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Old 08-10-2007, 01:09 AM   #1
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If you knitted as a child....question
Hi I've never posted before though I've read other's posts. Love this site.

I've taught 6 adults to knit, some of whom even wanted to learn four of whom who have gone on to love knitting and do well, so I'm pretty confident as a teacher ...BUT....

I'm teaching a highly motivated, reasonably bright 8 year old and it is much slower going for her to grasp what to put where. I know that each person has different spacial skills etc and I think all things considered she did pretty well. She is still enthusiastic and wants to continue. I could see as she got tired, she wanted to speed ahead and make senseless mistakes. I'm trying to be really low key and emphasise that mistakes are just another type of practice and she seems cool with that.

My question is, IF you learned to knit as a child and you couldn't manage to thread yarn between fingers on right hand, and thus dropped and picked up the working yarn, DID you later develop into having thread through fingers or did you keep the pick up and drop method for life? Am I making a mistake encouraging her to try and learn how to use fingers for tension but also telling her that for now whatever works for her is fine?

Also is there anything your teacher showed you or emphasised that was very helpful? We have used the knitting rhyme to help her remember the steps but it is only "so" helpful.

It seems that every time I see someone post on a blog who learned to knit as a child, they dropped it after that until adulthood. Does this always happen? Are you still glad you learned as a child?

Thanks ahead for any imput on any of the questions.
Susan in Idaho.
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Old 08-10-2007, 06:44 AM   #2
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I am teaching an 11 year old right now and she picked it up quite fast but she is not threading the yarn through her fingers just yet either and I am not really stressing it although I am starting to show her how the stitches are more even if the yarn is pulled tighter and I notice that she is starting to try and figure out a comfortable way for her hold the yarn so there is some tension.I think it just takes a little getting use to ,I started knitting as an adult and I remeber when I started it felt like I had 10 thumbs on my hands.
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Old 08-10-2007, 07:34 AM   #3
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I learned as a child and i didn't use the traditional thread thru fingers thing. I didn't drop it everytime, i just did what worked for me. I still use the same technique i did back then. It's awsome that you teach! I try to teach people all the time but it's usually against the students will!
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Old 08-10-2007, 07:44 AM   #4
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Hello Susan,

I learned when I was probably 7-8 years old. I don't really remember, but I think I was doing exactly like you're saying, the "pick up and drop" method. I think at that age you don't have the same dexterity as an adult, so it's not necessarily a matter of if she wants to do it or not, it might be actually more difficult for her.

Now I use my "own" technique for tension but I definitely don't use the same method as when I was a child. With practice, she will want to find a better way to hold the yarn and chances are she will come up with the technique herself. I think what you're doing is fine - tell her and show her there's another technique, but let her experiment and most of all, let her have fun with it! At that age you often want to see some progress, whether it looks good or not.

My mom never put any pressure on me to knit the "right" way or to teach me new things. To me it was just playing with yarn and needles. At the beginning all I did was the knit stitch, and my mom was casting on for me. I was only knitting endless scarves . With time I wanted to learn how to cast on myself and my mom showed it to me. Then I wanted to know how to bind off and she showed me that as well. I was really going at my own pace, and this is what worked for me (but every child is different, of course). I just enjoyed knitting, I think it made me feel like a "grown up" because my mother and grandmother were knitting a lot.

I stopped knitting for a very, very long time but what's great is that I never forgot! I think it's the advantage when you learn young. I am definitely glad I learned as a child. I think learning to purl/increase/decrease was a lot easier because I had so much practice with the knit stitch, having done it so much as a child.

Hope this helps!
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Old 08-10-2007, 07:49 AM   #5
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I learned as a child too (although I dropped it again through my teens) but both times I learned I dropped the thread and picked it up again. My mother felt that getting me to do the stitches right was the important bit, and since I gripped the needles way too hard as a child, threading the yarn would have been asking for trouble ;-)

As I got older, I learned other ways of holding the yarn, sometimes I do slip back into old habits but I keep the tension right anyway. I think my mum was right - that too many things at once makes it harder to learn sometimes, whereas starting with the stitch and building up to other things makes it easier for a child. When I learned to crochet as an adult, I learned how to hold the yarn at the same time as I learned the stitches, but I think our brains work differently.

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Old 08-10-2007, 07:57 AM   #6
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My mother taught me at age 12, and initially I just let the yarn drop after each stitch. But as I got older I developed my own way of threading the yarn through my fingers. I think 8 is a little young to learn that skill -- she'll figure it out for herself as she gets a little older and knits more. My mom just taught me the basic knit stitch, cast-on, & bind-off, and then turned me loose to "play" with it. She gave help when asked, but otherwise left me alone. Maybe she was just too busy with lots of other children to get really involved, but her method worked for me.

I continued knitting occasionally until my early 20s, but took a break from it when I had children. Picked up where I left off 30+ years later. It's like riding a bicycle . . . you never forget how! I taught my younger sister when I was 16 and she was 11. She recently bought some yarn and needles and started knitting again -- 40 years later! She still remembers how!
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Old 08-10-2007, 08:41 AM   #7
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I learned to knit by dropping the string. I had even learned to crochet before then but for some reason when I learned to knit I never could manage the thread going through my fingers and keeping an even tension. I later learned to do it.

I have taught all my children to knit. I started off just teaching them knit. They all made scarves that were just long garter stitch strips. This helped them learn tension, spacing, picking up dropped stitches, and keeping up with their stitches. It also reinforced the "groove" of knitting. After that they made a flat hat in stockinette that did not have ribbing at the bottom (so it rolled at the bottom). This taught them knit and purl. From that everything is based on knit and purl.

My younger daughter was 8 when she learned and had a lot of problem with straight needles, so I bought her a set of size 11 short bamboo needles. They fit her hand well and didn't tire her arms out. My son (who is autistic) learned with a set of needles that I found at JoAnn that were made for kids and had a sort of rubbery coating on them that allowed him to keep up with his stitches easier. They didn't just slip off the ends.

BTW, I never learned the knitting rhyme (have since learned it thanks to this forum) and so I taught my kids by saying, "Through, around, down and off"
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Old 08-10-2007, 03:50 PM   #8
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I learned to knit when I was 5. I held the yarn between my thumb and pointer finger. At first I dropped the yarn between stitches - then I learned to keep a grasp on the yarn. To this day I hold the yarn the same way. I do not wrap the yarn around my fingers (although I can.) I knit to gauge and for the most part my stitches are even and look nice.
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:46 PM   #9
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I was 7 years old...
when my Great-Aunt taught me to knit. She was German and taught me to knit the continental method. I remember her telling me that she had to learn it in school and it was time I learned. If I tried to use my right-hand, she'd tell me no, no, you have to learn to do it the correct

If she was still alive today, she would be 107 yrs old, so she was definitely old school. She knitted the most beautiful items I've ever seen. She went to Holland in the early 20's and worked in a factory where the women hand knit clothing. After she came to live in the US, she worked in a factory here in PA knitting beautiful children's sweaters...I think the factory was called "Infanta".

Oh, well, I say as long as they have an interest, let them do what feels comfortable and nudge them into finding the correct way that works best them.

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Old 08-10-2007, 05:09 PM   #10
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I was taught at around age 10. I never picked up and dropped, but I wrapped the yarn around my index finger 1, 2, 3 times depending on what tension I needed and what type yarn it was. Still do.
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