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Friday, 6 January 2012

Knitting with children

Once children are old enough, knitting is a great pastime for them to learn. By teaching your child to knit you are giving them the choice, throughout their life, of a hobby which can be picked up again at any time to give pleasure, achievement and creativity. Many children learn, but don't knit again for several years. However, when the time is right, or there is space in their life they may be thankful for having acquired the skill when younger.

Children might wonder what knitting is. Knitting is simply using yarn and two needles to create a piece of fabric.
The fabric is created by working along the stitches on the row, then the needles are turned and the stitches on the row are each knitted again. As the procedure is repeated, the knitting hanging from the needles grows in length.

These days, knitting is a hobby. Children might be interested to know that knitting was originally used to create clothing and that today most of their own clothes are produced by machines.

By knitting a product, such as a toy, something useful or something to wear there is the satisfaction that whatever has been made can be totally unique and, by making choices such as colour, choice of embellishments or buttons added, it gives a sense of control as to the finished outcome.

The first step when beginning to knit is to learn to 'cast on'. This means to create the first row of stitches across one of the needles.

Knit stitch and purl stitch are the two basic knitting stitches used after the cast on row.
When every row is knitted in the knit stitch, the knitting is called 'garter stitch' 

 Garter stitch

Learning the knit stitch at first is sufficient to create a first piece of work.

Once the knitter is confident enough to learn a second stitch, purl stitch can be learnt.
By knitting purl stitch for each row, the appearance will be the same as garter stitch but the difference comes when the two stitches are alternated by row i.e. knit a row, pearl a row, knit a row, pearl a row. Then we have stocking stitch.

 Stocking stitch
Full instructions, how to cast on, how to knit stitch and how to pearl, with diagrams, can be found on this website learn2knit

 Also here you will find more advanced instructions such as joining threads, casting off.

If you prefer to watch a video, we have found that this website is very clear and easy to understand. Knitting tutorials

Although we do not like to specify an age for children to learn to knit as all children have different abilities, we think as a general guide that children under the age of 8 years old might struggle to learn to knit successfully as much dexterity, coordination and patience is needed.
To help children remember which row to knit next a row counter which can be slid on to the needle is a good idea. A row counter can help to count the rows for making stripy knits or help the child remember whether they are to knit the next row or purl by using the odd and even numbers.

We have added a children's knitting set to our range of products for 2012. We think it is a great little starter set and makes an ideal birthday present for someone who is wanting to learn to knit. Details can be found here Rainbow Creations Knitting Set

We recommend that a child begins by knitting a square or rectangle. With imagination, these pieces of knitting can be made into a blanket for teddy, a bean bag, hand warmers, a sock for a mobile phone, a purse, or squares can be knit for charity, a long scarf for a toy or if feeling adventurous, a long scarf for themselves. A rectangle can be folded in half, sew down 2 sides, and padded with cotton wool or toy filling. Add buttons for eyes and you will have little knitted pets.

Knitting can be a solitary activity but in the beginning it is a time for one to one learning and sharing with an adult.
Children can also belong to knitting groups or clubs and knitting is a great skill to learn in a small class.

Our top tip: to avoid the wool getting tangled when knitting, pull the starting length from the centre of the ball.

Ensure your child washes their hands before picking up their knitting. (Knitting with sticky fingers will stop the yarn from sliding along the needles)

For simple knitting patterns for children we have a Pinterest board which also includes hints and tips for getting started with teaching children to knit.


Do you have any comments, experiences or tips for knitting with children?