When Yarn Explodes in my Brain

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Amanda asked me if I would be willing to teach a knitting class during a craft day at our church to be held at the end of February. I hummed and hawed, partly because I am doing my darnedest not to over-commit to things right now, and partly because I am just tired all the time and want to say "no" to everything.

Ironically, when she sent me the text with her request, I was on my way to a different friend's house to teach her daughter to knit. Obviously, teaching people to knit is something I like to do. (Duh, right? That's one of my missions in life.)

So, after a week or so, when I realized that nothing on my schedule would really prevent me from doing so, I said "yes." And I told her "have the students bring a couple balls of bulky yarn and 6.0 mm needles."

No, I didn't have a pattern in mind. I figured I could have them make a scarf or some such. I wasn't sure if I would have time to get more specific than that--or that they would have time to make more than a swatch (which is how I typically start new knitters.)

Last Friday, though, I got the brainwave that not only could I make a pattern designed specifically as a first project for beginners, I could actually make a pattern designed to teach new knitters--say goodbye to that boring "first swatch" and get them started on a project from the first stitch.

I could also use up some stashed yarn with no defined purpose in the process. In fact, I could use up yarn that also happens to be carried by our brand new LYS (Local Yarn Store) so that the students could purchase their supplies right in town, right at the last minute, and support a local business to boot.

The ideas kept coming. As I sat and knit and thoroughly enjoyed the easy design and super-fast knitting project, I decided to make it a pattern that someone could truly learn to knit from, even if they had never picked up needles before.

Building Blocks Cowl - initial stages of design.

So it won't be a pattern so much as a mini-training manual on how to get started on all things knitting. And it will be "gradated", so to speak--certain techniques will be recommended for the person just picking up needles for the first time, but if you have a project or two under your belt, there will be "bonus tips" that recommend a different technique that will take your knitting up a notch.

Yeah, I'm kinda excited.

I still have to type up the actual pattern. And I'm still working on the second variation (the "hood" option, which is just a wider version of the cowl) for a photo. But here is what the basic, unisex Building Blocks Cowl will look like. (Thanks to Jabin for being my impromptu model this afternoon.)

Building Blocks Cowl - a beginner's teaching pattern from www.mysecretwish.ca.

Just your basic knit and purl--but with stunning results.

My vision is that not only could a knitter learn to knit from the pattern, but someone who wants to have a resource for the friend that they are teaching to knit could use it, too.

So, as per usual with me, a very small idea morphed into something pretty big. That's the way all my patterns seem to go these days. And also why I find it impossible to just write a short story. (I can't tell you the number of times my "short story" ideas have become full-blown novels within 24 hours.)

Oh, well! As long as I enjoy the process--and so do my students. Right?

P.S. I am thinking of making some other support materials to go with this pattern, such as a video tutorial and a list of online resources for various techniques and problems. What do you think?

Are you a new knitter? If so, what is the thing you are struggling with the most?

I'd love to hear from you!