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Teaching beginning knitters

kjp | Posted in Knitting and Crochet on

Hi all!  I have been privately “tutoring” a friend who is taking a beginning knitting class at a local shop.  As a result of this, a group of women have asked me to teach them to knit (for $).  I’m not sure about taking the $, since I have no prior experience teaching knitting.  I am, however, a former elementary school teacher & an accomplished knitter, so I have agreed.  I am looking for a really great beginning knitting book or website (continental method) where I can get ideas to help me.  Any other advice would be great also.  We have already decided that 4 people would be maximum group size.  Thanks in advance for any advice!  Karin


  1. rjf | | #1

    Maybe it would be useful to cast on for the beginners and let them start with actually knitting.  Casting on seems to be a challenge for those just starting but the knitting itself is easier.  And I'd use 10" needles.  Threads has a book called "Knitting Around the World" with several different styles of knitting.  I think you can get to the website from here.  Let us know how it goes!     rjf

    1. kjp | | #2

      Thanks, rjf!  I think I agree with you about the casting on.  That was what my friend said made her feel like an idiot during the class she is taking (they started with long-tail caston)  I'm going to track down the book.  I'm fortunate to be familiar with many of the knitting styles.  My mom knits English style, but made me learn Continental first (I can do both as a result)  I have two friends who learned to knit in Ireland & knit with the needle under their arm - they are FAST!  Karin

      1. kswolff | | #3

        So, the Irish knit with one needle under the arm? I am really intrigued!

        I have suffered from CT for quite a long time and had to quit knitting. Recently I picked it up again (no pun intended!) and have tried to teach myself the Continental method to give my right hand a rest. Because of my quest to find any way to knit (which makes me happy) and my desire to not be in pain (which doesn't make me happy), I am now interested in any new methods that pop up.

        Realizing this is probably far from being a new method to many except for me, do you know if there are any instructions for this style of knitting?

        Now I'm all excited again about something new to learn! Thank you for the inspiration.


      2. rjf | | #5

        I looked in "Knitting around the World" for Continental knitting and found a section which is a reprint from Threads #30, pgs 48-51, 1990.  It covers Scottish (which looks the Irish method mentioned and tucks the needle under your right arm), French (hoding right needle like a pen) and Continental (carrying yarn in left hand).  The head of my knitting group uses the continental method and goes very fast.  When I've tried it, the knitting goes fast but purling feels awkward and the work is not as neat as other methods but I expect if I only used that method, it would work better.   Please let us know how it goes.       rjf

        1. kjp | | #6

          Thanks for the ideas!  I haven't gotten started with the knitting group, but just taught my 7 year old son the knit stitch (I took the advice & cast on for him).  I figure if I can teach him, I'll be good to go for a group of adults!  The women want to start with scarves, so the project will be easy.  Karin

          1. User avater
            ehBeth | | #8


            Edited 11/5/2004 8:23 pm ET by ehBeth

        2. kjp | | #9

          RJF and others who gave me their wonderful advice:

          I have developed quite the new teaching business!  I am teaching private and small group lessons (even some young girls!) usually at their house -I don't need to worry about housework :)

          Knowing both left and right handed knitting helped me tremendously because I have been able to work with people who may have taken a class already and are familiar with one or the other. 

          I never thought this would blossom so quickly - knitting is really taking off in our area!  Thank you for all your advice and help. 


          1. rjf | | #10

            It's nice to hear knitting is thriving in your neighborhood!  If some of your students are looking for projects, maybe they would consider Warm Up America!.  Its website is http://www.WarmUpAmerica.org  They make afghan "squares" (if 7" X 9" can be considered square) and donate the finished project to charity.  My knitting group is working on one now that will be donated to a respite house nearby.  They reccomend acrylic yarn and you can get a lot of blocks from a 4 oz skein.    rjf

  2. suesew | | #4

    Try making baby clothes or doll clothes. The knitting goes really fast and you get to the pattern reading and changes quickly. If you have to rip somethng out and start over you are not wasting days of work. It's a good way to use yarn scraps, too.

    Edited 11/5/2004 7:24 pm ET by suesew

  3. User avater
    ehBeth | | #7

    kjp - it's quite wonderful that ponchos/shawls/throws are popular this season. Perfect for the beginning knitter.  Once I realized that the shawls were just 2 rectangles sewn together, I managed to finally get a couple of people at work knitting. They'd been muttering about it for about 3 years now - the poncho/shawls got them moving. We started with 6.5 mm needles, I cast on the stitches, and they knit their rectangles.  Thank goodness, everyone had a mother who was happy to sew the rectangles together.  A couple of the women have moved on to minor patterns.

    Knitting's coming back!

    I found the pages at about.com really helpful for them to look at. I'll see if I can find the link before my ISP [email protected]@ps out again.

    1. Hansi | | #11

      As a beginning knitter, I agree with you about shawls being nice projects.  I thought you might be interested in an alternate pattern that doesn't require sewing 2 pieces together.  You cast on 3 stitches and knit one row, purl the next, adding a stitch at the beginning of each row.  Continue for 337 rows.  It grows fast and has a nice symetrical triangle shape.

      1. User avater
        ehBeth | | #12

        Hi Hansi,

        I'm currently working on a variant of the giant triangle that's working out very nicely.  It's a giant triangle worked up as you've described, then split in half at the neck level, and worked straight to waist level at the front.  I am knitting pockets into the inside front edges.  It will be worn with a belt over the front portions, loose at the back.  Quick and easy and sharp-looking too.

        Great fun. 


        1. Hansi | | #13

          That sounds very pretty!  Thank you for telling me about it.

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