Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thoughts on Seminars

A certain percentage of my readers attend knitting seminars, and I put up a poll last week asking whether they would attend a seminar that exclusively promoted a certain brand of very expensive machine.  15 people said yes.  I was thinking about an upcoming seminar that, to me, sounds absolutely grand - a dealer is putting one on with a number of teachers and a plethora of merchandise available to buy, and she's managing it economically by focusing on this one, currently imported machine.

Good for her.  I'm watching and waiting to see how it does.  I'd love to see MK take off again in America, with a whole new generation of creative young knitters!  I'd love to see prospering dealers and lots of great goodies easily available to buy.  I wish I lived in this enterprising lady's area so I could drop in her shop and treat myself! 

After all, my mission is to teach as many people as possible to machine knit!

Most of the seminar goers who answered my poll, though, (23) said they'd rather attend a seminar that is focused on teaching that will apply to lots of machines.  Well, that's why I try to do with my books.  The one exception among my books - the incredibly Brother-centric Enchanted Edgings - was an itch I had to scratch because I was fascinated with the scalloped lace technique.  As it stands, the book is fantastic for a certain type of machine and no use at all to non-Brother knitters. 

My most popular items are helpful with almost any machine you have, from the vintage non-patterning rattly steel thing built in the 1950s to the latest, shiny electronic double-bed with a half-dozen fancy accessories.  So I really wasn't surprised by the nope, give me a general seminar answers.

And then there's the biggest group - last but not least at all, these are most of the knitters (63 responses), who say that they find it very difficult to attend seminars and they need to learn some other way.  Well, I'm here to help you learn some other way, but let's talk about seminars a little.

Don't knock it until you try it.   Imagine spending a day with a couple dozen knitters, eating potluck goodies (ah, you know, battle of the best chocolate desserts), pawing through dozens of incredible knitted samples, looking at what everybody else is working on (and wearing), watching a teacher demonstrate hands-on and even  to trying it yourself with a terrific teacher standing behind you, coaching you.  Imagine eating lunch while a group of down-to-earth ladies share their latest favorite jokes; imagine winning door prizes like designer hand-dyed yarn or triangle weight hangers; imagine swapping phone numbers with knitters in your area that you didn't even know were around.

That's all fun, but the best part of a seminar is the learning experience and the stretching of your imagination.  You will learn by watching and listening, and you will be stimulated with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

One of the things I've noticed is that new knitters, especially, feel nervous about attending their first seminar.  They are worried that the group will be cliquish and they won't feel welcome; they worry that they'll be the only beginner; they worry that they'll be left out of the group; and they worry that everyone will be a know-it-all expert.  However, every time I go to a seminar I find a lovely mixture of ages, new members and beginners finding themselves very welcome, and friendly, good-natured, sharing people.  If you're trying a seminar for the first time, be ready for a very pleasant social surprise!

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