Some of my Teaching Packs build in practice before students begin the actual project. For instance, in the Learn to Knit Lace pack, the teacher notes instruct the teacher to have students cast on a swatch and practice the yarn over and the different types of decreases in a swatch before they cast on the actual headband pattern.
Why build in practice on a swatch first? Well, in this case, making left-leaning and double decreases requires some stitch manipulation that will be new to many students. By starting with a swatch, students only have to worry about one thing– making the stitch properly. They don’t have to worry about following the chart or written directions. They don’t have to worry about getting the right tension. They only have to worry about manipulating the stitches correctly.
When possible, teachers should look for ways to build in practice on new skills in isolation before applying them to a more complicated project. When it’s not possible, remind students that it’s just knitting, and if something doesn’t work, we can always pull out the yarn and start again.