Knitting with Kids

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I’ve stumbled upon this bit of info re knitting and instruction dating back to the mid 1800s. The intro sounds a little funny/dated. The rest sounds like an answer to my question, ‘at what age it would be appropriate for a child to start learning how to knit/crochet.’ I am more comfortable with the idea of teaching children hand-knitting and finger-crocheting. But, here it goes:

“Knitting is a most universally popular employment, and has this great advantage above others, that it affords a useful occupation for the old, when the failure of eye-sight obliges them to lay aside all other work. But to knit well in age we must be diligent in youth; and it is surprising how early children may be taught, and how much pride and pleasure they feel in knitting their first garter. I visited an interesting little school the other day in which children of three and four years of age were taught this useful work, and saw some nice little socks of their knitting. On asking the obliging and clever governess how it was possible to train such little creatures, even to perform the first step in the art; she most kindly sent me the following rules, at the same time allowing me to print them for the benefit of my scholars: –

“When teaching little children the art of knitting, I take them by my side, and cast up a garter. I then show them how I knit the simple stitch, saying whilst I do so, ‘put in the needle, put up the cotton, turn in the stitch, and slip it off.’ The repetition of these rules not only instructs, but at the same time amuses my little scholars. I then put the work into their own hands, and at first guide their fingers, repeating the lesson until they have learnt it, which they do in a surprisingly short time, together with the stitch it is intended to teach. I have girls of four years of age who can knit their own socks, as well as supply their little brothers and sisters with these useful articles. At five they can knit ‘antimacassars,’ and other fancy stitches; and in teaching these, I follow the same plan, and make them learn the receipt by heart before putting into practice. I also teach my little boy-scholars to knit; as, besides the advantage it may be to them in after life, it amuses and keeps them quiet in school.””

The Industrial Handbook…Part II.-Knitting. London, 1856. pp5-6.

Wow, 3-4-year-olds knitting their own socks. I have trouble picturing this as possible nowadays. It probably is. But, I could not recommend having knitting needles around a child or even an active pet that age 🙂 I did my very first bit of knitting, I believe, in middle school. It was not an ‘antimacassar’ 🙂 I’ve been working on this one for over a month now:

Angora Knit Hat -

But that has nothing to do with my age 😀

I am wondering if it would be ok for a child to knit with these new prym “ball-point” needles that I keep wanting to buy for myself, but haven’t figured out how/where.

It’s certainly an interesting insight; explains a lot. Just look at all those amazing knitting patterns published in the 19th century.

How old were you when you first picked up knitting needles and made your first knit stitch? What brand needles would you recommend for a knitting session with a kid?


  1. Interesting to hear of such young children knitting. I suppose there were less amusements then. I can’t remember when I was taught to knit but I think I may have been about six. Not that I did much or was good at it. I taught my granddaughter to knit when she was about eight but once I also taught her to crochet she decided that she prefers that, as I do myself, though I am a much better knitter now.
    I admire your knitting with multiple needles. I have discovered circular needles. They are short and not very sharp I don’t know how a child would get on with them. I bought by granddaughter a pair of ordinary straight bamboo ones.

    Liked by 1 person

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