"Mommy, teach me how to knit!" Teaching a child to knit does take lots of patience, but the time spent together will teach your child much more than merely a craft.
Knitting Tools Just for Kids
Knitting needles do not have to be boring. Learning to knit becomes even more fun when your child has her very own set of knitting needles. There are some needles that are designed especially for children. They are often handmade from wood with cute additions such as acorn tops, turtles, or dogs.
First Steps in Knitting
Many people recommend finger knitting as the first step in learning to knit. Your child will get a feel for how the yarn works, and will be able to experience the process of knitting. Even very young children can finger knit with bulky yarns. Once your child can finger knit, it is time to move on to needles. Use large needles, at least a size eight or 10, and a soft, bulky yarn. Wooden needles are not as slippery as the plastic or metal ones and will help keep the stitches where they are supposed to be.
Both the Charlotte Mason and the Waldorf methods of education believe children should learn to craft. The Waldorf School uses the following rhyme to help the younger children remember the various steps in knitting:
- In through the front door (The right needle enters the loop from the front.)
- Around to the back (The yarn wraps over the needle.)
- Out through the window (Pull the needle through the loop.)
- And off jumps Jack. (Drop the old stitch off the needle.)
Teach your child this rhyme and you will likely hear her whispering it to herself as she struggles to master the craft. Children learn rhymes and songs easily and it is the best way to memorize information at a young age.
A good first project is a washcloth or a scarf. Cast on 30 stitches for your child and work the first row. Allow her to knit the rest of the rows in a simple garter stitch. She can make a washcloth by knitting 30 rows, or a scarf by continuing to knit until it is as long as she wants. It is better if you cast off and finish her first few projects. As she becomes more comfortable with the needles, she can practice finishing a project herself.
Once she is knitting smoothly, the next step is learning to purl. Have her make an entire washcloth using a purl stitch. When that is mastered, the stockinette stitch can be practiced. With these stitches, your child can complete hundreds of projects.
Patience Is a Virtue
Don't get frustrated. Mistakes will be made as part of the learning process. Keep the atmosphere light and fun and your child will look forward to knitting with you. Encourage her when she gets frustrated, and know when it is time to put up the knitting and have a milk and cookie break.
Teach Me How to Knit Something
There will be a point at which you child is no longer content to make washcloths and scarves. She may look at you and demand, "Teach me how to knit something real!" There are plenty of great projects for kids with a little knitting experience. For example:
Your child can knit a sampler afghan by knitting squares using various stitches. This is a good way to practice new techniques. Just make sure all the squares are the same size. Once there are enough squares, sew them together in strips. Sew the strips into an afghan.
Teaching a child to knit is as rewarding for you as it is for her. By passing on your knitting skills, you are also passing on a connection to past generations. You are instilling confidence in a child. There can be no better investment of time than that.