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Today, guest author Sarah Pope shares some special tips on making the most of knitting for little ones – we hope you enjoy!

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Reveling in the delights of the new BT Kids’ collection, my mind went right to casting on—Berenice for my daughter in Blanket Fort or Postcard! Arlo in Hayloft or Button Jar for my son!—I expect many of us dove straight into fantasies of seeing our own little ones at play in those beautiful garments. Some of us may even have experienced an alarming itch to produce or “borrow” a child just for the pleasure of knitting these designs. But even though I have a pair of recipients at the ready, I’m going to take a moment for some savvy planning, because knitting for kids is an investment of time and capital and also something of a gamble.

Saavy Knitting for Kids

 

Children are notoriously fickle giftees. The garment may be too hot. It may be too scratchy. It may be the wrong color—some kids let their favorites box the compass, while others remain faithful to purple or green for years at a time. The older they get, the more many children tend to fall in line with trends amongst peer groups. A child’s willingness to wear handknits may be utterly squelched for a few years if popular fashions have strayed in another direction.

The fact is, gifting a handmade item always means letting it go. It may be cherished or abandoned to the thrift shop. You’ve had the pleasure of the crafting it; this must be enough. But there are some clever moves you can make to position your handknits for a happy ending.

The best tactic I know is to involve the child herself in the planning and execution of the knitting. Let her hold the hank of yarn to her neck and judge the itch factor. A worsted-weight sweater may simply prove too warm for an active child in a temperate climate, so talk with her about the garments she likes to wear and make notes on their properties. She’ll probably be frank about style preferences.

Savvy Knitting for Kids

You’ll need to accept that a kid may not want to wear what you’d most like to knit. If your youngster lives in hooded sweatshirts, you’ll probably have to make him a plain zippered cardigan with a hood. It may bore you to tears, and your reward will be to see it dropped at the muddy sideline of the soccer pitch. But if your sweater receives this shockingly offhand treatment, you can pat yourself on the back. It has passed muster; the child has adopted it into his wardrobe and made it his own.

If the child is close by and old enough to learn, why not let him actually knit on his sweater during a plain stockinette section? Most children become deeply invested in things they’ve had a hand in making and will be proud to point to their wool-clad tummies and announce, “I knitted this part right here.” If they’re too young to knit, let them help wind the yarn, or give them a none-too-precious ball from your stash and some blunt needles to stab at it as they make believe they’re knitting alongside you.

Knitting for children—like pretty much every other aspect of life with them—involves ceding a certain amount of creative control. That can be hard for those of us with strong creative visions. (If I can’t sell my almost-four-year-old on the idea of Berenice, I’m just going to quietly cast it on for myself, in Shelter rather than Loft.) But seeing what strikes her in the collection, watching her form her own taste, is part of the fun of knitting for her. If I can produce something she really loves, my happy ending will be to listen to her bragging at preschool, “My mama made this for me!”

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6 responses to “Savvy Knitting for Kids”

  1. You really hit the nail on the head here! I have to be very careful about what I knit for my kids if I want those things to actually get worn!

  2. Good tips! I let my 3.5 yr old choose his sweater patterns, he chooses the yarn, and helps to wind it. Then I sometimes let him help measure and try on as we go. I think it helps temendously.

  3. If they don’t like like it…you can be sure it won’t get worn! I have learned to knit in pink and in “I want red”

  4. I remember the first time that my daughter refused to wear a sweater I made her. It was a tea-leaves cardigan in a cherry red and I crocheted a matching headband complete with flower. It took me a couple of years of not feeling like knitting her anything until I finally started letting her pick out the colors. She has to pick the patterns too. I’ve learned to get quite comfortable with the color purple, as it’s the only color she will willingly wear. The stubbornness in me wants to just make her wear adorable clothes, but hand knits just don’t look good with a big frown. It takes the joy out of the gift.

    (Both my oldest girl and my oldest boy who are at that strongly opinionated on what they wear want an Atlas sweater. He wants a pullover version in either blue or reds, and she wants a cardigan version in…purples.)

  5. Really love how you’ve described the process of crafting for others as all about enjoying the process, infusing it with love and then letting it go. So true and so perfect!

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