teaching kids to knit
As a parent who knits daily, I get a lot of people assuming that my kids must be pretty good knitters too because they have the benefit of endless lessons with mom. To be truthful, I have shown my kids how to knit; I've taken them through some of the basic steps, but only my eldest has produced a couple of finished projects.
Here's four of my best tips for helping kids through their first yarn projects.
1. Get the right materials. Kids hands are small. So regular sized needles are often too long for them and they are awkward for them to hold. Get them their own knitting needles that are shorter than adult size ones.
Try to use wooden needles as well. In general, wooden or bamboo needles tend to offer more friction against the yarn than plastic or metal and tend to be less "slippery" so the yarn won't slide off as much.
Try to work with wool. For any beginner, regardless of age, my tip is to use yarn that is either 100% wool or a wool-acrylic blend. Cotton or bamboo tends to be more difficult to work with because it doesn't stretch or give as much as wool does. This is important because many new knitters have a tight tension. That's natural for beginners to hold their needles and yarn tighter. Once kids are more comfortable knitting they will start to ease off, but wool will offer more give than other fibers in the early days.
2. Let them choose. Take your child to your local yarn shop or craft store and let them pick out the yarn they want to use. It's fun for them and giving them a choice in materials may mean they will keep up with a project longer.
3. Start with a small project. I tell this to my beginner adult knitters, too! Don't start with an extra long scarf or big bulky blanket. Picking a simple, small project will still teach the fundamentals but get you to the finish line faster. The trick is getting through a project. That satisfaction of finishing will keep kids engaged. If they want to make a scarf, suggest a scarf for their doll or favourite stuffed animal. If they ask to make a cozy blanket, try a coaster to use along with their cup of hot chocolate on the weekends.
Finger knitting is also a great place to start, especially with younger kids. My daughter actually started with this technique. Her first project was a finger-knit scarf using this method. Once they've made a few finger-knitting projects, they will be excited to graduate to needles next!
4. Have fun. Don't force it. If your kid changes their mind about wanting to learn, move on. If they want to stop, then let them. In my opinion, the worst thing to do is force it on them and they end up hating it because it feels like a chore rather than a hobby.
I keep a separate basket with their needles and yarn in the house. That way, they can pick up their project anytime they want. It can be months, even a year, before they turn to it again but that's okay with me. I'm still doing what I love and they still love to ask me to make them things.
What are your best tips for teaching kids to knit? Do you have any questions about knitting with kids? Let's learn from each other.