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Helping a 5yo learn to knit?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

My daughter desperately wants to knit.  And since we're somewhat Waldorf-inspired in our homeschooling, knitting is "on the curriculum" anyway.  :)

 

We have the great book "A First Book of Knitting for Children".  It's got great rhymes for remembering the steps for each type of stitch.  We're trying just to get a basic knit stitch working for her.  She understands the steps.  

 

The problem that she has is just in the coordination of holding the needles and the yarn at the same time.  Like, the very first step "under the fence", when you put the right needle through the loop.  She has to let go of the right needle in order to loop the yarn.  The pictures in the book show the right needle apparently just hanging there. But it just drops out for her.  So we try to grab it with the thumb and forefinger of the left hand (which is how I do it myself) but that seems to be too complex for her -- she keeps letting go of the left needle first, or else she manages to grab it but twists her left hand so the stitches get all twisted... Then when bringing the needle back through, popping off the stitch from the left needle without dropping it off the right needle is a whole other challenge.

 

I know the temptation is just to say "she's too young" (she turns 5 tomorrow!) but I know for a fact that many kids this age are able to get it working, and she does really want to do it.  And in general she's actually very dextrous for her age -- she's taking violin lessons and her teacher is impressed with her coordination and dexterity, and she does piano with me too... her drawing and writing skills are also "ahead of average" for her age.  

 

So I'm wondering if there are tips out there from those with more experience, of how we can help a young child with the more difficult coordination aspects of a basic knit stitch.

 

She does have nice thick needles to work with (size 10.5) and they're wooden, so not too slippery.  And we know about "finger knitting" and we'll probably do some of that too, but she's really keen to work with the needles.

post #2 of 13

Does she have short needles( 6-7 inches?) that aren't too heavy and are well balanced? That makes a big difference imo for helping little ones get the hang of it. And I wouldn't make them too big/thick as she likely has tiny hands.  I recent knit a scarf with a 40mm needle and a double strand of roving,  and I had to put the needles down on occasion so I can appreciate how large needles would be challenging for small hands.

 

Do you knit?  If so I would start her on your lap and you can either work the yarn or the needles for her while she focuses on one aspect of knititng. Once she's got that motion and rhythm down you can switch and practise the other one. My kids still let go of the needles sometimes - it takes a while.  It also helps if you cast on and knit a few rows for her so that there's some weight to the piece - also helps keep it from slipping off while they are juggling needles and yarn in the beginning.

 

We actually made our own needles and didn't highly polish them so they have a bit of "grip" to them, We also use wool yarn which isn't super tightly spun - again so it isn't so slippery.

 

I do think that a newly 5 year old may be tad young for the mechanics of this skill.  My kids all learned to knit btn the ages of 6 - 7 when they had more manual dexterity. In Waldorf schools they teach the skill in grade 1 (which is about ages 6-7 as well iirc).

 

Good luck!

 

 

 


Edited by Callimom - 2/11/12 at 6:31pm
post #3 of 13

What you described is EXACTLY what I'm dealing with trying to teach my autistic, 30 year old brother, who has seen me knit and now desperately wants to do it himself.  Interesting... I feel like such a bad person because I get annoyed with him like he's not trying hard enough... he doesn't understand he must do the details as I say, it's not a free form art... anyway, you are a wonderful mom it sounds like.

post #4 of 13

My brother could do this!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3LKAlDz9ig

post #5 of 13

I know an elderly lady who used to knit socks/stockings for her family members starting when she was 4 years old...so small children are capable of doing it!  Good luck!

post #6 of 13

With DD I found it easiest to show her, hand over hand. She's nto great at following verbal instructions on how to hold/move things but once her hands got the movements she has been able to do some on her own.

 

I sat on the sofa with her in front of me on a kiddy chair, then she held the wool and needles and I moved her hands through the motions till she got it. She has a tendancy not to pull the worked stitch off the needle but otherwise she's OK.

 

we have this book which has some simple soft toys made from knitted rectangles with felt shapes sewn on which DD likes. I like the butterflies but I think she needs to be a bit more confident before we start increasing and decreasing stitches.

post #7 of 13

I *still* let go of the right needle and grip the work with my left!  Have you tried using a short cable?  Those are only short enough for a hand to grip and is even lighter than a short needle.  I'm not that fond of working back and forth on cables, but other knitters swear by it and it might be worth a try.

 

I knit English-style.  Which style are you teaching?  I've heard that Continental is easier to teach kids, but this old dog is not ready for new tricks.  I think it has to do with the yarn (carried in the left hand) being *picked up* by the needle, not looping the yarn over the needle as in English?  My brain is coming to a screeching halt just thinking about it.

 

I hope to hear some more good suggestions myself.  My girls have not expressed real interest in learning to knit themselves, but I keep hoping!

post #8 of 13

My 5 year old is a leftie so it complicates teaching her to knit/crochet. But she really likes working on the knifty knitter with chunnky yarn... That might be a good first step for you? She might gain an understaing on how stitches are formed that way as well...

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Duh! We've got a beautiful wooden one we received last Christmas, that I'd been eagerly looking forward to using with her.  I'd completely forgotten about it!  Even if we still keep trying to learn "real" knitting, we'll definitely start to use this too.  I've been thinking of needlepoint on plastic canvas too, I wasn't much older than her when I started doing that, i think, and free embroidery too.  THANKS!

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

I *still* let go of the right needle and grip the work with my left!  Have you tried using a short cable?  Those are only short enough for a hand to grip and is even lighter than a short needle.  I'm not that fond of working back and forth on cables, but other knitters swear by it and it might be worth a try.

 

I knit English-style.  Which style are you teaching?  I've heard that Continental is easier to teach kids, but this old dog is not ready for new tricks.  I think it has to do with the yarn (carried in the left hand) being *picked up* by the needle, not looping the yarn over the needle as in English?  My brain is coming to a screeching halt just thinking about it.

 

I hope to hear some more good suggestions myself.  My girls have not expressed real interest in learning to knit themselves, but I keep hoping!


Continental is much more common where I live because the missionaries who taught the locals were German, but I knit English-style because my mom's mom is from somewhere else (or at least, I assume that's why my mother learned English-style when everyone on her dad's side of the family knits Continental).
 

I wish I had learned Continental earlier though, as I've tried teaching myself how to do it, and while I can now almost get into auto-mode with it, I still drop more stitches and make a lot more beginner's errors than I do English-style.  When I taught my (13y/o) sister how to knit this past summer, I taught her Continental because it will make things faster for her someday!

post #11 of 13

Agree with above.  I knit continental and taught my kids that way.  No needle dropping.  We did a lot of hand over hand to learn, too.  When my 7yo just wants to relax, he just spool knits for a change, and goes back to "real knitting" later.  We also did a lot of stick weaving for a while.  It's good to have some easier stuff to do while learning the knitting, so that the kids get some constructive breaks and have a sense of accomplishment.  There were a lot of holey scarves at first.  My younger two learned at age 5.  My oldest (now 11) has Asperger's and some coordination issues with that.  He doesn't knit without significant help, but he's great at crocheting because it's so one-handed.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

I tried continental the other day just to see what it was like, actually, and whoah it was awkward for me!  I'm sure part of it is just getting used to it, but it felt like my left hand was having to do all the hard work instead of my better-coordinated right hand.  :)

Anyway, I wanted to thank everyone again for all the ideas... especially for reminding me about our knitting spool.  I offered it to DD this morning and she got VERY excited. We picked a nice yarn, watched a youtube instruction video, then sat down.  I demonstrated first, then assisted, then observed... it took maybe 15 minutes (we tried 3 different techniques to see which was easiest for her) for her to have the complete hang of it, and now she's been doing it quietly in her room, unassisted, for the past 20 minutes.  

 

Oh, not completely quietly.  She just shouted "mom, you need to come see how well I'm doing!!!"

 

I think this is an ideal first step -- she's getting the idea of manipulating the yarn and the needle without the added complications of the steps of 'real' knitting.  :)

post #13 of 13

http://thezenofsocks.blogspot.com/2012/01/continental-knitting-anyone.html

 

I first learned crocheting and after that I was allowed to pick up two needles and was taught knitting. Being a true continental girl, growing up in Europe, of course I was taught continental style. After I came to the Us I noticed the "other" style of knitting. I ave been teaching continental style for several years now, everybody finds it very easy and much less stressful then throwing. Here I made a very short video on continental knitting. Friends asked me to have it online so they can return to it refresh their memory.

Enjoy.

 

 

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