Saturday, 15 November 2014

Knitting with Kids

Teaching kids how to knit can be a very rewarding experience, though it cannot be free of troubles all the time. Kids love getting involved in what they see their mothers doing. So if your kid loves to see you knit, or has a million questions about the pattern you are knitting, it is time to encourage their interest in the craft and teach them how to knit. Most kids who knit say they learnt knitting at the age of 7-9 years. This is the age when hand-eye coordination in kids is well developed, and they can understand and follow written patterns.

Although it is very satisfying to teach your kids and their friends how to knit, what is greater is the joy of learning a craft together if you yourself don't know how to knit. So spend the upcoming winter vacation learning how to knit with your child, or teaching your child how to knit. The weather would be perfect to knit together a couple scarves as beginner patterns.

There are certain things to keep in mind when you teach children how to knit, also when you are learning along with your child. Let us see what they are:

  1. Start by teaching kids how to knit without needles first. A finger knitting project, or making a simple bracelet or flower using a Knitting Dolly or French Knitter would be a perfect beginning. Doing a couple projects of knitting without needles would develop your child's understanding of tension, the direction of knit stitches, as well as increase their love of yarn. Teaching a child how to knit is not merely about training them to create stitches, but to experience the joy of crafting, and to explore the endless creative possibilities that follow.
  2. Good teaching environment is a must. There should be ample space for kids to sit and learn, it is a good idea to teach one or two kids at a time, so that you can see what each individual is doing. There should be sufficient natural light so that stitches are clearly visible. If you are learning along with your child, learning through YouTube videos is a great idea. The room where you learn, should have enough space and lighting for you to carefully observe the tutorial and repeat it yourself.
  3. First Knitting Needles. First knitting needles for kids should preferably be wooden or acrylic, which do not have tips as sharp as metal needles. The size should be between 5.00mm - 6.00mm, so that each stitch made is clearly visible.
  4. First Yarn. One should try and learn from acrylic yarn for two reasons. First, acrylic yarns are relatively inexpensive, and second, garments made of acrylic yarns are easy to wash and maintain. Moreover, acrylic yarn is more tolerable to ripping apart and starting again and that is bound to happen when one is learning. Yarn weight is also an important consideration when teaching kids to knit. One should preferably choose a worsted weight, or bulky yarn in bright, solid colors.
  5. First Project.  First project should be very carefully chosen. It should be a simple project involving preferably a single stitch, and should not be too long so as to keep the kids interested. A garter stitch belt or a garter scarf should be ideal as a first project.
  6. Cast on, knit, rip back, start again. Teach kids to cast on, rip back the cast on stitches and repeat several times so they get a hang of it. Knit a few rows, rip back and start again to give good practice and clear doubts.
  7. Don't just teach girls, teach boys as well. India is a country where it is believed that only women should knit. This is a great misnomer, and a very unfortunate belief. Knitting is not limited to one gender, it should be seen as a craft which gives one an opportunity to express oneself creatively, and is a great art which teaches patience, rhythm, and helps improve hand-eye coordination. Teach your boys to knit, so they can create something which helps someone in need, and they can better appreciate your efforts of knitting for them.

You can find beginner knitting videos on our YouTube Channel AllKraftz.

Hope these tips would prove helpful to you when you decide to pass on this age-old art to the next generation. We would love to hear from you, so do post your comments and tell us about your experience of teaching and learning how to knit.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Yarns - Types, weights, etc....

A lot of craft newbies are overwhelmed by the vast variety of yarns around them, and often find the terminology very confusing. Cotton, wool, 3-ply, worsted, blends - these are a few names one can see associated with yarns, and these varied, unrelated terms add to the confusion. So here today we will try to untangle the puzzle and give you information on what are the various yarn types, ply, yarn weights, how they affect your project, and how to choose your needles or hooks according to the yarn.

To understand more about yarn, let us first see how yarn is classified. Generally, yarn is classified according to the source, ply,and weight.

Classification based on Source: Plant based, Animal based,etc.

  1. Plant based yarns: these yarns are made from plant fibers. Examples of plant based yarns are cotton, bamboo, linen, soy, etc.
  2. Animal based: these yarns are sourced from Animal hair. Examples are wool, merino wool, cashmere, angora, alpaca, silk, etc.
  3. Synthetic: these yarns are artificially prepared, mostly from petroleum products. Examples are acrylic, microfiber, polyester, nylon, rayon, etc.
  4. Blends: these yarns are made by blending synthetic fibers with natural fibers, to get yarns that are heat resistant, shrink resistant, and machine washable. Examples would be wool-acrylic, cotton-acrylic, bamboo - polyester, and so on.

Classification based on Ply: single, 2-ply,3-ply...

Plying is twisting strands of fiber together to get a thicker fiber. Accordingly, yarn can be single ply or 1-ply, 2-ply, 3-ply and so on. The more the number, the thicker the yarn.

Classification based on weight: lace, sock, etc.

Here is a chart (courtesy that explains the names associated with yarn weights, number assigned to each weight category, the corresponding needle and hook size, etc.

Wraps per inch - Abbreviated as WPI, this is a good method to determine the weight of an unknown yarn ball where nothing is mentioned about the weight, yardage, etc. To determine the WPI, wrap the yarn around a pencil, knitting needle, or a ruler, keeping the yarn flat. Push the strands together so that there are no gaps between the wraps. the yarn should be wrapped neither too tight nor too loose. Measure the number of wraps in 1 inch (2.5 cm). This gives you the WPI score of the yarn. Compare it with the chart above to know the yarn weight. 

Hope this information will come handy when you purchase your next lot of yarn. Please leave comments if you still have queries regarding this topic.