7 Tips For Teaching Your Kids To Knit
If like me you love to knit, the time will come when you will want to pass the joy onto someone else – a son or daughter, niece or nephew, or perhaps a grandchild. Imagine this - that you have a chance to give a child a skill they will have for life. Once they know how to knit, like riding a bicycle they can go back to it at any time.
So why should we teach our children to knit?
Soon your child will discover that they can help other children perhaps by knitting for charity; as a teenager they will find they can make unique clothes to stand out from the crowd; as a new auntie or uncle they will be able to make a special gift for a new niece or nephew.
An article in the New York Times describes how a teacher at a New Jersey (how appropriate!) elementary school began teaching a few children to knit as an activity for rainy break-times. Over 250 people, children and adults had learnt to knit, the more experienced ones helping the beginners to get started.
According to the school, knitting….”teaches children success through persistence, concentration, control, follow-through and mastery. Knitting itself, she said, improves fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination and brain development”.
So here are some tips on getting children (or anyone else) started on their knitting journey.
- When you start, you must assume that your pupil knows nothing. My father once asked me to teach him to crochet. I handed him some wool and said “make a slip knot and I’ll show you how to make a chain”. He looked blankly at me. “What”, he replied, “is a slip knot?” I spent an hour teaching him how to make a slip knot, after which he was inordinately pleased with himself.
- To start your newbie knitter off, cast on for them and knit a couple of rows to get then going. They will find it a lot easier to knit into a knitted row than a cast-on row.
- Little fingers will find it easier to start with larger, shorter needles and thicker yarn so start them off with at least double knitting yarn and 4mm needles. These fun children’s needles from Pony are great for beginners.
- Knitting can be very affordable to learn. You don't need to buy special 'knitting kits' for kids. Knitting needles can be bought for pennies at charity shops and jumble sales. Yarn can be found at the same time, or in the bargain bin at the local yarn shop or department store. Or ask a knitter for an odd ball of yarn and some spare needles - They are always delighted to welcome another into the fold!
- Keep lessons short. You may be able to knit on autopilot, but when you are learning it requires a lot of concentration; hands that are unused to knitting will ache, so take lots of breaks.
- Keep it fun. Don’t worry if the finished piece is not perfect, we were all beginners once, dropping stitches or mysteriously increasing the number of stitches on the needle!
- When the basics have been learnt, build the new knitter’s confidence with small projects such as scarves, handwarmers, toys and covers for gadgets such as tablets, phones or music players. Once they have moved beyond square items they could try some of the patterns in Knitting for Children by Claire Mongomerie, which has 35 simple knitting projects for kids.
Mary Thomas, author of ‘The Mary Thomas Knitting Book’, one of the first knitting bestsellers, advises that "knitting should be done thoughtfully...that is its charm to our generation, who live with a wild helter-skelter of speed." If that was the feeling in 1938, imagine the benefits today, when our world changes faster than Mary Thomas could ever have imagined.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.