Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Knitting with Children

Learn to Knit with Your Kids
By Brenda Massei of Pail & Pie
At a local outdoor trades fair my boys and I saw a woman dyeing and drying wool yarn. Her skeins looked like drying pasta on handmade racks and drew us in. Naturally, I started asking her about her yarn and then steered our conversation towards knitting, a favorite pastime of mine. She pointed to my sons, then ages six and four, and said, "How old are they? On the prairie, that one (pointing to my six year old) would be knitting his own socks or he would have cold feet." My son looked at me and I at him in disbelief. Hand knit socks by children? She had my attention.
Beyond having warm toes on the prairie, knitting has many other lifelong benefits. Waldorf schools have children knitting at the first grade level citing benefits such as focus, concentration, left to right progression pre-reading skills, fine motor skill development, delayed gratification, and confidence building. Ruldolph Steiner said children should knit because it was working on their minds. Children must problem solve, pay attention, and form judgments while knitting. He believed that repeat movements created stronger mental connections, linking a child's thinking to his fingertips. Knitting learned as a child can be carried on through adulthood and has been cited as providing health benefits like lowered blood pressure and chasing away depression.  A little while after I was inspired by the yarn dyer, my six year old son learned to knit, to both of our delight. 
Hand Knit Hackey Sack by Girl Power
Simple ways you can get started knitting with your children:
1. Contact your local senior center.
A mother in our homeschool group had this great idea. Knitters love to share knitting and seniors love to see children. She has learned to knit alongside her son at the local seniors center through weekly social knitting.
2. Visit the local yarn shop.
Most local yarn shops have classes, some free, on beginning knitting. It's good business for them to teach you, so take advantage of it.
3. Search your library.
Perhaps you aren't ready to "sign up" for classes, but are interested in learning at home. Search your local library for books and DVDs on knitting. Ask your librarian to order in a specific book or DVD if they don't have it on their shelf, they almost always can.
4. Browse.
Youtube.com has many tutorials on how to knit. It can be helpful to have the ability to pause and repeat. 
 Hand Knit Wool Barn Bag by Pail and Pie
5. Call Your Local Waldorf School.
Chances are very good that someone who works at the Waldorf school knows how to knit. A simple phone call could yield more information or connections, if not lessons.
6. Check out Ravelry.com.
This website is dedicated to bringing "ravelers" together. Click on the "groups" button at the top bar and find local knitters. Contact them through the site for more ideas on knitting.
7.  Ask.
In conversations with the neighbors mention you would like to learn to knit. I always appreciate my friends as amazing resources. At the mere mention of a topic there is usually someone who can chime in. Perhaps the neighbor's mother knits or perhaps she just saw a free class at the library you missed. You never know unless you ask.
Simple ways to share knitting with your children if you already know how to knit.
It may sound silly, but just letting your child see you knit is a good way to introduce them to it. Your enthusiasm for a hobby can become enthusiasm for them. When they ask if they can try, take advantage.
2. When showing your child the knit stitch teach them this rhyme:
In through the front door
Come around the back
Out through the window
And off jumps Jack.
3. Find simple patterns.
Waldorf patterns are amazing for their ability to turn squares into the sweetest little animals. Some books to try are Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick, A First Book of Knitting for Children by Bonnie Gosse and Jill Allerton and Creative Play for Your Toddler: Steiner Waldorf Expertise and Toy Projects for 2-4s by Christopher Cloud.
4. Be Patient.
Knitting can be confusing and challenging. I have a niece desperate to learn but having trouble with it. We just try it sometimes and leave it alone other days.
Hand Knit Woodland Garland by Pail and Pie
5. Try different things.
If you knit, you have different needles and yarn around. My son learned on very large needles with thick yarn. Others have said their children have learned on small needles. Everyone is different. You can experiment and see what your child has the most success with.
6. Guide their hands.
My younger son holds the needles while I knit. He tells me he's knitting with me. I have held, guided, and showed him the process while knitting my projects.
7. Try finger knitting.
If knitting is not working out for you, don't despair. Try finger knitting or crochet. The repetitive motions are beneficial no matter how you stitch it.

Hand Knit Doll by Girl Power
 Let us know how you learned!
Thanks to these sites for their articles on the benefits of knitting: 

"InThis First Grade, Knitting and Stories are the Focus." WBEZ Blog. Linda Lutton. May 31, 2012.  
"Knittingand Crochet Offer Long-term Health Benefits." PRLOG. Editor Caley Walsh. Feb. 9, 2009.
"WhyTeach Knit and Crochet?." Craft Yarn Council.com.

Make Your Own Handmade Knitting Needles ziezo Crafting and Living in Kenya blog

A special thank you to Brenda Massei for this post!
 Please visit her Waldorf on Etsy shop:  of Pail and Pie
as well as visit her blog:  Pioneer Kids


  1. Thank you Matti for this useful post:)

  2. Glad you both enjoyed it! It's all thanks to Brenda at Pail & Pie! I recommend you visit her blog too (Pioneer Kids), she shares all kinds of great ideas and interesting anecdotes.