Knitting has seen a resurgence with people finding solace in the meditative motion of stitching. Through the pandemic, our Buy Nothing group became incredibly active and gifts of yarn were very popular. I noticed that we had many newer knitters in the neighbourhood and I thought of the grant as a way to help them. In March 2020, I had to stop teaching knitting in person, so I learned how to teach via Zoom. This spring, I offered 5 evening knitting lessons for beginners to learn to make fingerless mittens or a French Press Cozy. Everyone was welcome to join in, regardless of skill level. Coming together to knit over Zoom was a healthy, safe way to meet neighbours and share ideas.
The project took place in May & June 2021 with 5 online evening knitting sessions. I promoted the project on the Grandview/Woodland neighbourhood Facebook group and the local Nextdoor group. I put physical posters with QR code for a direct link to the signup form on the notice board at Britannia Library, the East End Food Coop, Ladybird Community Garden and at various local free book library stands. Signups were done via Google Form and email.
I included basic knitting supplies in the grant to allow for everyone to participate regardless of means – these were mostly purchased from a neighbourhood yarn store (Baaad Anna’s). Yarn and knitting needles were delivered or available for porch pickup. We used a lovely rustic Canadian wool yarn. Every participant received two colours of wool and enough yarn for two pairs of fingerless mitts or French Press cozies – striped or plain. I provided the patterns and coached students on both knitting and pattern reading.
I did have some challenges: We didn’t end up with a large group (I had specified no more than 10 people at once), but those that came enjoyed the lessons. At most, we had 7 people on the Zoom call at once, though usually it was 2 to 4, which frankly, is more pleasant for socializing! Some people forgot the classes, even though I sent reminder emails. A student was flattened by her vaccine and had to drop out (far more important than knitting classes!). And I think the heat didn’t help… when I planned everything, we were still in the cool of spring but by our last couple of nights, we were sweltering in front of our computers! One student managed to take the classes using her smartphone while sitting in her garden – I envied her.
I was impressed with my students’ abilities to fix problems in their knitting just by watching me demonstrate and listening to my suggestions. I loved seeing neighbours connect – one person said to another participant: “I recognize you! You walk your dog past our house everyday!” One mother and son pair joined the classes – the 12 year old boy stayed quite focussed for a while, but eventually ran off to play with his sister.
Overall, I call the project a success. Neighbours connected, met new people, and learned a few skills. And I was able to learn more about teaching and organizing remote classes. Many thanks to the program for funding my project!
Some comments from participants:
I just wanted to thank-you for the sessions. Yours was the first knitting pattern I had ever followed and I really learned a lot. It gave me a big boost in confidence and I feel like I might even try to knit something more substantial.
Thank you, Sarah, for bringing us together and sharing your skills. You are generous, playful, and patient. It was nice to meet everyone.
This is such a lovely thing you’re doing! Thanks for including me!
Thanks for a great evening. It was nice to connect with N. and V. And I loved the coaching on dealing with dropped stitches.