Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feedback from Clare on our Plastic Knitting class!

The class went great - it was a beautiful day. The original vision was to have a 2 part class, the technique of working with plastic as session one and problem solving and sharing creation ideas during the next. We did have session one in September, but no one signed up from one session to the next. I assume that I did not clearly define my vision with the original class description. This is one of the reasons that I love Free School - I am learning to more clearly define my vision test our various hypothesis, the other reason is that it brings a new twist to the work here at the Giving Tree.

For this last class, we had 26 students who signed up through the web site. I sent out 2 reminder emails; one in late September, one in early November. Over half of the potential students responded and 9 students committed to the come on Saturday. Of the 9 committed students, 2 cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances during the week. We decide to prepare for 10 students - basically because that was nearly all the chairs we had on hand - and that is how many students came. I learned through the mail that not everyone was familiar with how to crochet or knit, so I planned to change the pacing of the class, and focus mainly on preparation of materials and an overview of project planning.

The class went according to the outline with no major variation. Each student brought bags, volumes of bags, even the students who did not think they could find enough material were able to gather grocery bags and other bags through friends and neighbors. First step was to fold and cut the bags into strips, resulting in long loops of plastic. These were linked into a chain and rolled into balls of plastic fiber. Students cut, looped and rolled 5 grocery bags each and this took nearly an hour before we could even get to the real work. Now the challenge of working with plastic is getting used to the "feel" of the fiber. Grocery bags have a resiliency, and are somewhat elastic, this tends to exacerbate tension issues for tight knitters and crocheteers. There is only one way to make sense of this and that is through experimentation - by trying different needle/hook sizes, different stitch patterns, until it "feels" right, loose and relaxed. Class was nearly over by the time everyone had a chance to cast on, knit a row or 2, or chain a few. A couple of students looked as if they had made that transition from experiment to project planning and the rest seemed to have a good grasp of the whole process.

If I would teach this class again, there are a few things I would do differently - I would leave more time at the end of the day for reflection and sharing for one. I wonder if students had any ideas of where to go with plastic knitting and crochet.

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