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Why knitting?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Although my child goes to a non-Waldorf school, I am a fan of the principles and am trying to incorporate principles into our life. I am especially into the idea of doing things when they are developmentally appropriate. That has been my big phrase lately, developmentally appropriate! But, my question is about the handwork. I've read a bit and I think I understand the theory behind the handwork, but I don't quite understand why there is such emphasis on knitting. (I realize there is also sewing and embroidery, but it seems like the main thrust of the handwork in the curriculum is knitting.) I'm curious. Why wouldn't macrame or weaving or crochet be as useful? Or making friendship bracelets or loop-loom potholders?
Thanks for any enlightenment!

Jen
post #2 of 9
I'm sure someone else here will be able to elaborate - but from what I remember off the top of my head knitting is beneficial to the development of the network of nerves between the hemispheres of the brain. The work with two hands together is important (similar to the development that occurs when babies crawl)

This skill is also necessary for reading, when the eyes scan the page in much the same fashion.

Of course sewing and embroidery also help hand eye coordination, but knitting is unique in the cross- hand movements.

I hope someone more eloquent than me will elaborate
post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetest View Post
I'm sure someone else here will be able to elaborate - but from what I remember off the top of my head knitting is beneficial to the development of the network of nerves between the hemispheres of the brain. The work with two hands together is important (similar to the development that occurs when babies crawl)
I think you might be referring to crossing the midlines -- the lateral (left / right) midline in particular here. And indeed, knitting involves crossing that, and crossing it enhances the connections between the left and right hemisphere, or so I have read anyway. It's not like I have seen it happen myself

However, I bet that isn't the original Waldorf reason. Steiner did seem to have some kind of understanding of these things (I haven't research this in depth) but I'm sure he would have put it differently. There's a blog by a Waldorf handwork teacher here: http://teachinghandwork.blogspot.com/ perhaps someone can pop over and ask her?
post #4 of 9
Handwork progresses as the child grows. Finger knitting in kindergarten, knitting with needles in first grade, crochet in second, cross stich, four needle sock-knitting, then sewing by hand and eventually by machine.

They knit in first grade, part of second grade, and again in fifth. Other than that they're doing other sort of handwork, as I remember.

David
post #5 of 9
Hey, Jen, we live in the same city!
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dogretro View Post
Hey, Jen, we live in the same city!
Dogretro!


Thanks everyone for the interesting replies. This crossing the midline stuff is very interesting. DD never did crawl, went straight to walking, but actually I haven't seen any reading problems. Maybe because later, after she had been walking a while, she started crawling as part of pretending to be animals and babies and stuff and still does crawl around a lot, as well as other gross motor stuff that crosses the midline. However, not so much in the handwork department and I should probably incorporate that. Here's the thing, though: I don't know how to knit and I have no desire to learn (if I get any time to learn a new skill it's going to be using my sewing machine and making some clothes, someone gave me a machine and a ton of great fabric and that's what I want to start doing, not knitting.) But, I do love macrame and have lots of supplies for it and DD is interested. It does use both hands. You can often let one had be just a helper but if you think you can make sure both hands do the same thing, if that makes any sense.
So, my question now is, would macrame and/or finger knitting count as crossing the midline hand activities? I did a little searching around on the web but didn't come up with an answer.
Thanks!
Jen
post #7 of 9

youtube!

Search youtube. They have Waldorf finger knitting as well as regular knitting tutorials.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FernG View Post
Search youtube. They have Waldorf finger knitting as well as regular knitting tutorials.
I would... but I don't want to knit. (and I already know how to finger knit.)

Jen
post #9 of 9
Knitting definitely crosses the midline. But there are definitely other advantages as well. I can't remember where it was, but there was some non-waldorf research showing how knitting improved reading. Part of it is how you "read" your knitting from left to right, also helps counting - since you count your stiches. There is a lot of academic skills that knitting supports. Also it is both creative and technical in a way that not all handwork is.
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