Kids Can Knit — a How-To Guide for Knitting with Kids

Posted by on Jul 11, 2012

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Madame La Marchande


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Knitting with kids is a fun, inspiring craft, but teaching kids to knit, whether yours is a sunny six- year-old or an afraid-of-failing teen, can be frustrating for both student and teacher. We've gathered a tried-and-true knitting lesson for teaching kids to knit as well as favorite reminders for making the lesson a relaxed and enjoyable time. 

This series is a part of our Crafts to Do with Kids Series, which has weekly posts, giveaways and how-tos all month-long.

When to start knitting with kids: 

About 5 to 6 is generally the best age to start knitting, but desire to learn and dexterity are also reliable indicators. If kids watch eagerly as you pull up a skein of yarn and needles or they can tie their shoes easily, they are probably ready.

Materials that work best when knitting with kids: 

Choose a high-quality wool with a lot of grip so stitches don’t drop as easily. Also, a light-colored yarn makes stitches easier to see. Any size knitting needles will work, as along as it fits the yarn. 

How to teach the knit stitch when knitting with kids: 

Note: Most kids have an attention span of their age plus 2-5 minutes, so a six-year-old can focus for roughly 8-13 minutes. As such, keep lessons short and sweet to prevent burnout. 

Step 1: 

We love the classic teaching rhyme, shared by Knit Sisters

“Up the tree, 
Around the back, 
Down the tree, 
And off jumps jack.” 

young girl knits
Demonstrate the knit stitch 5-7 times, all while saying the rhyme with each stitch. 

Once your child understands the rhyme, have them direct your next stitch while you refuse to move the needles without your child’s direction. Continue this for the next few stitches until your child seems to have mastered the rhyme and can identify what each direction means. 

Step 2 (teens skip to Step 3)
Once your child has a clear visual of what the knit stitch looks like, ask if she’s ready to learn more. If not, stop here to end on a note of success. If your child is eager for more, an expert on Knit Sisters recommends putting your child’s hands in your own and knitting a few stitches so she can get a feel. The expert then recommends letting the little knitter hold the needles while you wrap the yarn. 

Step 3: 
Once the child seems comfortable, hand the needles over and let them combine everything. Remember that messing up and making mistakes are a normal, healthy part of learning. 

skeins of yarn
General tips when knitting with kids: 

- Be comfortable making a mistake (or even faking a mistake) when knitting to demonstrate that mistakes are normal. 

- Praise and encouragement are essential when teaching kids. Teens especially can feel insecure about trying something new in front an expert, so be uncritical. 

- If a child gets frustrated, take a 10-minute break and come back later.

- Focus on process over product — praise how well the child is working or how much fun he or she is having, instead of how neat and pretty the finished product looks.
knitting with kids kit
Knitting Kit

This stylish knitting-with-kids kit from kids' boutique shop Madame La Marchande offers a delightful gift for young kids and teens interested in knitting. The kit folds into a tiny, tidy vintage-inspired suitcase and comes with decadent yarn and basic tools.
Head to Madame La Marchande to buy the knitting with kids kit.
young child finger knits
Finger Knitting

Practice dexterity and get kids excited about working with yarn via this finger-knitting-with-kids project, which can be made into a skinny scarf, holiday decor or even an extra-long jump rope.
Dharma Flyer has the free finger knitting with kids ornament pattern.

knitting dolls
Knitting Doll

This vintage-inspired knitting-with-kids doll has small pegs on a wooden doll and helps young kids learn knitting. The doll comes with a needle and yarn.
To buy the knitting-with-kids doll, head to Amazon.

Image credits (from top): Madame La Marchande,,, Madame La Marchande, Dharma Flyer and Perisphere & Tylon, Inc.

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  • by cosso
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    Another good idea is to film it as an iMovie on an iPad, that way it can be replayed as often as is needed without dependence on the teacher.

  • by zachandzoesmom
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    Thank-you for the tips! I am trying to teach my 6 year old daughter to knit right now. We ran into some trouble because she is left-handed and I am right-handed. I knit holding my working yarn in my right hand, but I have been trying to teach her to hold her working yarn in her left hand. She is doing pretty good so far! :)

    • by vickie.l.belcher
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      vickie.l.belcher Rate this comment 1 0 | Report

      According to the ladies on my knitting forum, (Knitting Paradise) the best way to teach a leftie to knit is to have them sitting opposite you and not beside you. Vickie xox

    • by susieg
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      susieg Rate this comment 0 0 | Report

      Knitting is not a hand-ness activity ... you really do work with both hands and your daughter can/will learn to knit "right-handed" if you both work at it and not make it a huge issue. Another thing I have done with adult lefties (who are stead-fast on not working with the right hand) is to teach them "continental" knitting vs "throwing" or American style of knitting. Lastly ... go to You-Tube and look for videos of left-handed knitting ... Hope this helps ... it is wonderful that you are teaching her so young ... she will have a lifetime of wonderful memories as you two create together!!!