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Your Weekend Project: Teach a Child to Knit!

Sep 1, 2010
   
  Kids are enthusiastic knitters! (Photos by Kevin Monko)  

Remember when you learned to knit? Did it change your life like it changed mine? Well, why not pass that feeling along to your kids?

While browsing last year's issue of Interweave Knits Weekend (now available as a digital download!) I came across this article by Laura Kelly, the founder and president of The Handwork Studio LLC, a kids' needle-arts and fashion studio, and www.myhandworkstudio.com.   

So here you go!


Teaching Kids to Knit: Make it Positive
Laura Kelly

It is always an honor when a child expresses an interest in your craft. Whether the child is your own, a grandchild, a student, or a neighbor, teaching a child to knit is a precious opportunity. You aren't just passing down a skill; you're creating a memory, a bond-and a new knitter. Ask the knitters you know: They can tell you who taught them to knit!


    
 


   

When you teach a child to knit, remember that the lesson is more about the experience of knitting than the mechanics. You need more patience than knowledge, more love than advanced skill.

After teaching thousands of kids at The Handwork Studio, we've come up with some tips designed to make both the teaching and the learning experiences rewarding and memorable:

Focus on process, not product.
As a knitter, you try to make your work look perfect. For children, perfection shouldn't be the focus. The goal is to have fun and minimize frustration. Don't over-correct; encourage instead. A child who enjoys the process will return, getting better with age and experience. Enjoy the interest in your craft and fix mistakes, if necessary, privately!

Quality materials matter. An investment in high-quality materials will show that you are vested in a child's learning. Start off with a nice bulky natural fiber on size 8 wooden needles. And the gift of a handsome knitting basket filled with special notions will make a child feel like a knitter.


Choice is key. Whenever possible, involve children in the decisions. Let them pick yarn colors and tools. Design projects together.

Keep lessons short and sweet. Make your lessons special "one-on-one" times that last no more than thirty minutes to an hour. After a lesson, put the work away and bring it out only during your time together. Your fledgling knitter will be excited to see the project again and to have your undivided attention.

Start small. Knit something that can be completed in a couple of sessions. Immediate gratification is important. Knit small squares and make fun stuffed shapes with them. Introduce longer projects over time.

Show pleasure in what's accomplished. Photograph and display the finished project.  Never make excuses to others about any imperfections. This experience is not about you or your teaching ability. It's about sharing your craft.

***

I just love this piece. Laura really hits the nail on the head! These are just the type of things you can expect from Interweave Knits Weekend 2009, plus tons of patterns, including a special section on knitting for children!

So spend some family time knitting this weekend—get all the inspiration you'll need in Knits Weekend!

Cheers,


How to Knit for Beginners     
Download How to Knit for Beginners now!  
   

P.S. What's that you said—you want a free pattern? Well how about an entire free eBook? Download How to Knit for Beginners: Easy Knitting Instructions to Help You Learn to Knit!

This free eBook is full of tips and tricks for beginning knitters, including lots of illustrations and two patterns for beginners: a garter stitch scarf and a garter stitch dishcloth.

You can use this book as a new knitter, or use it to teach someone to knit—it's the perfect resource to use when teaching kids to knit, too.

So download it now and get teaching!




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Interweave Knits Weekend, 2009: Digital Edition

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Interweave Knits Weekend, a special issue of Interweave Knits, is full of fun, quick, and simple projects for men, women, children, and the home.

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Comments

GerryS wrote
on Sep 6, 2010 3:59 PM

Help!  I cannot load this "How to Knit" file.  I frequently get the response "the file is damaged and cannot be repaired."  However, sometimes I am able to download -- today, for instance, I successfully accessed the "weekend staff projects" file.  Any suggested solutions?

on Sep 3, 2010 11:33 AM

P.S because I was self-taught, I learned stockinette first- knitted back and forth. I didn't learn to purl until I wanted to try seed stitch. I much prefer knitting stockinette back-and-forth to knit 1 row, flip, purl 1 row, so that's the way I teach kids. It's much simpler and saves a lot of time. Also, kids are inspired to keep knitting when they see the identifiable 'Vs' of stockinette instead of loopy garter stitch!

on Sep 3, 2010 11:30 AM

Well, I can't tell you who taught me to knit because I didn't know a soul in the world who could knit when I learned! I was completely self-taught...I learned everything through books and good ol' trial and error- knit, purl, cable, colorwork, lace...IK helped me so much. I then taught my little sister, then11 yr old cousin, who taught her sister...we now have a knitting circle where we knit for charity ,simply becuase I picked up needles. Knitting truly is a gift that keeps on giving! :)

CathyM@11 wrote
on Sep 2, 2010 8:18 AM

I work at a craft/sewing store and teach kids to knit in a "Camp" format - they come each day for 2 hours for 4 days.  They learn to cast on, knit, purl and bind off.  I don't worry whether or not they maintain the same number of stitches, and when holes appear I tell them they can be fixed later.  I try to emphasize that they learn to make the stitches, the other stuff will come later, after they've knitted a bit.  They all enjoyed making their own version of a scarf, and I told them when they started the second project, I expected them to do even better - keeping track of stitches and making nicer stitches.  I usually have one or tow come back later to purchase more yarn for other projects!  One of my girls even taught her brother how to knit!  Keeping it fun and positive is the best way with kids!  Thanks for the post!

Cathy

Erica's Craft & Sewing Center

SherryP wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 7:18 PM

Talk about timely! I spent one weekend this summer teaching a six-year-old niece to knit. Her father had gotten her a children's learn-to-knit book and large needles. I think Pat is right that books should have pictures of the stitch the beginners are learning. For instance, the book this niece had included lots of garter-stitch pictures. (Purling came at the end of the book, and I said we'd get to that later.)

A few months ago, I was talking to another knitter at a local craft shop (actually, at the closing sale--sigh). That knitter said she often taught youth-group members at her church to knit.

on Sep 1, 2010 4:23 PM

I just downloaded and looked through your "How to Knit for Beginners".  I noticed that all the illustrations are of a stockinette swatch, yet you are only teaching the knit stitch. The illustrations should be garter stitch, don't you think? The student isn't going to understand why their knitted swatch doesn't look like the one in the illustration.

Pat, in Phoenix

DonnaS@28 wrote
on Sep 1, 2010 11:11 AM

This was an especially timely article for me, since I teach the first class for some young teens (middle school age) this afternoon.  What is so reassuring is hearing that the knitting skills of the teachers don't have to be all that great ... my "helpers" for this class are the beginners from my adult class!  These women have  barely learned only a few essentials, but have been extra busy practicing their cast-ons and knit stitches just so they can be a step ahead of the youngsters they will assist.  This will be so good for all of us.