The set up of the table was very inviting, from the seating, display details, the way it was nestled in a corner and just the simplicity of a cloth to soften the area.
I was so pleased by the range of people who took part in the activity. All ages, all sexes, nationalities and abilities. It was so lovely seeing generations and whole families taking part, especially teenagers and no one at all said anything about it being for any gender. Many parents commented on how they had not seen their children concentrate on anything for so long.
I was constantly busy, but it benefitted from being taught in person. There is something so personal to it and adds a connection. Watching people help others and not be afraid to ask for help was brilliant to be a part off, to see people improve and enjoy learning. My favourite part was people teaching me, a boy showed me how to make the heart shape better and it was another person who suggested tying in new colours as it went. Often the results of arts and craft are so determined by the persons ability and with the way that the only real improvement that comes to French knitting is sopped meant that after the basic skill is learnt anything is possible and it has effective creations at all abilities. I did find during the days that the plastic dollies were easier for children to use than the wooden ones and so I made an effort to give these to children first.
I found I was so confident and loved connecting with the public. How I am when talking to strangers and people from the gallery surprises so many people who know me as I am not normally confident, but as soon as I am guiding I am.
The idea of adding pipe cleaners or wire was received very positively by many people, especially those who had French knit. The idea of inspiring people to do something after the event and to take an idea away is the best achievement I could hope for. I did also have a lot of people asking about where to by one or how to make one, and the benefit of it being such simple equipment made it possible.
I had plenty of balls of yarn and I was glad that I had gone with the simple six rainbow colours. It gave people enough choice and looked attractive but was not overwhelming in terms of decisions. I was very glad that I had only five knitting dollies as I would not have been able to teach more than that at a time. When I was teaching five it was much more stressful, and this was the most before it would have stopped the activity becoming not relaxed. I did make sure I had short breaks throughout so that I did not become wrung out as it did require so much concentration from me.
I am glad that I had not overprepared as if I had what I would did would have been not been of benefit, if anything a detriment. I would have made instructions and loosing that personal element would have not had the same feel and experience as by person, also all yarn crafts should be taught in person or via video before paper instructions as it is much easier to follow. I also had been wanting to make or purchase far more knitting nannies. One, I could have not taught more at once, and if they were available I know I would have over stretched myself trying to teach them all. Two, if the dolls could be taken, I do not think people would have stayed, and lost that experience, which without I also doubt they would continue. Finally, I also think the gallery might not have allowed me to give out the dollies due to the risk factor if I had made them myself. It was a definite benefit only having five.
There are only two changes I would make-
- I would make if doing the same activity again would be to buy a different type of yarn. The type used worked and was easier than the yarn I used in my piece. It still split however, and so using a microfibre or maybe cotton yarn would eliminate a way for people to make mistakes. This is the only change I would make.
- I would start off lots of different bits of French knitting beforehand for people so that theyu already had a start as it takes quite a while. As I had not I had to spend a lot of time at the event French knitting myself until my hands hurt.
The activity also inspired me to go back and look at French knitting. I have overlooked it and seen it as a bit pointless normally, but I have been inspired by it. For years I have wanted to knit little candy canes for Christmas tree and have the yarn sat there. Knitting the canes is so hard and requires a lot of faff for something that turns out looking so simple. I realised that I could easily and simply make the candy canes using two yarns at once on the French knitter and it works amazingly. The result is far better than if knitted traditionally. Sometimes I need to look back at simple ways and realise they can be better.