In the most simple terms, knitting is really just looping yarn together using needles. But if you want to get more philosophical about it, knitting is a lot like life. Teaching kids to knit (or learning to knit together with them, as the case may be) can help them practice patience, creativity and maybe even a little math.
A lot of things in life are forgiving of mistakes, but knitting isn’t one of them. Fortunately, if something goes wrong, a knitter does what we all do in life when things go awry: start over, or keep going down the new, unplanned path.
As a knitter grows in experience, they’ll learn to analyze their work to fix mistakes, learn to follow and even write their own knitting patterns, and will come to yearn for the sweet success of a finished product after hours of work.
It doesn’t matter if you start out with knitting or crocheting, just take a look at which works for you. Those who prefer one over the other will say that their chosen art form was easier to learn and is more versatile, but they’re both pretty equal in those respects.
Crocheting tends to be faster, and is better for making awesome nerdy plushies. Knitting may be more time consuming, but tends to have more ways of combining stitches to make cool patterns like cables. Knitting is more for clothes, while crocheting is more for decorative items. Both, however, can be used in any way you and your kids can imagine.
In the olden days, really the only way to learn to knit was to find someone who already knew, and hope that they were willing and able to teach you. These days, technology is a helpful assistant teacher. While teaching a kid to knit is a great bonding experience, there’s no reason not to employ a little help from YouTube if you need it.
Here’s a great video on teaching kids to knit:
Scarves, Hats and Gloves
You’re not going to start out doing crazy knit patterns, but with practice, practice, practice your kids will get there. The trick to knitting is to have a ton of patience, and not to expect to knit perfectly overnight.
Just like any other art, progress, improvement and success is addictive. If your kids pick up the basics and like to practice, there’s a good chance they’ll enjoy the long, meditative life of a serial knitter.
Almost every knitter starts out with scarves, then heads towards hats and more complicated projects like socks and gloves. Here’s a video that explains how to make a scarf:
Reading Knitting Patterns
Keep using videos as tutorials if you need to, or just let kids go wild with their own knitting experiments. Eventually, they’ll get to the point when they’ll want to use patterns. There’s a lot you need to know when you learn to read a pattern, like the difference between yarn types and how to create a special stitch used in the pattern. It can sometimes seem like knitting patterns are written in an alien language.
Buck up – you can still use YouTube to help with reading your knitting pattern. If the pattern involves a particularly confusing stitch, just type it into Google or YouTube and watch a pro execute it. Pause, rewind, watch it over and over until you and your kids get the hang of it. For a pattern example, check out this pattern for Jayne’s hat from Firefly.
For a fantastic user-based knitting pattern resource, check out Ravelry.com. It’s worth signing up.
For a quick ‘just the facts, ma’am’ on crocheting for beginners, here’s a video:
For probably more than a few of you, possessing the ability to make amiguri with your kids is a huge motivating factor for learning to crochet. Amiguri are those friggin’ adorable little stuffed guys that are usually something kinda nerdy like Pokemon, My Little Pony, or other things one would find at the Con.
Crocheting is different than knitting because you only use one hook instead of two needles. It’s definitely worth learning, since these little plushies are becoming quite the nerdy parent staple.
This video will give you an idea of what’s involved in making Amigurumi dolls: