Knitting with Children - Part One
My little one is almost three, and it will come as no surprise, given the amount of knitting that goes on around here that she is already keen to ‘learn to knit’. I embrace this desire to indulge in fibre crafts with open arms, and while she might not be ‘actually knitting’ just yet I am truly happy that she is interested in the craft I love so much.
So many of us have knitting stories of how our fibre journey began on our grandmother’s knee or that our mother passed on her skills to us bit by bit as we grew.
In our fast paced world, driven by technology and consumerism I find it comforting and relaxing to slow the pace of life by picking up my needles and carefully working each stitch in turn. I hope to pass the craft of knitting onto my daughter so she too can know the comforting sound of gently clicking needles and the immense pride in creating her own beautiful hand knit items.
Knitting is not merely about creating something to wear, it’s also about tracing the journey of fibre from farm to needle. There are so many wonderful projects that are currently raising awareness about the fibre industry as a whole. Maintaining these connections through passing the skill of knitting onto the next generation preserves far more than the knowledge of knit and purl.
Getting started ….
Do you have little ones around you who you would like to introduce to the world of knitting? You might have many questions about how to go about introducing fibre crafts to children (and teenagers), what materials to get and what projects to suggest.
Rachel and I have teamed up to create this handy guide to introducing children and teenagers to fibre crafts.
What are the benefits of knitting?
Knitting helps to develop fine motor skills as children develop the dexterity in their hands needed to form the stitches. Depending on their age it can also help to develop, or prepare them for, reading, comprehension, maths and problem solving. I have always found it is fun, and more useful, to teach and learn skills as part of a holistic activity. Think of all the maths games you could factor into a piece of knitting once you get started.
In addition to the development of skills, the benefits of knitting as a relaxing and creative process are well documented in both children and adults. Think about why and how you craft, this enjoyment can easily be passed on to the next generation. It’s a wonderful way of spending quality time together, with fantastic opportunities to share your love of craft and passion for creativity with each other.
When to get started …
This is a tricky question to answer as I think it depends heavily on a few factors. Firstly each child develops differently, has different interests and learns at a different rate. As with all things I think a gentle child led approach is best, if they are interested let them experiment. After all you are not expecting them to create a county show winning lace shawl, this is about tactile creativity and enjoyment. I often let my almost 3 year old ‘knit’ – it involves playing with my yarn and trying to copy the movements of the needles. I am okay with this, she is experimenting, it usually only lasts a few moments and then she is on her way again.
To sit down and knit takes slightly more patience than your average two year old has. This brings me onto my next key factor. Managing your expectations, the earlier they start the less they may seem to achieve on the knitting front at first. This is not a problem; just remember that they are developing all sorts of wonderful fine motor skills in the process.
I would hazard a guess that most children of 5 or 6 are ready to start learning to knit in a more structured way, and remember you are never too old to learn to knit – this applies to teenagers too! In their busy lives as they hurtle towards adulthood (at what often appears to be breakneck speed) a quiet moment of fibre crafts could bring them the relaxation that they need.
- Make this a child led activity, start when they are ready.
- Manage your expectations, remember this is a fun activity – it is about the process and not the finished product.
- Have patience, oodles of it. This is supposed to be a relaxing activity, take your time, enjoy the process and spending quality time together.
Next week we'll take a look at selecting the right needles and yarn as well as offering suggestions on which projects you might want to start with.
About the Author
Clare Devine is a writer and designer. Originally from South Africa she has nomadic tendencies and is currently knitting her way around the UK. She is passionate about all things fibre related (especially if it’s grey), knitting, travel and sunshine in equal measures.
She regularly blogs at www.yarnandpointysticks.com. You can find her on Ravelry as Knitsforklipskaap, Twitter as @_ClareDevine and Instagram as @Clare.Devine.