Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning to Knit

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son's teacher sent out an email wondering if any of the parents knit. I laughed out loud. Yeah, um, a bit! I was really curious what she had in mind. It turns out that she's in possession of some learn-to-knit kits, and while she doesn't knit herself, she thought it would be a good option during the class's "choice" portion of the day. (Some kids meet with her one-on-one on a rotating basis; the rest have a choice of quiet activities. I'm not sure what they are, since my son always reads.) I agree; knitting is great quiet-time work, and keeping hands busy can help with concentration--the school knows this as well, and classrooms have a "fidget basket" with items the kids can borrow when they need something to occupy their hands.

Every school year I make sure my volunteering paperwork is in order, even though I haven't been able to do much directly with the students because of our youngest. I've met class field trips in the past, with my daughter along, but I can't be considered an "official" chaperone, and volunteering in the classroom hasn't been possible. I wasn't sure I could volunteer to teach kids to knit, but turns out my daughter is old enough now that she can tag along and it works out okay in certain situations. So yesterday we gave it a go for the first time. As long as the weather holds up, I can take a couple kids out to a picnic table, which means my daughter has room to roam without disturbing anyone. She didn't, though. She sat and watched and made sure I knew she wanted to knit, too.

When I began to teach my boys to knit (and they only sort of took to it, in varying degrees, but it's early in life yet, you never know), I started by having them chain crochet. With the two girls I had yesterday, I jumped right into knitting to see where they were at, figuring somebody might pick it up right away, but I had crochet hooks on hand. But after 25 minutes--that's all I get at a time!--I decided to backtrack today and have them get comfortable with the crochet hook, to get a feel for how to hold the yarn and how not to strangle the hook (or needle, when the time comes).

Yesterday, I asked if I could work with the same kids a few days in a row, because 25 minutes just isn't enough. So today I had one repeat and a new boy (the other girl was with the teacher today). By the end of the choice period, my repeat student was feeling much more comfortable chaining, and I'd backed the boy up to chain crocheting with his hands, showing him how his left hand is holding the yarn the same way it would if he was using a hook, so his hands are still getting the feel of keeping the tension steady. By the end, he was able to do it on his own, sort of. He told me he likes to knot bracelets, so I have no doubt his hands can learn this, too.

I think it's pretty neat so many students are interested in at least seeing what knitting's about, although I feel outnumbered--how can I possibly teach them all?! In such short increments! My daughter and I usually have nothing planned at that particular time of day, so we'll go as regularly as we can. I want to make the most of this opportunity to enable another generation of knitters.

I can't share any pictures of my school sessions, of course, even if I had a spare hand to take any, but I'll leave you with a picture of my and my daughter's hands. This isn't the first time she's knit in my lap. You can see she's holding both needles. She moves the right-hand needle into and out of the stitch; I wrap the yarn. And in this way, hands together, we knit.


Rose Red said...

Yay for teaching the next generation of knitters! Hopefully in a few years time your students will find ravelry and reminisce about the lady who came to school and taught them how to knit!

Donna Lee said...

That's a great photo. I am finding that teaching adults who have never held hooks or needles to use the hook first is easier. They get a feel for the materials. There are a few folks who jump right onto the needles but they are rare. Most like the "one needle" and keep using the hook. As a result, I am forced to find more crochet patterns (thank goodness for the internet!)

lamina@do a bit said...

Wow that is so cool!! It's great that you got to teach the same kids again! I just love it! I love that photo too... little fingers knitting is just too cute :)

Bells said...

great work - i remember getting my now 11yo niece to do some chaining. It seemed somehow easier for her to manage just one hook, instead of two needles. Must remember that.

Hooray for the next generation!