Project #1: Knitting in the Round
Mia's first hat!
We are well on our way through the school year, and nearing the time when the current Handwork and Woodwork students will switch places: On January 24, Handwork students will begin Woodwork; Woodwork students will begin Handwork. Unlike previous years where all students worked together in Handwork class, the class is split, half to Woodwork, half to Handwork. Handwork and Woodwork classes meet once per week for one hour and thirty minutes.
This year’s handwork project is a knitted hat, knit in the round, on four double-point needles. The techniques of knitting that the students already know are the same, with the added difficulty of knitting only one direction (the correct direction, hmm?) around the circle. This doesn’t sound difficult, but when one is used to knitting back and forth on single point needles, it can be tricky to discern where one is on the continuum of a circle.
The hat consists of sections of “plain” knitting, sections of a specific stitch pattern, and a section of decreasing to bring the hat to a close at the top. The students are working with a written pattern, which is a new skill. In the past years, instructions have been given verbally only. It is a learned skill to be able to transform the written word into physical being. For example: * K1, Sl 1*, repeat K1, Sl 1 to the end of the round. Or: K 14, k2tog; repeat to the end of the round. It’s a foreign language! And yes, many of the students are learning to “read” the language of their knitting. It is a challenge to be independent and to do the work of reading and translating the pattern. It is work.
Maija's first hat!
The overall design of the hat is deliberate. The plain knitting sections allow for the student to be somewhat asleep in their work. The intricate, specific patterned sections require an awakeness , and an ability to observe and track the geometric aspects of the design. The decrease section for the crown of the hat requires less awakeness, but still demands focus on counting stitches.
The use of color is attended to as well. The opening of the hat is made in the lightest color (remember from Grade 4?), and the crown of the hat is the darkest. The patterning in the middle is a mix of both light and dark. Though specific elements are required, each hat is a unique design, planned by the student.
Two students in the current class have completed their hats. Proudly. They are beautiful! A few more are nearing completion, and should finish by the end of January. Several students are working quite slowly: some because this is their nature and their challenge to find the inner forces for the process of their work; some because they are challenged to work comfortably with knitting in the round, and/or with the specifics of the geometrical pattern.
ALL students are bringing their work home as homework, and know the expectation that they are working nightly on their project. They understand that should they encounter difficulties, they are to bring their work to me promptly for help, so as to not lose valuable work time. As mentioned above, our time is limited to half a year, so continuous, conscientious work at home is vital.
Please include Handwork in your nightly homework check-in with your child. Better yet, ask with genuine interest and enjoyment to see their handwork. Ask them to explain to you what they are doing; how is the pattern formed? Your enthusiasm is the best encouragement!