MargaretDunham

Writing Sample Portfolio

Posted on August 22, 2014

This is my digital portfolio; here you can find some examples of my writing for various sites on a wide selection of subjects. Each article here was written to match the host site’s tone and appeal to their target readership. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Quirk Books’ online communities, including Planet Quirk and Quirk DIY and their weekly How-to Tuesday series:

From the ReuseNYC front page and article archive, supporting reuse-focused organizations and events in New York City:

From my personal blog, Seditious Joy, where I write about various interests which include crafting, geek/nerd subjects, current events and some of my adventures in fiction:

From the Lion Brand Yarn Company crafts and lifestyle blog ’11-’12, the Lion Brand Notebook:

From PinkRayGun, a geek blog with content primarily written by and geared toward women:

Seditious Joy (blog): DIY Gaurdians of the Galaxy Dress

Posted on August 1, 2014

From my personal blog, Seditious Joy, where I write about various interests which include crafting, geek/nerd subjects, current events and some of my adventures in fiction:

DIY Gaurdians of the Galaxy Dress

Galaxy FabricThere’s nothing quite like making a special outfit for a special occasion – and this one was a crazy good time. I speak, of course, of my new Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired little black dress.

As fate would have it, the group I was planning to see Guardians of the Galaxy with had to re-schedule. After I bought my ticket. Now, I love people, but the prospect of seeing the movie alone… sitting wherever I wanted, horking down snacks without sharing, and no comments on my weird crush on Groot? Uh, Yes please!

But the fact remained – what to wear? Enter the nebula/galaxy bleach-on-black dress. I had a plain old black cotton dress that I transformed into this awesomeness with a few easy steps.

IMG_1982Here’s my basic guide to creating this weirdly-simple effect, and you can use it on anything black and cotton (probably on other natural fibers too, but I haven’t tried it on them).

Gather your materials:

  • Black Cotton Fabric, Dress, Shirt, Pants, Whatever.
  • 1/8 Cup Bleach
  • 1/8 Cup Water
  • Clean Spray Bottle
  • (Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle of bathroom cleaner with a high concentration of bleach in a pinch)
  • RIT Dye in Assorted Colors
  • Dish and Water for Mixing Dye
  • Large Brush or Sponge
  • Small Bristle Brush or Toothbrush
  • White Paint
  • Plastic Bags, Tarp, Newspaper, etc.
  • Black Permanent Marker (for Mistakes)

Here’s how you put it all together

  • Clean and prep your work surface and fabric. Bleach and dye can damage surfaces, so be careful. If you only want to bleach the front of a garment, slide plastic bags or a tarp inside to protect the back from the bleach.

Pro-tip: I chose to spritz the dress with water first. This helps the bleach move via capillary action and feather out in in the fabric – and looks to me a lot more like the Hubble shots of nebulas. If you want it spotty, streaky, or stenciled, leave your fabric dry – that way you’ll get a stark contrast.

Stark

Heh. Stark contrast. Moving on.

  • Spritz a dilute bleach solution onto your fabric. One part bleach to one part water should do it. For this project I actually used a bottle of bathroom cleaner that specifically contained bleach, and it worked perfectly.

Spritz with your bleach solutionPro-tip: If you’ve ever bleached your hair you know that it’s potent stuff, smells awful, can burn your skin, etc. Do not mess around. Once it gets on your fabric it doesn’t behave like dye. Dye does its thing and then becomes inert. Bleach just keeps on bleaching. If you forget about it, too much bleach could make your fabric go white and/or burn little holes in it. A little goes a long way – just keep eye on your project.

  • Once the bleach has worked to your satisfaction, rinse thoroughly and allow your fabric to dry. Mine looked like this after rinsing and allowing it to dry:

Bleached Fabric

  • Prep and add your colors! I used small amounts of RIT dye mixes with hot water to add color to my bleached galaxy. Some I blotted on with a rag, and some I dribbled on with a brush. Allow these to dry and rinse. You can repeat this step several times to get the look you want, just rinse and allow it to try between dye applications.

First Dye Application

At left, the bleached dress. At right, the first dye application.

Pro-tip: I wanted dappled color in my galaxy, so I looked at images like these from the Hubble Space Telescope and chose teal, magenta and amber. In keeping with the structure of real galaxies and nebulas, I tried to clump my colors as they would gather in space – the teal blues in the denser areas, magenta and amber blending in the extremities (the amber color is the result of the bleach itself, not dye).

Second Dye Application

I wanted the colors a little darker, so I added a second application of dye.

  • Once you are satisfied with the color, add your stars. Dip a stiff brush (a small paint brush or tooth brush works fine) in white paint. Run your thumb nail over the bristles to flick paint of the brush and onto your fabric. You can test this on a piece of paper first – and remember, a little goes a long way. Galaxies are mostly dust and gas, not stars!

It's Fulla Stars!

Tricky to photograph, but crazy easy to do.

Pro-tip: You can also add some of those gorgeous brilliant stars with a very sender brush by making a cross or lower-case t. You want to apply these VERY sparingly, and make them only about as thick as a strand or two of hair!

Seriously, these are tiny (maybe 1/2 to 3/4 inch high) and there are only 5 on this design. Less is more!

Seriously, these are tiny (maybe 1/2 to 3/4 inch high) and there are only 5 on this design. Less is more!

  • Check for bleach stains on the back of your garment. Even folks that prepare sometimes have this problem – a little black permanent marker on the offending area should do the trick.
  • Clean your fabric or dress before wearing, and you’re ready for a night that’s out of this world. In evening wear that’s simply stellar. You’ll be the star of the show. Look hot like an inter-stellar nuclear furnace. I could go on.

Finished DressI love this dress! This project transformed a boring sack dress into something I love to wear. To make it fit really well I ran a seam up the back, taking it from “Cool Galaxy Dress” to “Hot Like a Multistage Cascading Nuclear Reaction.”

At least that’s what Groot told me. I’m paraphrasing.

At the TheaterUpdate: OMG I have now seen the movie. Get your butt to a theater and see this movie. DO IT NOW. Want to know more about how Nicole Perlman and the writing of the movie (along with the smashing of gender bias in writing sci-fi/action/comedy)? Check out this article.

And as it happens, I did take a date to the movie. Two, to be specific. Repainted them myself!

Guardians of my soda, that is.

Guardians of my soda, that is.

Have you ever used this technique?
Have any questions?
That’s what that comment button is for. Please use responsibly :)

Quirk Books: Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions with the Power of the Force

Posted on January 8, 2014

Quirk Books’ online communities Planet Quirk :

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions with the Power of the Force  (re-posted to geekosystem)

 

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions with the Power of the Force

published by Margaret Dunham on January 8, 2014 – 11:45am
Planet Quirk

New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep. Feel the Force flowing through you this year with these helpful Star Wars quotes to keep you going when you’re heading into an asteroid field of challenges or sinking into a Dagobahn swamp of self-doubt!

“Do… or do not, there is no try.”
Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

Ever hear someone make a resolution they aren’t going to keep? You can hear it in their voice. They say they’ll try, but they’re really saying “I won’t do it, but I’ll throw some effort at it and see what happens.” This is how a 900-year-old Jedi master calls you out on your Bantha fodder. Yoda isn’t saying “Don’t try if you think you might fail.” He’s saying “Don’t stop at trying, keep doing it till it’s done.”

“Stay on target!”
Gold Five, A New Hope

Distractions are everywhere. But you? You’re not distracted. This year, you are in the trench run heading for that one goal. Does your morning routine help you reach that goal? What about the other tabs in your browser? Build in leisure and time to relax, but always be heading toward that thermal exhaust port.

“But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!”
Luke Skywalker, A New Hope

This is what you sound like every time you whine. If that’s not enough motivation to quit whining and get on with it, remember what Uncle Owen says: You can waste time with your friends later. Distractions won’t help you seize the day, they’ll help you seize something easier than the work you’re doing. You’ve got droids to clean up and galaxies to save!

“What’s in there? Only what you take with you.”
Luke Skywalker & Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

Ok, this one’s deep. The hardest thing about change is facing yourself, with no one else to protect you. What will you take with you when you face your demons? Will you bring hope and confidence? Or anger, fear, and aggression? Make your mantras positive. Instead of “Gotta lose weight… because I’m gross” try “Gonna lose 5 pounds by March… because I’m getting healthier and stronger.” Face your demons with strength and kindness, because they’re a part of you.

“Never tell me the odds.”
Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back

Changing behavior is hard, and by making a resolution, you’ve decided to go for it anyway. But right when you’re feeling good about your decision, Time Magazine and Forbes are ready to remind you that only 8% of people who make new year’s resolutions stick to them. Do you give up? No, of course not. Because the odds are not important, and you’re not gonna leave room for that kind of worrying. So shut up, Goldenrod, you’ve got this.

“Your Tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker!”
“Then I’ll see you in Hell!”

Tauntaun Handler & Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back

Naysayers gonna naysay. And maybe, as in this case at Echo Base, the naysayer has a point. But does that point matter to you? Does it matter enough to give up on your goal? It’s not like Han didn’t know it was cold outside, and as it turned out, his Tauntaun did freeze. But he rescued his friend – and used that naysayer’s caution to help him… if the Tauntaun hadn’t died, where would he have stashed Luke? Egh…

“Well somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage, fly-boy!”
Princess Leia, A New Hope

Stormtroopers on both exits, no droids, no lightsaber, no plan and no escape. Somebody does have to save our skins, and this year, it’s going to be you. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, but know that at some point you’re going to have to make a snap decision. A choice moving toward your goal is almost always the right decision, even if you do discover some amazing smells along the way.

“Don’t just stand there!”
Princess Leia, A New Hope

You’ve been working so hard. All that work to get to Alderaan, and it gets blown away. You run from stormtroopers, get shot at, land in garbage, get attacked by a garbage monster, and suddenly the walls start closing in. You’re within your rights to feel a little defeated at this point. But don’t. Try to brace it with something. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t, but don’t meet the end gaping at the wall in a puddle of garbage water. Do something about it. And please, remember to turn your communicator back on.

Keep your resolutions going all year by surrounding yourself with things that inspire you! We all need a Yoda now and then telling us what to do, or folks from the rebel alliance to show us how it’s done. Look for inspiration to stick to your guns, and be proud of what you accomplish (it’s ok to get a little cocky, kid).

And remember,

The Force will be with you. Always.

ReuseNYC: Reusable Materials Rejuvenate Urban Gardens

From the ReuseNYC front page and article archive, supporting reuse-focused organizations and events in New York City:

Reusable Materials Rejuvenate Urban Gardens

July 16, 2013

by Margaret Dunham

(NEW YORK, NY) Any patch of greenery in New York City is a treasure for the community. Parks, tree lawns, and urban gardens can be sanctuaries for wildlife and plants while providing welcome relief to city dwellers in a landscape of cement and asphalt. This time of year it’s easy to see some of Build It Green!NYC’s projects in action, especially their BIG!Compost and BIG!Blooms initiatives.

BIG!Blooms is all about building gardens in the city; specifically, the program focuses on distributing retired scaffolding lumber to groups building raised garden beds. Fertile, unused space to garden in is rare in NYC, and a raised bed can be built almost anywhere. All you need to get started are lumber for the framework and willing hands to set it up! This project helps convert construction waste into direct support for community and school gardens.

Scaffolding lumber used in construction is normally retired and sent to a landfill, a chipping facility, or to an incinerator when it is no longer needed. Build It Green!NYC saw raised bed gardening as an opportunity to divert wood from the waste stream and provide free materials to local gardens. Build It Green!NYC has supported gardens all over the city with the BIG!Blooms Program.

To find out more about the project, donate lumber or get in touch for supplies to build your own garden, click here.

BIG!Compost grew out of the volunteer-led Western Queens Compost Initiative, which was founded in late 2009. They have been collecting food scraps from NYC residents since then. Here’s what the folks at Build It Green!NYC have to say about expanding into composting beyond their core salvage and reclamation projects:

“We believe this program is strongly connected to BIG’s mission of keeping materials out of the landfill and providing them to the public to help build a stronger, healthier, and greener NYC. In the case of compost, we take in food scraps, transform them into compost, and then distribute that compost to community greening initiatives.” – Louise Bruce – Project Manager NYC Compost Project, Western Queens Compost Initiative

The compostable materials are processed locally at one of their composting sites. To find out more about BIG!Compost, click here.

Image credit: The garden photo above was taken at the Roger That Community Garden, which has benefited from the support of Build It Green!NYC’s programs. For more pictures and information, click here.

PinkRayGun: Star Trekking Up to Boston

Posted on June 23, 2013

From PinkRayGun, a geek blog with content primarily written by and geared toward women:

Star Trekking Up to Boston

Let’s start here: I love Star Trek.

I love Star Trek in ways people who don’t love Star Trek find baffling. I love transporters. I love tractor beams. I love ethical dilemmas about justice, conscience, and what it means to be human. I love the uniforms. I love space flight, exploration, and aliens. God do I ever love aliens. And I have since I made my first communicator badge out of tin foil and begged my parents for Vulcan ears for Halloween. I was 6, and this resulted in my first trip to a comic book store – but more on that another time.

Fast-forward about 20 years, and you arrive at my first-ever Official Star Trek convention (2 weeks ago). Held up in Boston, this was one of the official Creation Events, and played host to a long list of cast members from The Next Generation (TNG), a few from Deep Space Nine (DS9) and a handful of very venerable cast members from The Original Series (TOS). Among other topics, this convention commemorated the 20th anniversary of DS9. The convention had a number of events, including a cosplay contest (which I unfortunately missed), a live auction for rare memorabilia, and most memorably, a series of panels featuring cast members.

Yes, there was cosplay. That's me in the blue with the skeptical eyebrow.

Yes, there was cosplay. That’s me in the blue with the skeptical eyebrow.

I’ve been to a few conventions before, but this was a smaller convention both floor and headcount-wise, which I found really awesome. I’m accustomed to cons the size of New York ComiCon and Dragon Con, where you have to spend most of the day in line for a panel and the crowds are sprawling and impersonal. This convention was different – you bumped into the same people a few times in a day, and you could take the time to stop and chat with folks you met. The vendor floor was two large, easily-navigated rooms, with one dedicated mostly to items for celeb autographs. The tables for autographs were in the main great hall, where you could see the actors sitting behind them, and the lines were very reasonable. The panels were held in one VERY large room, so there was plenty of seating.

On Saturday it was cosplay day for my away team, and we had a great time. Only 2 people the whole day recognized my outfit as an officer from the animated series! It was also Pride Day in Boston, and George Takei was the first speaker we went to see. He spoke about pride day, his work in Star Trek, his recent internet fame, and his Broadway-bound musical Allegiance. Allegiance has been selling out for multiple extended runs on the west coast, and I’ve been waiting for it to come to the Great White Way since his YouTube audition for Spiderman years ago. He also gave us a point by point explanation of why Star Trek 6 should be called “Captain Sulu Saves The Day” and how he’d be happy to appear in a new series as, ahem, an admiral. We also caught Brent Spiner and Gates McFadden in a very funny Q&A, including McFadden taking the back panel off of Spiner’s head to satisfy a question, and the two of them answering rapid fire “one-word-answer” questions at the end.

IMG_1459

The following day we were treated to more panels with teams of stars. First in the day were Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor (which I learned was pronounced more like “manah manah” without the m’s, not like your gramma’s nick name), who were amazing, lively and brilliant. He sang the famous “Le Poisson” number from his role as Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid, and she did “All That Jazz” for us with a little dance! SPOILERS: They spoke about how their friendship grew on set, and how the love scenes between their characters were sometimes strained, both because of the “kissing my brother” feeling and the amount of facial latex they had to cope with.

IMG_1581

Levar Burton and Mirina Sirtis were up next, Mirina getting surly with the crowd while Levar balanced out the stage. Levar told stories of how much he enjoyed watching TNG episodes on TV, and what it was like to be on Star Trek as an adult when he had been a fan growing up. Things tensed up a little when one fan put their feet to the fire and asked for a reaction to what he termed the “blatant sexism and racism” in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Levar counted the number of cameras in the room and estimated time-until-youtube for us before answering! He responded by sharing with us his feeling that the movie didn’t have Gene Roddenberry’s spirit in it as much as the older films. Mirina drove home her opinions (though she said she hadn’t seen the movie and likely wouldn’t unless it was in a hotel room or on an airplane) with two broader comments; first she pointedly asked “Could they not find a latino actor to play Khan?” and then she retold the story of the now-infamous J.J. Abrams interview with Jon Stewart in which he said he “didn’t like Star Trek.” Personally I loved Levar’s suggestion that Edward James Olmos would have made a great Khan, and I also love the idea of Alexander Siddig in the role. But there I go being a DS9 fan again, so I digress. (BTW if you haven’t read Alpha Girl’s review of ST:ITD, now’s the time.)

IMG_1585

To round out the day the Shat himself arrived to bring it all home, and talked about his life since Star Trek and many of his upcoming projects, including Fan-Addicts (I honestly thought he said “Fan Attics” – which is a show I would totally watch) and some reality TV work. He commented on how his voice is so often spoofed, and how important and difficult the work of an actor really is.

IMG_1592

I missed out on Nichelle Nichols‘ panel; I wish I could have seen her in action!

I only met one of the cast members for an autograph, and I’m going to tell you about a thing that happened that doesn’t happen often: I totally failed at keeping it together when I met Auberjonois.  He’s my hero on DS9 – my absolute hero. I met him and my normal “pull it together, people are people, and that’s all” reflex just failed to fire. I told him how much I love Odo, how he made the show for me, and how it’s one of the most powerful roles in the show. And I’m sure I was bright pink the whole freaking time. And what did he do for me? He drew me this:

Odo's Bucket!

That’s Odo’s bucket. And if you’re a DS9er, then you know exactly how adorable that is.

I donated $20 in exchange, which the con is sending straight to Doctors Without Borders – a very charity very much in line with the Trek style of idealism.

All in all it was much smaller than I’d expected – but I wasn’t expecting the intimacy of the convention. I didn’t expect the cast members to be so up close; I expected the little privacy tents I’m used to seeing at NYCC with a queue a mile long behind it. I didn’t think I’d see them waving or chatting with one another, or that I’d be lucky enough to have a chat with one of them myself. I’d strongly recommend that Trek fans check out Creation Events – I loved what I saw and had a great time.  Instead of the impersonal convention I expected, I spent the weekend with a  close family of fans celebrating the stories and characters we love.

Till next time Trek fans – see ya ’round the galaxy ;)

 

 

Seditious Joy (blog): How to Celebrate the Higgs Boson Announcement!

Posted on March 15, 2013
From my personal blog, Seditious Joy, where I write about various interests which include crafting, geek/nerd subjects, current events and some of my adventures in fiction:
 

How to Celebrate the Higgs Boson Announcement!

Party Planning Tips for the Physics Geek

So, in the category of we’ve-all-been-waiting-for-it news, the Higgs boson Particle was just found! (ok, they sort of found it last July, but they CONFIRMED it today, so that’s the worthier part!)

This is a big deal physics-wise, and as Michio Kaku says in this interview, “Champagne bottles are popping in laboratories around the world” in celebration of the news. If you want to party too now that the God Particle has arrived, here are some tips on food, drink and tunes for your upcoming physics hoe-down.

Food & Drink Thematic snack and drinks are a must! Get creative with snacks that celebrate the atomic, the exploding, and the art of smashing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Did you know the Smash is a cocktail that already exists? And clearly the perfect choice for a party celebrating the work of an atom-smasher.  This super-simple whiskey drink has a splash of citrus and mint, make it a little more atomic with a garnish of your favorite leafy herb or variety of mint.
  • Smash Snacks like these can include all sorts of party mix favorites from chocolate chips to pretzels.
  • These Atomic Hash Browns are likely to be a big hit, but be warned, they can bring the heat! Cut back on the Cayenne if you are looking for a milder alternative.
  • Exploding Chocolate might be a bit adventurous, but if you love crisp rice in your chocolate and want that extra pop-rock zing, give this recipe a try to wow your guests!

Music There are lots of great options when it comes to thematic tunes to enjoy, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Symphony of Science – When I have a rough day and need to remember the majestic beauty of the universe instead of the grueling drudgery of subway delays and gross weather, this is what I put on. All the joy and wonder of some of the most inspirational scientists of our times, beautifully auto-tuned tracks. A recipe for goosebumps, seriously.
  • The Planets, Gustav Holst – Classical works of music based on the features of the 9 (yes I said 9) planets. If these aren’t already in your library, check them out. You’ll feel awesome on a planetary scale.
  • The Invisible World – This weekly (Wed. nights at 11) radio show has news and interviews on up-to-the-minute science and paranormal events. It’s also one of the most entertaining news sources around – and if you want to catch up, all the previous episodes are available for download!

What are you planning to celebrate the big discovery? Share your ideas in the comments section so all our parties will rock!

Lion Brand Notebook: How to Crochet Broomstick Lace

Posted on April 26, 2012

From the Lion Brand Yarn Company crafts and lifestyle blog ’11-’12, the Lion Brand Notebook:

How to Crochet Broomstick Lace

April 26th, 2012 by Margaret

Broomstick lace has a beautiful, open look that really shows off the character and texture of your yarn. Dating back to the 1800s, this technique creates large loops of yarn that gently twist to the left, giving the finished project especially elegant drape. For a long time I was intimidated by broomstick lace, so I wanted to share how easy it is to create this beautiful, reversible fabric!

Ready to get started? You’ll need:

  • Yarn for your project: Choose a yarn you want to show off. I chose Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend because I love the twist and soft luster.
  • Crochet hook: Use whatever hook you feel works best with your yarn. I used a US K10.5/6.5mm hook for larger, more open stitches.
  • Large knitting needle (or actual broomstick, if you dare!): You can use any large needle for this project; the larger your needle, the larger your loops will be. I used a needle from a pair of ‘Speed Stix’ (US 50/25mm). When making broomstick lace, this tool is often called the “pin.”

How to Crochet Broom Stick Lace Step By Sep Guide with Pictures

 

1. First, make a chain. For this sample I wanted to make repeats of 5, so I chained 15 stitches for 3 repeats. Draw the final chain up over the knitting needle.

2. Crochet back into the chain, drawing up a loop in each stitch and pulling it up over the knitting needle.

3. Repeat until you have drawn up a loop through every stitch in your chain and transferred them onto the knitting needle. This step creates the large loops of yarn you will see in the finished lace.

4. Slide your hook through the first group of loops (for this example that’s 5 loops per repeat) and pull them off the needle. At this point, if it is easier for you to manage, you can remove the large needle from your work altogether.

5. Yarn over and pull through the group of large loops on your hook. Work one single crochet for every loop in the group on your hook (I worked 5 single crochet into the group of 5 loops). Continue this process until all the loops have been crocheted into. Note: make sure to check how many loops you have in each group to avoid accidental increases or decreases.

6. This completes your first row of broomstick lace! You can now draw loops up through each of the single crochet stitches you made in step 5, and continue to repeat steps 1-5 till your project reaches the desired length.

 

What new techniques have you tried that looked tricky at first? What would you tell a crafter who was nervous about trying a new craft for the first time? Leave a comment to share!

 

Related Links:

Lion Brand Notebook: 7 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Knit or Crochet

From the Lion Brand Yarn Company crafts and lifestyle blog ’11-’12, the Lion Brand Notebook:

7 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Knit or Crochet

February 16th, 2012 by Margaret

7 TipsTeaching children to knit or crochet can be daunting, but these 7 tips are designed make it easy and fun for everyone involved.

Remember the first project you ever made? Teaching a child to knit or crochet is your chance to help them have that special feeling of accomplishment. When children learn to love fiber arts as children, they are much more likely to keep knitting and crocheting for the rest of their lives.

 

  • When you teach a child to make something out of yarn, you’re teaching them more about the joy of crafting than about how to perform a stitch. The easiest way to teach them to knit or crochet is to show them how to love working with yarn. Then they’ll want to learn more and perfect their skills if they enjoy the process. Stay positive and make the lesson about how fun and creative crafting is.
  • Set the scene: clear space, plenty of supplies and lots of light. Many teachers seat everyone at a table, because then the teacher can see what everyone is doing quickly and easily. Try to have a group of 5 or fewer students per adult if the children are very young so that they can all get the attention they need.
  • Start with simple, solid-color yarn & large, durable tools.Vanna’s Choice is a popular yarn for lessons, since it has great stitch definition and comes in a wide array of colors. You could even teach kids to knit on their fingers or try the crochet ‘finger hook’ method where you use a curled finger instead of a hook.
  • Teaching a craft is also teaching a language; explain what each word means as you use it. Teach as though none of your students have ever heard the word “yarn” before. This may feel silly, but it’s very hard for a child to ask for clarification, especially when they are new to crafting. Listen to them carefully; they may be asking simple questions using unconventional words.
  • Teach them to start, rip back, and start over again. It’s easy for a beginner to forget how they started by the time they finish. Encourage your students to make their first row, rip it all out, and then make it again. If you give them just a few yards to start with they will have to stop and rip back if they want to keep practicing.
  • Let kids be creative with what they have learned. Make small balls in different colors before hand and once your students have mastered basic stitches let them choose the color they’d like to work with. If they are making their first swatches, you can let them choose how many stitches to cast on or chain (just remind them it should be a number larger than 4; narrower projects are difficult for small fingers).
  • Show them that you are proud of their work, and they will be proud of it too. When you teach kids, they will look up to you as the person who knows what good projects look like. There are many ways to show them that you’re proud of them; get creative! You could take a picture of each child with their first stitches, swatches and projects and make an album for the class, or you could have a fashion show of their new and very simple projects at the end of your class. Even a chain or a row or two of knitting can be a project; try turning them into necklaces, hair ties, bracelets or even shoelaces.

Many teachers have their own special tips for teaching children to craft with yarn. Share your secrets for helping kids get started in the comments section below!

Related links: