The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.
I am a knitter. Give me a set of pointy sticks and some yarn and I’m a pretty happy person. Knitting keeps my hands busy, my mind occupied, and creates useful and lovely things. In fact, knitting is part of how I kept my sanity during the long, hot summer while dealing with pregnancy and the complication of gestational diabetes.
By far, my favorite things to knit are items for my children. There isn’t much that brings me more satisfaction as a crafter than seeing one of my children enjoying or finding comfort in something that I knit for them.
My oldest daughter has learned how to knit, enjoys the hobby, and is learning some valuable character traits like patience and pride in her work from the craft. My son, at age five, is showing some interest in learning how to knit as well and is working on his first finger knitted project. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to share this craft that I love with my kids.
I know this isn’t the type of thing I normally write about here at Simple Kids, but I’ve had a few of you ask recently about learning how to knit and/or how to teach children to knit. I’m still working on catching up on email and comments from my blogging break, but in the meantime I thought I’d answer your questions here on the blog in case anyone else was curious about knitting.
Learning How to Knit
First, I should tell you that I am not a perfect knitter. I’ve been knitting for nearly eight years and I’m continually learning new things about the craft. I rip things out and start over all the time. I make mistakes (that sometimes I fix, and sometimes I let go of and knit onward from).
So, please believe me when I say that you don’t have to be intimidated by the idea of learning how to knit. If I can do it, anyone can.
And, remember, knitting is basically learning how to tie a knot two different ways: with a knit stitch and then with a purl stitch. Once you and your child master those two stitches, the knitting world is your oyster!
The best way to learn how to knit is to have someone there in person to teach you. But, if you don’t have that (and I didn’t) then please don’t let that stop you, or your kids, from learning how.
In this day and age of YouTube and iTunes, a wanna-be knitter can see how to cast on, make a knit stitch, and cast off even if they don’t know any knitters in real life. I like the videos from Knitting Help.com for their simplicity and clear instruction.
As luck would have it, the creative ladies at Wee Folk Art are currently running a series on learning to knit, Newbie Knitting Lessons that looks to be pretty good. Wee Folk Art also has patterns, including this lovely knitted doll pattern that is simple and well photographed: Basic Knit Doll in 6 Sizes.
I also cannot recommend joining the website Ravelry enough. There are knitters of all levels of experience and interests on this site, which is a combination of message boards as well as a yarn and pattern index. If you want to connect with other knitters, this is the spot for you. In addition to making online connections, you can also use Ravelry as a resource for locating a knitting group. My Ravelry username is Rockin’ Granola and I’d be happy to “friend” you over there.
If you already know how to knit and are seeking guidance on specifically teaching children, here is one of my favorite ever posts on kids and knitting from the blog Small Things: Teaching Children How to Knit: Letters to Larkspur (I have to warn you that I can’t read this without getting a lump in my throat)
For many kids, and some adults, learning how to finger knit is the gateway to the world of knitting and fiber. The Learn to Knit Guide has a photo tutorial on finger knitting.
Children’s Knitting Books
When I was first learning, I checked out children’s knitting books from the library. Yes, the books were designed to teach kids how to knit, but I found that was just my speed – slow and steady with simple instructions and beginner’s patterns.
Whether you are checking out books for yourself or for your child to learn with, look for books with detailed photographs or color illustrations that clearly demonstrate the techniques.
- Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of all Ages (This is a link to one of the books I learned with. Check your local library.)
For those of you who already know how to knit, have gotten the basics down, and are looking to expand your techniques I love Cat Bordhi’s YouTube videos.
During the Summer, I discovered a whole slew of knitting and crafting podcasts that I enjoy listening to. Many of these podcasters keep blogs where they have show notes, tutorials, and even patterns available. Not all of these are geared to the new knitter, or specifically toward knitting for or with kids, but I enjoy them and they are a great way to learn more about the craft.
Here are a few of my new favorites:
- 90% Knitting (video)
- The Knit More Girls (audio)
- Knit One, Heart Too (video)
- Knit Purl Gurl (audio)
- Knitting Blooms (video)
- Mommy Needs Yarn (video)
And here are a few of my long-time knitting podcast favorites:
I believe that you can find all of these on iTunes.
No Pressure – Keep it Fun!
Some of my favorite advice for getting started knitting comes from Kelly Petkin, of Knit Picks, who suggests that for your first project you shouldn’t aim to make anything specific, but should play around with the yarn and the stitches and get comfortable knitting and purling first.
Give yourself permission to make an odd shape of knit and purl rows, letting yourself get the hang of how it feels to create the stitches and work with the yarn and needles.
Once you’ve explored knitting, without any pressure to make a finished object, then you move on to a simple scarf or wash cloth or beginner’s project of your choice.
We’ve had some cooler days this week, after a long Summer. While I will miss the sunny skies, I do look forward “sweater weather” and picking up my knitting needles to create for my family.
Are you a knitter? How did you learn the craft? What resources would you recommend to someone wanting to learn? What are some of your favorite patterns for children’s items? Are you a new knitter? A wanna be? If you’ve got questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them or send you in the right direction. Best wishes!