For her birthday, my daughter was given a knitting set. It had in it a pompom maker, a french knitting doll and some knitting needles, as well as a lot of yarn. She was very keen to get started, so I suggested trying the french knitting or the pompom. She, however, was insistent that she wanted to try ‘real’ knitting and she would not be fobbed off with any of my efforts with the other crafts. (My plan was to build up gradually so that she learned some skills with wrapping yarn in pom poms and so on. It seemed a sensible approach. But no, it appears my daughter takes after me in the stubbornness stakes.)
I began by casting on 10 stitches and working one row myself so that she didn’t have to deal with that nearly-always-tricky first row. Way back when I taught full time, I ran a knitting club at school and recalled using a rhyme to teach them the basics. It was so long ago that I had forgotten it, so I had to do some googling. It seems there are several rhymes, so we started with the ‘in through the door, round the back, peep through the window and off jumps Jack’ one. She wasn’t a fan-it just didn’t click with her.
Then I had another look and found a rhyme about bunnies, which she absolutely loved and repeated over and over. (In through the bunny hole, round the big tree, out of the bunny hole and off jumps she!) She sat on my knee and we did the rhyme and actions together for a short while. Then she progressed to doing the stitches herself, although she struggled as when she came to the final stages of the stitch she pulled the other stitches off her needle and we spent a lot of time picking up stitches. This was really frustrating for her, however as each knitting session went on (we did a row or 2 a day as she has a short attention span) we learned a new ‘tiny’ skill-how to tension by holding the yarn down, how to use her fingers to hold the stitches on the needles whiles knitting etc. and her technique has come on so much already! As for the rhyme, now she knows how to make a stitch Little Miss Independent has decided she ‘doesn’t need it any more’. I guess it has served it’s purpose.
I chose not to even attempt the patterns from the kit, which are aimed at making specific items, and focused on her learning the skills for now. We did use the yarn from her kit, but it’s not as if Mummy is short of yarn for her to use if she wants to make one of the proper projects later on! When I showed her knitting to my mum, she said she learned at a similar age, and I also learned at that age from my Nanny.
It’s quite nice to pass on some skills, and so far I have been pleasantly surprised by how well she has picked it up. (I will confess that the thought of trying to teach her knitting was a little stressful-the kind of stress that makes you think you will need to break into one of the children’s Easter eggs to recover afterwards.) I’m not sure I could teach a grown up to knit though-at least not sitting on my knee!