Six Tips for Teaching Kids to Knit at Home
How are you holding up? I'm writing this as I have my baby sleeping next to me laying by my side. Blogging by naptimes is definitely a new experience for me, but I'm excited to reconnect with you all.
Do you have any kids that are home with you that might like to teach how to knit? Now that most of the world is staying inside, it may be the perfect time to give it a try.
Here with me in this joint blog post is fiber artist Frances Earnshaw, who actually teaches knitting to kids at the school where she works in England.
Today, we have six tips for you on helping you teach your kids to learn how to knit.
Enter Frances Earnshaw, Fiber Artist and Kids' Knitting Club Teacher
A short while ago Liat made a call out on Ravelry’s "Loose Ends" boards for guest bloggers. She is rather busy at the moment with baby Milo. Over the following days, we exchanged messages, and the horrible news about COVID-19 gained momentum.
My first idea to blog about teaching children to knit became more relevant, as parents are at home with children all over the world now, in quarantine and home-schooling. Knitting teaches resilience, patience with yourself and persevering when you do not get an instant result. Liat liked this idea!
“…And who are you?” you may be asking. Some of you will know me as Heptonstall on Ravelry. I am British, and like to hang out on the Cats Helping With Yarncrafts thread. I am not famous for anything, but I am a person who loves to support making and learning.
In with my duties at the tiny Colden Junior & Infants School where I work in West Yorkshire, I began a school knitting club.
This became hugely popular with thirty five out of the school’s less than one hundred children putting their names down on the waiting list.
In my years of teaching kids to knit, I've found there are some popular misconceptions about teaching children and sometimes a lack of insight as to how teaching children knitting might differ from teaching a friend.
I'll debunk those misconceptions and give you some tips and suggestions plus links to some start-off patterns which have proved popular with the girls and boys I have taught.
3 Misconceptions About Teaching Children to Knit
1 - "There is no point in trying to teach a child under the age of twelve," or, "My child will just get bored."
Listen up. Your child is at the optimum time of life to learn and if your child is at an age where they are learning to read and write, and have reached a stage where they are manipulating a pencil reasonably well, then they can learn to knit. I will not stress out about exactly what age this is.
I have taught a six year old, who simply took off with knitting, and is still knitting now age nine.
I have had one or two children begin to learn with me at age nine, then run off. If your child is totally not interested, then they will not learn. Try pom poms!
2 - "You should use large needles and bulky yarn, so the child will get a fast result."
Nah. Don’t do that. Think back to when you learned to knit.
Would you have liked to learn to knit with a pair of rolling pins, and some pretty colored rope? Probably not.
Children’s hands are small.
I bought Pony children’s knitting needles, 4mm (US size 4). They are short and flexible and ideal for small hands.
The excitement of learning a new skill will be enough to motivate them to keep them going.
3 - "Children will get too upset when they make mistakes."
Here is something from Liat’s post on growth mind-set: "We love making mistakes at KnitFreedom!
If you've been watching my knitting videos for a while, you'll notice that I often make mistakes while filming. It's hard to see everything when you're focused on a camera screen!
Usually when I make mistakes, I say, 'Oh good! Now I can show you how to fix this.'"
It's the same with teaching kids how to knit. Get excited when they make mistakes! You can always show them how to fix it, or fix it yourself for now. (See my Fix Knitting Mistakes video class to learn how).
3 Tips for Successfully Teaching Kids Knitting
1 - Make the Sessions of Teaching Short
It is fine to work for ten minutes, then relax for a few minutes, and then go back to it.
No more than twenty minutes a day, unless your child asks for more.
2 - Work Alongside your Child
Use a calm voice, and repeat information just like your driving instructor:
“Into the loop with the tip of the blue needle, over with the yarn, catch that yarn through, let the loop on the orange needle drop off.” (Another reason to use kids' needles - they come in different colors.)
Don’t fire information at your child. Don’t talk a lot. Show the child repeatedly, but hand the knitting back to the child frequently.
3 - Don’t Begin by Teaching the Child to Cast On
A new skill which is struggled over then immediately abandoned to tackle another difficult skill will cause frustration. Skills need to be consolidated.
Cast on and explain to your child that you will be teaching them how to cast on later, but their first job is to learn to make stitches.
In my experience it takes around four sessions, where I have seen a child engaged and working at it, before they are knitting fairly on their own.
And they are just delighted at this, if they have the resilience to keep trying.
I tell them straight-up, “This is not so easy. You will not learn straight away. It took me a while. But you will do it. Look! Your fingers are doing it!"
Recommended Beginner Patterns for Boys and Girls
The Handy Monster is the first project my students get. Children simply knit a small garter rectangle.
The rectangle is folded and embelished. This is my project page with all the instructions you will need.
Their second project is Knitted Bunny by Jackie Erickson Schweitzer.
This free pattern is amazing! The child knits a stockinette square, and some clever sewing enables them to turn this into a bunny.
When the child has stayed with it and completed the Handy Monster, they have the skills to manage the purl stitch rows. I did knit the ears for a couple of the children.
A child of seven managed a garter Knitted Bunny. She was so happy!
Thank you Frances! I've taught a few kids how to knit in my life, and I can definitely vouch for these tips.
My Experience Teaching Kids to Knit
The first time I tried to teach a kid to knit, I taught my boyfriend's son, but I made it way too hard for him because I tried to teach him how to cast on first. By the time we finished, he was done trying. I definitely agree with Frances - skip the cast on for now; just do it for them and let them get right to the knit stitch.
Years later I taught my nephews how to knit, and they had a much better experience. I used brightly colored knitting needles and solid-colored yarn so they could see what they were doing.
I also had them watch my videos on KnitFreedom to help them along when they wanted to do it on their own and I wasn't available, even though we were living together. They actually really enjoyed watching my videos to show them how to do things. Kids nowadays love videos and it's very easy for them to learn this way.
Resources for Beginning Knitters
Please remember that my learn to knit video class is completely free. If you sign up for the newsletter, you can download the class as a PDF eBook, or you can watch it in your browser or on your mobile phone, and you can show kids videos on how to knit.
Maybe my guidance might be just what they need if it's a little bit too much for you to sit down and explain to them every little piece.
If you've already taught someone how to knit, but they don't really know where to go after the first plain garter-stitch scarf, I recommend my course for adventurous beginners called The Fearless Knitter.
This course starts with the purl stitch and goes from there.
We cover so much information about reading your work, making mistakes, reading simple patterns and knitting things that are fun and rewarding that it will help create a perfect foundation for your little knitter to become a knitting superstar.
New! Free 30-Minute Support Calls for Premium Lifetime Members
If you are looking for extra personalized help, I have started offering a free 30-minute support call for any customers that have purchased our Premium Lifetime library.
There are so many resources in KnitFreedom Premium that I want to help you make sure that you know where it will be best for you to get started depending on what your goals and dreams are. Check out what's available in KnitFreedom Premium Lifetime, and I look forward to talking to you soon.
Leave a Comment
Have you taught any young friends or family members how to knit? What was your experience? Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment and let me know!
Next up on the blog will be another joint post with knitter Krystal Stoll, where we will teach you a new method of stranded colorwork. See you soon!
Guest blogger Frances Earnshaw lives and works in Yorkshire in the UK. She loves to support making and learning, and is on a mission to explore knitting techniques and to teach knitting to all ages. You can find her as Heptonstall on Ravelry. She is an artist who incorporates knitting into her work, and her eccentric artworks and knitting can be viewed here: https://www.instagram.com/frances.earnshaw/