Thursday, March 13, 2008

Question from Reader: Teaching Crochet to Children

Denise from Cincinnati writes: That is soo cool! My dd (7yo) wants to learn, but I have a hard time teaching her how to get the basic chain started. what age is best for learning crochet? Are there good books to use for kids?

Great questions Denise!

My Mini~Dee first picked up the crochet hook at the age of five.  I did not push it onto her, but rather left supplies out from time to time in case the day came where she'd ask me to teach her.  And happily it did.

She did not want to hold the yarn in order to get the right tension, or the ability to keep creating loops in a fluid motion.  I did not intervene.  She was comfortable with picking the loops off with her fingers; delighted to make chains of various lengths for various purposes.  I even had her take some of her chains and weave them through one of my open (crocheted) meshes (known as the Crochet'n'WeaveTM technique), making little purses; she really enjoyed seeing our work come together!

When her attention started to taper off I introduced her to crocheting with pony beads.  She made many beaded necklaces, bracelets, and bookmarks for many, many people; I still wear the pieces she made for me from time to time. 

As we sat together to do our crochet I would say to her, "You know, you're getting quite fast at making your crochet!  Let me know if you want to learn how to go even faster!"  Never did I push -- I always invited.

When she was seven, she was ready.  She learned how to properly feed the yarn through her fingers, controling her tension, and with smiles upon her face, quick she was!  Still, I did not push any crochet stitches until she let me know she was ready!

Mini~Dee is hooked on crocheting circles!Today she can do a number of stitches, and often times makes garments for her dolls.  Her attention, as of this week, is figuring out how to crochet circles (in the picture to the right she is working on a circle while awaiting for her brother at his Cub Scout Den meeting last night.)

The key, Denise, is to have patience.  Make a regular time to invite your daughter to sit with you -- not necessarily to crochet, perhaps she can read to you, or tell you about her day.  This will become a shared moment for the two of you to connect.  Ask questions from time to time, while you're sitting together, about what she thinks about the project you're working on -- does she like the color? does she like the stitches? does she like the way it looks?  if she were working on the project, what would she change? ... get her to THINK about crochet.   If you own a pet (cat/dog) and the phone rings, ask her gently to baby-sit your project while you're away.  If you come back and find her imitating what you've been doing, take that as a sign she's ready!  Invite her to try it with you.

As for a book to recommend, really, there are so many terrific books out there!  I do suggest visiting your local library and looking at the books they have available for loan -- do it together and take mental notes on what projects interest her.  Then go from there.

I do know, based upon first hand experience of teaching children how to crochet with their parents in the room, if that parent makes one comment that makes the child feel as though they are not "smart enough" to crochet, then they will give up!  Such a shame!  Accept that your child will figure things out on his/her own, or in their own time -- mine did!  Mini~Dee and I -- our crochet techniques are NOT the same although I'm the one who taught her!  Grant your child the freedom to experiment to see what happens.  There's plenty of time to teach the "rules" later on.  :)

I hope this helps; have fun!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great advice - my 6 year old SON has been asking me to teach him how to crochet.  He's been getting very frustrated with trying to learn the chain stitch - now I see I should LET him make that chain in any way he can!  Thanks for the great advice!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you addressed this, Dee, as well as posting the link (on a previous entry) on how to teach crochet.

My nephew (age 12 now) was wanting to learn last year.  He got his chain okay, but around the time we were working on sc's, he lost interest.  Somehow though, I think it had to do with an evil step-father who thought crochet was sissy stuff.  This is the same idiot who was forcing the kid to play football when he was younger.

Nephew still seems interested in whatever is on my hook at the time he visits (he loves the new afghan I'm working on!) so, maybe, we can re-address things later on, if he is still interested in learning.   I think it's a good sign though, when he doesn't just "look" at what I'm working on, but actually kind of studies it - like he wants to know how it's made.

Love and hugs,

PS  When you're trying to teach an adult who has no prior knowledge of crocheting, is there much difference between teaching that person vs. a child?