When I first learned to knit, I was taught the basics by my mother but it was because of my grandmother that I developed a love of fiber arts. My mother told me what I did wrong as she ripped out rows before handing back to me to correct. In contrast, my grandmother always said, “Good job!” (Well, she said the equivalent in Norwegian.) No matter what I made, my grandmother found a use for it. A cotton garter square became a potholder or a washcloth (after she added a border and/or a loop for hanging), and, once, a short wide scarf with lots of “holes” became a decorative mat under a fruit bowl.
You get the idea. 🙂
My first sewing project (back in the days when 6th grade girls were required to take sewing while 6th grade boys were sent to a shop class), was an apron. I remember my mother chose a hideous green patterned material, and I trimmed it with bright orange rickrack (also chosen by my mother). Once finished, I sent it to my grandmother. My grandmother used that apron until she died. In fact, I found it hanging on a hook behind her bedroom door – old, worn out and well stained. Looking at it like that reminded me how much my grandmother loved me and encouraged me in the fiber arts by using everything I made!
I keep my grandmother’s example in mind when I teach knitting. I don’t put new knitters on large, rambling samplers; I discourage them from knitting long scarves or large baby blankets. It is, simply, overwhelming. Most knitters who start in the middle of the bell curve of interest in fiber arts give up – usually without finishing the project!
This has worked well for the new knitters I have worked with … a pair of socks are usually their third project. And there are lots of FUN yarns for socks. And nothing says useful like socks! We all know what a joy it is to create, receive, gift or wear handmade socks.