While every yarn store offers irresistible fibers in a variety of colors, textures and weights, it wasn’t until my very insightful interview with Amy Houghtalin of City Knits that I realized why some are so popular. by knitters and crocheters than others.
It’s not just about the exquisite yarn that fills their shelves, but also their method of teaching individuals how to handle fabric yarn. Beginning knitters and crocheters learn best how to turn yarn into something practical and amazing from instructors who are not only good at their craft, but also have a more philosophical approach to teaching.
Houghtalin has been the manager of City Knits, 26050 Crocker, Harrison Township, for 10 years, and she is “obsessed” with teaching hand and machine knitting. It’s this obsession, combined with a relaxed attitude about tailoring, that makes a huge difference.
Elaine Clark, resident of Grosse Pointe, former student of Houghtalin, said: “Amy is a great teacher. And like all gifted teachers, she attracts enthusiastic students to her lessons.
Houghtalin, who lives in Harper Woods, said: “I would love to find a way to keep the local yarn stores as a resource that people can go to for instructions, because although you can buy yarn anywhere – Internet, in person, from each other’s hiding places, (etc.) – we need a place where people can learn.
“I don’t know how the institution of these professions will continue at the same level of expertise. But, at the same time as I say expertise, I don’t think there is a single way for people to enjoy tailoring. Sometimes the everyday knitter just needs the relaxation of our hands to create something (isn’t that the truth!). I think better and hear better when I have something I’m working on. “
She believes it is “human nature to need to create” to escape the daily grind of working life and engagement. “I think there’s a part of us that just needs an outlet, and maybe it’s an art form or a relaxation technique.”
Houghtalin, a self-taught knitter who “watched a bit of Youtube” during her learning process, said: “I teach a lot of machine knitting now, and I can teach people to spot their mistakes with all my years of fighting for it. ”
She developed her holistic approach to teaching after taking a machine knitting class with Michelle Goodhand,a recent Michigan resident who helped her with “crucial things” she struggled with for 10 years.
“This analogy ties into what I’m doing now at City Knits,” she said. “By providing an hour of quality instruction, I feel I can save someone months and years of struggle, and perhaps frustration – even the kind of frustration overcome with which some of my students come to class. when they just can’t do it – – where they’re willing to give up knitting. They sit down and try to figure out what the problem is, and I ask them “Is this the way you hold the yarn or what is the problem? “Let me help you figure it out. And, sometimes they think what comes out of their needles is supposed to look like the fabric (sample) in the store, but it hasn’t been blocked.”
As a hand and machine knitting teacher, Houghtalin doesn’t stop teaching students. She even goes so far as to teach City Knits teachers how to teach (Amazing!).
“I think we have to teach teachers to know that perfection is the enemy of joy, because we have to find joy in our profession,” she explained. “Personally, I find the joy of finding the perfect one and then making the decision that it doesn’t matter. There is a perfect, and we don’t have to do it all the time. I’m obsessed with it. looking for the perfect way to do something, and I want to ignore it at will. One thing I love to teach the folks at City Knits is that you are the boss of those stitches. They will do what you want them to do!
“My goal with knitting, or crafts, is to share it with as many people and teachers as possible,” she continued. “City Knits lost one of our teachers last year to cancer, and she had a multitude of abilities to share. Some of us, who are fortunate enough to have all of these abilities, need to share them with the younger generations, but they don’t seem to have free time to learn the trades. That’s why I think machine knitting is coming back. I think the young people I meet, who use knitting machines, do ‘don’t have time to learn hand skills (knitting) as it’s multiple skills built on top of each other over time. “
She believes that hand and machine knitting “go hand in hand”. She said, “I make things that are part of hand-knitted, and then I hang them on the machine. It’s not just one thing for me.”
Houghtalin is clearly a brilliant instructor, however, she knows her limits. That’s why she hired longtime crochet hooker Nozibele Kelsey Brewton from Detroit to teach crochet lessons at City Knits. “I have limited skills in teaching crochet,” she admitted. “I can’t read a crochet pattern without having a headache!” “
However, she is so “motivated” to share her knitting skills that she “gave up a lot of the day-to-day business of running the store,” but still feels torn between two lovers – the management of City Knits and the knitting.
“It’s really reduced in my knitting time,” she laughed. “I love what I do. I love the knitters who come to our socials, but I’m so torn because I want to knit more! And that’s totally understandable because she has a pretty big yarn supply. to fill a “semi-truck”.! “
Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit artisan. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, [email protected] or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Amy Houghtalin of City Knits (26050 Crocker, Harrison Township) at (586) 469-9665 or cityknits.com.