It Happened This Morning.
When a crochet class handout “clicks” it’s like getting a crystal-clear vision of how the class will begin and then smoothly unfold for its 3 hours. It becomes a map for the teacher too, and then I can relax. It’s such a distinct feeling that I actually tell my husband, “The _ class handout clicked into place!”
I’d forgotten about the phenomenon until it happened today with The Starwirbel Way class, so I’ll blog it here for my future self. I wonder if other teachers experience something similar.
A crochet class handout needs to satisfy so many requirements.
It needs to make a good first impression in that first five minutes of the class. Inspiring, different, welcoming; generous margins, no big blocks of text, and the font can’t be too small. (It can’t be sparse or simplistic though.)
This year I’m adding a few initial sentences that describe how to get a head start while waiting for the class to begin. People come to crochet classes with a dramatic range of skill levels; some like to explore the topic independently, and some like to arrive early. Many people also bring a range of different yarns, and need to try a few before they can settle in with one. Most people need to warm up with a row or two of a familiar stitch.
A crochet class handout is an extension of me that stays with every student while I’m helping someone else on the other side of the room. If someone were to ask a question that requires a demo, and four other people say they wonder the same thing, I’d love to be able to answer, “Look closely at the photo on page 2 of your handout, and try it out while I come around to each of you individually.” So my top priority is for a handout to help me while I’m helping other students.
Crochet class handouts can’t do some things.
Hands-on skills like crochet need some side-by-side demonstrating. Each bit of key information in a crochet class usually needs to be shown different ways. It’s great when a close up photo or diagram in a handout can save time or prevent confusion about a key step. Sometimes it’s a motion that can be demonstrated in front of the room with a gigantic hook and yarn; often it’s best shown up close to just a few people at a time. This is why people travel to take crochet classes in person. Nothing beats it, not even videos, sometimes.
Over the years I’ve developed a sense for which things can be nailed with a demo, diagram, swatch, or a close up of stitches done in contrasting colors. Sometimes using an overhead projector and drawing on transparencies is just the thing.
Like some images, certain kinds of text are best in a handout. Row-by-row instructions for a practice swatch: a perfect use of a handout. Also good is a list that summarizes and distills many details. This morning I created a sidebar of all the ways to make star stitches starrier, and bolded the ones used for Starwirbel. Above is a table of love knot symbols used in different countries that I include in the 21st Century Love Knot Adventures class handout.
What makes a crochet class handout “click” is a bigger topic than I expected! I’ve left out so much. Creating handouts is an evolving skill. Turns out others have blogged about this too.