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Teaching Children to Knit

Learning to knit is a very exciting journey. Over the years I've taught many, many children to knit and here are my top tips.

1. Be prepared for a mess. They will make mistakes. (If your first lots of knitting were anything like mine, they had dropped stitches, increases, decreases, funny loops but we got there in the end) Mistakes are part of learning. 

2. Choose your tools carefully. I've found that using circular needles (with a longish flexible cable) lighter, easier to manipulate and less likely to fall out of their work and drop on the floor. Children's bodies are smaller and they sometimes struggle with big, chunky, long needles. (see note below)

A medium weight, non fluffy yarn such as a double knit (8 ply) with 4mm needles seems to be about right.

3. Start the knitting for them. By casting on about 12 or so stitches the rows will grow quick and if you've knitted a few rows for them it gives a structure to follow. There is plenty of time to learn to cast on later. Learning one thing at a time makes the process easier.

4. A chant helps. Lots of modelling with a chant helps. It can be as simple as:

 In. Around. Through and Off.

Or the old gruesome one: 

Stab it
Strangle it
Scoop out the guts
Toss it off the cliff!

5. Show them the correct tension. If you show them how the stitches should hug the needle and are easy to move backwards and forwards without being too loose or tight it will save frustration on the coming rows.

And lastly.... it needs to fun! Children learn in their own time. They may be all enthused and that's all they want to do for awhile or it may be something they pick up and put down. Learning something new takes time and reassure them that making mistakes is part of the journey.

First completed piece? Celebrate! Their first piece of knitting is their learning piece. Something to be celebrated. When they've confidently got the rhythm, are creating even stitches and have a few inches or centimetres of consistent knitting I usually cast off for them.

Time to create their first project. Some ideas are.... Fingerless gloves (a simple rectangle folded in half with a hole for the thumb), a simple beanie, slippers, a scarf, a cellphone cover, a headband. There are lots of Youtube videos with instructions for beginner projects. The local library can also be a wonderful resource for beginner knitting books.

*We do have knitting kits for beginners with lovely Chiaogoo needles (if they decide it's not for them, you have a great set of needles to use). Use what you have though as long as it roughly follows the above guidelines to make the process easier.