My 15-year-old son, my 10-year-old daughter and I all enjoy knitting. Sometimes we knit while we take turns reading aloud to each other during our homeschool day. Knitting also comes in handy for something to do in the car, or when stuck in a waiting room, or even backstage or on set. Some Friday afternoons you can find us knitting at the Fibre Friday drop-in at our local library.
Books for Teaching Kids to Knit
Teaching kids to knit can be a lot of fun! I started teaching my children when they were each about 4 years old. I used “A First Book of Knitting for Children” by Bonnie Gosse and Jill Allerton. This book is based on the Waldorf method. It has fantastic, memorable little rhymes for casting on your stitches to start your project, and teaching the stitches: knit, purl, etc.
I even use these rhymes to teach adults how to knit, so don’t be afraid to learn right along with your children! The book also has some adorable knitting patterns for all kinds of animals and dolls. I also recently picked up a great book at the library last week, “Knit Your Own Dog“.
To get started, we picked up some cute, fat knitting needles with faces on them (size 8 or larger needles, not too long, also work well). Each child picked out a colour of yarn they liked from my “stash” and went to work. If possible, choose a nice, soft natural fibre such as 100% merino wool. After a short lesson working beside them, or whenever they got frustrated, I had them put away the knitting to bring out again another day.
Make it fun! You’re building a memory with them, and it’s up to you whether they have warm, fuzzy memories or not. If you spend some time teaching kids to knit, it’s something that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives. They can spread the joy by teaching others or through knitted gifts.
Neither of my children really caught on right away at 4 years old, although I know of children who have. My son didn’t really “get it” until he was about 8 years old, and my daughter was 5 years old when she started running with it. We all enjoy teaching kids to knit now, and many of our International Students have returned home knowing the basics.
A good way for children to start knitting is without a pattern. A garter stitch square or scarf make good first projects. Garter stitch is accomplished simply by knitting every stitch, for every row. I find the little one learning gets the most pleasure out of their first project by having the stitches cast on for them at first, so they can get the hang of the knit stitch. To knit a square, cast on about 25 stitches and then knit each row until it looks square. For a scarf, similarly, cast on about 25 stitches and then knit until it is the desired length.
The most common problem I find for beginners, is adding stitches as they go, usually at the beginning of a row. Be sure that when they finish a row and turn their needle around to start a new row, that they give a little tug on the yarn at the first stitch (which is the last stitch of the previous row), preventing them from making two stitches out of it. Also, remind them to count their stitches after every row for their first project, to make sure they don’t end up with a parallelogram!
If you ever have trouble with a concept, one great way of learning it is to watch free videos on the web, i.e. on YouTube. Once your child has knit a simple project to start, they can choose other projects – there are so many free patterns on the internet.You can also find knitting books at your local library.
Benefits of Knitting
Knitting is a fantastic, repetitive motion activity. Studies have shown that engaging in a repetitive motion while learning increases retention rate! So feel free to have your children knit along while listening to you or an audio book, or even some great Classical music.
Knitting is also a great way to give children a sense of accomplishment and pride. There are so many things we do in our lives that we never actually “finish” and knitting a project is something kids can actually get done. It also feels good to give loved ones those precious knitted gifts!
Learning More About Knitting
You can all study the history of knitting and historical knitting patterns together as a family. If you have a boy, show him some photos of boys and men knitting socks for the war effort. Perhaps you would even like to incorporate some geography into your lesson, and look at knitting around the world. Type “Estonian lace” or “Latvian mittens” into your web browser and see the astonishingly elaborate knits traditionally made in that corner of Europe.
Go pick up some needles and knit with your children – it’s never too early to start working on Christmas gifts! Do you and your kids knit? Do you have some tips for teaching kids to knit? Let me know in the comments below.
Love, Luck &