Saturday, March 07, 2009

Girl Scout Knitting Part 1

Hi Knitters,
Yesterday I started helping The Collector's girl scout group earn the Yarn Craft Badge through learning to knit. I divided her troop into 3 small groups which I will meet with one at a time to teach them how to knit. The first group came over after school and we had such a good time. I love teaching kids how to knit and I hadn't done that for a long time.

Here is my plan and I think it is going to work. The first project for everyone, a baby hat. The girls are all 9 or 10 years old which is a good age to learn in my opinion. I set each girl up with a skein of worsted weight acrylic yarn (they loooove the rainbow yarn!), a pair of size 8-sixteen inch circulars, a canvas bag and some tools like a tape measure, a pair of scissors and a yarn needle. I put these little items in a baggie inside the canvas bag. The last thing I threw in the bag is a copy of Itty-Bitty Hats so when they get home they have a resource to answer any questions that may pop up. They were so excited about their new knitting supplies and they couldn't believe that they got to take everything with them. I love that, it was refreshing. They said thank you about a hundred times.
I wasn't 100% sure that a hat for a first project for kids this age would be good but they loved it. They caught on incredibly fast. I cast on the stitches before they arrived at my house because I wanted them just to sit and knit, literally do the knit stitch, for their first experience. I didn't want them to worry about casting on and purling, etc., this was perfect and that other stuff will come later. It was easier and comforting for them. After I cast on I knitted a few rounds for them (before they got to my house), wove in the end and placed a stitch marker on the first stitch. Their project was ready to go. Successful teaching is all in the preparation, no question about it.
Knitting in the round is the perfect way to start. You just knit and knit and knit, no turning and no worries. I just did a few stitches as a demonstration and they were chomping at the bit to get started. Who am I to hold them back? Off they went. I circulated about and sat next to the girls on the couches as they worked. It was so easy.
After each girl completed their first stitch on their own I always gave them a little round of applause and a smile of accomplishment always appeared. Just look at that pride and excitement, so cute. The hats are either going to be seamed across the top or knit a bit long and gathered at the top, no double-pointed needles just yet.
This sweetie, already crossing her legs in style, went to town. Working hands are fun to watch. This one wants to have an ongoing knitting circle and I agree. She has plans for her knitting. One thing I always notice about kids learning to knit is they think of all of the people they want to knit for. They always want to share and give their knitting. What is it about the knitting that does this?
The concentration was palpable at first but it faded quickly. Soon they were chatting away about school and other fun topics. By the end of the hour I was no longer needed and for the last 10 minutes or so I pulled out my current sock project and sat and knitted with them. Can you believe it? I was in heaven.
What an honor and privilege for me to teach this beautiful group of girls how to knit. The Collector had a ball hosting the meeting, just look at her. Coming up is the second group and I hope it goes as well as the first. I know that every group can be different, that's part of the fun of teaching.

When I told the girls it was time to pack up and go none of them wanted to leave. By that time they were chatting and knitting like a group that had been knitting together for years, it was funny to witness. Knitting brings out the "chat" in people for sure. I told the girls they could call me for help if they got stuck. My daughter told me later that no one was going to call me, that made me laugh. I just wanted the girls to know that I am available to help them in the future. So far, no calls.

Our last meeting is going to be a large group knitting get-together with the entire troop after everyone has had an initial lesson. I can't wait to see how that goes.

Knitters, have a great weekend. It is gloomy and raining here but it still feels good that it's the weekend for some reason. Everyone is home and I guess that's about all I need.
best, susie

22 comments:

Seona said...

This is so fabulous. It's great to see their faces when they realise that they can knit things for themselves, but hey those girls have one great teacher!

McKenzie said...

You're awesome! I love that they already have a little knitting circle. What a cute & valuable thing.

Great prep & gifts. They seemed so excited and proud.

Cindy M said...

I have very fond memories of my assistant leader and I teaching our 12 girl scouts how to knit in
5th grade. We knitted scaves and donated them all to our local food pantry to hand out.

Becca said...

This is so amazing!!!! What a great mom (and teacher) you are :)

Anonymous said...

What a sweet story. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!
--Ramona

Leslie said...

What a great story. Although I wasn't a knitter when my girls were small, I WAS a girl scout leader, and I think I had more fun than the girls did. I can't wait for the show and tell when the hats are completed! Blessings!

Michelle said...

this is the cutest thing ever. I hope all the daughter (and sons) of everyone in my knitting group end up dong this! I mean, my knitting group looks just about 25 years older than them:) I wish I had a group at that age! By the way, i totally agree that a hat and just plain ole knit stitch is the way to go for a beginner. They will be raring to go for the next project before you know it!

astoriaAnn said...

My eight year old son has been asking me to teach him how to knit so this is fabulous info for me! I'll definitely follow in your footsteps with the prep and the in-the-round baby hat (he has a baby sister who would love a hat from him I'm sure!)

One question. I "pick," I don't actually know how to "throw." But I've heard its hard to teach kits to knit the way I knit, that kids show learn to throw. But since that's sort of foreign to me, I don't really want to teach him that way. Any advice about approaches to actually teaching kids how to make a knit stitch?

Susan said...

I teach little kids like this to throw. My daughter originally would throw and she has knitted a little while but she has already changed over to picking. She noticed me picking and wanted to try. The kids pick up throwing so fast and when they get the concept down they can switch over. Kids don't have trouble switching over as much as long time knitters or adults do.

That's just my theory and it has worked for me. Have fun with your son. I taught both of my sons to knit and they loved it, they don't do it any more but I am still really glad that I taught them. Maybe they will knit again someday.
susan

suesueb said...

how wonderful-you're right, i've taught young girls to knit and they're so appreciative! i love passing on a skill that seemed to be dying out and hope they will do the same!!

countrychicken said...

Yea for you!! They will always remember this I'm sure. Brings back memories of my teaching my daughters troop to do counted cross stitch. You have made a definite memory for them. Good Luck with you next group!!

Debbie said...

Hi Susie,
Don't you love teaching kids to knit? I love that they are so eager. They never do what we adults do, say: "I'm so stupid, I can't figure this out." They just say, "I can't figure this out. Will you show me?" It was a good idea to cast on and get them started. I'll remember that next time I teach kids. Love the pictures of those concentrating, happy girls.

Kristi said...

Wonderful story..thanks for sharing. For knitting for the first time, they looked relaxed and confident in the pictures. I hope they continue with their knitting circle since it's fun to knit together. You must have had so much fun.

~yolanda said...

Wow, looks like it turned out really well. I would love to see some of the finished products.

Kate said...

That's fantastic - they already look like old pros from the photos.

Birgit said...

Hello Susan, so nice pictures. The children have so much fun to knit, that's great. I'm sure you are a very good teacher!!! Regards from Germany Birgit

paws said...

So that's how you teach people to knit! I'll definitely keep that in mind for next time. My first attempt was a bit of a fiasco.

Jersey Shore Deb said...

How wonderful!
I would love to do this with Girl Scouts in my town. I tried when my own (now 16 year old) daughter was a Brownie, but it didn't go so well. Perhaps it's time to try again--you've inspired me!

Belle said...

Oh how I wish I lived closer to you!!! I would ask you to be a guest teacher in my Brownie troop I lead. My daughter has learned to knit but needs to hone her skills. I never thought about already casting on, etc and just letting her knit knit knit. Our friend at our LYS has tried to teach all the kids to cast on and it's a really hard skill (in my opinion) for some adults to learn --- add that to kids and it's even harder sometimes!

Any tips are appreciated and I think I'll use this for my own daughter. My friend has my daughter working on a scarf. Do you think a hat in the round would be easier?

Belle said...

Oops! Forgot! Do you have a fairly quick baby blanket pattern that you recommend? I have your books and just haven't browsed them this weekend. I have a blanket I need to make for one of my husband's best friends who is having his first! He and his wife are both 42 or somewhere in there!

Jill said...

I was just thinking of doing this with my Girl Scout Troop. I am a new knitter though and not sure if I can teach yet.
Maybe this summer (girls are in the 3rd grade right now) would work.
Can you share the pattern?
I contiential knit is that ok to teach? We currently have 18 girls so two or three groups would probably be best.

Octavia Silkfin said...

How sweet! I as well knit pretty much everything just for my friends and family... It feels so good when thy like it so much! Good luck on the baby hats!