I teach beginner knitting classes at a yarn store called Purl Jam, out in Califon, NJ. It’s a REALLY cute little shop that has a lot of local yarns, organic yarn, hand-dyed, hand-spun, wool alternatives, and it even has some roving for the spinners. It is held on Saturday mornings and I will be going on maternity leave soon, but I think there are some spots left in April’s class. If you don’t live nearby, and still want to learn – you’re really in luck. A very talented designer/author/teacher from New Mexico named Stefanie Japel has made an online class called “Knit Lab” using Sympoz.com, and I recently had the opportunity to try it out.
First, a little about Stefanie: I first learned about her when I was learning to knit back in 2002. She had a free pattern in one of the very early issues of Knitty.com called Bad Penny, and it was a cute little sweater that required pretty much no finishing. I looked her up, and found her whole philosophy at the time was to design knitting patterns that were really easy to knit, but super cute to wear. I have personally made the “Minisweater”, the “One Skein Wonder”, and the “Bulky Cable Cardigan”, so I can attest that Stefanie knows what she’s doing when it comes to designing and writing patterns. Since those early days, she has gone on to write a few books, win a few awards, have a few cute kids, and now, make classes available online so people can learn to knit.
I have to say that the idea of a 24-hour access online class should have happened a long time ago, right? I think Stefanie’s is pretty much the first I’ve ever heard of. There are millions of YouTube tutorials, but nothing really start-to-finish like Knit Lab is. And, being that she is a former college professor, she knows how to organize materials and break confusing things down into very manageable chunks. The entire class is broken into 17 lessons that range from a few minutes to a little over a half hour. Starting out in Lesson 1, Stefanie outlines the entire course and explains how to use the Sympoz.com site. That itself is very helpful, she mentions you can type a question to her as you’re watching the video, as well as search of others’ questions as you’re watching. In Lesson 2, she goes over materials (yarn, needles, etc…) in a really detailed manner that took me a few years of knitting on my own to know about. Lesson 3 is learning how to cast on, and 4 is knitting and purling, which Stefanie teaches in the continental style (that is just a way to knit, I personally knit in the English style, but it looks the same in the end. Her way is MUCH FASTER!).
The really cool thing about the class is that as the lessons go on, you can actually use all the techniques in each lesson to work on a project, which Stefanie also provides a written pattern for. Also, the camera work for the actual knitting instruction is great – very close up, and Stefanie goes slow and shows you many, many times how a stitch is made (and the videos are all in HD). Lessons after the basics of knitting and purling include learning how these two stitches function together in a few different combinations, utilizing increases and decreases to make your knitting look more fancy (lace!), seaming, buttonholes, learning why it is important to make a gauge swatch, learning about tension and how that can affect your knitting, and on and on and on. Seriously, this class isn’t just for beginners – I am actually learning a lot about things that had always kind of confused me (seaming), and also understanding concepts better because Stefanie really knows how to explain things well. And I have been knitting for nine years!
Among the 17 lessons Stefanie has made, she also includes three .pdf patterns that go a long with the class and use techniques she teaches (a cute keyhole scarf, a seed stitch scarf, and a pattern/tutorial on how to use tulle to make a bath scrub). Also included are two separate .pdfs for use in reading patterns – a knitting term glossary and a list of knitting abbreviations, as well as overviews for the separate lessons and information that is really helpful when you feel like you’re ready to let go and just knit all the time.
So seriously, if you’ve never even picked up needles, this class will teach you so much. If you’ve never taken a real class, you will also learn a lot. If you’re a teacher like me and want to get an idea of how someone really established teaches, it’s amazing. The class is a bargain for the $59 price, but there is a special deal where every third person gets their money refunded and the class is FREE. Click here to register – you won’t regret it!