Recently I have had the opportunity to try to teach tatting to a group of interested students and another group of colleagues at work. I have a background in teaching science and am pretty comfortable in showing and talking about practical things….but the first group I tried to teach was difficult. Why? I think it is simply because, while I enjoy tatting and know how to do many of the techniques, I have never really had to break down the steps for anyone else. This blog is about the thinking and action process I am working through in my head for this task.
With the first group, I walked in with some wound shuttles and some books. I found very quickly with this group that giving them a shuttle only to work with lead to some confusion about whether they had ‘flipped’ the stitch or not. I needed to move around the group (of 10) individually to show each the stitch and talk them through a couple of their own. This was tedious and so I knew I had to rethink if I were to do this again.
A month later I had a group of interested colleagues. With this second group I made sure each person had a shuttle with coloured thread, and then a small ‘ball’ of white, slightly thicker thread. This helped to make it very clear when the stitch was being formed and was easy to see the flip if it happened. The second thing I did differently was send a clip from you-tube with the basic stitch to the participants before the session, so they had a visual of the types of movements required. When we met, I also did a few stitches to show them the movements before they tried themselves. Then I moved around the 4 people present and helped them, talking through the steps of the stitch and even trying to do it left handed to help one person (this is a good exercise for an experienced tatter…a good challenge to help you make some new brain connections!). I also bought along some books, for the few who didn’t want to try it but just see what could be done in this craft, the vintage books were a hit!). I think it was much easier with a small group too.
I wonder what tips you have if you have taught tatting before? It would be great to hear some of them!