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The Mindful Collection

Introducing Children to the Gift of Knitting

Knitting is for everyone even children. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have knitting in our lives know how important it is for a few reasons. One of the major benefits of the craft is that it promotes calmness and aids in focus – attributes that seem to be in short supply these days. The creative hobby is instant gratification as well as a mindful practice that will help them in their developing year dealing with anxiety and other struggles. All you need is knitting needles, yarn, a mentor and later patterns for projects.

Some of us tend to see knitting as a type of legacy – one that we have a loving obligation to pass on. The operative phrase there is “pass on”. Since not everyone has an interest, it is important to remember that it does more harm than good to push it onto a disinterested party. If asked, you can always offer to share your knowledge, but do wait to be asked.

If you are very fortunate and in the right place, at the right time, you may meet a child or two that voices an interest in knitting. You really are in luck if this happens since one of the most enjoyable ways to share knitting is to teach it to a child or a small group of children. 

Teaching mentors suggest that the right time to teach a child to knit is when he/she displays an interest. Since every child is unique, it’s difficult to be specific about age, but it’s fair to say that the development of fine motor coordination is important. I have seen children as young as 3 who are able to knit and crochet, but that’s quite rare. The ability to focus is important so that determines the best time, as well. With all this in mind, many teachers recommend the child be at least 6 years old.  I’d say take it on a case-by-case basis as every child is unique.

The tips and tricks to teach children to knit are not universal. They can be similar but the instructions need to be customized according to the age of the child and interests. To help you teach knitting to the young ones, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Set up a comfortable place for the lessons. 

Teaching Children to Knit

A light filled, clean and separate space is ideal. Avoid making it somewhere where the child does his homework. TV or computer games are distracting so best to keep it free of all electronics.  This is a time for you and your pupil to just sit and practice a new skill.

2. Start with the right knitting needles

Mindful Knitting Needles

When you want to teach your children to knit you may want to teach them with the knitting needles you own, but do consider if it’s right for them. You can introduce knitting to children with single-pointed needles or even circulars but see that they hold it properly. Bamboo as a material is very beginner friendly. It’s nice to start with natural products if possible. Bamboo needles are well priced and warm and comfortable in the hand.  A good size for a child’s hand is a US 9, or 10 in a 10” length. It is lightweight, affordable, smooth yet grabby to not drop stitches. Many knitting teachers recommend keeping children away from sharp needle tips to prevent accidents. This point is valid only for the very young ones. Once you see the child balance things you can get them circular knitting needles. Leave the double-pointed needles for round knitting after they have had enough practice.

3. Start with the right yarn

Interchangeable Needles with yarn

After the knitting needles though must be given to the yarn. You can get them started with some worsted-weight yarn. Bulky yarn can give them stress, especially to their tender wrists and hands. Fine lace threads are a no, till they have some practice and successful projects under their belts. Go stash-busting and let them have the leftovers to make their own creation. Many times vibrant colours get them into knitting. Do not go for yarn that they feel allergic to. Lanolin found naturally in wool can cause allergies in some kids; cotton may be too delicate to work with.

4. Start with a small project 

Knitting Projects

Many children do not enjoy doing the same thing again and again. So, to make knitting fun, start with a small project. Then can make a dishcloth or a scarf with all knit stitches. They will enjoy the different steps to cast on stitches, knitting a pattern, binding off and more. The completed project will give them the push to do more. And, with time they would love knitting.

5. Let them rip it too

In knitting, especially beginners will have knitting mistakes on hand. Many children love to rip things and allowing them to frog or rip the stitches is perfectly ok. If they have a mistake in a few rows you can let them rip it all but it will be better if you first use a lifeline to save the stitches. You can also introduce the children to interchangeable circular needles that have a lifeline hole that allows weaving in a thread that will help with mistakes.

6. Give them time

The most important thing to keep in mind is to give time. Dedicate half an hour to the craft every day. If the time is too tedious, set them up for the task to knit five rows. Children might want to skip a few days, which is fine. Knitting stays in muscle memory and skipping a few days will not damage all the progress they made.

Before you begin, determine if the child is right or left-handed. This is important since you need to adapt to the student.  If you are right-handed and are not confident about teaching a left-handed person (or vice-versa), you are better off finding someone who can do so. There’s no point in being frustrated. 

If you are helping adults who are returning to the craft, there’s a special set of needles – recently developed – that you should know about. They were developed to help reinforce the meditative aspect of knitting: The Mindful  Collection. The needles are made of eco-friendly stainless steel. They are currently being offered as interchangeable and circular needles so they are suitable for those who like knitting in the round. There is also a wonderful collection of needle kits and accessories – many of which make great gifts too.

Interchangeable Circular Needles