A Graduate story by Claire Hannibal, Hand Knitting Skill Stage 3

Graduate Story: Claire Hannibal – Hand Knitting

Although Claire Hannibal had knitted from a young age, she had all but forgotten how much joy it gave her. After rediscovering a passion for knitting in her 40s, she has knitted relentlessly since and decided to study our Skill Stage 3 to gain a Knitting Qualification. She is eager to learn how to develop her own knitting designs and to gain a deeper understanding of yarn choices, colour combinations and patterns. We’re pleased to say that after successfully completing our course, not only has she found a new creative confidence, she has also unlocked her own unique creative voice. This is her #MyStitchJourney.

“I am really pleased with the pieces that I made during the course, yet it was the process that I found most enjoyable. It was a very fulfilling journey and outcome.”

Claire Hannibal

Like many people, I was taught to knit at a young age by my mum and remember knitting scarves for my teddy bears.  Both of my grandmothers and my mum were all keen knitters and so knitting was a popular pastime in our family.  I fell out of the habit of knitting when I went to high school and only picked it up with any regularity in my 40s.

Knitting was included as part of a ‘Wellbeing Week’ at work and I remembered how much I enjoyed it.  I bought myself a kit to knit a scarf and was surprised at how quickly the basic stitches came back to me.  That was around 6 years ago and I have been knitting continuously ever since.

Wanting More

Once I got back into knitting I made scarves, hats, jumpers, mittens and lots of different types of blankets.  Whilst I enjoyed it, I was keen to learn how to develop my own knitting designs and to gain a deeper understanding of yarn choices, colour combinations and pattern.  I was looking for a hand knitting course that would allow me to develop my skills, yet all I could find were short courses or face to face programmes that were not possible for me as I work full time.

Finding the School of Stitched Textiles (SST) was a eureka moment for me as I realised I could complete the course remotely whilst receiving all of the benefits of attending a face to face course (an accredited programme, one to one tutor support, clearly developed modules that fitted together to form a coherent whole, a contemporary virtual learning environment and ‘class mates’ that I could chat to and learn from).

My mum passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 2018 and I don’t think I have fully come to terms with the shock of her death.  Looking back now, I think a key motivation for doing the course was to feel connected to my mum through our mutual love of knitting.  I made one of my final assessment pieces in memory of her, and whilst it was a very emotional piece to design and make, I really felt the healing power of craft as I worked my way through the process.  The piece has acted as a vehicle for me to chat to people about my mum and to remember happy times. 

Studying Hand Knitting

As the course is accredited, I felt confident that it would be rigorous and well designed, which were important considerations for me as I appreciate structured learning.  Knowing that I could complete a City and Guilds 100% online with SST was a big attraction as I had the flexibility to gain a globally recognised qualification whilst working full time.

My confidence in ‘just having a go’ has dramatically increased.  I have learned such a range of skills – for example, hand dyeing, designing my own patterns, costing knitting commissions and specific tools to start my own business – all from being willing to have a go.  Not everything worked out first time, however the course has taught me that patience and humility are as important as the needles and the yarn!

What’s Next?

In time, I would like to study Skill Stage, the advanced hand knitting course.  I have a busy job as a University Professor and so I will continue to knit and to develop my skills until time allows for further study.

Do You Recommend the Course?

Definitely!  I wasn’t sure which level to enrol onto and found the website and conversations with SST really helpful in making the decision to opt for SS3.  The course encourages you to develop your own creativity and to find your artistic voice.  The modules have a clear structure and moving through the course allows you to develop your skills and your confidence.  You know that your tutor is on hand whenever needed and the helpful feedback that you receive after each module is something you can take forwards throughout the course.  I am really pleased with the pieces that I made during the course, yet it was the process that I found most enjoyable. It was a very fulfilling journey and outcome.

Go for it!  And keep going!  Enjoy the challenge of researching, designing, making and sharing in a supportive and creative learning environment.

Joan Harrison Bursary

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