Tag Archives: kids

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.

AND SHE WAS KNITTING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT!

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?

Knitting with Kids

I’ve mentioned my job before- I teach kids’ arts-and-crafts classes after school at local elementary schools.  Mostly, I teach classes where kids learn to use a sewing machine (hopefully safely), and learn basic construction.  It’s pretty great.

But from time to time, I get to teach something else.  This summer, it was jewelry making.  Last spring, it was quilting.  This semester, it’s knitting!

I love knitting (obviously), and teaching kids knitting is kind of the best.  I have nine kids in my class, and I’d say three-quarters of them are actually really into making stuff with yarn.  (The other quarter is really into making pompoms and trying to see how big of a mess they can make.  But that’s kind of par for the course of teaching elementary-aged kids.)

I love seeing how creative kids can be.  You’ve seen one of my student’s pumpkin.  (I still think it’s possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.)wp_20161025_16_28_22_proBut we’ve had all sorts of stuff made in this class!  Tiny blankets for dolls, bracelets, mini scarves, a stuffed bunny, and even finger-less gloves.

We’ve even had a couple kids make hats, using a knitting loom (a fantastic invention for little hands who have trouble wrangling needles and yarn).  One girl made a hot pink hat that ended up being a little too small for her head because she has amazingly curly hair, so she’s making another one, bigger this time.  Too cute!

And a different girl made this hat for her little brother.  She did it all on her own, with no help from me.  Can you guess what it is?wp_20161108_16_40_50_proIt’s a frog hat!  Of course!  Isn’t it amazing? A six-year-old came up with the idea for this hat and managed to execute it all on her own. So impressive!

I’m going to miss this class when it’s over in a few weeks.

Do you eve knit with kids?  What kinds of projects do you work on together?

Inspiration: Kid Pumpkins

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I’ve got something very cool to share with you.  It’s a pumpkin!wp_20161025_16_28_16_proAnd it was made (with almost no help) by one of the 7-year-olds in my after-school knitting class (we’ll call her “Raven,” since that’s a suitably Halloween-y name).  Sure, it’s a little knobbly, but I’d like to think it looks “homegrown.”  Raven made a big square(-ish shape… she’s a big fan of the “accidental yarn over”) of garter stitch with pumpkin-orange yarn.  She worked so hard on it- spending the last 4 weeks of class chugging away on her knitting.  Then she sewed the cast-on and bound-off edges together to make a tube, and closed up the top.  After stuffing the pumpkin with fiberfill, Raven closed up the bottom.  I showed her how to make big stitches around the pumpkin to form the “seams,” and then she knit a little green stem and sewed it into place all by herself.

How awesome is that?!  It looks even cuter from this angle:wp_20161025_16_28_22_proWant to make your own?  Follow the procedure that Raven used, or try one of these adorable (but slightly more complicated) patterns:

Pumpkin Patch by Marie Mayhewpumpkin_patch-1_medium21Chic Little Pumpkins by Rachel Borello Carrollimg_0651_medium21Hope you have a great Halloween!

Knitting with Kids

For my “day job” I get to hang out with elementary school kids and teach them sewing and arts and crafts.  It’s kind of the best- I’m still half-surprised it’s my job.  And for a couple golden weeks each summer, I get to teach my absolute favorite class- knitting.

We have a range of ages- last week we had a dozen children from 6 to 10.  Some had knit before, and some had never even touched a knitting needle.  We started with finger knitting, letting the kids get used to playing with yarn, and getting them used to the idea of pulling loops into other loops (a surprisingly difficult concept for some of the little ones).

One girl was enjoying her finger knitting so much, she did it all week- ending up with a finger-knit tube almost 60 feet long.  She then took her finger-knitting and sewed it together in a spiral, making a multi-colored rug that she was really proud of.  WP_20160715_10_26_08_ProWhen a kid gets bored of finger knitting (which most do), we move on to loom knitting with the Knifty Knitter.  I am completely in favor of the Knifty Knitter now- a position I would never have taken even a ouple years ago.  What I once thought of as “cheating,”  I now see for what it is: a way for kids (or anyone, really) who don’t quite have the motor skills to actually knit.

The kids this year made adorable hats (with pompoms), fingerless gloves, bags, and even a tiny hedgehog stuffed animal.  (This is a glove in progress:)WP_20160715_10_26_14_ProAnd every class, we get a kid or two who wants to try their hand at “stick knitting.”  This year 9 of our 13 students broke out their needles.  It was a record!

There is nothing more adorable than a whole classroom of kids, needles clicking, concentrating on their projects and chatting about whatever it is that kids chat about.  (I wanted to take a picture to share with you, but I figured their parents might have reservations about having their kids pictures up on the internet.  So, you can look at my student’s knitting project- her second ever!  I believe it ended up being a very small pot holder.)WP_20160715_10_26_24_ProHave you ever knit with kids?  How did it go?

Back to School

It’s September, and that means one thing (in the US, anyway). It’s back to school time!

I don’t have kids, and I’m not a schoolteacher, but I am excited to get back to my after school teaching job!

I think I’ve mentioned before, but my “day job” involves bringing sewing machines to local elementary schools, teaching kids how to use them, and working with them to make awesome (and adorable) projects. You don’t know what pride is until you see a first grader finally finish the teddy bear he spent the last three weeks on, or the third grader doing a happy dance while wearing the PJ pants she just finished hemming. My job is kind of the best (apart from schlepping those sewing machines), and even on days when the kids are being pains in my butt, I still love it.

Now, I don’t teach the kids to knit, but here are knit versions of some of the kids’ favorite sewing projects:

Headbands are always popular (I’ve had kids make dozens of headbands, for themselves and as gifts for their entire families.)

wishbraid by Erika Neitzke

IMG_3444rav_medium2[1]Hackey-sacks and beanbags are fun, too. The only problem is keeping the kids from throwing them around the class and exploding popcorn everywhere.

The All Good Hacky Sack by Gillian Kratzer

100_3889_medium2_medium[1]And, of course stuffed animals of every kind are always crazy popular. (Do you know that kids (in Seattle, at least) call stuffed animals “stuffies”? I’m not sure why, but I find that term vaguely off-putting.)

Pookies by Barbara Prime

pookies_medium2[1]Have you ever done arts and crafts with kids? What do your kids like to make?

Knifty Knitter is Knot So Bad

Going into the whole “teaching kids to knit” thing, I would have looked down my nose at the Knifty Knitter and other knitting looms.

71WfQ65azgS._SL1500_[1]In fact, when my boss gave me the tub of knitting supplies for the class, I shuddered at the presence of the Knifty Knitters, and the bag of Fun Fur (did you know that Fun Fur survived the last decade?).  I always thought they were dumb, useless tools for people who didn’t have the attention span to learn how to knit properly.  But, being a dutiful employee (and one paid by the hour), I sat down to try making a project on the loom.

I looked at the instructions, and realized that the Knifty Knitters are basically gigantic versions of those old-fashioned spool knitting mushrooms.  You wrap your yarn around each peg twice, then slip the bottom loop around the top loop.  Then you wrap and slip again (and again and again).

gk-knitting-mushroom2[1]Quickly enough, a decent little hat grew off the bottom of my loom.  I still thought it was a clunky way of knitting.  Unlike needles, the loom takes up quite a bit of space.  And, the stockinette stitch it produces is oddly gappy, with every stitch twisted, giving the stretched fabric a strange vertically-striped look.  Also, there is really no way to easily increase or decrease from the set number of stitches, or change the gauge.  I’ve since poked around on Ravelry, and it looks like some people have found ways to get around this aspect of the looms, but it seems like too much work, when using needles is so simple.

But, the best part of the Knifty Knitter appeared when I brought the looms out for the girls in my class.  About half the class was doing fairly well with their needles, but the other half was seriously struggling.   Once everyone had given their needles a fair try, I broke out the Knifty Knitters for those who wanted to use them.  Girls who had been unable to make a single stitch before were suddenly flying around the looms making hats, purses, cowls, and stuffed animals.

Charity_hat__6_medium2[1]Knitted Hat by Provo Craft

I’m not saying that I would recommend the Knifty Knitter as a substitute for knitting needles.  And, I will probably never use one again.  But, as a supplementary tool for young kids who are unable to wrangle needles and yarn, or people with issues that prevent them from knitting the “normal” way,  these tools get my enthusiastic thumbs up.

Knitting with Kids

Almost a month ago, I spent the week teaching a beginning knitting class to a group of 10 school-aged girls (ages 7-11).   I couldn’t wait to see what would happen.  I’ve taught people to knit before (but always grown-ups), and I’ve taught kids before (I teach sewing lessons as my day-job).  But, this would be an interesting new experience.  I was excited, but also oddly nervous.  Would they be able to do it?  Would they like it?  Would they get too frustrated?

Here are some things that I learned:

1.  Fine motor skills are definitely needed for knitting.  I don’t think any of the girls under 8 really “got” knitting, which is too bad.  I just hope they remember that knitting is fun, the next time they try it.  It also makes me wonder about those stories you hear of girls in Ye-Olden-Times, who learned to knit at the age of 4 to help their mothers with keeping the family clothed.  Maybe olden-time-y girls had better dexterity, but that seems unlikely.

2.  Focus isn’t really a problem, when the kids are excited about what they’re making.  My girls complained and whined when they had to leave class for recess!  It kind of made my day to hear them all go, “Just let me finish this row!”

3.  Except when focus is a problem.  Sometimes the chatting got a little too much for the girls, and that’s when they’d start adding extra stitches, dropping stitches and otherwise causing themselves problems.  But that’s not really a kid problem.  Everyone messes up their knitting when they get distracted.

4.  Nothing is better than when a difficult, new skill “clicks” with a kid.  They get all excited and giggly and proud.  One girl had never picked up knitting needles at the beginning of the week.  Her first project was more hole than knitting, and her second project looked sort-of like knitting, albeit a little wonky.  But halfway through her third project, you could actually look at her knitting and see the row where she finally figured out  knitting.  It was amazing.  She got so excited, and told me that she had even gone to JoAnn’s the night before to pick out her first pair of knitting needles and her first ball of yarn.

5.  Knitting is a slow process, and sometimes kids need someone to push them a little bit.  I didn’t force anyone to work on a project that they didn’t want to do, but there were definitely a couple times when one of my girls wanted to stop halfway through a project, and I gently suggested that they kept going.  Once they got back in the swing of things, they’d invariably finish the project.  When kids are used to instant-gratification, working on a single project for a whole day (or two or three), can be a test of their patience.

6. The best part of knitting, whether you are a kid or a grown-up, is sitting around with your friends and shooting the shit.  I ran my class like a knitting circle, helping one kid at a time with their projects, while everyone chatted.  I had a few super-basic projects for everyone to start with  (a garter-stitch book mark, a garter-stitch headband, a garter-stitch bracelet…see a pattern?).  But, everyone worked on their favorite pattern at their own speed, chatting and helping each other out.

I hope that I sparked at least a couple of the girls to take up needles and do some knitting on their own.  But even if they never knit again, I think everyone had a fun week, and at least walked away from class thinking that knitting is pretty neat.

Christmas Knitting: Kiddos

Kids are great.  You can make all sorts of ridiculous stuff for them to wear, and they’ll do it!  If you made a hat shaped like a fish and gave it to your sister-in-law to wear, she’d probably look like you were a tiny bit insane.  If you gave the same fish hat to your kid brother, you might just win Christmas.  Here are some fun knits for kids’ Christmas gifts:

Fish Hat [Dead or Alive?] by Thelma Egberts

fish

Pocket Ted by Frankie Brown

ted

Owlet by Kate Davies

owlet

Baby Alligator Scarf by Morehouse Designs

aligator