Teacher Spotlight: Holli Yeoh
To say that we are lucky to have Holli Yeoh teaching knitting at Baaad Anna’s is an understatement. You may already know Holli after having taken a class with her or through knitting one of her beautiful designs (Holli Yeoh Designs), but for those who haven’t yet met or taken a class from Holli, you are in for a treat.
Holli has been a long-time teacher at Baaad Anna’s, first teaching specialty workshops and now teaching more regularly on beyond beginner and advanced topics. Her focus on fine craftsmanship, teaching skills that enable knitters to feel pride in their finished objects, and helping knitters deepen their understanding of the choices they making in their projects are just some of the reasons students love Holli’s classes.
We recently had a chance to virtually chat with Holli about her knitting journey, how she got into teaching, and what she hopes her students experience in her classes. She also gave us a pretty awesome knitting tip too!
Holli Yeoh (photo courtesy of Holli Yeoh).
Holli’s knitting journey began at five years old when she told her mother that she wanted to learn to knit. Her mother promptly met her on the couch with yarn and a crochet hook and, well, Holli was hooked. Right from the start, Holli was the type of crocheter and knitter committed to quality and craftmanship. She would patiently rip out her work and redo it when there were mistakes and even at a young age was diligent about her stitch counts. She also developed an affinity for taking her knitting on the go, bringing it to the park and while playing with friends.
Holli eventually landed at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, where she completed her degree in jewellery, ceramics and textiles, and soon after she began teaching jewellery making. It wasn’t until she was pregnant with her daughter that she began to teach knitting.
Little Holli wearing a hand knit sweater and hat (photo courtesy of Holli Yeoh).
Teaching Style and a Pro Tip
When asked what draws her to teaching, Holli says “seeing students have the ‘aha’ moments and helping them achieve something they weren’t previously able to do is what I enjoy the most about teaching. I want students to come away with a new skill or understanding of what they are doing so that those skills can be applied to future projects. For example, when you learn to make a pair of socks, many of the techniques learned can be applied to sweaters”.
You can expect Holli’s classes to supercharge your understanding of your knitting. “I want students to understand and read their knitting and fix mistakes. If students can do that then they can really move ahead and knit with intention from the beginning of their projects,” says Holli. She goes on to give an example, “kitchener stitch is not about memorizing the pattern of the bind off as much as it is about looking at your needles and seeing that you last did x and now need to do y because that’s how the knit stitch is created.”
As Holli chats with us, it is clear that her depth of knowledge in knitting is such that we could spend hours learning from her and never get bored. She casually mentioned in our chat that most knitters don’t know that with the long-tail cast on method you are actually completing your first right side row as you cast on. When you turn your work after the cast-on, that’s actually the wrong side row you are working. Did you know that?! We did not!
Zipper inserted into a hand knit sweater (photo courtesy of Holli Yeoh). Join one of the upcoming classes with Holli to learn how to insert zippers into your hand knits!
Holli is probably known most for her classes on fine finishing techniques, like teaching knitters to insert zippers into their hand knits (there are two classes on zippers that she will be teaching with us this month!). We asked her about her favourite finishing technique and she said, “it’s hard to choose. It’s the act of knitting and creating that I love. Watching a project reveal itself as I knit. Finishing for me starts with the decisions you make before you cast on, it is something I’m giving attention to from the beginning.” Hearing Holli talk about the type of knitter she was as a young child, it is clear that detail and craftsmanship is something that is an innate part of who she is.
As a teacher, Holli’s style is to be reassuring, supportive and welcoming of all knitting traditions and techniques. She notes that, “it’s a shame when people think there’s a right way to do something in knitting. There are lots of traditions and cultures in knitting and the end result is what matters. My job is to help each individual understand how they knit and to build their individual knitting literacy. It’s never about learning to knit my way or the ‘right’ way.”
Lastly, we asked what’s her favourite yarn weight to knit with. She says fingering yarn is her ‘go to’ for design and wearability. Her designs are often inspired by commercial knitwear which are traditionally made from lighter weight knit fabrics so that is what she gravitates to.
Photo of Holli Yeoh, wearing one of her own designs, the Stormwatch sweater. Photo courtesy of Holli Yeoh.
That concludes our get-to-know Holli chat! We hope that you get a chance to learn from her soon.
Learn more and register for Holli’s upcoming classes here.