Accidental Homeschooler: Knitting with Boys


There are many things boys will do with two sharp sticks.  Knitting may not naturally be one of them.  But, I believe that, like anyone else, boys can be taught — even inspired — to knit.

Knitting with Boys

In our study of Ireland, we read stories about the bodies of Irish sailors drowned at sea who were identified by the sweaters they knitted. We read in our First Grade Waldorf Curriculum (available at Amazon) about a brave boy named Jamie Tervish who kept his family of fisherman safe on the high seas while recreating his family’s knitting pattern. And, we learned that knitting is a great way to build fine motor skills and teach mathematical concepts like multiplication.  Knit stitches are, at their essence, an array of objects.  When multiplied correctly, the stitches form a square or rectangle.  When multiplied incorrectly… well, they don’t.

My boys started their knitting lesson by making their own needles using two small 10” long dowel rods.  They carefully sanded one end of each needle until it made a point and smoothed it over slightly to be less deadly. (I reminded them that using their needles as swords would definitely cause them to break. This advice seemed to keep the swordplay to a minimum.) Lastly, we glued a small colored bead to the end of each needle to keep the yarn from slipping off.

Next, each boy chose his own skein of yarn.  Some tips you might find helpful for choosing yarn with beginners:

  • Try to use a light color to make it easier to see the stitches.
  • Heavier weight yarn will be easier to work with initially. A worsted weight is the thinnest you should use.  Bulky is better.
  • 100% wool yarn is very forgiving if you have to remove any stitches.

Then, we were ready for their first project:  a square.  The great thing about a square is that you can use it for various objects a boy might enjoy: One square can be a coaster. Two squares sewn together can be a bean bag or a tooth fairy pillow. A series of squares can be a scarf or small blanket. . . The possibilities are endless!

knitting with boys
© G. O’Keefe | Little Lake | 2015

To make the square, we cast on 10 stitches. You can use whatever amount you would like. Just remember you’ll be making the same number of rows, so consider the finished size of your piece. It is a square, after all. If you have no clue what it means to cast on, check out the endless listings of YouTube videos titled “Beginner Knitting.”  The easiest stitch to start with is a knit stitch (instructions also available on YouTube.)

My boys and I liked to make up stories and rhymes to help us remember how to complete the stitches. One traditional knitter’s rhyme is:

In through the front door
Around the back
Out through the window
And off jumps Jack.

With each line of the poem corresponding to the stitch making process:

  • (In through the front door) Go through the front leg of the stitch and make an “X” with your right-hand needle in the back.
  • Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle from the back to front (Around the back.)
  • Pull the right-hand needle out through the front leg of the stitch (Peek through the window.)
  • Finally, slide the old stitch off the left-hand needle (And off jumps Jack!)

My boys’ goal was to finish one row each day.  Including a few rips and repairs, the project took about 2 weeks to complete. I won’t lie. It was hard work. There were tears.  But, eventually, they figured it out.  When they were done, they proudly displayed their handiwork in our kitchen for all to see . . . and had a rousing sword fight!

Thinking of trying yourself? Check-out our favorite yarn shops to get you started.

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Accidental Homeschooler: Knitting with Boys
About Genevieve 43 Articles
Genevieve is mom to 3 future world leaders and wife to one really funny guy. A public health worker turned stay-at-home mom, she spends her days navigating life in a busy household. She loves mornings, exercise, God, America and chocolate. She hates scary movies, spiders, airplane rides and writing bios.

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