Knitting for Kids: Sharing the Joy of Knitting with a Child
As we’ve heard so often, knitting is a skill that creates beautiful things and is good for both physical and mental well-being. Our children may benefit from a creative outlet too. Knitting is a craft that alleviates the stress of everyday life.
Knitting done alone may assist the child by focusing on thoughts other than worry and giving the child a sense of accomplishment and of “I made it myself!”
Knitting with a group of their peers is a good social activity that will allow them to make friends through a shared interest while not being self-conscious about being around others.
Inspiring Children to Want to Learn
I introduce knitting to children in several ways. The best, of course, is when they see my finished projects or see me knitting. This always sparks their curiosity. When I tell them that they can do it too, they are often skeptical.
I always explain that there are only two stitches, a knit stitch and purl stitch and that all knitting projects are a different combination of the two stitches.
Hand knit doll clothes are another wonderful way to inspire children. I create doll clothes for several different types of dolls and place them on display at the local libraries in my area. These small projects are fun to knit and children relate to them right away. There are several examples on my blog.
Another way is by reading them knitting themed books. I have several favorites depending on the child’s age. Noodle’s Knitting is great for young children, as are With Love from Grandma and Extra Yarn. The one that really helps children understand some of the benefits of knitting is Knitting Nell, the story of a young girl who has trouble relating to her schoolmates.
Let the Teaching and Learning Begin
Now that the child is ready to give it a try, I start them off with a simple garter stitch square. Craft Yarn Council has excellent guidance on teaching children to knit on their website. I use Size 11 straight needles and a bulky weight yarn. Casting on 25 stitches, we begin.
There is a poem that benefits some students while others count the four motions to knitting a stitch. I have found both to be effective. When the square is done, many students fold it in half and we seam it to make a pouch. If I’m working with a group, these squares can be sewn together to make a blanket.
Then it’s on to a project. I use a simple purse that I designed specifically for teaching. The pattern is on my blog. The project starts with garter stitch so they are knitting every row and gain confidence in their ability as they see their project grow.
The next section is stockinette stitch and introduces the purl stitch by knitting one row and using the purl stitch in the next row, and then the remainder of the purse is done in garter stitch. By the time they reach that point, they finish quickly with the confidence of a project well done. Here are a few examples of the purses that my students knit when I taught this class at a summer enrichment program.
Meeting with Frustration
So, if after several attempts, the frustration level of both you and your student is taking the fun out of this endeavor, there are other ways to work with yarn and achieve a similar result.
Try loom knitting. This is a simpler technique that can still be used to knit many items. Hats, scarfs and even the purse can be created using a loom. With a loom, instead of all the stitches being on a knitting needle, the loom has a peg for each stitch. I’ve worked with children with special needs very successfully using a loom. All children, regardless of their motor skills, enjoy the color and texture of working with yarn.
If You Haven’t Learned How to Knit
There are lots of classes available if you haven’t learned to knit. A “Grandma and Me” class may be a special bonding experience for both of you. Check the craft stores in your area or the local yarn shops. Many community schools offer classes, too.
Looking for children to share your knitting through after school programs and lunch time groups. Girl Scout troops are always happy to have help. There are several Girl Scout badges that relate to crafts.
I hope you’ll consider giving this a try and you’ll share your experiences. If I can be of any help please get in touch.
Have you taught a grandchild or other child to knit? What was your experience like? What technique did you use to introduce the fun of knitting to them? Please share with us in the comments.