Friday, October 4, 2019

Getting Started with Handicrafts :: Knitting for Younger Kids

I almost called this series "Handicrafts for the Non-Crafty," but I decided that it's important that we as mothers redefine ourselves and be open to changing self-perception and self-description. I am not a particularly crafty person by nature, but that doesn't mean I can't become one by habit! Skills are learned, and it turns out that I like crafting much more now than I ever thought I would. So let's say "Getting Started with Handicrafts" with the idea that we are starting with few skills and little knowledge in the area but that we will learn and grow alongside our children.

You can read a bit about my personal handicrafting story here (scroll down a bit to the photos of me and my kids): Meet the Maker.

These posts are NOT written from the perspective of an expert -- neither in Mason's approach to the craft nor in the craft itself. They are written mom-to-mom, answering frequently asked questions I get about our personal experience with these activities, all of which our family has picked over the past few years and now practice regularly and joyfully.

For many years, handicrafts was my nemesis on the Mason timetable. I didn't feel like I could give it dedicated time with all the littles underfoot. I got creative and made it a priority and I'm so glad I did.

Here's my plan for the series so far:
Knitting << we're here!
Knot Tying
Sewing with Felt
Needle Felting

Thanks for reading along!



This one is going to be short and sweet: just a couple tools to recommend, a few tips for using them, and some ideas for what to do with the results!

It's a bit funny for me to be talking about knitting, because although my grandmother taught me how to knit and purl when I was small, that's as far as my knitting knowledge stretches for now!. :)  But I did want to get my children started in fiber arts as a way to open up that avenue to them if it is something they want to pursue.

So here are three super easy ways to get a child started with the idea and practice of knitting without actually having any knitting knowledge yourself.

Three Tools.

Knitting tower. These are actually easy to make with a toilet paper tube and popsicle sticks, but those don't end up being very sturdy. We love the all-wood ones and they will definitely last for ages, even with tons of use. I have also seen it called a knitting tube or camden rose, and there are plastic options too.

Knitting fork. These are also called a lucet. Simple construction, easy to use. We have this one.

Circle loom. These can be found cheaply and widely. We haven't tried these yet, but I see them everywhere and they are basically just a very broad knitting tower. There are "long" or oval options too.

What Kind of Yarn?

You can use any kind of yarn with these, depending on what you would like your final product to look like. We have done chunkier wool yarns, thinner acrylic yarns, super thick variegated yarns... I do find that the ones that "hold together" a bit better (that are smoother, with their various strands sticking together) are easier for kids just starting out.

(You may want to pick your tool and your material based on what your kids would like to make. See below.)

Tips for Use.

If you need help "threading" the tool, check YouTube. Tons of how-to videos for each of these tools. Once you get the hang of it, though, it is very easy to start and end projects.

I find all three of these to be easier than finger knitting since the child can stop and start the project whenever he wants without worrying about tying off.

We began with my younger kids by threading the tool for them and then letting them knit. Once they caught the "bug," they were very motivated to learn how to thread it on their own and did so easily.

What To Do With Your the Results.

One follow-up question I often get is what we do with the resulting chains. Unlike "real" knitting, the results are less variable: you basically get chains, braids, and tubes. There aren't patterns to follow to adjust the product beyond those options. Which makes them easy but also limited in a way.

That said, I am always amazed at my kids' creativity. They have come up with tons of ways to use these! To name just a few...

With very chunky or heavy yarn, my kids have made jump ropes.

Knitted snakes.

Holster for a paper sword or handsewn dagger, as the case may be!

 Leashes for their stuffed animals.

Shoulder strap or handle for a felt purse.

Necklaces, bracelets, belts, and headbands.

And headbands work for boys too! ;)

Bow for a gift -- pair with some fabric for homemade wrapping.

Tie in a bow and attach to a barette.

And more. I would love to hear your ideas too -- we are always on the lookout!

Do you like chain, tube, or circle knitting? Any suggestions to share? Please leave a comment below.

(Next up, a related craft: knot tying!)


  1. Years ago, I grabbed the plastic circle looms at JoAnn’s and instantly became a knitter despite no experience. I made hats for my babies. I’m realizing it’s time to gift them circle looms or something like you’ve suggested. My oldest is 7, and my 5yo is very crafty. They would love it. The 7yo just sewed several simply felt Robin Hood style hats this week with embroidery floss. He could handle knitting!

    I’m curious about your knot post as we’ve started on simple knots, too. Having a boy as my oldest challenges me to think of the “boyish” arts (not that we have to limit to not or girl, but it just changes how I think about which handicrafts to focus on!)

    1. They could absolutely do it! And all of my kids find it so satisfying. :) I too am always on the hunt for good boyish crafts!

  2. We just learned how to finger knit and crochet. I like all your ideas! Garland for a Christmas tree, and banners/garlands around the house, decorating trees outdoors, the belt/holster idea is very popular with our boys.

    1. Yes, banners and garlands! Great additions! That reminds me I meant to ask my kids to do a garland for the tree this year. I thought we could just keep it on the knitting tower as an ongoing collaborative thing. :)