Teaching kids to knit develops fine motor skills and attention span. All you need are colorful yarns, bamboo needles, time, and patience — plus a few tips and a fun rhyme which I’ll share with you below.
Kids in the Waldorf schools learn to knit at age 6, which is when my oldest daughter learned. My younger daughter is learning at age 7.
I also recommend that you knit with your kids. Kids need to see us being creative, too. They need to see the process of creation — how long it takes us to knit things, and that we persevere, rip out stitches, pick up dropped stitches, and so forth.
I taught one of my daughters to knit using the ALEX Knit and Wear Kit. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available so here’s what I recommend instead…
Buy larger size needles like these that are size 14.
Buy chunky yarn. (It’s easier for beginners and forgiving when you make mistakes!)
Knit squares and rectangles to get started.
My First Knitting Book: Learn to Knit Kids by Alison McNicol might be helpful — I haven’t read it yet.
Ready to teach your kids to knit?
For casting on, I prefer to not show kids at first. I wait until they have the hang of the knit stitch.
That means you’ll want to cast on for them. If you don’t know how, this video will help.
I like the intro to knitting videos from GoodKnitKisses. Here Kristen shows how to cast on:
If you’re a leftie, watch this instructional video for casting on and the knit stitch:
Knit Stitch for Beginners
Once you’ve cast on, meaning there is a baseline of stitches on your needle, you can teach the knit stitch.
Show kids that the right-hand holds right needle and the left-hand holds left needle with all the stitches on it. The right hand can grip the left needle when it’s in the X of a knit stitch. (This is all if you’re knitting right-handed, that is.)
Use this fun learn to knit rhyme for the knit stitch:
In through the front door.
Around the back.
Out through the window.
And off jumps Jack!
In through the front door,
Around the back,
Out through the window,
And off jumps Jack.
My mother-in-law, Linda Taylor, uses another simple rhyme for the knit stitch. Here it is — it’s super cute and it worked.
Under the fence.
Catch a sheep.
Back we come.
Off we leap!
Watch how a knit stitch looks in real time:
You’ll want to share how most knitters first knitting looks uneven. That’s to be expected. Tell your kids that they can rip it out and start again, or just keep practicing. They will get better with practice.
Knitting alongside your kids gives you time to chat and be together. It also helps kids feel comfortable just sitting to knit — and not feel like they’re supposed to be doing something else which they might if you’re off doing something else.
Like casting on, I recommend that teach this but also that you do this for your kids for awhile until they get the hang of the knit stitch.
The reason for this is that beginners don’t need too much information or they’ll get super confused.
Let them learn one thing and get good at it.
Then add something else, practice and get good at it. And so forth.
JJ is knitting blankets for her dolls right now. So far she had about 6. Those dolls sure are lucky!
These books for beginning knitters are all excellent starting guides.
Stitch Camp by Nicole Blum and Catherine Newman
You also can search on Google to find easy patterns for a hat and scarf because they both make good easy projects for kids. (I especially love when you can add tassels!)
Read Picture Books About Knitting!
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards
The Three Spinning Fairies by Brothers Grimm
Martha Moth Makes Socks by Cambria Evans
Phoebe’s Sweater by Joanna Johnson
Knitting Pirate by Diane Murray
The Truly Terrible Horrible Sweater…That Grandma Knit by Debbie Macomber and Mary Lou Carney
Knitting Nell by Julie Jersild Roth
Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat by Emily MacKenzie