My niece finished her second project last week and I felt like sharing. I learned a few things about indoctrinating kids into knitting, so I’m sharing. It’s easy enough to teach a kid how to knit, but keeping them knitting is an endeavour. Honestly, I don’t blame them, there is a lot of fun playing to be done when you’re a kid. On the other hand, my niece REALLY wants to become a better knitter, and you can’t do that without practice.
So here’s my story …. at the beginning of the school year she wanted to make a hat for her teacher, so I found an easy, basic pattern for her (something knit flat on super bulky yarn and big needles) and brought home some super bulky yarn in a colour her teacher would like, plus a jaunty fur pompom. You know how it goes, best-laid plans ….. first off, all she wanted to do was play with the pompom, it was very distracting. I don’t think she was into the colour I chose (a beautiful eggplant), and the entire concept of consulting a pattern was beyond her. Also, the longer needles required for making a hat flat were awkward and hard for her to use.
After several months of her project languishing, I threw in the towel and cast on some stitches in a more kid-friendly colour, and on shorter needles. I figured I’d just get her making *something*, maybe a neck warmer. But she’s a stubborn kid and insisted she wanted to make a hat for her teacher. It was hat or bust! So I went along with it, told her we could make it into a hat, and in the end McGyvered into a garment. Below is how the process unfolded (I apologize for the sad illustrations, I didn’t have the right technology with me when I made them).
1. Knit a Long Rectangle
I cast on as many stitches as can comfortably fit on a 10″ straight needles. Next, I got the kid to knit a rectangle-ish shape that fits around the circumference of a head (all in garter stitch). I found that she really go into knitting while listening to children’s books we downloaded through our public library.
I fixed all the dropped stitches that would unravel, but I did not mend any yarn overs or extra stitches added. I wanted her to get a feel for her progress. She started with a section of light blue, then changed to apple green, and finally light pink – the design concept was hers. Extra stitches were added, especially in the final section, so our rectangle was a bit trapezoidal.
I seamed the cast on edge to the cast off edge. I offered her this job, but in true knitterly fashion, she wasn’t into it. The edges weren’t the same length and didn’t match, so I lined up one side and let the extra fabric hang down the other side.
3. Pick-up The Crown
Our rectangle was not tall enough to pull in the top of the hat, and the kid was adamant that she wanted a single pompom on top, and wasn’t going in for a flat-topped hat. With double pointed needles, I picked up about 40 stitches around the circumference of the non-wonky edge. I immediately decreased for the crown, decreasing 4 stitches on every round until I only had about 8 stitches left. I broke the yarn, pulled it through the remaining stitches, and secured it on the inside of the hat. I wove in all the ends (I could have gotten her to do this but bedtime was creeping up fast and she REALLY wanted to give it to her teacher the next day). What can I say, I’m a sucker.
4. Styling and Art Direction (aka. Smoke & Mirrors)
I sewed a button on the side (I tried to teach her how to do it, but getting buttons to the right height for knitwear is a tricky endeavour for the best of us, and making the hat look good was really important to the kid, so she tried and then passed it off to me. (BTW, If you have a good button sewing for knitwear hack please share it with me! I always have a hard time making a post for the flat button.) I flipped the extra fabric up and buttoned it down, turning it into a jaunty design feature. Lastly, I sewed down the pompom.
5. Document the Occasion
Finally, I took pictures. It was a very multifaceted design, so we did an impromptu photo shoot to mark the big event. She proudly wrapped up her gift, and we got ready for bed, both of us extremely proud.
Did her teacher like it? I don’t know, but I expect it’s the most interesting gift she will receive in her career as a teacher. Did I mention that the day she gave this super wasm hat to her teacher it was super, uncomfortably hot outside? Yeah, it was a very timely gift. Anyway, her BFF at school was totally into the hat and has commissioned one in pink, with a purple pompom. Only time will tell if the aesthetic will trickle down to the runways of Europe …..
What I Gleaned
Did I learn anything? You bet:
- Kids gonna be kids – just go with it. If you want to get a kid into knitting, do it in kid colours.
- Kids do things differently than adults – just go with it.
- Don’t rush to get stuff done before bedtime.
- Kids like to knit while listening to audiobooks too!