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Learning How to Knit: Expectation vs Reality

I have taught hundreds of people to knit over the years, maybe even a thousand plus, and those new knitting students have been a huge variety of ages, genders and cultures. Many come to my beginner knitting lessons with a host of different reasons as to why they want to learn how to knit.

Some choose learning how to knit to help to heal unhappy memories of being taught to knit by impatient teachers, nuns (yes really) or grandparents, some to create a therapeutic space for themselves to help process something traumatic or difficult, or distract themselves from a challenging period in their lives. Some to relieve stress from work and relationships. Many people come because they have always harboured a desire to do something crafty and creative and would love to have an activity to stop the endless social media scrolling that brings them little to no joy or satisfaction.

A white female knitting teacher holds orange coloured yarn in each hand

Some people come to my classes because they are having a baby or someone close to them is and they want to knit for that new member of their world.

Whatever the reasons, I am always delighted to introduce anyone to the world of yarn and knitting needles. Witnessing, first hand, the satisfaction each person gets from actually making something in their hands, something wholesome and comfy, full of kindness and creativity, is second to none.

A white female knitting teacher holds a stack of knitting yarn with her eyes closed

What Do People Expect When Learning to Knit?

Of course people expect to learn to knit during my classes, and so I am clear, that's a guarantee. But people often also expect the process to be incredibly hard, maybe even slightly embarrassing. Because a lot of people come to a beginner knitting class, expecting to be the one that doesn't get it. The one that holds the class up, or worse, finds it too hard and retreats, proverbial tail between legs etc.

Knitting Needles in a wooden box againsta. backdrop of green vines

What is Learning to Knit Really Like?

After 15+ years of teaching complete beginners how to knit, the above has never happened in my knitting classes. And that's because of a few reasons. The main one being, knitting is way easier than you think. Really and truly. It is a simple, repetitive action that of course, at the beginning feels awkward and odd (because you are doing something unfamiliar with your hands), but within 30-40 minutes you start to form a muscle memory. You start to see what the actions you are doing with your hands is achieving, and it all starts slotting into place in your brain as well as your hands.

The other reason is that I refuse to let your negative inner voice derail your experience. I do this by addressing it, bringing it into the open which invariably prompts that shy, familiar laughter from your fellow beginner knitters, revealing that they too are preoccupied with the same worries. You can then feel the collective shoulder drop of the knitting class, you are all in it together and everyone is supporting each other in their new experience.

A white femaile knitting teacher holds skeins of yarns and is smiling

Mistakes are Part of the Process

Of course you will make mistakes, you are learning something new. You can't expect perfection immediately, and to be clear, knitting is a creative pursuit which means there is no 'perfection'. As long as you like what you are making, that is the closest we get to immaculate knitting. And if you don't, then I am here to help you make some small tweaks until you do.

Immediate gratification is not the goal, a craft takes time, each new project will bring new skills to hone and make familiar. That is why a knitted garment is to be treasured, because it was made stitch by stitch, carefully, and possibly with sections that had to be undone and re-knitted.

All knitters make 'mistakes', our concentration goes and we fall out of sequence of a pattern repeat. The possibilities for mistakes are endless but, and here's the most important element, easily rectified. The mistake helps us correct ourselves, make that adjustment, pay a bit more attention.

Also, side note, many 'mistakes' in knitting have opened possibilities for new techniques, one person's error is another's joyous discovery in the final textile.

A white female knitting teacher is knitting in a peach dress

How Do I Help People Learn to Knit?

With clear, simple and repetitive demonstrations. Whether we are physically together in one of my in-person beginner knitting classes (in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) or via my pre-recorded or live online knitting lessons. I have honed my teaching approach to make learning to knit fun, memorable and clear. I share funny stories to help you to remember how to cast on, off and knit. I check that your shoulders are relaxed, that you are breathing, and that you are taking time to look at what you have done already and be sure to celebrate it.

Why Would Learning to Knit be Hard?

The act of learning how to knit is not hard, it is straightforward (with a good knitting teacher) but the messaging in our heads can create the challenge. The self judgment, impatience, refusal to appreciate anything that is not 'social media perfect' during the process of learning something new.

As adults, we don't often learn new things. Many people who come to my beginner knitting classes may not have learnt something new with their hands since they were children. That requires acknowledgement so you can allow yourself some grace, some time and some space to enjoy the learning process before holding it up to an unrealistic standard of 'beauty'. That is not to say what you make in that first beginner knitting class is not beautiful, I feel confident that you will be full of wonder for what you made. Because you made it, you conquered your inner imposter syndrome, pushed through the discomfort of making your hands do something your brain doesn't quite understand and now you have something little and lovely to show for it.

The pride in people's eyes when they smooth out their first piece of knitting from Lesson 1 of my beginner knitting course is a true privilege to witness. It is a palpable high, and one I hope people keep close to them long after the course has ended.

It is a testament, that given the space and support to learn something new, we can each do anything we want to.

a white female knitting teacher is knitting on a sofa looking up and left

So What Should I Expect from a Beginner Knitting Class?

Whether you learn with me, in person or online, or with someone else, you should expect patience and enthusiasm from your knitting teacher. You should expect to laugh, enjoy yourself, surprise yourself and, if you are in an in-person class, meet new people who are all being brave like you, and following a desire to learn how to knit, whatever each of your reasons.

Enjoy the Journey

When starting to learn how to knit, don't expect to make something you could wear that day, that is not the point. You will get to that gorgeously handmade sweater, hat, blanket or whatever it may be that your knitting heart desires. And you will get there faster than you imagine, once you have your knitting skills down, but I encourage you to enjoy the journey while you learn to knit. Enjoy the gift you have given yourself and the space to just... learn. Because once you have your knitting confidence, you will soon form a long list of things you want to make for yourself and others, a whole other chapter of knitting joy will open up. But all in good, good time.

You can find my in-person beginner knitting course dates HERE and my pre-recorded beginner knitting course HERE. We can also knit together with my online private knitting lessons.

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white female hands are holding wooden knitting needles with blue yarn knitted on them

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