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my experience of teaching my first workshop

I taught my first workshop yesterday! Hopefully the first of many Learn To Knit with Lily sessions.

First up, I’d better address the elephant in the room that in light of the Coronavirus situation, I was hesitant about going ahead with a workshop. We were a small group, everything was hygienic, and at the time there were no restrictions advising against all gatherings. Life right now feels like a strange limbo situation where nobody knows how ‘normal’ to act, but hopefully deciding to go ahead with this was the right decision.

Anyway. Since I have 14 years of knitting and designing experience under my belt, teaching workshops is an idea that’s crossed my mind a few times. I hadn’t quite figured how to make it logistically work though…

Where would I host it?
Would it be for complete beginners?
How much would I charge?
When would it be?
How long would it be?
Would anyone actually book tickets?

Etcetera. It wasn’t at the top of my priority list, but was definitely something I wanted to branch out into at some point. If I’m aiming to inspire more people to take up knitting, then I’d better offer to teach them, right? I’d had previous discussions about more niche workshops or running a series of classes as a course, but nothing that quite worked for me and my schedule.

Along came Make Do Drink. I met Helen at a creatives networking event here in Preston a while ago, and when she mentioned that she and her friend Nicola organise creative workshops here in Preston… obviously I suggested a Learn To Knit workshop right away. They do all the organising, I just turn up and teach, perfect. The first (of hopefully many) Make Do Drink; Knit workshops was on the 15th March, and I thought I’d share a little writeup of the event and my first teaching experience here.

the venue

Rise: Preston’s newest, and most Instagrammable, brunch spot. Little old Preston has some cute places, don’t you know? Rise is pretty much famous for its bathroom selfie spot and pink plates already and it’s only been open since last October. Downstairs is an additional seating area that lends itself perfectly to workshops: it’s cosy-but-not-cramped, and doesn’t feel like you’re hiding away in a basement.

the project

As knitters will know, there isn’t too much you can complete start to finish in a couple of hours. 90 minutes for a super chunky hat is my record. So I thought it’d work better to teach everyone the basic skills, and provide a simple pattern using only those skills as a take home project.

the yarn and needles

Unlike many beginner workshops I’ve seen, we did not start with huge needles and chunky yarn! In my opinion (and others I’ve asked), 10+mm needles are heavy, cumbersome and just make life harder work. Tiny needles aren’t great either, because you can’t see the stitches well enough. So I chose a goldilocks 5mm circular needle for everyone to start with. We jumped straight in with the circular needles – straights are impractical for working in the round, not portable, easier to lose… they’re pretty much redundant in my opinion so we didn’t even bother.

the experience

Having never taught before I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the whole Learn to Knit workshop seemed to go well! I could talk about knitting forever and a day so was conscious of not waffling too much. But I also wanted to make sure I gave enough information… hopefully the balance was about right. I LOVE seeing people realise how quickly they can learn, and seeing the satisfaction on their face when they leave the session with a finished piece of knitting. Dropped stitches and all, it’s all part of the learning process!

Thanks to everyone who came along, to the girls at Make Do Drink for organising and to Rise Brunch for hosting us!

Lily Kate x

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