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Empowered Teachers, Empowering Knitters

by Donna Druchunas
Author of Arctic Lace, Ethnic Knitting Discovery, Ethnic Knitting Exploration, Knitted Rugs, and Kitty Knits

Donna Druchunas

 

I’ve been teaching knitting classes since the debut of my first knitting book in 2004. As a book author, I find that my classes are in demand around the country, and even in Europe. I could literally spend all of my time traveling and teaching. But then I would not be able to write any more books, and my husband would get quite lonely. What's a girl to do? 

My goal as an author and as a teacher is to free knitters to use their own creativity and to design their own projects, based on traditional techniques used around the world. To meet that goal, I’ve written two books that walk readers step-by-step through my design process, while providing instructions on using various techniques and design motifs from different countries. Ethnic Knitting Discovery and Ethnic Knitting Exploration are two of my contributions to helping empower knitters. But I know that not everyone can learn from books with black-and-white words and static drawings and photos. Knitting is an activity requiring motion. This is impossible to convey in a book. That’s why my workshops are so popular.

Because I can’t be everywhere, I’d like to see shop owners using my materials to create their own workshops, so the ideas and techniques I’ve collected from around the world can be taught to many more knitters than I would ever be able to meet and teach in person. The organization of the books makes this very easy to do, as each project is divided into bite-size parts that can be taught in different sessions. Teaching at a local shop, where the classes can be spread out over several weeks, or even a month, allows the students to work on an actual sweater project.

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Here's a sample class outline, based on the sequencing of each project in Ethnic Knitting Discovery and Ethnic Knitting Exploration. The outline is for a sweater class; the small projects can support simpler, shorter classes.


CLASS 1

READY
Yarn
Needles

SET
General design sketches and schematics
Basic shape of your sweater
Fit and flatter of different designs, what fits your body type?
How motifs will work in the overall design
All-over patterning or just accents?

Charts 
Picking motifs and combining them in color and texture
Seeing how the motifs work together
Trying different color combinations
Using variegated yarn in texture and colorwork designs

Gauge — same for all pattern stitches or not? is row gauge important for your sweater?

Swatches!

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CLASS 2

Figure out your size, your measurements

KNIT
Different design philosophies / styles — figure it all out in advance or make it up as you go? 
Visual design — filling in the measurements on the visual drawing
Do you understand the basic steps for knitting your sweater, or do you need more help from the step-by-step instructions?
Fill out worksheets — figuring out the stitch counts that you need
Discuss sizing of various sweater shapes
Figure out how motifs fit into your sitch counts. Chart the whole thing?
More charting and swatching, now that you have more details
Cast on and knit the ribbing and start the body

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CLASS 3 Armholes and sleeves
Ease and sleeve sizing
Armhole depth for different styles of sweaters
Pick up and knit down, or start at cuffs and sew in sleeves?
Increase or decrease rates
Different types of sleeve shaping
Fitting the sleeve cap into the armhole

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CLASS 4

Finishing
Steeking
Neckbands
Grafting and other seams

 

Nomad Press makes two PDFs of projects from Ethnic Knitting Discovery available as free downloads so you can try this technique. You may want to plan a series of classes in which the participants purchase Ethnic Knitting Discovery and/or Ethnic Knitting Exploration as their guidebooks. The “skill-builder” projects make great short classes, and the sweater designs fill a longer plan, like the one I have outlined here. Knitters can browse your shop for the yarns that catch their eyes and make up a design to go with!

If you’d like to use these ideas and want me to facilitate instead of teaching the classes yourself, I’m looking into the possibility of using web connections to do some long-distance teaching at shops. Get in touch [nomad at nomad-press dot com] if you’d like to know more!

 

 

 
 

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