January 7, 2013

Teaching Knitting

I learned two important things on Sunday.

1) A circle is not the best chair arrangement for teaching knitting.
2) If you're confident in what you're doing, people will listen to what you have to say.

Yesterday I started a group that for a long time was just an idea in my head.  Knitting is an important part of my life, and I have been wanting to share it with others.  I had many ideas of how this might work: teaching middle schoolers how to knit, crochet, and spin in a one-day workshop; teach knitting at summer camp; offer a Sunday school class on knitting squares for an afghan.

But as I talked about my idea with friends and colleagues, I realized that it wasn't just knitting that was important; it was spirituality.  To me, knitting and spirituality are incredibly intertwined.  When I knit, I get in touch with the spiritual part of myself, the part of myself able and willing to sit quietly and pray, or listen, or do nothing.  The part of me that is usually restless and fidgety is silent.  I often have a problem sitting still; I bounce my legs or tap my foot or finger.  But when I knit, all that frantic, endless movement is transferred into my hands and fingers, which are moving needles and yarn and creating something.  When I knit, I am calm.

(Unless, of course, I am knitting lace.  Lace usually makes things worse.)

The group of women who showed up to knit yesterday was varied, from middle school to sixties/seventies.  But they all came to learn to knit.  I listened to their stories: some had knit before and given up for this reason or that.  Some had never knit.  Many were former crocheters with wrist problems.  As a former crocheter myself with similar problems, I understood.

It is intimidating teaching something new to people who are twice your age or more.  These women had more life experiences than me, more stories they could tell, perhaps even a better understanding of "spirituality."  Why should they listen to me?  Why would they pay attention to what I had to say?  But I sat there and said my piece, explaining why we were there, why I loved knitting, and why I wanted to share this love with them.  And then I taught them to knit.

And you know what?  By the end of that hour and a half, every single woman there was knitting.  Most of them had at least four rows completed.  And all but one seemed eager to come back next week.  And hopefully they will, because I am even more excited and confident now!

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