Many people will pick up needles or a hook and some yarn at some point in their lives. So what is the key to getting them to stick with it?
Guideline #1: Make sure the person learning really wants to learn.
- Many people will try to knit or crochet on a whim because they think it’s trendy.
- Most people who haven’t knit or crochet before don’t have an accurate sense of the costs of these crafts or how hard/easy it will be to take them up.
- Many people also don’t have a good sense of how long it takes to complete a project. If they think they’re going to knit a sweater in a day or two, they may not stick with it once they discover that that’s an unrealistic expectation.
Guideline #2: Set the learner up for success.
- Make sure you have enough time with the new knitter/crocheter so that you can teach them the basic skills and allow them to practice.
- Ideally, you might have several sessions so that the learner can practice on their own and then meet with you again if they’ve had problems or made mistakes.
- Give the learner materials that are easy to use. Generally that’s a worsted-weight(ish) yarn in a light color and appropriately sized needles/hook.
- Choose a first project that’s motivating and not too big.
- Many beginner knitters start off with a scarf, which is practically doomed to fail.
- Consider something that will teach multiple skills (increasing, decreasing, etc.), like a hat or a dishcloth worked on the bias.
- If the learner is motivated to make something specific that requires skills that beginners don’t usually have, don’t dissuade them! The desire to make a specific item can be great motivation to learn.
Guideline #3: Give the learner lots of additional resources.
- There are many different ways of learning, so be sure to offer many different types of resources so that the learner can find which ones work best for them.
- Learning from another person: Suggest private lessons at an LYS if you’re not able to commit to the time.
- Learning from books: Have a good list of reliable books for beginners that are widely available (either for purchase or to borrow from the library). If you own some of them and are willing to lend them, all the better!
- Visual/video learning: Recommend specific Craftsy classes or YouTube channels that are tried and true. Two YouTube channels that Anna recommends are VeryPink Knits and Crochet Guru.
- For those who are Internet savvy, get them set up on Ravelry and show them the forums, which are a great source of help if you’re on your own.
Special Considerations: Teaching Children
- There is no magic age at which children are “old enough” to learn to knit or crochet; it will depend greatly on the child.
- For a child to be ready to learn, they need to have both the small motor skills to be able to manipulate the needles/hook and yarn and the attention span to be able to focus on the task long enough to learn it.
- Let the child’s desire guide you; don’t force them to learn if they’re not interested or not ready.
- Consider starting with an easier version of knitting or crochet: finger knitting or finger chaining. Knitting spools or looms are also good tools and can be homemade as part of the process.
- Follow the same “set the learner up for success” guidelines as above.
- Be patient. It might take a child longer to learn how to knit or crochet than it will take an adult, particularly if it’s a younger child who isn’t used to manipulating small, thin objects.
Specific Resource Recommendations:
- Craftsy: technique- and project-specific classes that you can watch at any time and as often as you want; frequent sales; some free classes
- YouTube: search for specific techniques; some YouTubers with lots of tutorial videos (e.g., VeryPink Knits)
- TECHknitting blog: in-depth explanations with clear images
- Ravelry: main forums for help with problems; technique- or style-specific groups
- Books by Elizabeth Zimmermann
- The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt
- Kids’ Knitting Workshop by Susan B. Anderson
- A to Z of Crochet
- The Crochet Answer Book by Edie Eckman
- Classes or private lessons at an LYS
- Classes at a fiber festival or retreat