Crafty Stories

I like to tell stories through the creative arts. I may be slightly obsessed with books, movies, TV shows, yarn and fiber. Wanna hang out?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Knitting: Remind me why we do this again?

This weekend I've been teaching my 6-year-old daughter, Jillian, how to loom knit. My awesome friend Carrie sent her a set of knitting looms; I thought it would be relatively simple for Jilly to master because she already knew how to finger knit and the steps involved in both forms of alternative knitting are pretty similar.

Yeah, about that. It seems they're not THAT similar. 

First off, I should start by saying that most of us acknowledge that it's harder to teach your own kid how to do something than it is to teach someone else or someone else's kid. That is definitely the case for Jillian and I; there are many times a week when I think that the Universe gave me this child in order to teach me patience. In addition to that little issue, Jilly's apple didn't fall too far from my frustrated tree; she has a hard time persevering with something if it's hard for her. Much like her dear mother.

So anyway, this weekend I've been hearing a lot of,

"Knitting is really frustrating/hard/tricky!"


"Finger knitting was a lot easier and faster than this!" 

and even,

"Are you going to finish that hat you're working on? Maybe I can do your project instead of mine."

As a seasoned knitter, of course I'm highly amused by these comments. Ahh, those were the days, right?

Knitting still frustrates me from time to time, of course. For the most part, though, I'm lucky to have moved beyond frustration into enjoyment of the craft. This whole situation with Jilly leaves me wondering how that happened. What made me keep on picking up those bleeping needles when they were frustrating me? What made me work through my tears, my endless array of expletives and my first several crappy projects?

One of my first knitting projects, a shawl with a lace heart pattern. What was I thinking?!?

I think, for me, it was the desire to win. I wanted to master this craft, come Hell or high water. I was going to BEAT knitting into submission or die trying. 

I don't like to lose.

I don't like to give up.

I don't like to feel stupid, like I can't do something.

So I kept going, and eventually my brain clicked and my needles clicked and now I can make pretty things.

See? I designed AND knitted this particular pretty thing. I even spun the yarn!

I want Jillian to get to this point, eventually. I'm not quite ready to teach her how to use the actual needles yet, as I've tried teaching other children around her age and it's really hard for those little hands (plus, you know, the aforementioned head-butting that happens every time I try to teach her ANYthing). I see this loom knitting as a stepping stone for her. If she can learn the steps involved, practice and hone her skills until she gets good at it, and demonstrate the patience required to finish a handful of projects then maybe she'll be ready for the challenge of traditional knitting or crocheting.

So how do I help her get over that mountain of frustration and enter the Valley of Peaceful Knitting? The Forest of Friendly FOs awaits her, I'm sure of it, but first we have to get past the anger and negativity to a place of positive happiness. I'll try teaching her that it feels good to figure something out, to finish something and to make a gift with love and your own hands. But what else is there?

This is where I need help from all of you, dear readers! What made you get beyond the initial frustration phase of learning a new skill and into the enjoyment phase? Whether it was knitting, crocheting, sewing, weaving or something else entirely, I'm sure you all experienced that initial frustration and then the eventual "Aha!" moment. How do I get Jillian to push ahead to the "Aha!" of her own experience? Leave me a comment below and let me know!

Thank you in advance for helping me help my child. I love to enable future generations of crafters! May all your crafting be frustration-free this week!


  1. "when I think that the Universe gave me this child in order to teach me patience"

    Haha! I think this every day! My inspiration was/is the herd of Alpacas in my pasture. I have tried teaching my daughter a couple of times and I think, like me, she just isn't ready so I've decided to let it go. She can spin (when she wants) and she can weave (when the mood hits) but the knitting frustrates her. I know to leave it be because I tried to crochet at her age and my grandmother and aunt drove me crazy with the doing right and wrong instead of the enjoyment. Now...a bazillion years later, I am ready to learn the craft and enjoyment.

    I hope that helps. You've given her the tools and she knows you are willing to help, now you have to wait for the time to be right for her.

  2. I'm usually much more goal oriented than process oriented.

    When I was a kid, my mom taught me knit and crochet. Crochet made a whole lot more sense. Mom showed me how to make a worm book-mark and I made them for everyone in the family.

    As an adult... again with the goals. I wanted to make a scarf. I never actually finished that scarf. I got bored, but the point was to learn the knit and purl stitches so I could make the scarf.

    I picked up a copy of Chicks with Sticks... it had a few projects I wanted to make and pretty good instructions for learning the stitches.