Knitting classes and crochet classes are almost the definition of “hands-on”. But now that we can’t be together physically, what’s it like to take a knitting or crochet class virtually?
Is it even possible to learn a new skill in these circumstances? The answer is an emphatic yes! Even in a distanced world, you can make the most of your next virtual knitting or crochet class.
This post contains affiliate links which may provide a small income to me if you buy something, but they won’t cost you anything extra.
You may already be familiar with video learning from YouTube or platforms like Creativebug and the (former) Bluprint/Craftsy. You may have found that those one-way classes are perfect for you, and that you don’t need live interaction with your instructor.
But if you want more, try out virtual classes with a live teacher. You’ll find more and more of these online as teachers pivot from teaching at large in-person events to virtual classrooms. Learn how with these best tips for learning in an online knitting or crochet class.
It’s no fun when your screen locks up or the little “buffering” wheel goes round and round. Make sure others in your household are not hogging shared bandwidth. Have them do something else while you are in class.
Can you go to a place that has a better connection? Most public libraries have public internet, and even if the library is not open, you may be able to connect from a parking lot or sitting area just outside the library.
Try to let the teacher know ahead of time if you know that your internet is unreliable and you might get kicked off at any moment. They might have to let you back into class at some point, and a heads-up on that is helpful. Find out if the class is being recorded and if it will be available afterward in case you can’t access it during class time.
You may want to leave your camera off as much as possible to help with streaming. Turn it back on when/if you need to show yourself or your work.
If you have a choice of devices, you’ll want the one with the most screen real estate.
You’ll need to be able to see the instructor’s hands on close-up shots. You’ll want to be able to see their face, and maybe those of your fellow students. It’s also helpful to see chat comments and questions in a sidebar (on some platforms).
Don’t count on using your phone as your main screen. You won’t be able to see well enough, and some of the teaching platforms don’t have as many features available on the mobile versions.
Well before class starts, do a dry run with your equipment.
Download the app you’ll be using. If you already have the app, check for updates. Sometimes updates take a while, so allow time to install them.
Make sure your speaker or headphones/earbuds work with your device. Check that your microphone is working and you have allowed the app to access it. If you don’t know how to do these things, ask for help from a family member or friend. Or Google it.
Practice using the platform. Most of the platforms have a free version. Set up a time to meet with a friend so you can become familiar with the features and quirks of the program.
At some point, you may need to show your work to your teacher. Especially if you are having trouble executing a technique, it will be important for the teacher to see your hands.
Think about how you can do this. Is there a way for you to set the camera above your hands, shooting down (at least temporarily)? Can you hold your hands up to the camera (which presents the reverse side of the work to the viewer)? Can you move the camera to your lap, so the teacher can see the work from your perspective?
Sit in a comfortable seat, with the screen on a table or stand where you can see it easily. Remember that you’ll need your hands to crochet or knit! Keep your lap free for your work.
If it’s an interactive class, where the instructor and other students need to see you, try to set the camera angle so that it gets your full face. You don’t want them looking up your nostrils or just at your forehead!
Make sure you have adequate task lighting, with the light in front of you. Turn off lamps and close the blinds behind you to prevent harsh backlighting which throws your face into shadow.
Place any class supplies within reach, including notions like scissors and yarn needles. Keep some extra yarn handy, as well. You don’t want to have to step away to look for a missing notion, and you won’t have a fellow student next to you to let you borrow their scissors!
Think about the things you might want to have with you in a regular in-person class: water bottle, pencil, notebook. Have those things handy, as well.
Turn off the TV. Put your cell phone in another room, or turn off the ringer. Try to be in a room by yourself, or at least have the kids and pets in another room. Don’t be doing laundry or other tasks while in class.
You’ve probably paid for the class, so get your money’s worth by concentrating on the class just as you would if you were attending in person.
Disappointing advice, I know. You don’t have to wear hard pants, but do make sure you are dressed. You may be on video, and even if you think only your upper half will show it’s safer to have all your clothes on!
Some people suggest that wearing “real” clothes will signal to your body that it’s time to work (or learn), so there’s that, too.
There are always unexpected background sounds in any meeting. Sirens, lawn mowers, barking dogs, shouting children, people talking in the next room, someone asking what’s for dinner. Multiply this by the number of students in the class, and it can get noisy fast!
Unless you need to say something, turn your microphone to mute (there’s a setting on the platform you are using). Your teacher may mute you, as well. You can always unmute yourself when you have something to say.
What Old Rules? The ones you followed back in the days when you took live classes in person with teachers and other students right there in the room with you!
There are lots of things you can (still) do to make the most of your classes, whether they are online or in person. Things like check the prerequisites, do your homework, show up on time, and more. Read Twenty Tips to Make the Most of Your Next Knitting or Crochet Class.
Yes, I know you are at home in your comfy chair, with yarn in your hand. You have your favorite beverage nearby and you are ready to settle in to learn something new.
You didn’t have to get a baby sitter or a pet setter. You didn’t have to take a road trip or get on a plane. You didn’t have to get up early, deal with rush hour, find a place to park, locate a classroom in the bowels of a convention center. You didn’t have to pick a place to sit that was close enough to see the teacher but—God forbid!—not in the front row.
But the familiarity of home has a downside. Namely, you aren’t quite as excited to learn as you might be if you had gone to more trouble to get to class. After all, by now you may have attended a Zoom meeting or fifteen, and haven’t found them all that exciting.
Build up the excitement and enthusiasm you’d feel if you were traveling to a new venue. Pretend that’s what you are doing.
Pack a bag with all your class materials, throw in snacks and a water bottle, and put it by the door.
Now take a 15-minute walk in your neighborhood to clear your mind. You need the exercise before you sit before your screen for an hour or more. And if you were at a fiber event, it would probably take you a 15-minute walk to get to your classroom!
When you come back home, pick up your bag, go into the room you have decided to use as your “classroom”. Come a bit early and chat with your fellow students, do a little show-and-tell, and generally settle in before the teacher starts class.
This whole experience of interactive learning online is new to most of us.
It’s new to your Instructors. Instructors are learning to use their classroom skills in a new environment. Lesson plans have had to change. We are learning the new technology along with our students while we navigate classroom management, invitations, privacy, screen sharing and other hosting duties at the same time.
It’s new to your fellow students. Along with you, they are learning the ins and outs of muting, camera set-ups, and all the distractions that come from life. All this, while trying to learn whatever it is that the teacher is trying to teach!
Be patient with your teacher, with your fellow students, and most of all with yourself as you adapt to this new way of learning. With practice, we’ll all become more comfortable with interactive online learning in our yarn world.
As more in-person events go virtual, it’s a whole new world out there for teachers and students alike. Technology platforms and teaching/learning best practices are changing daily. I’ll try to update this post (and add new ones) as I myself practice and learn more about virtual learning.
The best way to see how live and interactive online knit and crochet classes work for you is to try it!
For more online learning opportunities, check out my Workshop Schedule.