Teach a Young Child to Knit

How old should a child be before they can learn to knit with knitting needles? Is six too young? What do you do when your four-year-old asks to learn to knit? How do you successfully teach a young child to knit? That was the dilemma facing me 20+ years ago.

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Knitting Prerequisites

Past experience trying to teach a seven-year-old niece made me wary of introducing knitting too soon. I was trying to figure out how to say, “Sorry, you’re too young to learn” without squashing her dreams when her dad chimed in with, “When you learn to tie your shoes, Mommy will teach you to knit.”

A perfect answer! Tying shoes requires manual dexterity and is a great pre-requisite for knitting. Whew! This was going to buy me some time, or so I thought.

For kids, success in learning to knit has more to do with the student than the teacher. Knitting or crocheting takes a combination of (1) interest, (2) manual dexterity and (3) concentration—the ability to sit still and pay attention. Those things are going to happen at entirely different times for different children. There’s no point in trying to teach a child who doesn’t want to learn; it will just frustrate the teacher and the student.

An Historical Perspective

The Little Knitters by Albert Anker {{PD-1923}}

In days of yore, children learned to knit at a much younger age then they do today. In some cultures children as young as four knit socks, both to sell and to keep the family warm. During the World Wars, children knit for the troops. Take a look at the work of Swiss artist Albert Anker for adorable paintings of young people knitting.

Of course, modern children don’t have to knit socks out of necessity, but does that mean they can’t, if they want to?


The First Lesson

At home, said pre-schooler went off to school and returned three hours later with the news that she had learned to tie her shoes. Prove it, I said. She did. She had prevailed on a classmate—the youngest of eight—to teach her. Apparently when you have seven older siblings you learn life skills early.

A promise is a promise; now I had to deliver a knitting lesson. Armed with a couple of size 10 Brittany double-pointed needles with rubber bands wrapped around the ends, a partial ball of Lopi—the only bulky wool I had at the time—and six stitches cast on, we got started. Using the “In through the front door” mantra, I demonstrated, then gave her the needles and guided her hands. After a couple of rows, she took over, and I was amazed at how quickly she got it. Having her say the mantra every time really helped.

What I didn’t remember until recently was that I made a videotape that afternoon! It’s not high quality, but here’s little Margaret knitting her first project—a doll scarf. Some of it is captioned. Note that with barely-3-year-old Little Brother chiming in at 1:04 with “Out of the…” (in response to “In through the front door”) and at 1:56 with “Once around the…”, he was on his way to learning the basics, as well.



Does It Last?

You might wonder if learning to knit at a young age means the child will continue knitting. My best advice here is not to worry about that. If the child is interested, they may keep going, but chances are the interest will be fleeting, and they’ll move on to learning other skills. After all, it’s a child’s job to gather experiences and explore as much as they can. They may even take a long hiatus and come back to the fiber arts in one way or another years later. Your job as a teacher is to encourage the exploration.

Teach Child to Knit Beginner Scarf
A first project. Notice how it gets much better toward the end.

Did little Margaret stick with knitting? The answer is no and yes. She finished the first project to her satisfaction, and then knitted one or two things over the next few years, but nothing that you’d call a Real Project.

Fast forward to college life. Knitting and crocheting was popular and knowing how to do both meant an immediate way to bond with a new group of people. Fiber skills eventually got her a job at Red Heart*. so that early knitting lesson did pay off in the long run!

*She’s no longer with the company, but she’s still knitting and crocheting.

Tips for Teaching Kids

  • Stay positive!
  • Keep the lessons short, relaxed, and focused on what they want to make.
  • Plan for immediate success. 5-6 stitches per row allows the work to grow quickly. You’ll have a belt, a headband, a doll scarf, a coin purse or a friendship bracelet without worrying about gauge.
  • Kids aren’t interested in perfection; they just want to explore new skills. Unlike adults, they are used to being in a learning mode all the time, and they will be happy to be making something even if it has holes and wobbly edges.
  • If the child loses interest, don’t push it. They’ll learn when they are ready.
  • If handling needles is too intimidating, try finger knitting until dexterity matures.


Resources

Read Larcenous Knitting Rhymes and Other Poetry


How to Draw Crochet Symbols Using Adobe Illustrator

How to Draw Crochet Symbols

How to Draw Crochet SymbolsEveryone who draws crochet diagrams approaches them somewhat differently. In this post I share details with you about how I draw crochet symbols using Adobe Illustrator, and invite you to watch a video so you can work along with me.

How to Draw Basic Symbols

One of the questions that I get asked most often is how to draw symbols. I’ve recorded a video (below) that shows how I do it. You can follow along with your version of Illustrator, and pause the video as needed to keep up with me. Note that I use US terminology throughout. The symbols indicate the same stitch, but if you are in the UK you’ll notice that what I call a “single crochet” you call a “double crochet”.

Size Specifications

I find that starting with specific standards sizes helps me when I start to build my diagrams. The preferences and sizes that I used for the symbols are:

Keyboard increment .01″
General units Inches
1 pt black stroke, no fill
Ch dimensions .09″ wide x .03″ high
Sc dimensions .07″ wide x .09″ high
Hdc dimensions .09″ wide x .2″ high
Dc dimensions .09″ wide x .3″ high, hash .04″ wide
Tr dimensions .09″ wide x .4″ high, has .04″ wide

Symbols are Just the Beginning

Being able to draw the symbols is the easiest part of the process. Having a library of custom-made symbols is a good start, but you’ll need to understand how to use them and adapt them for each situation. That’s a much more complex topic. My method is a part of an ever-evolving process; as I learn more about the features of Illustrator and shortcuts that I can use to be more efficient.

If you are interested in learning more about drawing crochet charts, contact Edie for more information and to set up a customized tutorial to take you to the next level of crochet chart creation.

If you are already drawing charts successfully, please comment below; I’d love to have an exchange of ideas so we can learn from each other.

Read: In Search of Crochet Charting Software, Part 1

In Search of Crochet Charting Software, Part 2

Want to see how Edie can help you create your own custom crochet charts? Complete this questionnaire.

Learning from Stitch Maps

Guest Blogger JC Briar tells us what she has learned from Stitch Maps. I’ve raved about Stitch Maps before, so I’m thrilled to hear from JC. Don’t forget to click on the links to explore more of the awesomeness that is Stitch Maps.

This post contains affiliate links.

You may have heard this old story: For years I drew stitch maps by hand, whenever I needed to truly understand a stitch pattern. And to share these amazing visualization tools with other knitters, I created Stitch-Maps.com

Here’s the new story you may not have heard: What have I learned from creating the website? What have other knitters taught me?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

Beads

You can add beads to your knitting in three main ways: by pre-stringing the beads, by placing beads on stitches before working the stitches, or by placing beads on stitches after working the stitches. And within each of those categories, you have more options for how the stitches are actually worked. So many choices

Twisted Decreases

If you care – if you really, really want to – you can create twisted decreases of all sorts. Some of these decreases require some pretty funky needle gymnastics. But the resulting stitch patterns? Stunning.

Bunny Ears Decreases

Bunny ears decreases! Symmetrical decreases that reduce three stitches to two. Who knew they existed? I didn’t, until other stitch mappers alerted me! Now the site features several patterns with bunny ears decreases, many of which are refinements of other patterns.

Learn More

Of course, this all goes to show that knitters are inventive, resourceful, creative people. But we all knew that, didn’t we?

If you want to keep up with the creativity at Stitch-Maps.com, join our Ravelry group or like our Facebook page.  

 

 

 

Stitch Pattern: Sieve Stitch

Sieve Stitch Crochet Pattern image

Sieve stitch an easy crochet stitch pattern that you can use as an all-over fabric or mix-and-match it with other stitch patterns. It uses only chains and single and double crochet stitches.

I’ve sampled it here in the wonderful color-changing Schoppel Wolle Zauberball. You can see the green shading taking place in the swatch. This is a sock-weight yarn which creates a lovely drape in this openwork pattern.

What will you make with Sieve Stitch?

Sieve Stitch

Sieve Stitch Crochet Stitch Chart

Chain a multiple of 3 + 2.

Set-Up Row (WS): Sc in 2nd ch from hook, *ch 3, skip 2 ch, sc in next ch; rep from * across, turn.

Row 1: Ch 1, sc in first sc, 4 sc in next ch-sp, 5 sc in each ch-sp to last ch-sp, 4 sc in last ch-sp, sc in last sc, turn.

Row 2: Ch 5 (counts as dc, ch 2 here and throughout), skip 1 sc, sc in next sc, ch 3, skip 4 sc, sc in next sc; rep from * to last 2 sc, ch 2, dc in last sc, turn.

Row 3: Ch 1, sc in first dc, 2 sc in next ch-2 sp, 5 sc in each ch-3 sp across, 2 sc in last ch-2 sp, sc in 3rd ch of ch-5 turning ch, turn.

Row 4: Ch 1, sc in first sc, *ch 3, skip 4 sc, sc in next sc; rep from * across, turn.

Rep Rows 1-4 for pattern.

 

Abbreviations

ch: chain

dc: double crochet

rep: repeat

sc: single crochet

sp: space