Posted by Jeanne Shrader on January 19, 2017
Once a teacher....
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.' Albert Einstein.
I love this quote. It hits me at a core level. It is so much more true than the "Those who can do...." grrrr. That one plucks my eyeballs.
Once a teacher, always a teacher. I loved my years teaching young people (well, most of them....). I loved the Fourth Grade, simply the best years in school to teach ever. Ever. I loved my kiddos who could laugh and learn and even enjoy a bit of well placed humor. I had a vintage metal bucket in my classroom that was from Armour meats, it had been full of calf brains. The label read 'Armour Calf Brains' ...I washed it out... I kept it full of treats and when my sweeties were right on track I would toss a treat and say 'Way to use those brains!!'
And on particularly rough days I would toss a treat to a young person who just wasn't in it that day and say....'Maybe some brains will help?' Kiddo would laugh, the class would laugh and the groove of the day would be restored. I loved the smiles. I loved the laughter that was always a part of my classroom. But I lived for that magic moment when the 600 watt bulb blinked on over my kiddo's head and THEY GOT IT! It was magic. Once a teacher....
I actually come from a line of teachers. My Grandpa Fugina was a teacher, my Great Aunt Connie was a teacher, that is part of who I am. I am part of them. And, once a teacher....
I still love the smiles, I still love the laughter that happens when a new skill is demystified. I love the teaching that happens on the sofas at the shop. And I live for that magic moment when the 600 watt bulb blinks on and one of you guys 'get it'. It makes my day.
In my many years of owning a yarn store, it seems I have taught a million things. From the most basic cast on and knit on basic yarn, to how to adjust a pattern with some clever math and gauge to be the perfect fit for the perfect sweater. The cheats of knitting continental and 'picking your purls' (remember that you can't pick your nose...), I love the magic moment when the light bulb switches on. And some days it starts with a flicker, the neurons in your brain start to reconnect to the eight-year-old you who learned to knit or crochet in scouts. And then we sit on those comfy sofas for a bit and the light gets brighter, and you get more confident and you become a 'knitter' or 'crocheter'.
One Sunday, last fall, I had the most wonderful opportunity to continue the teaching process for a most lovely young person. Dearest Teresa's grand AnaClare was with her at the Yarn Truck. We sat down together and started knitting, and she started with a tiny furrow in her pretty little brow, but after a few rows, a smile started on her lips, and then she was really knitting!!! Really knitting! And it was magic. Magic for me for certain, and hopefully some day future AnaClare will look back and remember the bit of magic.
Most of you guys know I am a sock knitter. I almost always have a pair of socks on needles, sometimes two..... Socks are my 'go to' project. In the car, waiting in line to vote (don't ask) even waiting at a restaurant, socks are my take along project. And because I love knitting socks as much as I do, I have to share my 'magic moment' learning to knit socks.
Sweet guy (who is doing much better) and I were in California on a work trip for him. This was a million years before I owned a yarn store, and I could take vacations.... I had purchased yarn and a pattern to make socks for my then kiddo nieces (they are 24 & 26, now) and took it on the trip. I was certain I could do this, certain I could knit on double points and turn the heel. I sat in the hotel room that Saturday night and I simply could not understand the pattern. I knitted and ripped the heel flap of that pattern a million times. The yarn was begging for mercy!! What do you mean, 'Turn Your Work'? I was so frustrated with the pattern and the process and the whole thing. I wanted to chunk it all and be done.
Then on Sunday, tooling along around Lake Tahoe, there was a yarn store, and it was open (don't get any crazy ideas). We stopped in and I bravely asked if anyone could help me with a question on socks. They happily responded 'yes'! I grabbed my sock and pattern from the rental car and brought them in. I pointed out the part that had me stuck. 'TURN YOUR WORK' and the lovely lovely, lovely person sat me down in a chair and said,
"T U R N YOUR WORK" Really, that was it? Just go the other direction. 'Turn your work.' I think I really only needed a few more words, 'You will be looking at the purl side of your work.' Or maybe, 'There will be stitches left on the left hand needle.' I just needed a few more words.
And so that is what I have learned about teaching knitting and crochet. "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." For every amazingly clever pattern out there on the outerweb, there are a million that are crazy, or over-written, or perhaps written by ferrets. And I think the final message in this note is, go find someone who can explain it simply. Don't fluster and doubt YOUR skills, go find someone who can explain it simply so you can learn and enjoy. And if you happen to be in Kitty Hawk, please come let me be your teacher. Once a teacher.....
In sticks and hooks and string,