I have taught knitting to many people over the past 30 years, individually and in groups. In teaching, I want my students to enjoy learning, knit something without too much pain that is also immediately useful and master specific, basic skills important to building their confidence. (pic source)
Here is a sequence I have found that works very well when teaching people to knit.
Learning the basics (knit & purl): The overall goal is for students to learn the building blocks of knitting. They will also learn to understand and recognize the similarities and differences between the two stitches.
Lesson 1: Goal – long tailed cast on, first on single and then on double needles
Lesson 2: Goal – knit six inches in garter stitch
Lesson 3: Goal – knit six inches in straight stitch
Lesson 4: Goal – knit six inches in K2/P2 rib
First project: A hat
- great for teaching how to take two basic measurements (on top of gauge) and make a small (immediately wearable!) project without a printed pattern
- knit in the round with circular needles or flat (seamed together later)
- the new knitter is able to quickly finish – and wear! – her/his first project
Second project: A narrow, short, lace scarf
- great for learning to knit basic lace
- excellent for learning how to read a pattern graph
Third project: A pair of socks
- great for learning shaping techniques
- great for bolstering pattern reading skills
- great for boosting confidence (sock construction “looks” complicated but really isn’t!)
Fourth project: An Icelandic sweater
- great for learning color work
- goes quickly as it’s knit in the round (and on large needles)
- great for learning basic sweater sizing
- great for learning how to adjust sizing
- very little finishing needed
Now at this point the new knitter has mastered a lot of skills – both technical and pattern reading – and just needs encouragement and a little support as s/he goes deeper into the world of fiber art!
P.S. I recommend meeting to knit over coffee, tea and some goodies. It helps defray NKA (“new knitter’s anxiety”). Besides, it’s always been a good excuse for me to pull out a brotform, a sourdough starter, and sacks of flour to start a batch of raisin bread to serve. Of course, while the bread is proofing I have time to make a batch of chocolate-raisin or hazelnut-anise mandelbread. Oh what fun!