This week I took a break from some of my knitting projects to make a series of crochet mandalas from the book Modern Crochet Mandalas, published by Interweave Press. These colorful creations use a variety of crochet stitches to create layered designs. Since each round uses a repeat of stitches to create the pattern for that round, they are very meditative and restful to create. It’s also been fun creating color combinations for each design. I purchased eight skeins of coordinating mercerized cotton yarn to use with the book and have been surprised at how different each one appears!
The book itself is not for the beginning crocheter. Other than the 50+ patterns, there is very little additional material. Even the stitch glossary in the back is incomplete compared to the stitches that are actually used in the mandalas, so you are better off if you have crochet experience before using this book. Each pattern is beautifully laid out with a large photo, complete written instructions, and a large charted version of the pattern. I absolutely love crochet charts for ease in understanding what the written instructions will create and these are easy to read and well done. My only complaint about the book is that each and every pattern I’ve made has contained at least one error so far. The error is always in either the written instructions or in the chart, never in both, so if you carefully examine the photos, you can tell which direction was meant by the creator.
For a book aimed at those who are more beginners in crochet, I’d recommend Mandalas to Crochet: 30 Great Patterns by Haafner Linssen. I purchased this at the same time and it has extensive material on how to form all the stitches needed for the designs in the book as well as some specific tricks and techniques for working in the round and getting a seamless effect. It gives a lot of suggestions for working with color and creating mandalas with different weights of yarns. The patterns are overall a little more simple to create than the book I’ve been working from, but still quite beautiful.
If crochet is part of your fiber arts skill set, I recommend giving crochet mandalas a try!
One of the key difference between teaching adults and teaching children is that adults come to class with a rich collection of prior experiences. So when you teach knitting classes with adult learners, you have the opportunity to help the students draw out that prior experience to learn the new skills you are teaching.
Some of your students’ prior experiences will be with the fiber arts. They may have crocheted, or embroidered, or sewed, and each of these crafts has related experiences. For instance, crocheters usually tension the yarn with their left hand, so in beginning knitting classes, I will show crocheters how to knit Continental style rather than English style as it is usually easier for them. Weaving in ends may make more sense if it can be related to embroidery.
Other times, prior experience is related to other fields that can be applied to knitting. For instance, students who have experience writing computer code may find it helpful for me to show how reading a pattern is similar to reading code.
I also find that some students find more benefit to visual cues in diagrams, others find it easier to repeat a rhyme or catchphrase, and still others will learn best from mirroring my hands in motion. These preferences are often based on prior experience or work related skills. Because of this, I try to have at least three different ways to explain any skill in that I teach in a knitting class. Some of these I’ve developed by listening to how one student will explain a task to another student. Others have been gathered from watching other teachers and from reading a variety of books. A few have been created on the fly when no other explanation seems to work for a student and I’ve had to invent a new way to explain a task.
To help me know what might work best for a given class, I always take some time for introductions and find out what related skills students may already have. If I have a large class and don’t have time for individual introductions, I use a quick verbal survey and hand raising to get an idea of student experiences and prior knowledge.
Having a mental library of different ways to explain a skill will help all your students to be successful. Note that your mental library may include tricks and techniques that would not be useful at all to you as a learner, but they may be useful to one of your students. Becoming a successful teacher is in part developing the ability to teach those who learn in different ways.
This is just a quick little post for a useful link I found.
I just finished a project that required ten 50 gram skeins of yarn, which meant I had a lot of joins to make (nine, actually). I found this very clear and complete list of different ways to join the yarn. My favorites tend to be “Overlap and Knit Double,” the “Russian Join,” and “Just Knit with It.” For the last, I will weave in the ends later and have gotten pretty good at evening up the tension in a tightly knit garment.
What’s your favorite join?
Well, it looks like I didn’t get much done in February, because I spend most of my knitting time working on a project that’s under wraps and one that is very public!
It’s not exactly “on the needles,” but the public project is the launch of Knit Sew Make, and new community and learning studio I’m starting with two other fiber artist friends. We found a location on the west side of Santa Cruz, and we launched an Indiegogo campaign to help us with start up costs. We’ve got all kinds of classes scheduled and we are excited to create a place for fiber artists in Santa Cruz.
I’ve passed the heel on my second Vanilla is the New Black sock and am on my way to the toe.
My Wynne Shawl and Featherweight Cardigan have been languishing, but I did finish my brioche scarf from my class with J C Briar in time to show it to her when I went to Stitches West last weekend.
That’s it for what’s on my needles this first week of March!