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Teaching a Kid to Knit or Crochet

Posted by on May. 24, 2013 at 1:34 PM
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I thought about this yesterday since the issue with DS. He is gong to be limited on what he can do now. So wat better time to start and teach him a craft! 

7 TipsTeaching children to knit or crochet can be daunting, but these 7 tips are designed make it easy and fun for everyone involved.

Remember the first project you ever made? Teaching a child to knit or crochet is your chance to help them have that special feeling of accomplishment. When children learn to love fiber arts as children, they are much more likely to keep knitting and crocheting for the rest of their lives.

  • When you teach a child to make something out of yarn, you’re teaching them more about the joy of crafting than about how to perform a stitch. The easiest way to teach them to knit or crochet is to show them how to love working with yarn. Then they’ll want to learn more and perfect their skills if they enjoy the process. Stay positive and make the lesson about how fun and creative crafting is.
  • Set the scene: clear space, plenty of supplies and lots of light. Many teachers seat everyone at a table, because then the teacher can see what everyone is doing quickly and easily. Try to have a group of 5 or fewer students per adult if the children are very young so that they can all get the attention they need.
  • Start with simple, solid-color yarn & large, durable tools.Vanna’s Choice is a popular yarn for lessons, since it has great stitch definition and comes in a wide array of colors. You could even teach kids to knit on their fingers or try the crochet ‘finger hook’ method where you use a curled finger instead of a hook.
  • Teaching a craft is also teaching a language; explain what each word means as you use it. Teach as though none of your students have ever heard the word “yarn” before. This may feel silly, but it’s very hard for a child to ask for clarification, especially when they are new to crafting. Listen to them carefully; they may be asking simple questions using unconventional words.
  • Teach them to start, rip back, and start over again. It’s easy for a beginner to forget how they started by the time they finish. Encourage your students to make their first row, rip it all out, and then make it again. If you give them just a few yards to start with they will have to stop and rip back if they want to keep practicing.
  • Let kids be creative with what they have learned. Make small balls in different colors before hand and once your students have mastered basic stitches let them choose the color they’d like to work with. If they are making their first swatches, you can let them choose how many stitches to cast on or chain (just remind them it should be a number larger than 4; narrower projects are difficult for small fingers).
  • Show them that you are proud of their work, and they will be proud of it too. When you teach kids, they will look up to you as the person who knows what good projects look like. There are many ways to show them that you’re proud of them; get creative! You could take a picture of each child with their first stitches, swatches and projects and make an album for the class, or you could have a fashion show of their new and very simple projects at the end of your class. Even a chain or a row or two of knitting can be a project; try turning them into necklaces, hair ties, bracelets or even shoelaces.

There are a lot of different reasons why people think children should learn hot to do handwork, like knitting or crocheting. Some believe that handwork teaches children to be more creative, others believe it has a positive effect on the development of cognitive thinking, and some people just think it is cool to teach kids how to do these things. Whether you believe all of these different reasons for teaching kids how to knit or crotchet, or even just believe some of them, a lot of children do enjoy working on handwork projects.

Honestly, there is nothing quite like learning how to do something, working on it, and then enjoying the fruits of your labor. Have you ever allowed a child to help you bake a cake, then listened as that child proudly told everyone about helping to bake it? The same thing will happen after a kid finishes a crotched scarf, knitted hat, or knitted stocking.

Finger Knitting a Chain

Make a slip knot.
Make a slip knot.
Put your thumb and pointer finger through loop.
Put your thumb and pointer finger through loop.
Use fingers to pull yarn through loop.
Use fingers to pull yarn through loop.
Tighten into new loop.
Tighten into new loop.
Make your chain as long as you want.
Make your chain as long as you want.

Finger Knitting Casting On

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Palm facing you, yarn between thumb and pointer finger, tail behind hand.Wrap yarn in front of pointer finger,then back and all the way around finger.Wrap yarn back and around middle finger.Wrap yarn back and around ring finger.Wrap yarn back and around little finger.
Palm facing you, yarn between thumb and pointer finger, tail behind hand.
Palm facing you, yarn between thumb and pointer finger, tail behind hand.

Pictures of Finger Knitting

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wrap yarn around back of little finger, letting it hang over palm.After pulling the old strand of yarn over from the back of your little finger, wrap the yarn back behind your ring finger.See the "old" strand behind your finger? This is the one that is pulled over the "new" strand and off of your finger.The stitches you are creating.The other side of the stitches.What the back of your hand looks like as you finger knit.
Wrap yarn around back of little finger, letting it hang over palm.
Wrap yarn around back of little finger, letting it hang over palm.

No matter why you want to teach kids how to knit or crochet, you need to know how to do it before you can teach it.

If you are interested in learning how to knit, please check out my article:

How to Knit a Scarf

If you are interested in learning how to crochet, please check out my article:

How to Crochet

Once you are adept at doing these crafts yourself, you will be able to teach others how to do it. Whether you are just beginning or have been doing handwork for years, these tips will probably help you teach children how to do it.

Warming the Kids Up

Before you actually start teaching kids how to knit or crochet with needles, I suggest that you start them off with learning how to finger knit. Once they understand the concept of how stitches are woven together by doing it with their fingers, it will be a lot easier for them to do it using hooks and needles.

How to Finger Knit a Chain

Finger knitting a chain is quite simple, and I bet you will find kids can make endless chains (they make nice Christmas tree decorations—wrap them around instead of garlands of popcorn).

  1. First, make a slip knot with your yarn, leaving a tail of about 5” or so. Make sure the loop is big enough for your thumb and pointer finger through.
  2. With the loop around these two fingers, pinch the loose yarn between them, and pull it through the loop.
  3. Draw the new loop through until the original loop is pulled snug.
  4. Continue making new loops, until the chain is as long as you want it.
  5. To end the chain, cut the yarn off of the ball, and then pull the loose yarn through the last hoop to make a knot.

How to Finger Knit a Strip

You will begin this knitting by wrapping yarn around the fingers of one of your hands. If you are right-handed, you will want to wrap the yarn around your left fingers; and, if you are left-handed, you will wrap them around your right fingers.

Getting Started / Casting On

  1. Turn your hand over so your palm is facing you.
  2. Drop the yarn between your thumb and pointer finger, leaving the tail hanging behind your hand.
  3. Wrap the yarn in front of your pointer finger, then all the way around the finger, so the yarn is ends up in your palm again.
  4. Now, wrap the yarn all the way around your middle finger.
  5. Continue doing this with all four fingers, but don’t wrap them too tightly (it is harder to work with and you might cut off your circulation).

Start Finger Knitting

  1. After casting on, the yarn will be hanging from your little finger. Wrap it around the back of your little finger, letting it hang over your palm between the little finger and ring finger.
  2. Lift the old strand of yarn from the back of your little finger, pulling it over the new strand, and then off of the end of your finger.
  3. Now, wrap the yarn behind your ring finger, letting it hang over you’re your palm, between your ring and middle fingers.
  4. Lift the old strand of yarn on your ring finger, and pull it over the new strand. Let it slip off of your finger.
  5. Repeat this for the rest of the fingers on your hand. –Once you have completed this, you have finished finger knitting your first row.
  6. To knit the second row, work across your hand starting from the pointer finger, and ending with your little finger. You will wrap the yarn behind each finger, lifting the old strand over the new strand, then pulling it off of your finger.
  7. Continue working these rows, back and forth, until your piece is as long as you want it.
  8. To end (or bind off), cut the yarn loose from the ball. Pull the piece of loose yarn through all four of the stitches, securing a knot.

Bigger hooks and yarn help children learn how to crochet.
Bigger hooks and yarn help children learn how to crochet.
Okay, these knitting needles are a bit much, but I have seen them used in classrooms as a demonstration.
Okay, these knitting needles are a bit much, but I have seen them used in classrooms as a demonstration.
I've seen kids knit things like this.  I knew a fourth grade class who knit an entire farm, and then auctioned it off at the annual school auction.  It was amazing.
I've seen kids knit things like this. I knew a fourth grade class who knit an entire farm, and then auctioned it off at the annual school auction. It was amazing.

The Next Steps

Once the children are comfortable finger knitting, it is time to move on to other kinds of handwork. I recommend that you teach them how to knit, and then teach them how to crochet. Honestly, if you know how to knit or crochet, you can teach a child. But there are some things you can do to make it easier.

  • Have the children use bigger needles and hooks. The bigger ones are easier to work with for beginners, especially kids.
  • Use thick yarn. The yarn size needs to match the needle size. Kids aren’t going to knit small, intricate things at first, so go big.
  • Make it fun. A lot of schools tell stories that go along with the knitting or crocheting. A school I worked at started off every lesson block with a story—it made what the children were learning more accessible.
  • Use a rhyme to help the children remember the steps. One I’ve used while teaching children to knit is: “In through the front door, run around the back, peeking through the window, and off jumps Jack.” In through the front door = right knitting needle entering loop from the front. Run around the back = yarn wrapping over needle, from around the back.Peeking through the window = pulling needle back through loop (with new yarn over needle). And off jumps Jack = dropping old stitch off of left needle.

If you know how to crochet or knit, all you need next is a bit of patience, and you will be doing lots of handwork projects with kids. Whatever the kids make can be used for themselves, given as gifts, or even donated to charity.


by on May. 24, 2013 at 1:34 PM
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Replies (1-2):
MomTiara19
by on May. 25, 2013 at 7:35 AM

Wow they crochet better than me...lol..

I enjoy crochet and would love my daughter 14 to learn.She tried a few times and got frustrated.Youtube can be a big help too.

mikemantha
by Mary-Co Owner on May. 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Lol. I can't crochet, for some reason I just can't get it, but I love to knit. YouTube has been a big help for me and knitting and also books. I learned from a book. Same with dd, she likes it but then her attention span kicks in and she doesn't want to do it anymore. I even have the Martha Stewart loom set, but haven't used it much. I like regular knitting much better.

Quoting MomTiara19:

Wow they crochet better than me...lol..

I enjoy crochet and would love my daughter 14 to learn.She tried a few times and got frustrated.Youtube can be a big help too.


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