I'm having such fun right now! A new LYS has opened up right down the road from my home, and I'm happily teaching my first knitting class in almost a year. Socks are fun to teach, fun to learn, and such a wonderful summer project! I have five wonderful students, all at different stages of their knitting life, and they're providing both a challenge and a camaraderie that I've been missing recently. Work has just been interfering too much with my fiber life!
I'm a bit of a shock to these lovely knitters in several ways - hopefully a pleasant shock, but nonetheless a shock. I announced first that we wouldn't be using a pattern for their socks - they would have to create their own pattern. At least two of the students had taken the class specifically because it would include design elements, and the newest knitter is wonderfully courageous, so that's settled. Next was the announcement that I didn't care what knitting method they used; any system that gets a knitted fabric is fine with me.
We talked about fiber. My Fiber 101 lecture has been given here before, so I won't repeat. Some of these students have been knitting for decades, but strictly by pattern, and know surprisingly little about the raw stuff of yarn itself. One of my goals for this class is to teach them how to intelligently choose a fiber. Yes, this is a sock class - but this is basic information that all knitters should learn, and too many of them don't! Superwash has different characteristics than untreated wool, nylon and acrylic blends have yet other characteristics, and a good gauge swatch will tell you so much more than you think at first glance!
The next shock? Measuring their foot as an aid to assist in creating the sock design. The difference in six (with my own) individual feet was a surprise to everyone in this time of standardized sizes. Almost everyone will have a different cast-on number, some will need to decrease down the leg, others will need additional gusset decreases to fit properly...light bulbs started to pop, and I became almost giddy!
The final shock for this class? To look at their gauge swatch as a method of playing with different design elements. Swatching as play? Absolutely! It's the best place to try out the different ribbings you might want to use, see how those flow into the leg patterning you want, see how things change between the patterning and the stockinette you'll use on the bottom of the foot, check out if your stitch pattern will show up in the yarn...of course you're playing!
Many thanks to Sandy and Robin for opening Clinch River Yarn Company - a lovely haven for knitters in the East Tennessee area. Please visit their website at http://www.clinchriveryarns.com/ for directions, hours, class schedules, newsletters and updates. New yarns are arriving for fall, new classes are being formed, and a welcoming, peaceful fiber oasis is in the process of creation. Please stop by - they would love to meet you! My thanks to them for giving me an opportunity to do what I love most - teaching!