Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Teaching Embroidery

I spent a lovely Saturday at Sit 'n Knit in Old Weathersfield, CT teaching a bunch of knitters how to embroider. What a great group they were - full of laughter, questions, and enthusiasm. Don't they look happy with their finished swatches? They all mastered lots of embroidery stitches and duplicate stitch which I hope they will use on their knitting. As the class ended, I think they were enthused with the possibilities that adding embroidery to any piece of knitting poses.

I can't tell you how nice the venue was. It was everything a teacher likes to find when she arrives at a class. Lots of times teaching can be a real drag - stuck in a lousy hotel with bad light and cranky students who want to learn but are so exhausted from taking in all the information they have already gotten that they can't soak up anything more. It's never their fault - it is usually just a case of information overload. I like these small venues much better - they are way more enjoyable for students and teachers.

At Sit 'N Knit, we all were treated like royalty. The class was held in a cosy Danish cafe called Crown & Kringle on the main street of Old Weathersfield - a lovely, antique town. The cafe is on the first floor of an old house that was built in the 1700's. There were beautiful windows, the walls were painted a sunflower yellow and there was a lovely fireplace in the room we used. The tables were close together which made it easy to get around and help students individually. Sometimes when there is a very large table with students sitting all the way around it, it's impossible to get to everyone. As a teacher, I want to do the best for each and every student. I never want anyone to go away disappointed. Lots of times I can't quite tell how each person is feeling but on Saturday I left with a positive feeling. It's hard to put yourself out there -- everyone expects an author to be something she's not. Face it - we're all just knitters who are teaching and we all don't know everything. I have honed my skills by combining lots of different interests to put them all into a "Kristin Look" that I enjoy sharing. I am definitely not an expert on every knitting technique. And underneath it all, I'm just like everyone else - doing wash, balancing a checkbook, taking out the trash, and trying to balance a personal life and career.

Sit 'n Knit Too is owned by Barbara and Richard - a dynamic husband/wife team. This is their second store - their first is in West Hartford. They employ a lot of enthusiastic women who all afternoon were helping the knitters in the crowded store choose projects and yarn. Jodi Lewanda, one of their stellar employees, was the driving force to get me to teach the class. She has been bugging me for over two years to get off the farm and out into the real world to spread the embroidery word. Her persistance paid off and we all had a really fun time. I may even go back this fall when my next book comes out. Barbara treated the entire class to a lovely Danish lunch. Talk about feeling like a princess! The lunch reminds me of the recent posts on this fun blog - Hygee House.

I don't go out and teach much these days. I like to spend time with The Farmer and Julia doing the things we like to do together. Weekends seem to fly by and then it's back to school and the work week. I always hope we did enough together to end up feeling like a family. While I was gone, Julia had to be assistant farmer. This is a stretch for her because she is just four feet tall. Farming The Farmer's Way (there's a book?) involves lots of animals who run every which way, constant feeding of the 250 sheep, and lots of heavy equipment which isn't exactly kid friendly. But they made it through the day and I got home for dinner and a nice Sunday with them and the critters. Julia is even learning to drive the tractor.

Doesn't Julia look like she is starting to like this lambing thing?

After Saturday, I think my students, Julia and her dad, and I all felt a little bit like this cute Scandinavian cut-out which was in the the window of the cafe. Thanks to Barbara, Richard and Jodi for talking me into it - and then giving me such a nice day.


Dianne said...

They all look like they are having a great time. How I wish you could come to Kentucky to teach! Just last week we received a flyer at the shop from Unicorn advertising all the new books coming out soon and there was your new one, "Kristin Knits". Don't know if that is the final cover, but it is lovely---so cheerful and appealing. Will you be doing a book tour or teaching at any of the fiber festivals? I can understand how that would be complicated for you with a small child and farm life, but it sure would be great to take your class.

Peg said...

Wish I had been there. I will have to look up your book. I bought enough yarn today to make four Elizabeth Zimmerman Rib Warmers, so a bit of embroidery might be nice. There are probably some suggestions in one of your books for embroidering on garter stitch?!?
The photo of Julia with the lamb is just so delightful. I think it is great for the farmer and Julia to have time alone - our dtr. often speaks about the times she had with her Dad when I was out of the picture!

Anonymous said...

oh how i wish i could have taken your class!!! if you ever come to western north carolina we have wonderful yarn stores...in the meantime i'll satisfy myself with your beautiful blog... :) laura

The Woolgatherer said...

I had such a great time learning the stitches that you taught us last Saturday. I am planning on sharing them with my knitting buddies tonight. Your farm and sheep look so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

Cindy said...

I was the person in the front with the aqua sweater and the bandage on the left hand. When I got home and started reading your book I saw mention of Judy Chicago. My daughter is interning right now for Judy in NM and working at a contemporary art gallery.