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Alabama Studio Style and chat with author Natalie Chanin

Olympic Knitting

Feb 10

Kate has been asking for a knitting lesson for a few months.  On our second snow day last week, I took the girls to our local yarn store and with their help (thank you Jane and Cindy!), Kate learned to knit.  I cast on for her and she used knitting rhymes to help keep her remember exactly what she was supposed to do. The rabbit goes through the hole, around the tree, peek back out, and off we leap!  Within a half an hour, she was doing it all on her own.

As a mom that loves to sew and knit, I have found that if I am over-enthusiastic about any one craft, my kids tend to drop it like a hot potato.  To that end, I played it really cool, giving Kate a few pats on the back and patiently fixing every little mistake that she made.  I quietly encouraged her and let her do the rest.  Every day, she has picked it up, knit a few rows and put it back away.  She took it with her to Jane's guitar lesson and the two of us sat in the waiting room knitting and chatting.  She pulled it out and worked on her scarf while watching the Olympics last night.  Even Jane, who hasn't knitted in well over a year, decided to pull out her yarn and needles.  I cast on 15 stitches for her and after a quick lesson, she was knitting away too.  It was one of those moments that I will never forget - all three of us sitting on the couch, watching Olympics, knitting in hand.


I have no idea if this will last so I am enjoying every dropped stitch and unintentional yarn over that needs fixing while I can.  Back here soon.



What a precious moment! My girl is just 2 so these are the moments I dream of. She does LOVE to help me sew. It makes it much tougher and slower but I wouldn't change it for the world!


i love this... i can't wait till i can have the same sort of moments.

Earth mama

My daughter started knitting when she was 6 ish. She did it just like your daughter, a couple rows, then it might sit for awhile. I alternated rows with her at bedtime, because at the time I was also teaching myself how to knit. We finished a pretty loopy scarf together, but it is as special as any scarf can be!


Sarah Jackson

Yay Kate! Annika has been knitting too, but is not quite as far along. She had a combination of stubbornness and independence that leads to some creative knitting. But, slowly we're getting there. I may try that rhyme. I think it could help.


How wonderful and yes I know about being too enthusiastic and them not wanting to do it anymore. My daughter actually knit a row or two last week and then put it away but she wanted to knit for a little bit at least!

Mama Urchin

I'm looking forward to a moment like this too.


my little one is only 15 months but i hope we'll have moments like these, too!


Oh yeah I know exactly what you mean.


love it. do you think l. can do it? or does she need another year?

Amanda Pedro

yeah you. Nice pic of everyone creating together


This is so nice! I look forward to the possibility.


Knitting on the couch with my girls, I can't wait for that day. I think the take it slow approach was a wise choice. I'm so glad my mom taught me to knit when I was little. It took me years before I "picked it up" again but once you learn it stays with you forever. Like riding a bike.

Julie Alvarez

I remember moments like this one with my own mama and sister.
So glad to read that you enjoy them...

Anna - Three Sneaky Bugs

That sounds dreamy. So hard to control your excitment, but yes, you must.


Isn't that funny how our enthusiasm squelches theirs? play it cool, mama. My 4yo has been asking to learn...I tried it with her holding on to my hands and watching and then me holding onto her hands...we'll see if it sticks.
Many blessings!

Erin | house on hill road

alternating rows is a great idea to help new knitters move along!  thanks for sharing that.

Erin | house on hill road

Jane didn't take to knitting as much - she doesn't like it when she makes mistakes.  I didn't use the rhyme with her - I think it made a huge difference in consistency of stitches.

Erin | house on hill road

a little bit is good in my book!

Erin | house on hill road

it really is pretty special. ;)

Erin | house on hill road

oh, i think she could do it!  the rhyme was key for kate.  i didn't use one for jane and now wish i had.

Erin | house on hill road

it was hard to keep my mouth shut, but i did!

Mary Beth

What a lovely post, Erin. I love this kind of honesty . . . "if I am too enthusiastic they tend to drop it like a hot potato." Yes! Things don't always go as we would wish, do they? My little boys are very much the same way so I try to play it cool with everything. Enjoy these sweet times! My big girl (age 16) very much wants to knit with me. We are both real beginners--she's a bit behind me. I really should book that mother/daughter lesson we've been talking about, shouldn't I?


love that all three of you were knitting!

libby is knitting... a little... (TINY BIT) she has been working on leg warmers for over a year... with about 2 inches left... when i tell her she should get her knitting... and finish her project... you would think i just asked her to um.... make dinner for the next month.. and deliver it to her brothers.. on her head!
i am TORTURING her! :)


Thanks for making me smile...!


One of the teachers at my sons' Montessori school teaches knitting. A while ago I introduced the idea of knitting with my seven year old. He wasn't that interested until he found out another boy he liked was knitting too. I approached the teacher for strategies and ideas about how and what she taught the knitters and my son and I cast on. He knit steadfastedly for a while but the hat's been hibernating for quite some time. He occasionally asks about it but never at times when I have it with us. Today, though, my four year old has a music class. Maybe I'll just bring that knitting along just in case today is the day his big brother wants to pick up that hat for a bit while we wait.

Your second knitting picture makes me want to have a basket centerpiece on the coffee table with WIPs. Thanks for the motherly and knitting inspiration.


Good advice about the enthusiasm Erin, I think I need to learn to keep mine in check!


I'm not sure anymore how I stumbled upon your blog, but I have always been envious of your knitting skills. When I was young like your daughters, I learned to crochet by sitting in front of my grandmother (she was right handed, I left handed). I loved it, but as I grew older I had a desire to want to learn to knit. I tried to teach myself, but never got the hang of it. Recently my own daughter expressed an interest in wanting to knit. We found a community ed class and were taught the basics. Now to keep practicing and expand our abilities. Thank you Erin for the inspiration to seek out something my heart has always desired.


I think my four year old boy would like to learn to knit. Thanks for sharing the rhyme and that I should cast on for him first. I, too, get so excited about projects. During our many snow days recently I kept suggesting that we paint t-shirts. I was probably too pushy. He didn't want to until this morning, a school day. We broke out the dinosaur stencils and did a couple before breakfast. I can't wait to see how they turn out. Have a super day!


I remember learning how to knit--and how wonderful it feels. I taught my brother this past summer (a 19 year old teenage boy, believe it or not!) and I will NEVER forget sitting next to him, of all people, and knitting.

sew katie did

I was never interested in doing any sewing/knitting because it was my Mom's thing. In my 30's when I started sewing a lot came to me intuitively just from watching my Mom all those years. You're smart to let them come around to it.

julianna smith

So very sweet. And, way to play it cool!

Jo's Corner

What a special post. My daughter and I took knitting lessons together two years ago. She will pick up the needles every now and then – she has a scarf she is working on. I too, try not to push it for her to finish it. Knitting has become such an enjoyable, creative outlet for me. I am working on my first cable sweater now.


My mom (olympic knitter, sewer, goddess of all things handmade) taught me to knit when I was maybe 7. I learned, didn't much love it, dropped it, boiled-potato-style. I didn't look back for 30 years. This past fall, I asked her to teach me again. I've fallen head over heels. I'm so grateful for her enduring patience, her infinite enthusiasm. Just one wee tiny story to give you hope, whatever path your two girls take.


What a great idea to teach the kids knitting or crochetting while watching the Olympics.

nicola@which name?

my little one wants to do this, but still can't quite grasp finger knitting. enjoy. i love your heart knit photo.


I recently taught my daughter how to crochet (I have a post up about it) and wow, what fun to sit there with your girl(s) crocheting/knitting and chatting. Oh yes.


I love sitting and knitting with my girl. How wonderful to knit with both daughters at once! I love that image. We used a rhyme, as well, and I think it's really, really helpful.


six is a great age for knitting! it also helps with reading (it's a midline crossing skill, which is so important to reading), so it's really perfect for that age.


OH Erin....that's so cool. So cool...:)


I am so jealous - I have a recalcitrant left hander and I can't get it right teaching her back to front - any suggestions???

Erin | house on hill road

Hi Clare.  I know the ladies at my yarn shop teach left handers the same way they teach right handers because you use both hands when you knit.  I wish I could help more!


That is so sweet, and good for you for playing it cool ;)

I remember reading Elizabeth Zimmerman had this advice for teaching young knitters in Knitter's Almanac. She said to knit a few extra rows for them when you fixed the mistake to make it go quicker...on the sly of course! What a cool lady.


I had the same feeling when I thought me daughter to knit last year :)
It's so great to sit in the sofa together and kint!


Erin, I forgot to ask--did Jane and Cindy teach Kate to throw or pick? :-)

My grand daughter (then 5) watched me sewing the sleeve of a sweater using the 'blind' stitch. "May I try?"
"Sure." I'm with all of you who quietly rejoice and love the shared moments.

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