Teaching Someone to Knit

What I haven’t written about so far is that I’m teaching someone to knit. It all started on New Year’s Eve when I was taking batches of traditional knieperties round to our neighbours. Invited in for a cup of tea by a neighbour across the street, I commented on her cross stitch embroidery. She asked me if I was still knitting and then her 6-year-old blurted out, ‘Mummy wants to learn to knit!’ She did, but hadn’t dared ask me. I said I’d love to teach her and we started lessons in February.

I thought I’d share what we’ve done so far, in case you’d also like to teach someone to knit and could use some ideas.

1 A Swatch and a Knitting Notions Case
(Techniques learnt: Garter stitch, casting on and binding off)
We started with a garter stitch swatch. I cast on for her and knit one row, and then it was her turn. When she’d got the hang of it, I bound off. Then she cast on stitches for a knitting notions case herself – a simple rectangle in garter stitch. This was good practice for making her stitches more regular. She also learnt how to bind off. I seamed the notions case for her and gave it a lining and a zipper.

2 A Scarf
(New techniques: Edge stitches and slipped stitches)
When I asked her why she wanted to learn to knit, my neighbour said, ‘I’d love to be able to make beautiful things with my own hands, like my grandmother used to do. Perhaps a cosy scarf for myself or things for my children.’ An excellent motivation, and a scarf for herself was the next project.

To make it a little more interesting than just garter stitch, we chose a nice stitch pattern that is basically garter stitch, but with columns of slipped stitches on the wrong side. I wrote it out for her and added edge stitches to make it extra neat.

My student chose an aran-weight pink yarn knit on 5 mm needles. The scarf will take her months to knit. A huge project for a new knitter, but that’s perfect for her to relax with in the evenings, when the children are in bed. Meanwhile, she can learn other techniques through smaller projects.

3 Another couple of swatches
(New techniques: Purling, stocking stitch, ribbing and seed stitch
Next up: learning to purl. First a swatch in stocking stitch that I didn’t photograph. And then a swatch with various combinations of knit and purl stitches – ribbing and seed stitch.

4 A Doll
(New techniques: Decreasing, seaming and duplicate stitch)
The next project was for her youngest child – a doll the image of this 4-year-old daughter, down to the ponytails.

This little doll is knit flat in one piece.  Apart from being good practice for stocking stitch, it teaches decreasing (for the top of the head) and seaming. I found the pattern on Ravelry – Fairisle Friends by Esther Braithwaite.

Only instead of a Fairisle sweater my student knit a plain sweater and added a heart in duplicate stitch afterwards – another new technique learnt.

5 A Teddy Bear
(New technique: Cabling)
My neighbour’s middle child (the boy who told me his mum wanted to learn to knit) wanted a softie as well – a teddy bear instead of a doll. We used another of Esther Braithwaite’s patterns, the Izzy Teddy Bear Dolls. The pattern gives instructions for knitting in the round, but I thought it too early for that and had my student knit it flat like the doll. The pattern has 4 sweater variations and we chose a cable.

My neighbour’s eldest child, aged 9, hesitated for a while but in the end decided that he was too big for a softie and preferred a ‘cloth’. He got a 25×25 cm/10×10 inch square, knit on the diagonal from very soft wool that he could carry with him and cuddle secretly (sorry, no picture).

In less than 5 months my (very driven and enthusiastic) neighbour learnt A LOT. I’m very proud of her, love teaching her and hope to pass on more of my skills to her over the coming months.

If you don’t have anyone to teach, the small projects above would also make great little gifts. And they are excellent for using up some of those leftover bits of yarn that I’m fairly sure you have in a box (or multiple boxes like me) somewhere.

That was rather a lot of information. I keep trying to keep my posts shorter, but there is always so much to share. Well, I’ll have another chance next week. See you then!

4 thoughts on “Teaching Someone to Knit”

    • Het is ook ontzettend leuk om zo’n enthousiaste leerling te hebben en iedere keer weer nieuwe projectjes te zoeken die bij haar vaardigheid en interesses passen. Vooral het popje en beertje waren erg leuk om te doen. En zo simpel, eigenlijk gewoon een recht lapje.

  1. Don’t be concerned with how long the posts are – I never notice because I am engaged in reading what you write – it is always very interesting. This is a great story with great suggestions on how to teach a new knitter. I volunteered for a program where I would go to the ante partum unit (pregnant mothers with issues) at a large hospital in Seattle and would teach knitting to any of the patients that were interested in learning. I came with all the supplies. Lots of these expectant mothers would be in the hospital for long periods of time so I would get to see some of them make progress. At the time I was teaching them the cast on first and then the knit stitch. As time progressed I could see that it was best to cast on for them and knit a row and then let them practice the knit stitch. I always enjoyed doing it and have often wondered how many became successful knitters. Obviously, this was before Covid.

    • How lovely to read that you’ve passed on your knitting skills to so many people and that you’ve had the same kind of experience with teaching the knit stitch. And thank you for your kind words!


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