Learning to knit requires determination, tenacity, and a love of learning new things. Does this sound like your child or grandchild? Many times the most wild and imaginative children become the best knitters.
The act of knitting trains our minds to be patient and focused. It also improves our self-esteem as we grow and learn that we can create amazing stuff. The positive impact of learning to knit is amplified with children.
Children who learn to knit learn fine motor skills, counting, simple math, and focus and patience. They also learn critical coping skills as they push through frustrating knitting moments. Knitting also provides a sense of community and support. A fantastic creative outlet, knitting allows children to express themselves and create beautiful objects and garments.
While some five and six year old children have learned to knit, eight seems to be the best age to start. By age eight, children have the necessary hand-eye coordination, reading skills, and attention span to become successful knitters. Regardless of age, if a child expresses interest in knitting, it is never too early to teach them basic knitting skills.
Medium or worsted weight yarn is great for kids because it is an ideal size for little fingers. Wool is a preferred fiber because it is easy to work with, feels good, and doesn't show mistakes as easily as other yarns. High quality acrylic yarn is good for learning, also. Select light colored yarn to start since it is easier to see the stitches. Children tend to prefer bamboo needles because they aren't as cold as metal needles.
Allow children to help shop for their supplies. They will be more invested and less likely to give up if they are able to choose the needles and yarn that feel best to them.
If the child is younger than eight, it may be best to start with finger knitting. They can learn finger knitting with two fingers and work up to four fingers. The idea behind this is that children benefit from getting accustomed to working with yarn before moving to handling a needle.
A garter stitch swatch is an ideal first project for kids. Once completed, they can use it as a coaster or knit additional swatches and sew them together. Consider casting on for the child so that they can learn to form consistent knit stitches first. Once they feel comfortable with the knit stitch, you can teach casting on, purling, ribbing, and binding off. Kids are quick learners, so don't be surprised if they pick up knitting quicker than you did.
It is our responsibility to cultivate the next generation of avid knitters. If you have the opportunity to teach a child to knit, jump at it. Not only will it benefit the child, but you are guaranteed to learn from the experience, as well.