Teaching Young Children to Knit or “Aunt Lou, do you learn from your mistakes?”

OK.I know there are some folks out there who, when knitting in public, do not encourage children to climb on their lap and join in.If you fall into that category, skip this post.On the other hand, if you believe that enouraging knitting or hand work of any kind in children is a gift, you’ve no doubt experienced this:

Scene: Airport, waiting room, party, family gathering

Cast: You, knitting away on something.Child, often of an age too young to really knit.

Child:“What are you doing?Are you sewing?What is that?You can make socks? Can I try?”

You:”Of course, climb up on my lap/stand here in front of me, and I’ll help you.”

What I have found is that most kids only want to try a few stitches.Let them.You can always un-knit them and redo it.The kid will have moved on to something else, and won’t see what you are doing .

I have also found that children are innately respectful of the knitting if you treat them with respect.I remember at a party a four-year old, about to climb up for her lesson, looked carefully at the pale grey kidsilk haze.“I’ll be right back”she told me “I have to wash my hands.”

One problem is that so often kids want to knit something they can keep, butthey don’t yet have the attention span to make anything substantial, or you aren’t around them for a long enough time.My solution is a bookmark.(Most knitters have extra yarn and needles in the knitting bag. Use these rather than your current project.)

Bookmark: Cast on 10, 15, 20 sts. (Depending on how much yarn, time, and patience are available.) You knit one row, demonstrating.Help the child knit one row, two if they are really motivated. Make encouraging sounds. Two favorites are:

“You’re a natural!”and “I teach grown ups to knit and they never learn this fast.”

Watch them sit up straighter and look extra pleased with themselves on hearing that last one.

Bind off. If you have a needle, weave in the ends. Present the bookmark to the knitter to take home. Even if they never knit again, it is in that little brain somewhere. I also like to think it might encourage a love of books.

Here’s my nephew, who is in the first grade, and has limited access to television.He came dashing in to the bedroom as we were packing to head home after Christmas.“Aunt Lou -I just remembered, I want to knit some more.(He had done a few stitches on a sock a few nights before.)So we began the bookmark, reciting the ‘off jumps Jack’ poem.“I remember last time you were here, you told me that one good thing about knitting is that you can fix your mistakes.Do you learn from your mistakes?”(Yes, he is only 6.)

I told him I try to.His other aunt, who had stopped in to see what her 24 month old was up to, suggested that the very best thing is to learn from other peoples’s mistakes.I wish.

Noah was so excited to knit.He said right away, “Oh you always move the stitches from this needle to the other one.”

He was so excited to have a bookmark that he knitted.“My mom and dad will be very impressed.”

He was so sad not to have his own yarn and needles.I felt sorry that I had none to leave for him, and no time to take him shopping for some.I promised to send needles, yarn and a how-to book as soon as I got home.He looked wistfully at the yarn and needles I was packing away.“If I had yarn and needles, I would waste my cartoon time knitting.” My kind of kid.


8 responses to “Teaching Young Children to Knit or “Aunt Lou, do you learn from your mistakes?”

  1. I used to have a sweatshirt that said “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” The shirt is long gone, but today you would have gotten to wear it 🙂

  2. What a cutie pie! I taught my son how to knit but he only likes to cast-on. LOL

  3. How brilliant! Ahhh a knitted bookmark that is one Lucy could do next, thank you!

    I recently wrote in my blog about teaching my daughter, Lucy how to knit! She knitted herself a bag for her mp3 player. There`s something about using old techniques for new technologies! 🙂

  4. thanks for the ideal of the bookmark

  5. carolyn lichtsinn

    I’m teaching my granddaughter how to knit. Would love to have some easy patterns for her to knit something she can wear and be proud of.

  6. Pingback: Crafty Manolo » Searching for Roots, Branching Out

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