Last week I went to a knitting retreat that I’ve been attending for the last two years. We meet at the St. Francis Retreat Center about an hour from my home. The rooms are simple, the food is wholesome, and the company is great! This retreat has a few social events such as a sock yarn exchange and a single one-hour workshop, but most of the time is listed on the schedule as “Relax.” The center has a short walking trail around a seasonal pond and some slightly longer trails up in the hills. A lawn with large, shady trees spreads across the front of the retreat center as well. Just before the retreat, I had the unfortunate experience of being rear ended twice in one week, so it was great to spend a weekend not driving at all and just basking in the company of fellow knitter.
The conversation ranges from the technical (such as the best way to finish the top of a colorwork knee-high sock) to the personal (dealing with health issues) and everywhere in between.
Knitting in company is one of the best things ever. I was part of a spirited conversation about the best interchangeable needle sets and all the considerations you might make in deciding which one to purchase for your first set. I’m quite sure my non-knitting friends eyes would have glazed over about two minutes in! With our hands at work, our minds are free to puzzle over both the mysteries of life and the technicalities of our craft.
I highly recommend finding a knitting group. It doesn’t have to be a weekend retreat, a weekly or monthly group also has many of the same advantages. Meetup.com has listings and many yarn shops have social knitting events. Many communities have knitting guilds that have social events as well as more formal meetings. You might even find a group at a local library.
One thing that I always try to do while teaching a class is to ask permission before I handle a student’s work. This is a small thing, but my goal in class is to empower students to find and correct their own errors. If I take their work every time a problem occurs and whisk it away for a quick fix, my students never really learn to do the things they need to do when they are on their own.
When a student asks for help, I look at the work in their hands and see if I can identify the problem and give verbal directions. If not, I ask if I can hold their work so I can examine it more closely. Once I’ve identified the problem, I have some choices. I can ask the student if I can fix it for them and explain what I’m doing, or I can hand it back and direct the student verbally or using my sample to demonstrate. I do a mix of these things in class, depending on the skill level of the individual student and what the student indicates to me that she or he needs to move forward. I admit I may not be perfect at asking permission every time, but learners benefit from being treated as capable and in control, and asking permission is one way to achieve this goal.
I love listening to podcasts while I knit, and when the news gets too overwhelming, I listen to them while I drive as well. I have quite a few I like to keep up with. Here are some of my favorites!
This first batch of podcasts have a similar format. They are chatty podcasts with one or two hosts who talk about what they are working on mixed with some advice and/or inspiration and some talk about their non-knitting lives. All of these have active Ravelry groups so there is a lovely community you can join with each one.
The Knitmore Girls is my favorite in this category. I love how Jasmine and Gigi, a mother-daughter team, mix in lots of advice and wisdom into their podcast. They do a regular review section, which has enabled me more than once to get some really great books!
The Yarniacs were my first podcast because they came to speak at our knitting guild! I had no idea there were even knitting podcasts before I met them.
Prairie Girls Knit and Spin is another favorite. I always feel the hosts are the alter egos of me and my best friend if we were from Nebraska instead of Kansas!
Down Cellar Studio Podcast is a new favorite of mine– Jen lives a very different life than me, but I really enjoy her creative spirit!
The Two Knit Lit Chicks host a podcast that is both knitting and book reviews. Another mother-daughter team that I really enjoy listening to!
This second batch are podcasts with more specific themes and an interview format. These are podcasts that are more informational and keep me inspired in pursuing knitwear design.
Yarn Stories is a new favorite for me. I’ve been absolutely loving hearing interviews with the many indie dyers and yarn producers and learning more about the yarns I use.
Tightly Spun is a new podcast that interviews everyday knitters. It reminds me how we all have a story to tell about knitting and how it has changed our lives. (You can find the interview that I did here.)
Stitchcraft Marketing focuses on interviews with people in creative industries. It’s a great resource for anyone trying to make money in the crafting market.
The Sweet Georgia Show also has an interview format and goes in seasons. She has hosted some very interesting guests.
Those are the podcasts I keep cued up right now! What are your current favorites?
I have enough yarn left over from my socks to make a pair of shortie socks, so I started the Rose City Rollers socks as a purse project. I also needed a new pair of socks to go on my bedside table, so I’ve got a pair of Fidget Socks started as well. This is a toe up pair, and I have to say, I find starting toe up socks more fiddly than fidgity! I always feel I have to get eight or ten rounds in before it starts to feel comfortable!
I picked up a project that has been languishing, a creature from Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium. I started this last year for my daughter, but was finding that it was hurting my hands to work at such a tight gauge. I switched from my beloved, owned-since-high-school Boye hook to a padded ergonomic one from Knit Picks and things are moving right along.
I continue to make progress on my Wynne shawl and will be ready to bind off after just a dozen or so almost 500 stitch rows! I’m using a gradient for the blue and I really want to reach the next darker color to edge the shawl before I bind off so I’m adding a few extra rows to the end.
I’m also in the planning and swatching stages for a new shawl design. This pattern will be in fingering weight with a pattern that will gradually move from simple eyelets into more complicated lacework. I’m envisioning it as a KAL shawl for new lace knitters or a teaching tool for classes.
Speaking of teaching tools, one thing that came off the virtual needles in the last month was a set of teaching packs. These are sets of materials designed for busy shop owners and knitting teachers. They have everything you need to teach a class– a reproducible pattern, class handouts, and teacher notes– all you need to do is make the sample and teach!