Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Get the Most Out of a Machine Knitting Seminar

Here are some ideas for getting the most out of a machine knitting seminar:

Pay attention. Whoa, did I say that? Am I talking to my kids, or what? Well, the actual fact is that it’s SUCH BIG FUN to go to a knitting seminar that I myself and endlessly tempted to focus on socializing and not on the demonstrations. However, a month or two later when I wish I remembered how something was done, I’ll be sorry if I didn’t pay attention.

Paying attention means actually watching. If you think you can knit or crochet in the back and catch everything, you’re fooling yourself. Even if you are a very advanced machine knitter, there is probably something new to learn or some way to contribute and help the others. We are drowning in evidence that multi-tasking doesn’t work. And please, don’t interfere with others who want to pay attention. I was very aggravated at a seminar once when the demonstrator got angry with people talking, but now I know better.  It is a terrible, stressful experience for the demonstrator when they are trying to teach over conversations. It’s impossible to do a good job as a demonstrator under those conditions, and it’s also very annoying for the other participants.

Ask questions. If you are paying attention, you really should ask your questions, even if you are a beginner. In almost every case, other people have the same question, and you are doing the demonstrator a favor. The demonstrator really wants to be clear and understandable!

Help with sound and video. If you seminar doesn’t have a sound system or a video system, you can do this fairly easily and it’ll really help everyone, including you. We discovered that a used karaoke machine is a very cheap way to get quite decent sound so a soft-voiced person like me can be heard by 50 people. We also learned that a camcorder on a tripod, focused on the needle bed and cabled to some borrowed flat-screen television is a fantastic way to see the demonstrator’s technique. If you’re not handy with these things, ask around! This is one area that can greatly improve a seminar.

Take notes. Bring a spiral-bound notebook and label the outside with the date of the seminar and write lots of notes. My friend, an amazingly organized person, sometimes brings paper and pens to share! If you’re a seminar organizer, of course you could pitch in and create handouts, but even without handouts, notes can be very helpful later.  If they give you handouts, write more notes in the margins.  Post-its are good for that, too.

Take photos. Most demonstrators don’t mind if you take photos. Heck, I’m pleased if you want photos of samples or needle setups of whatever – just don’t hold up the group.

Use your imagination. Imagine yourself doing the technique on your machine. What would be different? What are you not so sure about?  How could you use this technique?

Get up and come closer when needed. Most demonstrators will give permission to come up and watch something fiddly.

If the demonstrator asks for volunteers, go for it. On some techniques, I like to get the audience to practice. People learn watching and helping each other.  Be brave - this is your one and only exciting life!

Make the new folks and beginners feel welcome. It’s getting newbies into your machine knitting group that will keep it engaging and exciting in years to come!  Even if you're a little shy, you can help make folks welcome.

Practice. The evening after the seminar, I might practice in the hotel room with my portable machine. Or, if you’re going home, and even though you’re tired in the evening, you can find a few minutes to practice. Some how or other, practice your favorite techniques from the seminar before a lot of time goes by. Consider talking to yourself as you practice as if you were explaining it to someone else.

Teach someone else. This is a terrific way to imprint the information thoroughly into your memory.  Besides, your knit club always needs demonstrations.

Okay, those are all the ideas I have! Does anyone else have suggestions for how to get the most out of a machine knitting seminar?

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