Five Tips for Teaching Kids to Knit
Knitting is great for kids. Not only does it reduce their stress, but it also teaches them focus, pattern recognition, and following directions. Knitting also provides a fun way to practice reading and math skills.
Want to share your passion for knitting with the kids in your life? Here are some tips:
- Teach them the rhyme below before you start. You are going to need a way to talk about the steps of a knit stitch. After they learn the rhyme, you can say things like "remember to catch your sheep" or "you've forgotten to "leap". (This works wonders with adults too!)
- Cross under the fence (put your needle through the stitch so your needles make an "X")
- Catch your sheep (wrap the yarn around the right needle)
- Come back through (the same hole you went in)
- Off we leap (stitch comes off the left needle
- Pick tools that are easy to work with. Worsted weight wool and size 8 needles is my favorite combination. Wool is easier to knit than cotton. Size 8 needles are just right in kid-size hands. Self-striping yarns like Uneek Worsted keep them interested in seeing what color comes next.
- Don't start with a scarf! Scarves are really big projects that can seem to go on forever. In our classes, we make fingerless mitts out of rectangles. I know someone that starts kids knitting a hat on circular needles. Rectangles can also be turned into a bunny or a headband.
- Don't start with casting on. Cast on for them and knit a row. Teach them to knit. Then, when they've got the hang of it, you can go back and teach them to cast on.
- Make your first project a joint project: they knit a row, you knit a row. Or have the "knitting fairy" visit at night to add some rows. When you knit your row, you can straighten out their dropped stitches and extra yarn overs. This gives them a "clean" row to knit on - much easier to navigate.
Kids have the same "start-itis" grownup knitters have. Go with it! Start bookmarks, doll blankets, dog kerchiefs.... Knitting is a process. You really don't have to finish anything to reap the benefits.
And finally, resist the urge to fix every single mistake. It's no fun if you're ripping your child's knitting out of their hands every other stitch. Besides, you have the chance to nurture them into a more laid-back knitter than you are, right?
March 2020 Update:
Couldn’t resist taking an updated picture. Full disclosure: neither of them knit anymore, but I put those socks in their hands and they picked right up. Who knows? By the end of this e-learning thing, they may be avid knitters again! - Lindsay
Click here for a good video of the knit stitch with a rhyme.
These books are great! Try ordering them from the Bookstore.
Kids Knitting by Melanie Fallick - reviewed here
Kids' Knitting Workshop by Susan B. Anderson - reviewed here