In my years of knitting, I’ve taught more than a few friends to knit. Some are still knitting today, while others ditched the yarn and needles almost instantly.
Learning how to teach knitting is almost as complicated as learning to knit. And when you’re learning how to teach knitting to friends, it’s even more complicated! Feelings are easily hurt, frustration reigns supreme, and tensions — not the gauge kind — are running high.
Read these tips for how to teach knitting — and how to save the friendship if the knitting goes wrong!
Photo via Darned Ideas: My friend Stephanie shows a friend how to knit. Wine helps, as you can see.
1. Show and tell.
Show them how to make the stitch, then talk them through it. If both of you are right-handed (or left-handed), be sure to sit beside them, rather than across from them, so they can mimic the motions.
2. Find another way to explain it.
My friend Stephanie shared this tip with me: If what you’re doing isn’t working, find another way to say it. If you’re telling your friend to wrap the yarn around the needle and pull it through the stitch and they’re just not getting it, try rewording it and adding more details. Try telling them to wrap the yarn around the needle and use the tip of the right needle to pull the loop through, for instance.
3. Be patient.
Remember what it was like the first time you learned to knit? You probably wanted to pull out your hair. (I know I did!) Be patient with your friend and speak in a calm voice. Don’t reflect that frustration back to them.
4. Take breaks.
When you’re doing any task that requires a lot of brainpower, it’s best to take frequent breaks to recharge. Work in short intervals and suggest breaks whenever your friend needs them.
One thing that helped encourage me to learn to knit was looking at all the gorgeous sample projects in the knitting store. I found that the same is true for most people. When non-knitting friends see something I’ve knitted, it sometimes inspires them to learn. Don’t be afraid to show your friend samples of what they can make if they keep practicing.
6. Don’t force it.
It’s tempting to force knitting on friends, isn’t it? We want everyone to share in the most awesome craft in the world. But not everyone has the patience or the desire to knit. Sometimes our enthusiasm can scare people away. Try to hold yourself back just a little.
7. Use visuals.
Visuals like videos and illustrations can help your friend to get a better grasp on stitching. And since your friend will probably need to practice solo at home, they’ll need to walk away with some instructions so they can remember what you taught them.
8. Have a Plan B.
Sometimes, teaching your friend how to knit just doesn’t work out. Not all of us are great teachers, and not all of us are great students. Maybe your friend would be better off moving at their own pace. If that’s the case, consider gifting them a beginner Craftsy class. Knit Lab with Stefanie Japel is ideal for beginners because it reviews all the basic stitches. Your friend will walk away from the class with a completed scarf. And, let’s face it: buying your friend a knitting class is a better alternative than having an argument about a purl stitch and never speaking to each other again.