Learning How to Knit: Resources for Kids and Grown Ups, too

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!

Online Resources

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.

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.

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.

Advanced Techniques
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.

Knitting Podcasts

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:

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!

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. Love this resource list! I love knitting as well, although I don’t get a whole lot of time in one sitting…so my projects tend to take a long time. And isn’t it wonderful when our children love what we make for them?!
    Heather´s latest post: creating goals

  2. Oh this is a fabulous, wonderful post! I learned to knit many years ago at a little
    yarn store that has now become a larger yarn store with room for lots of classes. I took a basic beginners knit class and then a hat/scarf class, then a baby sweater class and after that can knit most anything! Just last year I took a felting class and made a huge bag that I love. Our shop offers free kids classes on weekdays and some Saturday mornings, too. My boys have expressed interest in learning.

    Adventures In Babywearing´s latest post: Like a Player

  3. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see this post. My daughter was just begging me to teach her how to knit–which I’ve always wanted to learn and therefore didn’t know how to teach. But now we can do it together. Checking out the children’s knitting book from the library today. Yay! Thank you!!

  4. Thank you for including my little podcast in your list of new favorites! This is a great article and I will definitely poking around the rest of the site. I need more simplekids.net in my life. 😉
    Erin (MommyNeedsYarn)´s latest post: Extra – A Birthday Surprise!

  5. I would love the pattern instructions to that poncho, please. I love p[oncho’s on little girls! I just learnt how to make knit socks last winter, I had been trying for many years and just couldn’t get the heel section, it never made any sense. Well long story shortened, my Aunt that made socks for everyone passed away last year. I felt like everyoone loved her socks, and if I could make them, we could all keep her in our hearts. It was as if she was sitting with me on the couch, all of a sudden, the heel just worked, I honestly don’t know why or how, but all the years I put it away frustrated that I can’t do it, it just came together. And each time I finish a pair off, I think of my Aunt. I mailed off a pair to my brother across the country, and he called to say he thinks of her and now me, as he knows how I struggled to get it. He is thankful I can do it to carry on as everyone loves these socks.
    I just had to share. I enjoy your site.

  6. I taught myself to knit from the children’s book series Klutz. It was so easily illustrated and included needles, yarn and patterns for several projects. I love the site ravelry for projects and you tube when I need to learn how to create a certain stitch! I haven’t been brave enough to make clothing yet, but I am getting there!

  7. I love knittinghelp’s videos! I am now a master of the kitchener stitch, thanks to knittinghelp.

    A great first project for kids is something that can be felted. The combination of large needles and felting covers a myriad of beginner mistakes.

  8. SQUEAL!!! I have also been knitting for 8 years and am totally addicted. I’ll be friending you on Ravelry; my username is tinylittlemama. Do you have the colorful poncho pictured above on Rav? Love the link to the doll pattern, too. I’ll be making several of those for Christmas!

  9. I am too excited for this post- I’ve been wanting to incorporate handwork into our homeschooling and I am not a knitter, but want to learn with the kids. Thanks so much for all the resources!!

  10. I have been told that knitting is a great stress reliever and thought I might like to take it up. What a great list of beginner’s resources here! Thanks for sharing!
    Living the Balanced Life´s latest post: Some things are NON-negotiable

  11. I taught myself to crochet last year and really enjoy it. My next vetnure is knitting thanks for the inspiration! I also love raverlry its nice for me to see others work of the pattern I am working on

  12. This post made me teary-eyed (and I promise I’m not pregnant!).

    I have tried and failed at learning to knit so, so many times. Thank you for saying, “I make mistakes (that sometimes I fix, and sometimes I let go of and knit onward from).” This is where I get hung up every time. I cannot seem to knit two rows in a row without dropping a stitch or messing something up! And then I get all frustrated and feel like I can never (!) do it right, so I quit again. I seriously cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried it.

    Just looking at your beautiful creations makes me want to have the courage to give it another go. Thank you for the inspiration and the resources, beautiful mama!

    • Hey, mistakes happen – in knitting, and just about everything else. :-)

      One of the things I’ve gained from watching some of the podcasts is how even knitters who have been doing this for decades make mistakes and drop stitches or have to rip back or even start over.

      What helps, and is pretty empowering for grown ups and for kids, is learning how to fix those mistakes. Let me empower you a bit, my friend:
      Picking up a Dropped Stitch -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLF38NlSYYE

      And, remember, don’t try to make anything at first – just get comfortable and have fun. When it stops being fun, put it down and come back later.

      Best wishes!

  13. For an even-easier kids learn to knit book, check out Kids Learn to Knit by Lucinda Guy: http://www.amazon.com/Kids-Learn-Knit-Lucinda-Guy/dp/1570763356/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316715162&sr=8-1

    I love that there are no scarves or hats or sweaters in this book–just tiny swatches (the first project is a “flag”–a little square of knitting, later you’ll learn increases and decreases by making a tiny “butterfly”). These small projects are not as beautiful as other patterns, but they are just the right speed for the under-10 crowd or for anyone looking to practice techniques.

  14. Hi Kara,
    Hugs for including our little Newbie Knitting Lessons in your list. Michelle is doing this in conjunction with a class she is teaching at our local Homeschool Co-op. Lots of learning and giggles. It is much easier to make children understand that learning a new skill is about the process, not the product… at least not a perfect product. “Oops” get incorporated into a project with ease. Now, the adults that are learning, on the other hand, are much tougher on themselves! Hope all your readers that are newbie knitters are having fun and delighting in learning a very pleasurable and VERY useful new skill. Enjoy all!
    Kimara´s latest post: Newbie Knitting : Block-Work Hat Project

  15. How do you knot i really want to knit and you seem pretty good!!!!

  16. Whoops I ment knit

  17. What a coincidence, I just crossed I80 from Indiana into Illinois while searching on my iPad for a knitting pattern to make my oldest daughter a new poncho. Found you! She would love this stunningrainbow poncho, but I can’t find the pattern anywhere. Can you help?! Thanks, Kara!! Cheers, Carolyn

  18. Ok I’m 11 and my grandma knits and I don’t really understand?!? She thought me how and only once…. But anyway I want to start on some doll cloths and not little half sheet paper size stuff!!! How do I do this pretty please show me how!!!!??? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

  19. Grace Noh-Naicker says:

    Hi, this is really helpful. But the place where I am living, it is really hard to find a knitting kit. I am living in Fiji for past 12 years and knitting kit is nowhere to find. I used to knit a lot when I was a little girl; learned from my mom but since I moved to Fiji, I stopped. (I was busy learning English :p) when I saw this, feel like start again. I got no family around can’t even ask to send it for me. Your work is superb and inspired me! Love it<3

  20. Hi, I’d like to knit the rainbow poncho on the top of this page! I only need basic instructions. I’ve never knit a poncho, but I’ve knit loads of socks and hats and gloves, a few vests and one sweater. Can you give me a basic pattern idea? thanks!

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