Teaching knitting ... so frustrating!

On Sept 20, I was helping to teach our group how to make the Star Christmas Ornament - http://knittingincolor.blogspot.com/2004/12/super-stars-i-like-knitting-stars-but.html

I am one of the coordinators of our group, for I volunteered to help.

Teaching knitting like this is new to me, and we had 11 in the group that day, including me. It was our second largest turnout since the group formed in late June. There were 3 in the group who are still working on remembering the very first basics. They are easily confused and have only tried knitting while in the group for they haven’t the confidence in themselves to knit at home on their own yet. Four of the group were very advanced knitters, two of them, like me, are helping to coordinate the group. The others were at varying skills in between.

One of the advanced knitters made this session a nightmare for me.

I was explaining the two double decreases in the pattern, listed as WSD and RSD (wrong side decrease and right side decrease). For this pattern, your decreases are what makes the pattern in the stars themselves.

While most of the group was working, trying to grasp the unique stitches, (everyone had said they had not done a decrease like the WSD which requires you to move a purled stitch back to your left needle after stitching), this one woman kept trying to change the way the decrease was completed to “make it easier.”

She kept harping on the fact that I am a beginner, which I never denied, but I also didn’t write the pattern. She kept demanding that someone else teach it instead of me, and no one else had tried the pattern prior to that day besides the librarian and me.

Although when the librarian asked for others to help lead these projects this woman never volunteered, having her constantly interfere and refuse to do what the group was doing was just so frustrating. She had some of the beginners in the group so confused, because she was countering the pattern so the pattern itself wasn’t working.

The other advanced knitters all were following the pattern with me. They started helping new knitters near them even, which helped greatly. Although two of them had been given patterns to try to teach to the group, like this, both were scrapped. They liked this one, and were making it for the first time with the rest of the group.

I have to teach this again on Oct 10, for the meeting on the 20th was a daytime meeting, and the one on the 10th is night time. Although a few join both, there are a lot who attend one or the other.

Does anyone have any suggestions please? I know this woman will be at the Oct 10 meeting too. I just don’t know how to handle this woman. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I have no idea how to handle her… but I want to offer you good luck! She sounds like a total pain! Maybe just keep stressing, “Sometimes patterns present difficulty, and while one option would be to change the pattern, if we press on, we might just learn something we’ll enjoy or use in the future…and isn’t it going to be better to work through this in a group setting so even those knitters who aren’t experienced enough or comfortable with changing the pattern know how to do that stitch if they ever encounter it while knitting on their own?”

It doesn’t sound like anyone else had a problem with doing the pattern. I would point out that it is better to learn these new skills rather than dismiss them as being too hard. It isn’t fair to undermine you when you have volunteered to do this and everyone else is having a go, especially if she won’t come up with something to teach herself.
Perhaps if she tries it again you could suggest that if she would rather not do the pattern she can find one she likes better to teach at the next meeting? If it is just that she has a problem with you teaching the group because she thinks you are a beginner, rather than a problem with the pattern, then maybe she should find a different group to join, or just stay at home and stop making things more difficult for the rest you.
Try not to worry about her, if everyone else was happy with the pattern and the way you explained it - even if they had to ask you again about some parts, then you can be confident that you are doing a good job. You will never be able to make everyone happy, some will like the pattern, some would probably like a different pattern more. All you can do is teach the pattern you have chosen and help them when they have problems. If this woman thinks she can do a better job let her try teaching her own pattern another week, then she might have a little more respect for what you are doing.
I don’t have the confidence in my own ability to be able to teach a class of people about knitting. I admire what you are doing, don’t let one ungrateful person get you down.

Just yesterday I heard from a friend who was teaching a quilting class, and she had a similar student. Everything she said, he argued with or made comments to his neighbor about how that wasn’t the ‘right way’. By the end of the class, she was at wits end and didn’t have a clue what to do. She asked several friends what they would have done and the responses have ranged from -

“Sir, it sounds like you know what you’re talking about, would you mind coming up and teaching the class?”


“Excuse me sir, I would prefer you hold your questions and comments until the end of the class.”


“SHUT UP!!!”


There is always someone like this to much things up. My suggestion would be this - if she wants to try to do it her way, just let her. She’ll find out it doesn’t work. Make her think she has a great idea - she’ll run with it and then it won’t work and maybe she’ll be quiet.

good luck

What a b****! I’d be fuming pissed off at her!!! If she starts again during the next meeting, I’d ask her straight up, “Do YOU want to teach the class?” If she says yes, let her do it and walk away! If she says no, then tell her “Then would you kindly let ME teach it?” If she keeps interrupting you, ask her to leave! It’s not fair to the other students!

I am a knitting teacher and thankfully I never have other “advanced” knitters with me, but if anyone started complaining about how I teach, or even interrupting me, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask them to leave.

Is there a way to talk to her before the class begins? You could say something like I hear that you don;t like the pattern but since there are beginners in this class I think it would be best for all of us to keep to the pattern and when folks have more confidence we can stray from the pattern. Or something like that. Or turn the problem into a question that she has to solve. Or ask her if she can help the people having more trouble like “I notice you have more advanced skills, can you help the ones who aren;t advanced as you?”

I have a mental image of you holding up a Big sign with Ingrid’s motto:

and just silently pointing to it each time this woman opens her big mouth.

some people live to cause conflict. and they NEVER take the hint and go away.

I would probably appropach the situation with some sort of humor: “Ooh- you’re teaching again! does this mean you are teaching the whole class?- great! I’ll go get a latte.”

or hand her really chewy caramels each time she tried to talk.

When I had 2 troublemakers in my lab who were from different parts of europe, and it got really bad (they were tormenting each other) I came in wearing a soccer referee T-shirt and had yellow and red index cards in my pocket. When either did something eggregious, they got a colored card left on their workstation.

Everyone laughed and things slowly improved.

It is impossible to please or appease someone like that woman in your class. even if you gave in and changed to a different decrease, she would find another problem to harp about. I’m sorry you have to deal with it. but you can’t let it get to you personally. she would do this to anyone in the group so the problem is with her, not you…

i used to attend one crochet class and i am intermediate student… i just enjoy the company and never create a scene … i am sorry that you had to encounter such bad behaviour in a class …

maybe you can ask her is there a better way to knit that …maybe that would shut her up…:thumbsup:

:roll:It’s seems like a symptom of a personality disorder to me: why the heck would a normal person sacrifice the social pleasantry of a knitting group obnoxiously making herself look superior?! I mean, come on, it’s only knitting! So what if someone is not teaching up to her “standards”? She should leave the group if she doesn’t like it and start her own FASCIST knitting class.

Its so hard to be in those situations and know what to say then and there. If it happens again, I would acknowlege that you know what you know but that you have worked this pattern through and you know that it works the way that you are teaching it and that that is the way you feel comfortable doing it. Ask her not to interrupt as it disturbs your train of thought.

That happened at a knitting class I took at Michaels. This woman comes in and starts there is a better way to cast on. Now this is a beginner class. The poor teacher didn’t know what to do. The woman kept looking at me and letting me know she was right so I said go get your money back. She look at me with this face :shock: and walked out. The rest of the time was very nice and everyone learned something that day. Those two women learned how to cast on and me just to have fun. I was having trouble I thought about gauge. Not really as the teacher said I was just over working it in my head.
So maybe she will just walk out of the class you are doing and make your life of a teacher much better.

Jeremy, that’s good.

Well I don’t know quite what to suggest in terms of talking to the woman. I would ere on the side of being sickenly polite as opposed to being openly antagonistic however. Other’s have posted some good suggestions.

But for your own self take some personal stock of your skills. How much of a beginner are you really? I have only knit for a year and a half but I have mastered numerous techniques and patterns. I haven’t done a lot of any one thing but I have tried a bit of everything. I have discovered that sometimes I know a technique that people who have knit for years don’t know because they haven’t bothered to advance their craft and simply knit what they know how to knit. They are perfectly happy, and skilled at what they do, but it’s a little secret thrill to me when I discover I know something they do not. You obviously feel comfortable enough with your knitting skills to volunteer to teach a class. And you are demonstrating generosity as well which is the heart and joy of the craft. Sometimes being good at something doesn’t mean you can do complex cables or fair isle. Sometimes it means you are willing to try new things and explore new territory and help others to do the same. The very worst that will happen if a knitter in your class makes a mistake is that she will have to rip it all out and start over. But then she has the joy of more knitting. And ripping isn’t bad, there is learning from that as well.
And remember, as the Yarn Harlot says “There are no Knitting Police.” Clearly this woman needs to be reminded of that.

I also have taught knitting. Teaching a group is difficult at best - primarily due to the high need for individual attention. When you have knowledgeable people who help you out, that’s a bonus.

And when you have egos who simply can’t stand to do anything any other way than theirs, you as the teacher must step in.

Personally, I’d have asked her to go along with what I’m saying for the sake of the class - since I was the teacher, not her. Then if she had any issues with that request (make it as politely and respectfully as you can) she needs to leave.

Like any art, knitting does not have to be done according to strict rules. No knitting police allowed!

BTW, I do have a different style from most people since I hold my yarn in my left hand to knit. Works well for me. So says my County Fair Blue Ribbons, at least!


Oh, no, I could see myself acting like this woman. Not meaning to cause trouble, just to help out, but causing trouble. :oops: Many of us old time knitters don’t realize there are many ways to do the same thing, we think we know the “right way”. Well, I have learned that there is really no right way. There are many ways that work.

Maybe you should talk to her privately and try to get across that you realize there are other ways to do it, and they may be easier to those who are accustomed to doing them that way, but that this is the way you have chosen to present it. Maybe ask her to help you teach it your way to those who need help, and offer that when the class has this technique down real well you’ll give her a few minutes to explain how she does it and give the gals a chance to choose which way they like best (for future projects). Help her to see that too many techniques, even “better” ones are not what is needed at this point.

Good luck. Teaching so many would be hard. I really like teaching knitting one on on.

Thanks for all your suggestions!

But for your own self take some personal stock of your skills. How much of a beginner are you really? I have only knit for a year and a half but I have mastered numerous techniques and patterns.

In my eyes I am a beginner. I learned how to purl about 3 months ago, which compared to these advanced knitters is new. The instructor who was at the first class in late June kept telling me I was not a beginner, which did tons for my ego, but I still can’t fully qualify. (lol)

One of the keys to this is that as we are making these for the pediatric ward of our local hospital is that they won’t take a long time even for a beginner to complete. My first star that I actually completed with out undoing at all took about 25 minutes. More recently completed stars have taken about 15 minutes. As some in the group are low on free time, and many are new knitters, this seemed to be an easy bridge to include everyone who wanted to participate.

This one lady who is against it is for the project, but apparently against a newer knitter teaching it. No one can quite figure out why. The librarian has been in contact with me, for I cannot tell someone to leave the group or even the room, but she could. She said she liked the way I handled it, which was mostly to ignore her interruptions, and continue what I was doing. Most didn’t follow her, but she agreed with most of you, her behavior wasn’t acceptable.

She is going to talk to the other advanced knitters to get me some help and support, too. The 3 that were actively supporting and helping are going to be requested to help me counter this other woman.

I am sharing some of your suggestions with the librarian too. She is concerned for she doesn’t want people to leave the group because of “one bad apple” which was her reaction.



i taught a knitting group at work, and i had an “experienced” knitter in my class. she decided i wasn’t going fast enough, because i was content teaching them how to cast on and the knit stitch for the first class, so she took one of the students under her wing, taught a different cast on, the knit and purl stitches, and had her trying to do a pattern…all in one hour!
i let her do her thing in the corner. most in the class wanted to learn how to do it the way i was teaching it, not the easy way.
i ended up pulling aside the student she took under her wing after class, and asked how it went. she said she was utterly confused, and i can’t say that i blame her! that’s a lot of muscle memory to cram in one day! i ended up teaching her on my lunch break the following day to get her casting on and doing the knit stitch, and she felt a lot better after that class.

i thought it was going to be an uphill battle with the woman, but she ended up deciding that she didn’t have anything to learn from me. okay. fine by me. i just joked around with her and asked her to quiet down whenever she got loud in the class…maybe that’s why she stopped coming?

sounds like you have it more under control then you think! just tell her you’d like to stick with the pattern, but maybe she can teach a class later using the other techniques she knows. and like you said…ignore it!

I think she has every right to fiddle with the pattern or use a different stitch in its place (don’t we all do this?) but I don’t understand why she had to make a scene! Can I stick my nose in… I would say something like “We all change a pattern from time to time to suit us better, but not everyone else likes the same changes you do. If anyone knows a way they personally find easier or better for some things and is confident changing the pattern, please go ahead, but let everyone else do it whichever way they want to.”

And don’t warn her ‘But I think if you change it the star pattern might not turn out the same’! Just let her change it and if it doesn’t turn out the same I’d look at her and say ‘But you specifically changed it because you were unhappy with it and wanted something different, right?’

Just because I prefer ssk doesn’t mean that people who prefer k1 sl1 psso or the ‘improved ssk’ are wrong, and I wouldn’t railroad everyone in a beginner class into doing it my way!

I think if you participate in a class, just being there represents your intention to allow the Instructor to run the class. It goes without saying. It’s like an unwritten social contract. You are not in charge.

ITA! Common courtesy. If she had a different idea or way to do something, she only has to do it on her own. I’m not a “beginner” but I’m in a beginner class just to have knitting time and access to my instructor for advanced questions. I wouldn’t dream of trying to take over the class!

But I just had to say :notworthy: to anyone teaching knitting! My knitting instructor is one of the most patient people out there and I am not, so I greatly admire that trait!