Knitting Socks Class: Were My Expectations Too High?

I began learning to knit in May after many years of crochet, so I’m familiar with tensioning the yarn and with manipulating things with my hands. (former exp. also with hand embroidery, counted X-stitch, and needlepoint)

I took a class in the Moebius scarf (Cat Bordhi cast-on), foliage hat, and knitting hats in the round. Those were May and July. Then I signed up for a three-session, For Beginners, socks class.

Almost everything that could go wrong for someone in a beginning class has gone wrong for me. I am so far behind the next person in this six-student class it’s not even close to funny.

The class is on Wednesday evenings.

Here’s the run-up to the FIRST class:

  1. I called the Monday before class was to begin, just to confirm (!) my interest in the class, as I had been asked to do. Telephone…the shop answers. “Hi, this is ___, and I’m calling to confirm my registration for the Socks class this week.” [confusion by shop] The clerk had [B]no class listing[/B] for a Socks class, [B]no info or informal notes about a Socks class[/B], [B]no idea who might teach[/B] a Socks class, etc. She suggested that I call again the next day, when someone else would be there.

That was cutting it pretty fine, in case I needed to purchase supplies–I have a job, sometimes, which can inundate me, so I need to prepare things in advance.

  1. So, the next day, after more “fun,” I get a call back from the owner. Yes, there is a class. It’s from 6:30 to 8:00. “What?! When I was in the shop a few weeks ago, I wrote down what you told me, to make sure I could attend and be on time, and I have 6:00 to 8:00.” Having done some teaching myself (eight years as a full-time teacher, as well as academic tutoring and quilting/other textile/fiber arts), 1.5 hours for beginners is barely enough time to show them the ropes, but not enough to let them start work. This was Strike 2.

  2. I showed up on Wednesday a little early, since I still needed to pay for class. I had also written this amount down in my notes, $35. I figured it was a “loss leader,” and that by encouraging beginners to take this class, the shop would (in their eyes and plan) be gaining our loyalty to take future classes at market rates. Made sense to me, anyway. So I arrive for this too-short beginners’ class and get out the wherewithal to pay and my notes. OOPS! THAT’S WRONG, TOO! $45 for the class.

Whereupon, I said, “OK. The class time I was given was wrong, the person I spoke to the other day didn’t know anything about the class, and the fee I was given was wrong. Can we confirm the DATES of the class meetings?”

So the whole thing began on a bad note.

Classes themselves haven’t been much better: whenever I have a question, others–more advanced knitters whose questions arise after mine–are helped not only once, but the other night TWICE before the teacher gets to me. She said she would email us the pattern (correct: there was no handout at the first class), but what she sent was an outline of the general subjects we would cover at each class.

And it goes on and on. It goes so far on that I’m wondering whether this woman, who by her skill is definitely an excellent knitter, has ever taught this class before.

Was I expecting too much? Or are most LYS’s flakey like this?

Thank you, everyone, for what I hope will be some perspective.


Sounds like a combination of an inexperienced teacher and a disorganized shop owner. The teacher may be distracted by questions that are easier to answer than yours and so is dealing with them first. Not the best technique but understandable.
But, that said, you’re in the class now and it may get better. Don’t worry about being behind the other students. It’s not a race to finish and you want to understand how to knit socks by the end of class, even if you don’t finish one. If you learn how to do that it’ll all be worth it.

Thank you for responding, [B]salmonmac[/B]. It’s kind of sad that you are the only one who has, though.

The full truth of the matter is that this is the second LYS that has messed up with classes. I tried this second shop (45 min. from my house at the relevant time of day) as a desperation move after being scr*wed over by the LYS that’s only 15 minutes from my house.

At the one which is only 15 minutes from my house, I’ve signed up [B]in person[/B] for three classes on three different occasions in May and July.

For two of the classes, the instructor–same one both times, as I find [B]her[/B] (at least) well-organized–had NO IDEA I was in the class, b/c somehow, even though I witnessed the store clerk writing my name and phone number down on the class sheet, my name was not on the class sheet the instructor was given. Because of these two incidents, she has now begun making extra copies of her incredibly detailed handouts, rather than one per enrolled student, because she cannot depend on the LYS (nor can I) to get it right. (For the record, she does not teach anywhere else. I asked.)


I find the lack of response to this thread by everyone but you, [B]salmonmac[/B], very discouraging. I interpret the lack of response as agreement that this is indeed [I]the normal state of affairs in Knitting Land[/I]. As a new knitter [COLOR=“Blue”]and[/COLOR] a tactile learner (videos are nice, but they’ll never replace in-person instruction for me and other tactile learners), there are only so many times I can ram my head against the brick wall of being dropped from a class before it starts, being ignored during class, and being misled by a shop on critical factors (time, fees, etc.) before saying the h*ll with it. :sad:

I can make socks, conservative items of clothing (not the weird, godawful stuff) and all using crochet, believe it or don’t. Yes, true, there are hundreds, thousands, more patterns for knitting. But a friend showed me in person how to crochet back in college, for free, and I’m very good at it! And now I’m being (I feel) basically stiffed by this socks “instructor,” and all the rest of the LYS/knitting class mess.

And, on top of that, the general “ho-hum” response tells me that these circumstances are the accepted, normal, kwitcherbitchin’ state of affairs in Knitting Land.



I am so sad that your feelings are hurt. I noticed that 141 KH’ers read your post. If they are like me, once someone responds the way I would , I don’t post myself. Well said, salmonmac. If there was an “I agree” button, I would have clicked it !

I hope you stick with us, we really are a caring group.

(I think that is pretty funny … stick … with us … pretty bad when you laugh at your joke that you didn’t get till the second time you read it)

It’s just that a lot of people don’t have any comments to add. I wouldn’t have except that you were disheartened by an apparent lack of interest here. I’ve never taken a class so don’t really haven an experience to compare it to and don’t know if that’s normal or you’ve had a bad time. I don’t think it’s normal, but it does happen from time to time. I’m sure others who read here might be commenting later; not everything gets an instant response.

I’m guilty. I’m one of the ones who read this and passed by. I’m sorry. I thought you were just blowing off some steam. I’ve never attended a class either. It seems as if I don’t have the money or I’m working and can’t attend the sessions on a regular basis.

I only patronize one LYS. Phyllis is on the ball. She gives personalized service to each customer. I don’t think something like that would have happened in her shop. If it had, she would have bent over backwards to make it right. It sounds to me like employees who don’t care about whether or not they do a good job. I think their behavior is inexcusable. If it had been me, I would have said the h with it and not patronized them anymore.

You might be better off getting an instruction video that you can go through at your own pace. I like to learn new things by watching instructional knitting videos on Youtube. In additional to the ones here on Knit Help, Knitpicks has some excellent free videos. One that comes to mind is Kelley’s sock class.

I apologize to you for my disregard for your situation and your feelings. Please forgive me for not responding.

I read your post as well, but have no experience to relate. I’ve never taken any type of crafting class. I wanted to agree with you, that it was unacceptable behavior by this instructor/lys.

Some people learn better in person than online. I get that. I typically prefer in person type instruction but it wasn’t an option for me last year when I was learning. I used KH’s videos and mostly youtube. It’s amazing how great some of these instructors are online. There’s some that are so detailed, in steps, and even in slow motion to help you through it. Plus it was all free! I didn’t have to pay an instructor that maybe I didn’t “click” with. I could hit the stop button and find a new one.

Can we get an I agree/disagree button? I liked Debbie’s idea for that.

I would drive a longer distance for a better store/personnel if I had to. You should talk to the owner/mgr and see what they have to say. I have one lys that I despise so I won’t even spend my money there. I’ll spend my money at a big monster chain like Jo-ann’s or go online.

I hope you get the instruction you need, in some form. Sorry you felt let down by responses as well. I think you already know this is a great community, it just gets slow sometimes. School is just starting most place, and people are busy. Sometimes I only have time to skim posts, and no time to reply.

People often don’t respond if they have nothing to add to the conversation. Not everyone has taken a class at a yarn store. It doesn’t mean we don’t value your input and enjoy you being here with us. :hug:

I did see the post, but it was very late and I wanted to wait till morning to respond. –

I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. I have taken several classes at my LYS and haven’t had a problem personally. I’ve heard them talk on occasion of a time being off or some mixup, but as far as I can tell it’s always corrected quickly and the class members called that signed up so they would know what had changed or been corrected.

So the answer is no, not all LYS classes are as bad as you encountered. Is there a knit night or social knitting day that you could join? That is often a good way to get to know people and get a bit of help as well. I go to a regular social knit night on Friday and I usually end up going to the social spinning night to just sit and knit and visit as well. There are some very helpful people in the group and we even have our own “classes” or “knit-a-longs” as well.

If this isn’t an option maybe you could find a group of like minded knitters and start your own knitting group. :hug:

ETA: I think you live in Norcal? Wish you lived down here I’d take you to MY LYS!

My first msg was late Monday night; the second, late Tuesday night. I’ve been on the Internet long enough to give people at least 24 hours to respond. :cool:

Since I was new to taking classes, I wasn’t expecting a phone call, so when it didn’t happen, no big deal. I just showed up, per my note in my written calendar, and All Chaos Broke Out.

The ones at the local public libraries are at difficult times except for one monthly, one-hour long get-together. I’ve been to that one twice, and they were nice people. I mean, it’s at the library…and the librarian is the coordinator. But 1 hour is hardly enough time for 14 or so women to show what they’ve been working on for the last month, much less get help, so although it’s a nice vibe, I don’t look at it as a method of getting technical assistance.

I’m still looking, believe me, but yarn stores in Oakland, Novato, Vallejo, San Rafael, one of the two shops in Berkeley, a yarn dept. in Berkeley, and maybe others have closed in the last year or so. When you look at S.F. Bay Area traffic, getting anywhere between 4:00 and 6:30 in the afternoon is very dicey, so when I look farther afield, I need a later starting time just to avoid sitting on a very long, skinny parking lot and adding to Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

How far south are you? Way south, or just Central Coast?


I’m sorry, I’m one of the people that read this message but didn’t reply. My reason for not replying is that I have utterly NO experience in taking classes from any yarn stores. I learned how to knit all on my own, with the aid of the internet. Please don’t think that anybody was intentionally not replying to your message. I’ve always found this message board to have some of the most helpful and friendly people around! (((Hugs)))

I guess I didn’t see the first message till a few days later then. Don’t know how I missed it. :shrug:

Some people simply don’t know how to run a business and then there are those that shouldn’t be. I’ve been very lucky. Since you were very unhappy I doubt you were the only one. Maybe they’ll realize that they are losing money that way not only from the class, but from yarn sales. That’s no way to run a business for sure.

Anything we can do to help you let us know. There are lots of videos on the internet as well as here. I’ve been knitting for several years so I can usually find one for you. :hug:

I live in south Orange County so yes, it’s a long way from the bay area.

I have never taken a class at a LYS, so I can’t speak about how things are “usually” run, but it does sound like this shop could use some organizing help and FAST!!!


I have both taken and taught sock classes. I have discovered from experience that the following can go wrong: ( this is not intended to be all inclusive)

  1. The owner doesn’t post the skills requisite to take the course. I have on more than one occasion had someone show up who did not know how to purl. SO a lot of distracting questions and tedious repetition can go into teaching someone how to do something fundamental thereby holding the whole class up. Alternately, a lot of complaining and demands for refund can go into refusing to teach someone who just shows up with few or no skills to speak of.
    2 The shop owner did post a list and it was ignored.
  2. People do expect handouts to remind them of how to do the techniques taught. Expert teachers still give them out- I took a class with Brooklyn Tweed and he had plenty.
  3. The class has too many people in it. How many is too many? It depends on the level of student and what is being taught.
  4. There are some students who are more interested in socializing than learning. This is ok for them but obviously not ok for the rest.

I could go on but your experience was one which is unfortunately not unusual but still not the standard

Well, count me in as one who read but didn’t respond. :aww: I’m sorry, but I, like some of the others, have never taken a class. I certainly hope your experience isn’t the norm, though.

Welcome to the board and please give us another chance!! :muah:

If you’re having trouble with anything in the sock class, please ask someone here. We have a great group of people. I learn something from this site all the time. What I especially like is that everyone is very supportive and positive, especially with new knitters. There’s no such thing as a stupid question here.

I just saw this, but then, I’m not here every day.
Is your experience acceptable practice? No. Normal? Unfortunately, in my experience, yes. Here’s how my attempts on both ends have gone:
1983: Oh, gee, the community college has a class! Call ahead because road is slick–yes, we’re still having it–drive fifteen miles to site, find one person taking names “in case we have the class later”.
1984: Say, there’s a knitting group at the library! Go, then get yelled at because they all knit in one very specific Enfglish style with one brand of very expensive yarn.
19…99, I think?: Hey, there’s a new yarn shop and they have classes! It’s a long drive, but it’s a LYS and I have to see this. Go and find a couple of shelves of novelty yarn with list price tags pasted halfway over the discount store’s lower tag. There were classes listed, but half of them were canceled.

I’m not going to list the places and times I’ve taught, in case it might hurt someone’s feelings, but the bottom of the barrel for me was a largish class in which one student had no idea what she had gotten into even though a detailed description was on the sign-up sheet. When I handed out a line-by-line, no abbreviations, beginner detailed pattern, she immediately started to cry and yell that it was too long and she would never be able to finish. Her tears and screaming (yes, literally) drove off half the class at the first session. I still feel terrible about that and it was years ago.

In the best classes, the students knew what was going to be included in the class, paid attention to the starting time (and so did the shop owner!), listened to the introductory remarks instead of wandering off, and waited for help before tearing anything out. For instance, it’s hard to explain to a new knitter that ribbing usually looks like junk for three or four rows, then seems to fall into shape. If they give up and frog instead of asking for help, everything has to stop while they get started again. I finally had to make a “no frogging without asking” rule and gently dismissed anyone who ripped out the work for a third time without asking whether anything was actually wrong.

I’ve never taken a knitting class, specifically, however I have taken other crafting classes, like sewing and cake decorating. What you’ve experienced isn’t uncommon. These aren’t the regulated educational courses you find in the school systems. So sometimes no matter how talented the teacher is, she just doesn’t know how to teach. I tried 3 different local shops and my mother before I learned to knit from my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher.

Don’t give up on trying to find a good LYS, they’re really the best way to go usually. There’s one literally around the corner from my house, but I drive all the way across town to go to the one I like.

Try finding someone in a knitting group who has some time and is willing to help you outside of the meeting time, these can be the start of great friendships.

If all else fails grab a ball of yarn, your needles, and sit down to the fabulous videos and forum help available here. Mimicking the actions of a video or working stitches out as you read sometimes helps a tactile learner ‘get it’ when personal help isn’t readily available.

The nice thing about videos is that you can play them as many times as you need to learn a technique.

DCM, I don’t know where you live, but I see you mention some city names near me. If you want to come to Dharma in San Rafael, I can tell you about the classes there. They have free drop in sessions 4 times a week, not a structured series of classes. We sit around a table and the teacher helps each person individually–anything from absolute beginners to experienced knitters with a mistake to figure out or a pattern instruction they are trying to understand. Some people come with a certain question and leave as soon as they get help; others like me come just to knit with everyone. Once in a while I have a question; more often I help answer other people’s questions. If that sounds appealing to you, please come join us! The options are 10-12 in the morning Tues, Thurs, Sat, or 5-6 pm Monday.

Also, to reiterate, lots of people on this forum are experienced sock knitters (including me) and can answer question–but I understand that being in person is a very different experience!