Making the most of craft classes

A short while ago I read an article about how to make the most of knitting, crochet, or other craft lessons, and it got me thinking and reflecting on my own experiences as a teacher and a student. (I’m sorry, I can’t find the article to link to. When I find it again, I will add it).

I meet a wide range of students during classes – some are ultra-organised, only just short of breaking out highlighters (no doubt some of them do at home). Other people roll up late, can’t find the doorbell, or have young kids and sometimes just getting themselves there is an accomplishment.¬†I’m not mocking anyone, I have a secret stationary thing and keep a bullet journal, which helps with the chaos in my head.

Choose a suitable method

Top of my list for making the most of your craft lessons is to make sure the class suits your needs. Yes, that class 10 miles away might look great, but if you have to drop the kids off, can you get there without being flustered? Flustered is never a good look, and you need to ‘have the right head on’ if anything from the class is going to sink in. Also, people learn in different ways. Some people will applaud your efforts, and tell you to look at this website, or use these videos… great, it worked for them, but people have different learning styles.

I won’t go into too much detail, but I studied this when I was looking at learning styles for my PTLLS – some people learn through being shown something, others need it to be explained, others need to do it for themselves, and most people learn through a combination of these methods. You need to understand that that fantastic book just might not work – don’t be disheartened. You are not your friend. You have a different brain (obvs) (my kids hate me saying that).

Anyway, my message – use the resources there for you, pick what works for you. Nothing works sat in a drawer, and sometimes you can’t beat someone sat next to you, pointing “there!”

Caroline's squares class

Check the class details

Before you book onto the class, read up about it. Yes, getting students on a course is great. It’s even better when the students on the course know what is expected of them. For instance, if a course says “You need to be able to do x and y before you start”, and you can’t, do ask before booking on. There’s a reason the teacher has said that – for example class management¬†or time constraints. Personally, I don’t mind helping someone get up to speed before a class, as long as it’s arranged beforehand.

If the course says it involves homework, make sure you will be able to commit to doing work in between classes.

Arrive on time

If you have chosen to take a class, please get there on time. Not an hour early (that might be prep time, the teacher might not have time to chat), not 20 minutes late. Classes start promptly and you might miss something, especially if you are new to the technique. If missing the start is unavoidable, it’s nice to call ahead before the class.

Be organised

The best system I’ve ever seen in a class belonged to my now-friend Rachel. She broke out the plastic pockets and gave each of her samples a pocket, alongside each handout embellished with notes so she can refer back later… sigh. Beautiful stuff. I love it when my handouts are valued. Please write on them. They are working documents for your benefit, not souvenirs.

A few other people have brought different tote bags dedicated to each class. This is clever because you can put the essentials (hook, markers, scissors, pen, etc) in a small makeup bag which can be moved between totes. When you need to work on a project, grab the appropriate tote and your makeup bag.

During the class

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get clarification and make notes. You will understand more and the teacher will know what level you are working to. For instance, if someone is making good progress and asking clever questions, I will often give them an extra technique to help them out, or include a bit of maths or extra resources.

Write down what you find out (forget what everyone else is or isn’t doing, who cares?) and keep a note of patterns people mention so you can look at them later. Some people track their progress using a notebook (like an art journal).

Afterwards

Write up anything you need to refer to as soon as possible, while it’s fresh in your mind. If your teacher has given you bonus material or references, make a note and schedule the time to visit the website. Do any homework you need to do, otherwise remember to practise.

Some teachers ask for feedback about classes. Sometimes this is required (with Lancashire Adult Learning there was a questionnaire every class), sometimes the teacher is asking for their own benefit. Your opinions help them to refine the course so that it helps future students.

One last thing – many teachers are self-employed. It’s a great help to them if you tell friends when you’ve had a good experience. They might be looking for a class, or might know someone who is, and word of mouth gets around. It’s a very kind thing to do and results in your friend getting an awesome lesson, and the teacher getting an awesome student, so they can continue doing something they love which helps other people.

Enjoy your crafting!