Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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This Season, Give the Gift of Knitting & Crocheting (5 Tips for Teaching Beginners)

December 5th, 2011

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In our NJ office, we have a big mural that says, “You never forget the person who taught you to knit.” It’s really true. I know that personally I am so grateful to my mom for teaching me to crochet and my friend Essy for teaching me to knit, because each of them gave me a gift that’s allowed me to express my creativity, give to others, relax and unwind, and have lots of fun. Teaching someone to knit or crochet is a gift that keeps on giving, so this holiday season, why not pay it forward?

Create a little gift bag or basket of supplies and make a date to teach someone in your life to knit or crochet!

A few tips for teaching yarncrafting:

  • Provide the supplies! Give them yarn; straight, smooth, light-color yarns are easiest for beginners to work with, since it’s easier to see the stitches. We like category 4 (medium) to category 6 (super bulky) yarns to teach on, depending on the person. For instance, a friend with delicate hands might find super bulky yarn to be a little unwieldy, but thick yarn is great for guys who like big stitches and quick results. Yarns with a little give (acrylics and wools) are also easier on beginners’ hands. Vanna’s Choice, Wool-Ease, and Wool-Ease Thick & Quick are all good options.
  • Compensate for tension. Pair your yarn with needles or a hook that’s a size or two larger than the size recommended on the label, since beginners tend to work tightly. Remind your student not to pull too tightly on the working yarn–tight stitches are only harder to work into later!
  • Sit shoulder-to-shoulder. We find that it’s easiest to see how each step works when you’re sitting right next to each other instead of across from each other. It allows them to see your work from your point of view.
  • Break down the moves. While skills like casting-on or chaining might come naturally to you, they will feel awkward to a beginner. Go slowly, explaining each individual hand motion and why you’re doing them. It’s also important to remind your student that it’s okay for her/him to hold the yarn differently than you do. As long as the yarn is wrapped and/or pulled in the same direction and into the right place, the way she/he tensions the yarn or moves the yarn is okay! It’s even okay for your student to use her/his fingers to move the loops of yarn around–I know I needed to when I first started crocheting!
  • Share resources for when you leave, so your student has ongoing support. If you’re giving the gift of yarn and a hook/needles, be sure to also include a beginner direction book (for instance, our Crochet Essentials book), a gift certificate to a local knitting/crochet class, and/or a print-out of  the Learn to Knit or Learn to Crochet directions [PDFs] from LionBrand.com–that way she/he can continue to figure things out, long after you leave!

Here are just a few affordable kits from LionBrand.com that include yarn, matching needles/hooks, and illustrated, beginner how-to instructions:

Finally, remember that a first project doesn’t have to be just a scarf. Since you’re just making a knit or crochet rectangle, keep in mind that a rectangle can be so many different things! Sewn up on one edge and gathered at the top, it’s a simple hat (just make sure the width is the circumference of your head). Make two and sew them up, leaving a hole for your thumb, and you’ve got wrist warmers. Sew up the long edge and one side of a small rectangle, and you’ve got a glasses case–even your student’s first project can be useful in so many ways! Get more ideas by typing “beginner” into the search box at LionBrand.com.

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  • Anonymous

    I agree that sitting shoulder to shoulder is important. Thanks for the validation

  • SueS

    A dishcloth/facecloth/spa cloth is a great beginner’s piece in a soft cotton yarn. Your trainee can add different stitches and  patterns as they learn and the tension is not vital. They make great stocking stuffers +/- a handmade soap or can be admired by the creator when used.

  • Patnj

    I had 14 Junior Scouts and 4 Volunteers showing them just how to chain…what ‘fun’ that was, some girls got it and a few did not, no matter how we showed them. Craft that night was to chain green and white yarn into a very long chain, wrap it around a cone (glued and pinned) top with star, and tiny balls glued on. No one wanted to go home until finished, they had a good time..including my 89 year old Mother… 

  • Winniwoman

    i would like to teach the children next door to crochet, but i am left handed. any tips for making it easier??

    • Rholt73

      Sit across from them. Mirror image.  I was taught to crochet that way 40 years ago.

    • Katie

      I teach left-handed. In our group I’m the “go-to” lefty when other lefties want to learn. But I can also teach righties. Even with righties, I sometimes sit shoulder to shoulder. ( I taught myself by putting a diagrammed instruction book in front of a mirror!) Whatever works!

  • Mary

    Winniwoman, I suggest that this is one time when sitting opposite to someone is better than sitting shoulder to shoulder.  It might take a bit of patience and a lot of trial and error, so good luck with it.

  • JudyM

    I teach travel skills at a school for the blind and would like to see if some of my students would like to learn how to crochet. Any ideas for how to teach someone who is totally blind?

    • Zontee

      Hi Judy, try contacting the BlindStitchers Group on Google–we worked with one of their members awhile ago to share some tips on learning to knit for visually impaired and blind people, but I’m sure they have some great insights into teaching crochet to blind people too.

  • Rebecca

    I agree that, when teaching someone to knit/crochet, the two should sit alongside each other. I would like to add that I use a size 8 needle with beginners. I’ve noticed the needles can intimidate learners. A size 8 is close to the diameter of a pencil; most people are familiar with a pencil, therefore, you can decrease anxiety and allow the learner to focus more on the stitches themselves. Once they feel comfortable with that size needle, it’s easy to make a jump to a larger needle.

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  • Knittingnana60

    Mug rugs are another great project.  make squares about 1/2 inch larger each way than the diameter of a large mug.  These are very quick to make even for a total beginner.  You can add fringe to two sides, if desired, and you can teach new stitch combinations on separate squares.

  • Knittenkitten

    Very good advise…Thanks for the suggestions. I taught one granddaughter to crochet,but the younger one just couldn’t get it. I will try your method with her

  • Goldenriangle Tour

    This is great post. Thanks for your valuable info sharing here. Golden Triangle Tour

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  • susanne

    I have taught people from nursing homes to crochet.I even taught a lefty once and I am not a lefty.The idea is to let them sit across from you and they learn real well.

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