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Crochet Today… like a 5-year-old. Tips for teaching your budding crafter

I’m really enjoying being able to write more about the crafts I love in this freelance phase of life. And it was a particular kick to team up with my 5-year-old daughter Abby to write a piece for the January/February 2010 issue of Crochet Today! I taught her how to crochet and then documented our crochet adventure for the magazine.

I learned to crochet when I was five, so this is a bit of a rite of passage in my family. And I’m happy to report that weeks after I turned in the article, Abby is still crocheting. In fact, she fell asleep crocheting a necklace for one of her friends Sunday night and I had to retrieve the hook and rainbow skein from her bed. (Somebody pinch me, please. : )

When Abby’s little sister, Amelia, saw the magazine she said, “Wow, Abby, you’re famous!” and gave her a hug. Gotta love that sisterly support.

Looking back on our crochet adventure, I think I probably ended up learning more from Abby than she did from me. She pressed me to explain techniques I usually complete on autopilot and challenged me to be more patient. It was a great experience to share with her.

Flip to page 94 for the story of our crochet adventure. And be sure to check out fun patterns from former CraftSanity Podcast guests, Regina Rioux Gonzalez (episode 1) and Drew Emborsky, (episode 15) too. (Thankfully, I’ve improved my podcasting skills a bit since recording these earlier shows. Cringe.) In the meantime, here a few tips I collected along the way to help you hook a young crafter on crochet.

The Right Time to Teach: For best results, wait until the your child has developed the fine motor skills and attention span required to hold and maneuver the hook. By age 5, many boys and girls can handle learning the basics. If your budding crafter becomes frustrated, take a break and delay the next lesson for several months to a year.

Keep It Simple: Start your child off with a foundation chain using a size “G” or “H” hook and some worsted or medium weight yarn. Help your child think of creative ways to use those chains such as making necklaces, bracelets, shoelaces, gift embellishments and hair ties.

Their Way Is OK: Even though it’s easier to follow the rules and wind the yarn through your fingers on the hand opposite your hook to control tension, this is tricky for a child to master. It’s OK to let your child start crocheting “her way,” and then recommend small adjustments as they become more familiar with the craft.

Reality Check: The fact that you love crochet is not enough to make them love it. And if they do seem to enjoy it, play it cool because over-enthusiasm from a parent may result in little Suzy losing interest.

This last tip is the most challenging for me to live by because I have a really hard time playing it cool. Abby knows I love it when she crafts with me. And at the end of the day, when I’m retrieving the “H” hook from her bed, I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

Ok, now go forth and teach a child in your life to crochet.

Comments

Comment from Ellyn
Time: December 8, 2009, 4:25 pm

oh wow! Now I really can’t wait for my issue to show up in the mailbox! Very cool.

Comment from Catherine
Time: December 8, 2009, 4:28 pm

Congratulations Abby!

Comment from Fanie
Time: December 9, 2009, 1:01 pm

I’d like to learn crochet a little better in 2010, so I’ll defenetely check out Crochet today! And it’s a plus if you’ve written an article in it. :-)

Comment from Sarah Donaghey
Time: December 10, 2009, 12:05 pm

Nothing better than to craft with your child – mine is an adult – I crochet while she cuts and paints. My granddaughter wants me to teach her how to “needle.” Alas, she is only 3 so we’ll have to wait for a while!

Comment from Tamara Jacken
Time: December 11, 2009, 4:59 am

oh wow ive to buy that issue :)

Comment from Renee H.
Time: December 11, 2009, 9:07 am

Last week my 10 year old asked me to teach her how to crochet. I did try to teach her but I’m a beginner myself and she’s left handed (I am not) so after much frustration on both ends we gave up. We’ll try again soon.

Congrats to both you and Abby on the magazine article. I’ll be sure to pick up this issue!

Comment from jennifer
Time: December 11, 2009, 3:49 pm

Hi Renee. Good luck on your next attempt at teaching your daughter to crochet. Before your next lesson, you might want to check out the book “Kids Crochet: Projects for Kids of All Ages” by Kelli Ronci. It’s a great source for kid-friendly crochet projects and includes clear and helpful illustrations by Lena Corwin. All the best! – Jennifer

Comment from Elizabeth
Time: December 12, 2009, 2:10 am

Hey Jennifer. I’m happy to see you and Abby in the mag. I enjoy it and have thought it’s getting better and better. Now I’m sure of it. :)

Comment from Bev
Time: December 14, 2009, 4:22 am

Hey, I was lurking in the magazine aisle the other day, looking for this issue, but we’re still only on the autumn issue here in Australia. Guess we won’t get the ‘Winter’ issue till the sun’s high and the last thing we think of is snuggly warm crochet! I’ll keep an eye out though because I’d love to see your article. Give Abby a big high five from me. She’s a star!

Comment from jennifer
Time: December 14, 2009, 8:08 am

I will high five Abby when she wakes up. She will be very pleased to receive a long-distance high-five from you, Bev. : )

Comment from jennifer
Time: December 14, 2009, 8:17 am

Thanks, Elizabeth. I just wish I had more time to try out more of the patterns in the magazine. Funny how there never seems to be enough time.

Comment from Rebecca@RootsAndWingsCo
Time: January 3, 2010, 12:44 am

This is a perfect post for me right now. I come from a long line of crochet and knitters. I’ve learned to do both…a long time ago. I remember crocheting a dress for my teddy bear, even. However, it’s been a good 20 years since I’ve picked up those kinds of needles. My Mother stayed with my girls while I was away for the weekend and started teaching them to crochet (at the request of my oldest). Ever since (that was a good 3 years ago) my daughter has been asking me to continue teaching her. So, I finally decided now is the time. And then I came upon your post! Thanks for the nudging that now is the time to teach my girls. I had thought my Son was too young, however, he is almost 5. Maybe once he sees the girls going, he might want to try it too! Again, thank you.
Rebecca of the R&W Gals

Comment from Janet
Time: January 22, 2010, 9:18 pm

I’ve been crocheting since I was seven years old, and I still do, I love it. And I had always said I would pass this on to my daughter someday. I just wasn’t sure when the right time would be. Last week the subject came up and I chatted with my five year old daughter about learning how to crochet and she showed some real interest. And then coincidentally, I picked up this magazine yesterday and saw your article. I was excited, so this afternoon, I showed my daughter the pictures of Abby crocheting and she jumped up and said she wanted to crochet right then. So, using your example in the article, I let her do it her own way and it worked out very well. She showed very little frustration. She was so enthusiastic through the whole process I couldn’t help grinning. And she made her first crochet chain necklace! She already has plans to make a crochet necklace for one of her close cousins as a birthday gift and plans on selling her crochet creations at some point. And like you, I have a hard time playing it cool too.

Thanks so much for your inspirational article!!!

Janet

Comment from jennifer
Time: January 24, 2010, 2:09 am

Hi Janet. Thank you so much for sharing the story of teaching your daughter how to crochet. I’m so glad you found the article useful. Congrats on passing on your love of the craft! All the best to you and daughter. Just think of all the fond memories you’ll have of your time crocheting together. Cheers! Jennifer

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