instruction,  musings

Personal Projects + knitting

It’s not very often that International Baccalaureate and knitting are mentioned in the same sentence…but they do relate!

The IB Personal Project is an opportunity for 10th grade students in the Middle Years Programme to learn something new (of their own initiative) with the help of a faculty advisor. Our students’ Personal Projects run the gamut from putting on a dance performance to raise money for the school to designing and selling t-shirts to designing a healthy cookbook. I love that our school has this now, because the Personal Project celebrates the joy of learning rather than adding yet another standardized test. I’m advising a wonderful 10th grade girl who is creating her own cookbook. She’s cooking one new recipe per week, documenting it, and will be creating a physical book. She has already sent me her take on omelets. I’m eager to see what else she is going to cook!

So_excited_to_advise_awesome_10th_grader_May_on_her_Personal_Project_a_healthy_cookbook_ Student Notebooks from Our First Meeting

In the spirit of the Personal Project, I have taken up knitting. Over the years, I’ve become more willing to try new hobbies (e.g., barre, spinning, cooking, blogging) so knitting is just another step on my quest to always be learning. I’ve been open with my students about this new hobby and have gotten many types of responses:

1) “Will you knit me an infinity scarf?”
2) “Will you knit me socks?”
2) “You’re going to be a crazy cat lady knitting next to 50 cats.”
3) “Will you teach me how to knit?” [from a boy, woot!]

I attended the Knitting Basics class at Gather Here in January and loved it. Our instructor taught us how to do the long-tail cast on, the knit stitch, and the purl stitch via a simple washcloth project. I really appreciated that she broke down each step for all of us and had us watch her before trying, regularly checked on all of us, and helped us undo mistakes. She also had a sample of the washcloth so that we could tell if we were on the right track. One of my coworkers is a self-described YouTube learner, but I am definitely not. I needed this class experience to get more confident about my knitting and get to the point where I could practice it regularly. After class, I finished the wash cloth, then practiced knitting and purling on a basket weave dish cloth.


In February, I hosted my first knitting gathering with a few girlfriends. They have been wonderful about providing feedback when I ask questions over Facebook or Twitter, and it was lovely to just chill in person over turkey tacos and our various projects. Having knitter friends has definitely kept me motivated to keep knitting.

9db4b182975c11e39a11123143081cb7_8My friend Andrea worked on this cowl.

71bce91a975b11e399f612f861077171_8Various yarns I had bought–I ended up knitting with the orange one.

62380b6e975b11e39c801279d348a7e3_8My friend Katie brought her 1968 knitting primer (given to her by her grandma). It had so many examples of stitches ranging from beginner to extremely complicated. I may be checking out eBay or used book stores for some vintage primers!

Learning_the_seed_stitch.I picked out seed stitch to practice. It went a lot better than basketweave.

Since the knitting gathering, I’ve started a few projects. First I tried the Lion Brand One Ball Scarf but found the yarn extremely difficult to work with (especially after I’d started knitting with the really nice orange yarn pictured above. Because I disliked the yarn so much, I ended up tossing it out and starting on the Scrunchable scarf with the green Cascade 220 yarn at the top left of my yarn collection pictured above. About four inches in, I realized that I’d gotten overconfident with my knitting. I had taken it to a meeting and somehow picked up an extra stitch that threw the whole pattern out of alignment. I ended up undoing the entire thing and saving it for knitting at home. I’m looking forward to restarting it and learning how to join new yarn for the scarf.

I’ve also signed up for a Gather Here class on knitting ribbed scarves. At the first class, I’d thought that I’d be able to knit infinity scarves after just one class, but now I know much more about my own abilities and what kind of scaffolding I’ll need to work my way up to the infinity scarf. I’m hoping to find a class on knitting in the round after this one.


  • Josie

    You’re doing great!

    I highly recommend looking up Tin Can Knits – the Simple Collection. It is free, and has 8 free patterns for beginners, starting with a blanket and a scarf, moving to a hat and then a sweater -all with great instructions and basic stitches.

    Also, google Purlbee- they have a variety of projects.

    Glad you’re loving it! I will pretty much only knit in the round now – I hate straight needles!

    Hope to see you soon xxoo

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