Guest Author - Lisa Linnell-Olsen
A great way to share your love for knitting is to pass your knitting skills on to children. Knitting benefits children by increasing attention span and motor skills. Since children learn to actually create something on their own by their own hands, it is a great confidence boost. Knitting as a skill is something a child can carry with them throughout life. Even if they stop knitting for a while, they will feel more confident in picking it up later in life if they choose.
It's also an activity you can continue to share with the child, creating or strengthening a bond between you and the child you teach. You get to double check your skills when you teach someone else. You also get to watch the child light up as they conquer casting on, knitting and even binding off.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you teach a child to knit. Below is a list of tips for teaching children to knit;
Make sure the child has beginning writing skills Until a child is actually learning how to write letters with a pen or pencil, they do not have the motor neuron development to knit with two knitting needles. This is often around 6 or 7 years of age, but is quite variable. If the child knows how to write their name, take that as a good sign the child may be ready to learn to knit. If they aren't quite there yet, teaching finger knitting or spool knitting is a good pre-knitting skill that will help keep them excited when they do have the manual dexterity to knit. Spool or finger knitting may also be a good skill to teach to a younger sibling who isn't quite ready yet, but wants to join in.
Use bright colored worsted weight wool or acrylic yarn Children enjoy the bright colors, and it also makes it easier to see what you are doing when using bright colors. Smooth wool yarn has a nice grip and stretchiness that is easier for children's hands to work with. Since some children may be sensitive to working with wool, acrylic is a good second choice. Sometimes cost and availability are also factors, leading to common acrylic yarn being a good choice for a child to start with.
Use wooden needles Wood grips onto yarn better, leading to fewer dropped stitches. It is also gentler on hands then metal needles. Bamboo is also too slick for beginners. You might even be able to make your own wooden needles using dowel, pencil sharpener, and cool buttons or baubles glued on to the ends.
Keep it simple Teach the simplest way to knit possible. Continental (or left-handed) knitting is often easier to learn because it requires fewer movements. Cast on by making simple backwards loops on the needle is easier to learn than a long tail or stretch estonian cast-on.
Help when needed New knitters often make their stitches too tight, making it difficult to place the needle into the stitch. Offer to knit a row once in a while to help loosen up the tight tension.
Teach a rhyme If you know the knitting rhyme "In through the window...." teach this to the child to help them remember what to do. don't know the rhyme? Click below on the article link to find out!
Be sure to remember what it was like for you to learn how to knit. Feel free to share this story with your new young knitter. Help the child to find good, simple patterns to start knitting that are appropriate for age and skill. By supporting your new knitter, you are deepening your friendship and passing on a fun and useful skill.