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7 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Knit or Crochet

February 16th, 2012

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7 TipsTeaching children to knit or crochet can be daunting, but these 7 tips are designed make it easy and fun for everyone involved.

Remember the first project you ever made? Teaching a child to knit or crochet is your chance to help them have that special feeling of accomplishment. When children learn to love fiber arts as children, they are much more likely to keep knitting and crocheting for the rest of their lives.

  • When you teach a child to make something out of yarn, you’re teaching them more about the joy of crafting than about how to perform a stitch. The easiest way to teach them to knit or crochet is to show them how to love working with yarn. Then they’ll want to learn more and perfect their skills if they enjoy the process. Stay positive and make the lesson about how fun and creative crafting is.
  • Set the scene: clear space, plenty of supplies and lots of light. Many teachers seat everyone at a table, because then the teacher can see what everyone is doing quickly and easily. Try to have a group of 5 or fewer students per adult if the children are very young so that they can all get the attention they need.
  • Start with simple, solid-color yarn & large, durable tools.Vanna’s Choice is a popular yarn for lessons, since it has great stitch definition and comes in a wide array of colors. You could even teach kids to knit on their fingers or try the crochet ‘finger hook’ method where you use a curled finger instead of a hook.
  • Teaching a craft is also teaching a language; explain what each word means as you use it. Teach as though none of your students have ever heard the word “yarn” before. This may feel silly, but it’s very hard for a child to ask for clarification, especially when they are new to crafting. Listen to them carefully; they may be asking simple questions using unconventional words.
  • Teach them to start, rip back, and start over again. It’s easy for a beginner to forget how they started by the time they finish. Encourage your students to make their first row, rip it all out, and then make it again. If you give them just a few yards to start with they will have to stop and rip back if they want to keep practicing.
  • Let kids be creative with what they have learned. Make small balls in different colors before hand and once your students have mastered basic stitches let them choose the color they’d like to work with. If they are making their first swatches, you can let them choose how many stitches to cast on or chain (just remind them it should be a number larger than 4; narrower projects are difficult for small fingers).
  • Show them that you are proud of their work, and they will be proud of it too. When you teach kids, they will look up to you as the person who knows what good projects look like. There are many ways to show them that you’re proud of them; get creative! You could take a picture of each child with their first stitches, swatches and projects and make an album for the class, or you could have a fashion show of their new and very simple projects at the end of your class. Even a chain or a row or two of knitting can be a project; try turning them into necklaces, hair ties, bracelets or even shoelaces.

Many teachers have their own special tips for teaching children to craft with yarn. Share your secrets for helping kids get started in the comments section below!

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  • Regula Bartholdi

    You don’t have to rip the beginnings. It might be a bit frustrating. Glue the beginnings on a drawing, because they are slightly curly, they make nice folwers or snails, whatever. What’s more, the children can change colours and use each colour they want. I think this is not a waste of yarn at all.

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  • Melissa

    At what age would you recommend trying to teach a child to knit? 

    • Aruilos

       I have a 4 year old I’m teaching to crochet.  He loves it.  It depends on the child.  My mom started me on fiber arts (crochet, cross stitch, hook rugs…) when I was 5 or 6 years old.  Shoe lace cards are what my boy started with and that was not until he was more than 3, maybe almost 4.

    • Margaret

      It’s hard to say when a child is ready to learn to knit or crochet, but one guideline I’ve heard that make sense is to wait to teach yarncrafts until children have at least mastered tying their shoes (which ensures they have developed the dexterity and focus needed to form stitches).

      • Zenia

        It really depends on their fine motor control. My daughter learned to knit when she was about 4/5, my son couldn;t grasp it until he was about 8 because he just didn’t have the fine motor skills for it.

    • Iryna Boehland

      My daughter was 5 when I showed her finger knitting. With Vanna’s!
      Another girl, just turned 7, saw me crocheting and asked to teach her too. She likes it a lot, even though it is not easy.

    • Rachel

      My Grandmother and Aunt tried to teach me when I was about 8 or 9. I didn’t have the patience for it, but learned how when I was an adult.

  • Aruilos

    I have a 4 year old I’m teaching to crochet.  He loves it.

  • Melissa

    That is wonderful!  My daughter will be three this summer.  She might be too young to knit or crochet, but perhaps I should start doing other yarn crafts with her to prep her! 

  • Katie Weiher

    I’ve taught a few classes of 8-10 year old kids how to knit and I only teach the knit stitch.  Casting on makes so much more sense once the knit stitch is learned.

    • AlisonC

      I do this too.  We have a stash of begun work that they can learn on and holes and whatnot are just worked past.  After all, most of them are doing scarves, pot holders etc – casting on is a tricky thing to learn and is only done once in a simple project; it’s not trouble for me to cast-on and they learn knit-stitch through one project, ready to confidently cast on the next project.

  • Cadence

    The best advice their is for teaching someone to crochet is: teach them how, then teach them rules. People learn way better when they jump into things and then learn the rules later. When I was taught how to crochet, I was taught how to make a chain and a sc. I was not taught anythings about gauge, hook sizes, or stitch count. Trust me, the best way to learn without frustration. This technique is also true for learning languages.

  • Emily Katehis

    I learned when I was about 5, I still have my first project, a baby bunting.  I’ve noticed something with kids these days, their fine motor skills are terrible.  I could write all three of my names by my sons age (5), as well as do counted cross stitch, do both knit and purl stitches and cast on and bind off, do loop pot holders, and lanyard key chains.  I teach preschoolers now, and while they can play video games on computers, cell phones and gameboys, they can’t write the first letter of their names.  My sister who is 16 is the same, my mom tried to teach her to knit, and she can’t, why?  Because she grew up on electronics instead of coloring books.  It’s sad.  I’m trying to teach my son to knit now, I bought the Lion Brand kids needles and a knitting spool, but he doesn’t have the patience for it.  We’re heading into the Jetsons age, where all you have to do is push a button and it gets done, this is not good, we need to keep hand work alive.

    • Jennifer

      You hit the nail right on the head!!  This explains a lot in our society’s basic handwriting skills and all fine motor tasks.  I have boy/girl grandtwins who want to learn to knit.  Surpringly Samuel has picked it right up, but Sadie is way too impatient.  Samuel’s handwriting is far superior to his sister’s, so your article kinda makes me understand why knitting is easier for him. 

      • Zenia

        Poor fine motor skills have more to do with learning disabilities than “impatience”.
        Many kids with poor fine motor skills at 4 will later be diagnosed with ADHD, SPD, or a spectrum disorder. 

        • Amy in Oz

          My mother-in-law is a junior primary school teacher. Her handwriting is shocking. I, on the otherhand, grew up using computers for the majority of my schooling years, and had a computer at home from probably age 9 or 10, yet my handwriting is very neat. I think it has much more to do with practice (I can remember practicing cursive “r”, “s” and “f” because i liked the way my dad’s looked in preference to the way the school taught me), as well as the value placed on it when you are a child – poor handwriting was not accepted by my parents (but not in a mean way, in an encouraging way), but was by my in-laws (all 4 of their children have terrible handwriting like their mother’s. I have to fill out forms for my husband so they can be read). This is the same with crafts such as knitting – the person needs to have a desire to practice and improve, and they need teachers who inspire them and help them to produce better quality work. (Incidentally, i encourage my 6yo to write particular letters 3 times, then circle the best one, to encourage her to be critical of her handwriting and help her notice what elements make a “good” letter. I want her to have legible handwriting. In the workplace, I feel it is very unprofessional to produce written work which is difficult to read. Disrespectful towards your colleagues. I am a nurse, so in my work it also dangerous to have poor handwriting).

    • http://www.facebook.com/anita.hawkins.91 Anita Hawkins

      Wow. That is horrible. I’m only 21 and I understand this. I just had a son and I want to teach him to knit and maybe crochet so that he can make really handsome sweater and hats for himself. I plan on giving him coloring books and paper books instead of electronic stuff. I worry about kids these days.

  • kdee

    I’ve taught students how to knit at my elementary school.  Students as young as 7 and as old as 12 have joined the knitting club.  I’ve found that beginning knitters find it way easier to handle using 2 double-pointed needles with elastic bands on the ends (to prevent stitches from falling off the end).  DPNs seems to be a better size for smaller hands.  Once they felt comfortable after knitting for a few months, many were able to “graduate” to regular needles.  Hope that helps someone!

    • Margaret

      That’s a great tip! Sometimes it can be something as simple as the length of a needle or hook that holds a beginner back. Having a variety of sizes available will help them choose the right ones to learn on (with a little help from their teacher).

    • another Margaret

      When I taught my 7 yr old granddaughter to knit, regular needles, even short ones were too cumbersome. I switched to a 16″ circular, size 10, and it was much easier for her. The cable kept the rh needle from slipping out of the stitch, or something. 

  • Cosmo1

    don’t expect perfection  – as cadence said, leave the rules until later on. The most important thing for them to learn is the enthusiasm for creating with their own hands. The best thing is encouragement & smiles!

  • gma7

    I am teaching a 7 yr old to crochet.She is very patient but is having a hard time keeping the yard tight on her left hand as she crochets with her right. It gets very loose and she is getting frustrated and wants to stop. Any suggestions as to how to keep the yard tight.
     I am also teaching a left hander. wow what a challange. lol

    • Right to Left

      I also have a leftie to teach  – I was thinking that if I sit facing her, she could ‘mirror’ my movements.  Have you tried this or perhaps found an easier way?

      • Martie

         Mirroring is perfect for a rightie teaching a leftie. I taught a couple of really good friends this way. It was actually easier than teaching another rightie because they didn’t have to peer over my shoulder or have me sit sideways to teach them.

      • Karyn Settles

        I am a lefty and learned by my grandmother sitting in front of me and literally looking at right handed illustrations of the process in a mirror! 

    • SPH

      To keep the yarn tight, I use the finger lacing technique I read in a book

      Leaving the ball of yarn on your lap,
      1. bring the yarn you are working with UP between your pinkie and ring finger (of left hand)
      2. wrap the yarn around your pinkie (around the top to the outside, then under toward your ring finger)
      3. come UP OVER your ring finger,
      4. go DOWN UNDER your middle finger
      5. and finally UP OVER your pointer.

      This works for me and my daughter, and it is a lot easier to DO than to explain…

  • Karen Walker

    How can I learn to crochet?  I’ve been dying to learn, but haven’t really found a good “teacher” since none of my local friends know how to.  Are there any resources for beginner moms?  Maybe my girls and I could learn together

    • Shara

      Karen there are many excellent video tutorials on youtube that will teach you how to crochet. Once you teach yourself you’ll be able to teach your girls :-) Good luck and have fun!

      • Keli

         I used a book called, “I Taught Myself to Crochet.” It’s a kit that comes with the basic hooks & some notions, but it’s very clear & easy to follow. Got it at a local craft store. From there, I agree w/Lgavincruse, find a class with direct feedback. I also had some trouble with a new stitch on a project, and the person at my local yarn store (I did buy my yarn there) was very willing to show me and help me learn the new stitch.

    • Margaret

      Hi Karen,
      It’s great that you’re interested in learning! Here’s a link to our resources on getting started with crochet, including tips, videos, written instructions and diagrams: http://dld.bz/aUUxX
      You may also want to check out these blog posts:
      6 Tips on How to Learn to Knit or Crochet: http://dld.bz/aUUyB
      9 Secrets to Helping a Beginner Knitter or Crocheter: http://dld.bz/aUUyT

      • Lgavincruse

        Visit  your local yarn store.  You can often find a class there, or willing teachers.

    • Jchmk26

      Hi Karen – I teach special parent/child classes – which state do you live in? Jennifer

    • Meredith

       I’m not sure about AC Moore, but Michael’s craft stores offer a wide variety of classes the customers can take at their stores. If they don’t offer one on a subject you like, approach the manager and see if they can make it happen for you. It’s especially helpful if you can find say, 10 people who would be willing to attend with you. There are small fees for each class and you are responsible for your own materials. Also, as stated before if you have a yarn store, they may do the same. I find stores that focus only on yarn have all employees who know to knit and/or crochet and will be more than happy to help you.

  • Sumkoolskool

    I just taught a group of 17! Ranging in ages from 5 up to adults. It was difficult due to the class size. But for the kids, I agree, they don’t care about the guage etc.(I’ve been crocheting for 30 years and I still don’t do guage!) The kids needed a nice soft yarn that wasn’t going to catch, and then away they went! Some caught on, others did not. They were excited to keep at it when they knew they would be making a project fairly quickly instead of just learning stitches. Our goal was to make hats for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. 

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  • Zenia

    I’ve taught dozens ( yes dozens) of girls & boys to knit.
    The shorter the needle the better.  No longer than 8 inches.
    Needles also shouldn’t be too thick. No thicker than size 8. They are too hard for little hands to manipulate.  Some kids who have trouble even with short needles do wonderfully with a small pair of circular needles.  Start with “plain” yarn – no fuzzy, bumpy, eyelashy yarn.
    However variegated yarn makes stitch definition very easy, and really helps keep from dropping stitches. It also keeps it from geeting too boring.
    Cotton yarn  has no stretch and can be difficult to work with.
    My girl scout troop has made knitting needles out of disposable chopsticks. (you can also use wooden dowels)
    We sharpen the ends a bit with a pencil sharpener, then sand the whole needle with sandpaper until smooth.
    Then you can top them off with either a bead glued on the end, or just a pencil top eraser.
    They usually end up being about a size 5 or 6 needle.

  • Carol

    If kids are interested in what you are doing they are ready to learn. I was 5 or 6. Start with small steps. I first learned only to pass stitches from the left needle to the right needle and I was really proud to be “knitting”. (Bless my mom who secretly knitted a few rows here and there so my knitting was getting longer and longer!) Then I realized mom was doing something that I wasn’t, so I asked her to show me. I quickly learned how to complete the stitch. From there it was learning to purl and then to cast on. The rules came later. 

  • ELSIE HART

    I have an eight year old granddaughter who is ADHD and a southpaw.  I am right-handed.  She is enthusiastic to learn (despite having a rather short attention span) and I don’t know how to teach her.  Her family makes up shoe box presents for less fortunate children at Christmas.  What would be a really simple project we could make together for these boxes?  I am thinking that it may be easier to get her crocheting.  What do you think?

    • Gr8granny

      Perhaps she could make something for herself first and then make the same thing (in different color or yarn) to “share”.   A rectangle can be made into a simple hat, or scarf.  Can be trimmed with braid or pompoms…kids LOVE to make pompoms!   Can also be stitched up the sides and a braid added to make a little purse or once she gets the hang of it, a bookbag.  I find if they can pick out the project and yarn, they are more interested in getting it done.  Maybe she has a friend who would like to learn with her.  Good luck and have fun!  Some of my best memories are of  Gramma and me sitting in rockers on the porch crocheting together…

    • Big_pajamas

      I am a 37 yo leftie. My grandmother taught me to knit at 7. I didn’t figure out crochet until I was in my late 20s. I crochet “backward” (from left to right) and find it impossible to teach a right handed person crochet, as I can’t demonstrate properly. Knitting was easier for me, because both hands are involved equally. It’s no different for a leftie, than a rightie. And knitting is so much more precise, by the time crochet comes along ( YouTube left handed tutorial videos) you’re sort of amazed how easy it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/liilliant Liillian Tremblay

    My eldest grandson saw my knitting and asked me how to knit.  I showed him but I could see it wasn’t really an attention getter so I switched him to crochet.  He loved it!!!  I let him take home a ball of yarn and hook.  He finished the ball of yarn by bedtime!  Now every time he comes over – he starts another project (new stitches) with me.  Any suggestions for projects that would keep the interest of a 10 year old?  He has made a doll cover for his sister’s dolls.  His sister who is 3 has shown no interest – his brother who is 5 asked and I started to show him but I only received a look of disbelief and it,s ok grandma you can do it with JJ! LOL!  The 5 year old likes doing macramé better!  Each child is different, so we try to find an interesting craft for each. Once I’ve mastered finger crochet – maybe I can show them!!

  • Constantlyknitting

    Also try spool knitting (aka French knitting, knitting dolly) – get the child started by doing the first few rows yourself, with the tail hanging down the bottom so the knitting soon appears.  We made yards and yards of this, and I seem to remember my Grammy sewing it up to make a carpet for a doll’s house.  It’s good for showing the basics. 
    Then on to needles and 4″ squares, sew them up to make an afghan.  The one I made when I was a child (starting age 8) eventually became the best friend of my mother’s favorite dog. 

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  • sanfitch

    I worked with a group of third graders last year at my local elementary school. We had just 1/2 during lunch. The original goal was to work up to five kids who needed some extra attention. We ended up working with nearly every third grade student at least once during the year. Most learned only how to make a chain… we didn’t have time for much more. The Aide I worked with took all the chains, laid them out on two large cardboard cutouts of a boy and girl. It was great to see the kids identify “their” contribution to the artwork. Several of the kids have taken up crochet with the help of either a parent or grandparent or scout leader. I’m looking forward to starting back this year with an after school program.

  • Shalva Seri

    Can you suggest easy projects for 11 year old begginers in crocheting and knitting other than a scarf

  • tiffany tran 234964

    that was huh? did it tell us how to knit or NOT???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://lionbrand.com/ Danielle Holke

      Tiffany, can you rephrase the question so that we know how to answer your query?

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