Thanks for joining me for How to Teach Knitting & Crochet Online!
Here are some of the things we talked about (or may have talked about depending on which class you attended). If you have products or links you find helpful, please let me know so I can share them here.
Here’s a desktop setup. It’s not always this orderly, but I had to clean it off so you could see the relevant elements! I have changed it somewhat since I took this picture, by adding a webcam that I use in place of my computer camera, and by upgrading my microphone. Sometimes I’ll use the document camera instead of the cell phone, depending on what I’m demonstrating.
Some of the following are affiliate links, which may provide me a small income if you buy something, but don’t cost you anything extra.
For a more consolidated list of all the equipment I have in my office at the moment, check out my Amazon storefront for Professional Tools I Use. After I took this photo, I bought a Logitech C920e webcam, which gives a much sharper picture and handles low light better. It goes right on top of my monitor. I have also been using a Blue Yeti microphone, which clamps onto the side of my desk. I really should take a new picture, but my desktop is SO messy that you don’t really want to see it. (I’ll be taking a picture of the newer set-up soon.)
I adore my Ikea Bekant sit/stand desk, although it doesn’t get great reviews on the Ikea site. My husband and I have both had ours over five years with no problem. Your mileage may vary.
I didn’t label everything in the photo. For fun, see if you can find:
LED clip-on ring light
Stylus for Wacom tablet (which is off-camera)
Know Your Cuts of Lamb magnet
“Nose” glasses holder
Cameras and Holders
I use a weighted base phone holder and my iPhone camera for my overhead shots. It adjusts to a variety of heights and angles. I like a tabletop version because I don’t have to find a tabletop the right depth to clamp it onto. The one pictured here is similiar to the one I use.
I use the Remarkable Creators Phone and Tablet Stand with Weighted Base from Arkon Mounts. I’ve had it for several years and I like its articulating arm and adjustability. Please be aware that in late summer 2021 a representative of Arkon Mounts made some public statements that caused many people to feel they could no longer support Arkon Mounts. I’ll let you do your own research and decide that for yourself. If you do decide to go with the Arkon product, you can get 20% off the cost by using coupon code EDIEECKMAN.
The Hue HD Pro document camera shown below is another good option for showing hand shots. It has a manual focus and built-in microphone. It also comes with a built-in light. It took me a few tries to get the settings just right, but when I did, I have found it quite satisfactory.
The Inswan document camera was suggested by another student. It has auto-focus and a supplemental LED light.
Whatever camera you use, be sure you get one that offers high resolution and a sufficient refresh rate, since you’ll want to be able to show detail and don’t want it to lag. Also, beware of auto-focusing that can’t be locked. Otherwise the camera will keep trying to focus on your moving hands.
You may be able to get by using a wire shelf like the one shown. Make sure the shelf is tall enough for you to get your hands under it comfortably. Place your camera/phone on the shelf, facing down. This is a good option for your students to use when they are trying to show their hands.
For the camera on my face, I started by using use the built-in camera on my iMac. It allows me to face the camera straight-on and still reach the keyboard. I end up moving the wireless keyboard to the side when I’m demonstrating.
Depending on the quality of your cameras on your computer/tablet/phone, you may find it necessary to get a dedicated webcam. In late July 2020, I upgraded to a Logitech C920 Pro HD Webcam in place of my computer camera. It does much better in low light and includes a built-in microphone. It gives a super-sharp picture.
In mid-2022 I upgraded even further to the 4K Logitech BRIO. It is wonderful, but is probably overkill for most virtual teaching.
Good lighting is an ongoing challenge. I use this budget-friendly UBeesize 10″ LED ring light with tripod.
I also use a rechargeable clip-on LED ring light.
Do some research on 3-point lighting. Depending on the time of day and amount of light coming in through a side window, I often use some simple back lighting bouncing off my ceiling from clamp lamps or a shop light.
Depending on budget and space available, you might upgrade to softbox lighting. I now use softbox lighting in addition to the ring light. If offers me additional flexibility for different times of day, but they do take up a lot of floor space.
In my opinion, a comfortable headphone/mic combination is important if you are going to be teaching. They can be more comfortable than earbuds if you are going to be spending a lot of time online. The ones I use are from Logitech and I’ve had them forever.
Throughout the various sessions of this class that I have taught, we have discovered that wireless (Bluetooth) mics and headphones are not as reliable. Several people have had trouble with staying connected via Bluetooth. I’m now recommending that you use a wired headset if possible.
An Amazon search for “headset with microphone” results in a lot of choices, with a huge range of features and price points. This mPow headset looks similar to the one I use, but click around and see what works for you.
You could also consider a lavalier mic or desktop mic, if you aren’t using a headset or your computer. Be sure that the ones you get are compatible with your devices; some are specific to Windows or Mac only.
In December 2020, I upgraded to a Blue Yeti microphone with a boom arm, which I have clamped to my desk. You absolutely don’t need to go to this expense, but I decided to splurge because I think I’ll be doing virtual teaching for quite some time.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to keep things charged while you are teaching. Video uses a lot of power! A multiple port USB charger is nice to have. The one pictured is not exactly what I use; availability changes all the time! Whatever you order, be sure that it is “powered” and compatible with your devices.
I’m also a big believer in good surge suppression, especially with a lot of stuff plugged in!
Why? At one time I worked in an office on top of a mountain, and it was subject to lightening strikes. I had an APC protector that gave its life by jumping between the outlet and my computer, twice. APC replaced the unit for free both times.
For the dark grey and light grey backgrounds, I use a 15″ x 20″ foam core board that I cut down from a 30″ x 20″ sheet. The black/black version is more readily available, such as this 3-pack of 16″ x 20″ foam core sheets.
For the white background I use either a white foam core or a remnant of fleecy white fabric I picked up somewhere. I like the texture it adds to the images, and the fact that it muffles noise when I hit it with the end of my knitting needles.
For showing garments and how they fit, consider using mannequins. Barry Klein recommends these mannequins in both a black version and a white version; pick the one that shows off the sweater best. They are quite reasonably priced. He also suggests buying a cheap tank dress so the mannequin isn’t “naked” when you are changing it!
To hold my old-fashioned paper notes and class outline, I set up a document holder similar to this one. It frees up a bit of desk space and puts my notes at a good viewing angle.
Zoom Video Tutorials
Synchronous (Live, Real Time) Teaching Platforms
- Google Meet
- FaceTime (if parties on are iOS/Mac)
- Microsoft Teams
Helpful Links about Teaching
Tips & Tricks: Teachers Educating on Zoom
How to Be a Better Online Teacher
Notes Taken During Post-Class Discussion Groups
Here’s a low-tech hack for showing your hands that Lorilee Beltman shared with me
Do you know other resources you think other teachers would find helpful? Let me know and I’ll add them to this page.