Beginner knitting and sunshine*
11.07.12 | *we still have a lot to learn about sunshine
Amazingly, we had a beautiful day for our first ever machine knitting for beginners course. Due to a few flood-related upsets we were down to two participants, who entirely made up for this with enthusiasm.
We had already written the course for a very small group so that everyone gets lots of help from course leader, Nicola, and our lovely technical assistant Alison. Our two first beginner knitters had them nearly one to one.
The day began with Nicola demonstrating how to cast-on using an e-wrap, knit and cast-off. It was great to feel the level of concentration as Nicole and Sarah tried it out for themselves.
After a discussion of tension swatching and a few sample pieces we moved onto making our first item - the little knitted bag. As this is a simple design, we encouraged them to play with colour and make their own stripy version using our coloured yarns.
To provide a bit of light relief after all the intense concentration, we had a nice visit to the sheep. They were very pleased to meet Sarah and Nicole - as we'd come with a bucket of sheep mix*.
The lack of two dry days together means they're still wearing their fleeces - not ideal in July. We need a dry day for their fleece to dry out and another on which to shear. It's just not happened so far this 'summer'.
*We also provided food for the humans. Because it was sunny, we had lunch on our lovely studio rooftop verandah serving food from our local market and the fabulous Bear Co-op and cafe.
After our trip out, the afternoon resumed with a linking lesson to finish off the bags and then moved onto trying out a different yarn for the shrugs.
Knitting with a finer weight yarn takes more practice and is a bit more prone to dropped stitches. Nicola is an expert at fixing and rescuing knits on the machine so she was able to help our beginners not panic and fix their pieces. An important skill - noone likes knitting a big piece of a project, making a tiny error and then having to start again.
The second day of the course moved into learning some new skills before commencing knitting the shrugs. Nicola showed participants how to increase and decrease, and a couple of nice edgings for their shrugs.
Learning is hungry work - well we think so - and today's food was mainly sourced locally from the Long Causeway Trading Company. This fab farm makes delicious tarts, savouries and sauces using many of their own ingredients. We may also have served some of their sweet treats in the breaks too. Yum.
It was nice to chat over the breaks - both about the work (like the difference between machine and hand knitting) and projects. And inevitably, about the weather. The valley looked so beautiful in the sunshine it was hard to believe that it had been the scene of flooding and heartbreak so recently.
It was a day of intense concentration from our participants, and growing pieces of knitwear on the machines.
It's not all about the knitting though, and there was still time to practice linking and finishing the garments so that we could demonstrate how to create a professional look.
It was nice to see skills being practised and it felt like both participants would be able to tackle their own projects at home (something the confirmed on their feedback forms).