Friday, May 25, 2018

Where did the Knitting Classes Go?

I don't have any answers to the question "where did the knitting classes go?". It's been coming up a lot lately and I've been asked the question many times in the last few months. My own guild, the Toronto Knitters Guild chose not to have classes at their annual event after close to 20 years of doing so.

They posted this to the website:

There are not going to be any workshops at this year’s Frolic. Many of the workshop proposals we received were similar to what is currently offered at our GTA yarn stores (some of whom are vendors at the Frolic). After careful consideration, the Frolic Committee decided not to offer workshops this year. Instead, and as part of the TKG’s mission to promote fibre-related crafts in the Greater Toronto Area, we are promoting the workshops available at the LYS. We hope you aren’t too disappointed, and look forward to seeing you at the Frolic Marketplace.

At this time they have announced they do plan to consider offering them again next year. There was some activity in our Ravelry group discussing the classes, however considering that the event has well over 1000 attendees, 17 posters and 21 posts isn't very many. A number of the posts were about a class in Toronto being taught on the Sunday as an alternative so there were really only a few posters unhappy about the class cancellations.

I heard from a third hand source that some vendors felt the Frolic was compromised by becoming a market only event. However to my knowledge no one felt strongly enough about this to raise it with the organizers.

Some of my friends didn't attend at all because there were no classes offered. Others still attended but said they were disappointed because the more advanced classes they wanted were only available at the event and LYS classes tend to be for beginners.

On the other hand all the teachers I know have been discussing how hard it is to fill classes anywhere other than very large events. Some have stopped submitting class proposals due to the poor compensation structure. Even at the large events some of my peers have confided their expenses were outpacing their profits due to inflation being paired with stagnant payment rates. Rates for classes and presentations have been the same since I started and in some cases are being reduced as venues also struggle financially.

So here's a few of the theories I've been hearing during these conversations. 

LYS are taking care of the teaching needs of knitters. (I'm not sure this is true, recently two yarn shops have told me they can't fill their classes).

YouTube and Craftsy have become our sources for knitting classes. In other words it's a technological change.

Retreats and large events are the main place knitters now take classes.

Knitting has been popular for the last 20 years and we have less need for classes as the majority of the knitting population has a high level of skill already.  

Many knitters aren't interested in developing higher level skills. They prefer simple soothing projects due to high stress levels in other parts of life.

Knitters are very project focused and many classes are technique based not project based.

I'd love to hear any other ideas you have on this topic. Our industry struggles to survive and I see many of my peers quietly dropping out because for many it's not a sustainable option.


  1. In previous years I was contacted in November about submitting class proposals for the Frolic. This year, I wasn't contacted until January while I was packing to go south for the winter so took a pass on submitting my proposals. Hopefully next year, the call for teachers and workshops will go out sooner.

  2. I’ve been knitting for nearly two years now and still consider myself a new knitter. In that time I’ve only been to one class for toe up socks. I think technology has taken over a lot of teaching from the basics to individual techniques which is where I have learnt most of my knitting from. I haven’t been to another class due to time constraints, how easy it is to get to a class but also most classes near me seem to be for absolute beginners or the more advanced classes are always sold out. I’m glad they are as it means the local yarn shop is making money from those classes. For me I think knit nights have become an invaluable resource for passing on knowledge and improving each other’s skills, more so than any individual class.

  3. I would hate to see Knitting classes at large venues go as I attend to learn new more advanced techniques and meet other knitters. I do think the knitters out there are becoming more proficient and offering classes they will take is likely a challenge. Though you can never know every technique or every way to do even the simplest techniques. Charging enough to be able to pay teachers is likely a challenge. It’s expensive to travel and then there is the cost of the registration and it gets very costly, very fast. Maybe larger classes with less of a personal touch and a culture of “help your neighbor? That would increase income per class.

  4. Hello, great article.
    I agree that sites like YouTube and Craftsy are dominating the market with online tutorials but for me personally they just don't deliver. The School of Stitched Textiles skill run knitting courses which can be studied online with the help of tutors and they are accredited by City and Guilds. They are highly detailed courses that teach contemporary and traditional techniques. It's well worth checking out.