Kids These Days!

I’m teaching a kids’ knitting class again this semester, and as always it’s a delight.  I had a second-grader finish a finger-knitted rug for her cat yesterday, and a first-grader make a pair of hot-pink loom-knitted legwarmers.  A fourth-grader spent the last few weeks learning how to needle-knit and then made a candy-striped headband.  The kids are super sweet and focused, and there’s nothing better than seeing students go from frustrated to successful!

Then there’s one…unique… knitter.  I’ll call her Molly- obviously that’s not really her name, because she’s a kid, so I’m not going to be putting her details on the internet.  That would be a really bad idea for so many reasons.

Anyway, I’ve had Molly in knitting class before.  When she showed up in my Fall Semester knitting class, she already kind of knew how to knit with needles.  (Kind of knowing is the most dangerous amount of knowledge to have.)  I refreshed her memory, and sent her on her way.  She was off, knitting up a storm.

Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t pay super-close attention to what she was doing.  First, Molly is a fiercely smart and independent kid.  She doesn’t want any help with anything if she can possibly avoid it.  I’d show her a stitch once, and she’d pull the needles away from me and scurry off to sit with her friends and go to work. She didn’t want me looking over her shoulder to check how she was doing.  And Second, the rest of the class was crazy last semester- there just wasn’t time to give her uninterrupted attention with 8 other needy kids.

But, like I said, she was knitting something that looked really great!  She made a big piece of stockinette that we made into a little buttoned pouch.  (I assumed she knew how to purl from when she had learned to knit at home.)  It was pretty cute!

Fast forward to a month ago.  My students this semester are a little older, a little more chill.  They need less help, which means I can spend more time paying attention to everyone’s knitting, instead of monitoring how much the classroom was being trashed.

Molly was looking super bored one day, and she had been really interested in a cabled project I had been working on the week before.  I knew she had the basics of knitting really down pat, so I offered to teach her how to make cables.

I had her cast on and knit a couple rows normally.  From afar, it looked great!

Then I sat next to her, to explain how to switch between knits and purls in a single row (you know, switching the yarn forward and back before each stitch).  She started working on her knitting, and I watched over her shoulder.


Apparently, she had been knitting for almost a year without ever once flipping her knitting over at the end of a row.  In other words, she wasn’t holding her “old stitches needle” in her left hand and her “new stitches needle” in her right hand, swapping out the needles at the end of each row.  Instead, her right hand needle was always her right hand needle, and her left hand needle was always her left hand needle!

I was actually really impressed, and still have no idea how she was doing it!  (I even tried knitting her way, but couldn’t get it to work.)

We had a big conversation about flipping her knitting.  Though, she still asks me at the end of each row “Do I need to flip my needles now?”

The answer is yes, always yes.

(She’s actually doing an amazing job, and is even getting the hang of cabling.  She still has a little trouble managing the cable needle- she’s very tiny, after all- so I hold it for her, acting as a “third hand.”  I think Molly’s got a great future with knitting!)

Did you have any weird ideas about knitting when you were first learning?

6 thoughts on “Kids These Days!

  1. itwasjudith

    that’s really interesting and would be good to understand how she did it. Perhaps there is something to be learnt in general? Even if not, it’s still interesting to see what method that was. Ok, I’m just being curious, I admit it 😉

  2. snowlessknitter

    She taught herself to knit backwards? That’s awesome, and incredibly useful, especially if you’re working entrelac or a heel flap. I’ve been knitting for over a decade, and that is one of the few knitting skills I haven’t learned (along with steeking, flat color stranding, and intarsia). There is a tutorial for it here:

    As for weird ideas, for the first year I was knitting, I did not know how to purl, partly because I interpreted the lesson book’s instruction of “bring yarn to front” as “bring entire skein of yarn in front of your needles”. I did not realize it meant just the “working strand” in front of the needles until I saw a friend’s mom knitting and I saw her moving the strand back and forth; I asked her to show me how to purl and she obliged. Soon after, I started my first projects in seed stitch.

    1. onemilljellybeans Post author

      Oh man! I hadn’t thought of her backwards knitting as a tool. I’ll see if I can get her to teach me her ways next week!

      And, holy cow, having to move the entire ball of yarn each time you want to switch from knitting to purling would be incredibly annoying! Good thing your friend’s mom helped you out.

  3. Yhenny

    My first thought was she’s either channeling or is the reincarnation of the venerable Mrs. Zimmerman. I recall reading in the Opinionated Knitter (before the advent of YouTube) that she taught herself to knit “backwards” because she hated purling so much. Now, as a left-handed knitter, (I have always knit from left to right, just like reading a book 🤔) I rather thought it odd that knitting as I do would be considered backwards. That was until I really started watching video tutorials and actually saw how other people knit. My grandmother taught me when I was 5 or 6 using a mirror set between us and I’d watch what she was doing in it. This sort of worked and gave me the basics, but I ended up just teaching myself from a book later.

    I’ve tried with limited success to teach myself to knit as the rest of you folks do, but I’ve found that it’s a lot like doing calculus with my non-dominant hand…a lot to get your head around. If I could get it right I’d never have to Purl another stitch either!! 😂 You should definitely ask her to teach you what she does, and make sure she knows that what she does is NOT wrong, it’s just different and accomplishes her goal of creating something wonderful!

    If it turns out that she is left handed, I’d like you to email me as I have a design I’m working on for a set of lace mitts that’s (at the moment) written for such a knitter. I’d love to share it with her! I’ll be translating to “standard ” later to publish (I hope).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s