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Friday, 10 August 2012
The first rule of Knit Club is....
Ok. So that one has been done to death.
Besides, we can talk about our club!

When a friend mentioned that a yarn shop in the city was doing knitting lessons for kids, I jumped into the breach (as is my (bad) habit) and announced "we could do our own right here in town"!
Oh yes, I did!

You could do it, too!
It is so exciting and satisfying to encourage creativity in our kids!

A date was set (2 hours on a weekday summer morning) and invitations sent out (via Facebook Events) to families we thought might be interested.  We decided to meet at the local park, under the picnic shelter.  The one rule was that parents had to stay for the duration~ we needed their hands (and if they didn't know how to do it , the kids would be lost at home).

The morning was cool and rainy, so we were grateful for the shelter.
The park was a great location as kids could take a break and play as needed.
We had 12 kids ranging from 4 - 12 years of age.
Three were boys (yay!)~ one boy stayed home because 'men don't knit' but his little brother had a blast (and the goal of knitting his mother a dress) and was proud to learn that lots of truck drivers knit!
All but one were first time knitters.

I brought along a variety of fibers and yarns and did a small introduction of the process from sheep to yarn: making stops at shearing (examining natural locks with veggie matter!), carding (passed around combed top roving), dyeing, spinning (demo with a drop spindle) and yarn types (single and three ply), resultant fabrics (examining finished items, picking out textures and changes) and fibers (we covered the gamut from plant to animal to acrylic). Making that connection between nature and knitting is an important one, even for kids who will likely be knitting with synthetic yarn!

And then, we knit!
In preparation I had made small yarn balls with some extra acrylic, one for each child, and some of the families brought along some more to share.

We started with finger knitting.
I am a big fan of the video HERE with 'Mama and Sunii' as I find the sheep and fence story engaging for young children.  I used this video several years ago with my daughter at the age of 3.5 and she was able to follow the basic steps~ don't be afraid to introduce finger knitting to toddlers with patience and guidance!

Admittedly, there was a lot of groaning and frustration when we first began.
I have worked with children for 25 years, and I have definitely seen a decrease in attention spans and in frustration tolerance. Many kids today want to get it or give up.
But we kept encouraging them and had many parental hands in the mix (even though this was new to them, too!) and almost all of the kids got the hang of it as we persisted.
I got a few notes and photos sent to me that evening that even those who did give up during the morning had it 'click' at home when they were able to focus and really get at it! {Super yay!}}
 One of our older girls really took to another style of finger knitting I demonstrated and set out to create some lovely woven work!

Our two 4/5 year olds did wear out quickly, and an able adult helped them make braided jewelry instead (and one of the kids who later 'got it' was a five year old boy!) ~ it was important that each child feel successful and have something to show for their efforts in order to help them carry on.

After a playground break, we passed out the knitting needles.
I had debated on whether to use small or large needles, and opted for large~ the length was not too much of an issue and the stitches were easier to see and work with on the big guys.
In the future, I would cast on and knit several rows for each child in advance and have experienced knitters at a 1:1 ratio.

We quickly cast on for each of the older kids (7+) and set about teaching them the knit stitch.
Knitting into the cast on edge was not easily done and in the end only our previously started knitter kept on.
The rest of the kids eagerly returned to their finger knitting and filled up the second hour with creating reams of finger knit rope!

I started hearing kids and parents talking about "when we get together next week", so we made it a date with the plan to bring along enough spool knitters and bodkins (knitting noddy, french knitting, cork knitting and other names...) for each child and give that a whirl.

How inspiring to see our kids working happily with their hands, brewing up all sorts of creative creations and feeling so proud and confident!

At the suggestion of a friend to my wondering what to do with the miles of finger knitting that is now kicking around our small town I think we need to plan a third event before summer is out...  a yarn bombing!
Creativity PLUS a little civil disobedience and graffiti sound like the perfect way to round out the summer and the kids!
Don't you agree?! ♥♥


Lindsay said...

I love this!! Must have been such a fun day. My 6yr old daughter is learning how to knit this weekend with her Nana :)

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