The Barb Brown: Catch ‘Em Young & Train ‘Em Right – Part 2

You’ve let your kid help you knit, and now they want to knit by themselves. They want their own project! Here are some tips and things to keep in mind.

Their first project, no matter what their plan is (a sweater for their tiny cousin, a blanket for Daddy, a cover for the pickup truck) is the project they are going to start. Cast on 8 or 10 sts and let them know this is the just the first piece. Sooner or later, they will change the name of the project to “a scarf for my teddy” or “a leash for the dog” or “bow tie for the cat.” This is just fine! When they are sick and tired of it, and want to move on, let them. It can be a luggage tag (see Part 1) or some yarn can be wrapped and tied around the middle to make a bow for the teddy. If it’s large enough, it can be sewn into a wee treasure bag. 

Keep everything neat & tiday in a project bag.
Keep everything neat & tiday in a project bag.

Once they are ready to move on, it’s time to get them their own tools, and knitting kit. I give the kids one of the project bags I have (one they haven’t seen!). Most of us have a stash of these bags….a simple cloth bag that came with a purchase of yarn, or a bag from a festival we attended. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to look like a knitting bag. Add some needles, a tin box with a tapestry needle, a pair of small scissors, a few stitch markers…their own tool box! If it’s all set up like your own project bag, the child will put their tools away when their knitting stint is done.

box for tools, needle gauge, measuring tape
Box for tools, needle gauge, & measuring tape.

Now, this is a very important point, so it gets its own paragraph! If you are picking tools for the tool kit and you think “This is good enough, it’s just for a kid”, then put the tool down and back away. You are picking tools for a knitter, and “just” does not apply. The tools don’t need to be expensive, but they do need to be of a quality that will do a proper job.

Project bag and notebook.
Project bag and notebook.

Start them with yarn that is not too thick or too thin. I find that worsted weight is just about right. (A yarn that is around 200 to 250 yards to 100 grams is perfect.) Let them pick the colour. 

Needles and point protector.
Needles and point protector.

When the child is working on their first project and really learning how to wrangle the yarn, slippery needles are not the best thing, and neither are long needles. I take a set of 8 “ wooden double points, and find light weight beads that will fit snugly on the ends and glue them in place. 

Wooden beads glued to ends of wooden dpns.
Wooden beads glued to ends of wooden dpns.

Don’t stress about them carrying the yarn around their finger! Every child I have ever taught has started with dropping the yarn and picking it up. They watch me knit, and sooner or later they get fed up with the fiddly pick up and put down, and start holding the yarn. For the most part, left alone, they will come up with a way that works for them. 

Also, don’t stress about whether they are left handed or right handed. Knitting is a two handed operation, and the child will let you know soon enough if the way you are showing them is just too awkward. If a right handed child can bat left and vice versa, why can’t the same apply to knitting?

In conclusion and just in case: all of this applies to boys and girls equally. If a boy wants to learn to knit, but is worried he might get teased, teach him my brother’s reply: “Pirates always knit their own socks.”

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