I am happy to be one of Stitch London‘s team of Stitch Sages who teach people to knit for free, and was asked recently why I do this, so here is my reply (Which naturally involved painting!): firstly, I still remember my own excitement the Christmas I opened a parcel to find a lovely cardboard basket containing tiny balls of wool, and pair of gold coloured, 4 year-old Clare-size, knitting needles! I was very keen to learn how to knit, and my Mum taught me the basics – cast on, knit, purl, and cast off, as she had been taught them – not by her own mother, but by a kind American lady on a ferry from the UK to Denmark. More of this later.
Secondly, passing on needlecraft skills and tools is very important to me: the photograph shows my Stitch Sage badges; one of my original gold knitting needles; a pair of green plastic knitting needles that belonged to my Mother, which my Dad had commissioned me to buy on her behalf together with some pink yarn for a baby jacket, when my sister arrived prematurely, and my Mother wanted something to do in hospital; the scissors, silver thimble and very worn, red leather case given to me by my Granny (who was a trained tailor) when I was about 8 years old; and a pair of Victorian tatting shuttles which I think belonged to my Great-grandmother. Unfortunately, the knowledge of how to use them was not passed on, so I am planning to learn to use them this year.
Finally, in teaching people to knit, I have learnt that the style of knitting does not really matter, just the the joy of developing skills in making a fabric out of a system of loops! The kind American lady taught my Mother to knit continental style, which she then in turn taught me, which was great, except that my class teacher at junior school thoroughly disapproved of my not knitting English style, and made my life miserable in knitting classes over this. In fact, I held back from teaching people to knit at Stitch London for sometime because of this teacher’s attitude, and making me feel I was doing something wrong in knitting the way I do. Lauren O’Farrell encouraged me, though, and the folks I have taught have been very appreciative, as well, which is very rewarding to see.
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