when I'm teaching a class for the first time.   Because of my crazypants conscience, I worry about a lot of things.  I want to make sure the students will feel that what they learned is worth their time as well as what they paid for the class and materials.   I worry that I didn't think of everything.  I worry if there will be enough time to teach everything -- trying to make the most of the time so that the class fee will not have to be too high.  I worry that someone will just have trouble and not like the class.  I worry that there isn't enough content for the students to learn.   I worry (and then check and double check) that I didn't give the right information for the materials needed.   For those of you who have taken classes with me, I bet you didn't know I got this crazy about it did you?  And you are probably thinking, "Dude, get a grip.  Take a yoga class or something."  Most of the time, after the class is over, I end up saying to myself, "What the heck were you worried about?  It went great."

But sometimes, it just doesn't go the way you want.  The Sycamore Vest class that wrapped up yesterday was one of those classes.  And it wasn't just one day, it was three!  The troubles were all my own fault, not the participants in the class.  For some reason, I completely misjudged how much time would be needed for each of the three sessions, as well as how much time would be needed by the students between the sessions.      All the sessions went longer than I estimated, and not because the students weren't getting it -- it was because we really need much more time to learn the techniques.   And mid-stream we had to move the next meeting dates back to allow more time to get their homework done.  The students all commented that the vest looks much less complicated to knit than it actually was.  In addition, it is knit with sport weight yarn (thin yarn) and size 5 needles (pretty skinny), so it takes a long time to make progress.  Because of all this, and since we started the class in March, the vest came to be known as the Sick-of-it Vest, instead of the Sycamore vest! [Oh my gosh, that's a teacher's nightmare!]  I was fortunate to have four very understanding students who were willing to stay later and to adjust our meeting dates.

Overall, for the vest class, most of my preparation went well.  The students loved the chart I made to help them keep track of their rows.  AND they commented on several tips they were glad I taught them.  AND, they made good progress and are really excited about the way the vests are turning out (even though it is taking a long time).  AND we all had a great time laughing throughout the classes.  So my crazypants conscience heaved a sigh of relief at that.  Class time was the main issue, but with my observations and their feedback, now I know how to schedule a class for something similar the next time.

My next new class is this Thursday and I can already feel the butterflies...maybe I need to go to one of those yoga classes you recommended.

Quotes of the day:
"No, it wasn't an accident, I didn't say that.  It was carefully planned, down to the tiniest mechanical and emotional detail.  But is was a mistake."
- Nevil Shute

"Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better."
- John Updike


  1. Oh my Lizzy, .... how about remembering, at the begining of the NEXT class, just how relieved and more self-assured you were at the end of the LAST class - allowing the butterflies to be OUTSIDE, flying free :) ......
    OR, just remember: it's NOT BOSNIA ! .. is's a lovely knitting class :O)

  2. I totally understand where you're coming from--I never felt while I was teaching classes that I got out to students one quarter of what is in my brain--Don't mean for it to sound boastful but there are so many years of knitting in my head that I take for granted and I want to pass all of it along--but sometimes get going too fast in my thoughts and have to pause when trying to relay infomation to new or nearly new knitters--and just take for granted what I know--Hope this makes some sense--joan

  3. ok I am betting the house and the kitchen sink (and all the kids) that you teach GREAT classes! so all your worry is for naught...hum.. I could send Clelia and over dinner she could give you one of her long speals on the scientific reasons "worry" is bad for you... she loves all the reasons behind anything that has to do with how your body works! and won't hesitate to spend hours explaining them to you! (she also knows all the reasons I should get more sleep, :)) please don't worry Lizzy, its not good for you!
    LV K

  4. Thank you, LVK ( and Clelia, via her mom!) for encouraging Lizzy to relax soooo much better than I could - humor ( and scientific reasoning :O) can't be beat ! ... Me ( SYM )

  5. Liz,
    As one of your students in the Sycamore Vest class, I thought you did a fabulous job!! The prep, the charts, the instruction, was all fabulous! You are a terrific teacher!!
    And, the vest is turning out to be just as wonderful as I had hoped. I really appreciate your help and advice....
    I have to say, though, when I teach a class, I experience the same kind of feelings and nerves. Not to worry though, you got everything just right.

  6. Your chart for Daybreak was so helpful and so were the many other tips you supplied for that pattern and in other classes you have taught at TSR. Plus,. your classes are fun, you're a champion problem-solver and you provide follow-up support!