Teaching Children to Knit


I have this strange desire for my children to share my interests. Maybe it’s not so strange, I don’t know. But it’s there. The problem with this is that I only have sons. And that I’m not particularly interested in things like Star Wars and Legos. I’ve tried teaching them to knit and crochet in the past anyway, with varying degrees of success. Today I’ll share a few of the tips I’ve gleaned from other sources on teaching children to knit.

Don’t force them.

D8E3DD46-FA59-4022-BE38-860DF5094B2EThis is a hard one for me because I really want my boys to learn the craft. But generally speaking, they’re mildly interested at best, but not at all interested more often. Forcing children to do something they don’t want to do, as any parent knows, usually just makes things worse.

Sit next to them, not across from them.

An adult has the ability to understand opposite hands a lot easier than a child. So when you take an adult knitting class, you might find yourself sitting across from the instructor, and you know you need to do the opposite of what you see, but children have a hard time mimicking that way. It’s best to sit next to them while you’re showing them what to do so they can see the actions the way they actually need to be performed.

Help them with their work. Don’t try to show them on your own needles and yarn.

5D6BD3EA-8D5B-4127-BDBC-C72C6C2F3955This was the hardest part for me to figure out. When I took my class, the instructor had her yarn and needles, and each pupil had theirs. She showed us by doing it herself. When I tried to teach Munchkin (11 now, but we started when he was 9) to knit following this method, it didn’t work out so well. He could cast on just fine, but struggled to actually knit. When I held his hands and guided them in the proper motions, he had a lot more success.

If your child is younger, you might even do part of the work for them on a fairly regular basis, especially in the beginning. With Small Fry (5), I cast on for him, and then taught him how to put the needle through the stitch. I then wrapped the yarn, but taught him to pull the yarn back through. This way, he was doing 2/3 of the work (and so still learning), but by not having him work the yarn he didn’t have to learn (yet) the most difficult part of knitting: manipulating yarn and needles together.

Keep it simple.

While knitting boils down to just two stitches (knit and purl), they can be combined in dozens of ways to make stunning garments. But when you’re first learning, it’s best to work for a long time on just the basics. When teaching a child, I recommend letting them work with just the knit stitch for a long time. Knitting is easier than purling, so make the, very comfortable with knitting before you add in purls. 

Ultimately, there’s not really a right or wrong way to teach them to knit. These tips are just some I’ve come across online and in my own experience with my boys.


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Learning to Knit


There are a lot of options for learning to knit. If you’re a very private person who prefers to do things in the comfort of your own home, YouTube is a great place to start. There are practically unlimited options there for teaching yourself to knit. I tried several of them in my quest to learn, and none quite worked for me. I still wanted to learn, though, so I looked into other sources. It turns out that the yarn store I go to had classes. And there was one coming up in just a week or two. So I got signed up, and by the end of the two hour class, I’d learned all the basics. By the time I’d driven the half-hour home, I’d forgotten most of them – but I had them stuck in my head somewhere, so the videos made a lot more sense this time, and I was able to pick up the craft again more easily.

I will have a specific list of resources on Saturday, and next week I’ll even be doing my own series of tutorials on how to knit. If you’re interested in learning, I hope you’ll stick with me. Maybe my photo tutorials will be helpful to you.


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Where to Buy Yarn


This post will be short and sweet 🙂

There are loads of places to buy yarn, and yarn to fit every budget. You can get skeins from craft stores like JoAnn and Michael’s, and virtually every yarn in those stores will be under $6 ($10 If you go for the super sized ones). Any regular store that’s big enough to have a crafting department will also have yarn. I’ve purchased from Walmart and Fred Meyer (a supercenter type store here on the west coast, owned by Kroger) before.

There are practically unlimited sources for buying yarn online. I’ve never bought yarn from an online company before, but I’ve read on some forums about a few, and most come with good reviews. Hobium Yarns is one. Handsome Fibers is another.

And then there’s my favorite: the local yarn store. I frequent Oregon Knitting Co., but I’ve also purchased from Nitro Knitters. Because these shops are local to you, they’ll be different depending on where you are. A lot of the, have similar inventory and prices, so it’s just a matter of finding one you like and developing a relationship with the owners and employees. 


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The Brinkman Adventures (review)

We’ve had the pleasure of joining the Brinkman family in their missionary stories twice before. We loved them both times, so when the opportunity to review them again, this time Brinkman Adventures Season 4, my kids (especially Seahawk) practically begged me to request it. 

Brinkman Adventures tells the story of a fictional missionary family who travel the world, meeting other missionaries and participating in heart-pounding thrills. These stories, while dramatized, are based on the lives of real missionaries. Season 4 finds the Brinkmans traveling all over Asia and Eastern Europe, witnessing and preaching to the lost. The boys have been listening to their new CDs at night as they relax into sleepiness. They’ve also listened during their playtime in the afternoons. Now I’ll have each of them tell you about their favorite episode from this season.


65ABBFBC-BA9D-40FA-80F5-57BAF3BDE49FMy favorite episode is Cambodian Quest. In this story, Mrs. Brinkman and one of her daughters (I forget which one) travel to Cambodia so that they can teach young girls there to sew and knit. These skills will give them a leg up in their country – a way to work and support themselves. Supporting themselves is the only way many of them can avoid slavery. The daughter becomes good friends with one of the Cambodian girls, and they go to the market together one day. While they’re there, they meet a man who fixes sewing machines. This is perfect because one of their machines needs repair. The Brinkman daughter gives the man their address so he can come fix the machine. 

The whole way home, the Cambodian girl is very quiet and reserved. The Brinkman girl doesn’t know why until the Cambodian girl finally confides that the sewing machine repairman is her former slave master. She’d escaped from him, and now is terrified because he has her current address. She is very afraid now, and understandably so. 

When they get home, the Cambodian girl runs away. The Brinkman daughter searches for her and finally finds her in her former home. Together, they have to escape the slave master. The picture on the cover is from this story.

I don’t want to say anymore and spoil it, but trust me that this was a great story!


My favorite episode this season is Paradise Lost. In this story, the Brinkman family is camping at Paradise Lake, where s missionary is expected to come give a presentation. His plane is delayed due to a hurricane, so he has to cancel. The family has to figure out how to occupy the whole week with these unexpected circumstances prevailing.

In the meantime, the dam that keeps the lake filled breaks due to flooding from the mountains nearby. In the process of the dam breaking, all the excess water also crushes the bridge, which is the only way in or out of Paradise Lake. To stay busy, the family puts together a series of games that teach the kids to prepare for the mission field. 

The first game is about Bible translating. Mrs. Brinkman wanders around the campground pretending to be Dutch. The children have to find her and communicate their memory verse to her using only gestures so she can write it down in “her” language.

The next game teaches them how to smuggle Bibles. This game is a lot like Capture the Flag, except the kids start with the flag (which is really a piece of paper with a Bible verse written on it).

The final game is a trusting game. All the kids but one are blindfolded and tied together with a rope. The seeing kid has to lead them around a series of obstacles. This teaches them to trust in God even when the way is unclear.


Both boys told me that this is their favorite season of Brinkman Adventures so far. It has a good balance action and character development. There’s enough calmness to keep it from being overwhelming, but enough action to keep it from being boring.

As for me, I’m really glad these stories exist. My kids like to fall asleep to sounds, and I much prefer they listen to something with substance instead of rowdy music. Brinkman Adventures fits the bill beautifully.

Click the banner below for more Crew reviews on these fun audio dramas.


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Brinkman Adventures Season 4

The Yarn Stash and How to Store It

There’s a time in every knitter’s life when you have a yarn stash – even if you’re a project buyer. Almost no project will use up an exact even number of skeins with no leftovers. A pair of toe-up socks is the possible exception (though I’ve never made those, so I don’t know from experience, only what I’ve heard). If you’re a stash buyer, your yarn collection will grow even faster. Eventually you’ll have to figure out how to store it all.

Because I’m a project yarn buyer, my yarn stash is rather small. I keep the leftovers from other projects in a “Dokument” wastepaper bin from IKEA. It’s taken me about 18 months to get to the point where my little bin is full. There have been a few times when I’ve bought yarn “just because,” and most of those yarns are sitting untouched in my bin, which is why I don’t buy yarn this way. Despite the fact that they don’t get used terribly often, though, it’s quite convenient to have yarn around. Just last week, my kids were invited to a birthday party with only three days’ notice. Rather than buying a gift, I decided to see what yarns I had on hand and I made a hat and mitten set for the boy. If I hadn’t had that yarn stash, however meager it is, that wouldn’t have been possible.

For stash people, a small wastepaper basket won’t do the trick for storage, as you might guess. So if you have enough yarn in your house to open a yarn store of your own, what do you do with it? Here are a few photographic ideas from around the internet. None of these photos are mine.




Finally, here’s an article from Lion Brand on dealing with your yarn stash.


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Buying Yarn “Just Because”


If you like knitting or crocheting, but you don’t think in a pattern-first mentality, you might be a “yarn stasher.” This is the kind of person who goes into the yarn (or craft) shop with nothing in mind.

They might be out of yarn, but not have a new project in mind yet.

They might be having a down day and decide on a little retail therapy.

They might have come into some extra money and decided to spend it on yarn.  

Maybe they’re on vacation and found a local yarn shop with fibers and/or colors specific to the area that they can’t get back home.

Or maybe they were surfing the internet and found a great deal on some yarn, too good to pass up, and decided to indulge. 

In all of these cases, the person didn’t “need” yarn. (Although if you ask a knitter or crocheter, they’ll tell you that they always need more yarn!) They had some other reason for buying it, and they’ll just “stash” it until the right project comes along. 

There’s nothing wrong with either method of yarn buying; it all comes down to your own personal preference and budget. And storage space, but that’s a topic for another day (tomorrow, actually). When you go shopping for yarn, do it the way you prefer. Whichever way that is, it’s the right one!


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Buying Yarn for a Specific Project


There are two schools of thought when it comes to buying yarn, and over the next two days I want to write about each of them. Today is my usual method of yarn buying: only when you have a specific project in mind.

So… you’ve chosen a pattern. Maybe you found a free one (there are thousands), or maybe you paid for it (even more options here). It doesn’t matter which route you go; all that matters is that you’ve found a pattern you want to knit. You have needles. Now all you need is yarn.  You go to the store and buy the yarn specified in the pattern for the size you want to knit. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, maybe less, depending on your budget. You can always come back for the rest of the yarn when you run out (although you do risk getting a different dye lot). That’s really all it means to “buy yarn for a specific project.” 

There is one more situation in which you may find yourself if you are a project-yarn-buyer. You go into the yarn store (or craft store or yarn section of a regular store), but you didn’t look at patterns first. You stand there for eons, looking at the different yarn trying to imagine what each could turn into. You fail to come up with anything and end up leaving with no yarn at all. If this happens to you, you know you’re a project purchaser and you should find a pattern before going shopping again.

I have been in both situations, which is why I (usually) only buy yarn when I already know what I want to knit.

Tomorrow I will write about the other kind of yarn addict: the stash buyer.


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What is an “Interchangeable Needle Set”?

Yesterday, I talked about the basic types of knitting needles: straight, circular, and double pointed. Today I have a “secret ninja” fourth type to mention – although to be fair, it’s really just a variation on circular needles. 

If you recall, circular needles are shorter needles connected to each other by a thin, flexible cord. Interchangeable needles are basically the same, but with one twist… they come apart. When you buy an interchangeable needle set, you get a wide variety of needle sizes (diameters), but instead of having a stopper on the end, they have a screw. The set also comes with a selection of cords, and each cord has the inverse screw to the needles on its ends. In this way, you can combine whichever needle size you need (in an interchangeable set, they’re called “tips”) with the length of cord you need. This system allows you to have a huge variety of circular needles without having an unlimited supply that you have to store and keep track of. It’s a very efficient way of having the needles you need for practically any project. 


Types of Knitting Needles


Yesterday I wrote about my favorite knitting needles and pictured some of my Knitter’s Pride Dreamz straight needles. Today I’m going to explain the difference between straights, circulars, and double pointed.

Straight Needles


These were my very first knitting needles, and they’re great for learning. Straight needles are defined by their long size, point at one end, and a stopper of some kind at the other end. This stopper prevents your stitches from sliding off the back of the needle while you’re knitting; this is why they’re good for beginners.

Straight needles aren’t just for beginners, though. They’re also good for anyone making a flat project. I’ve even knit sweaters on them before (by knitting the pieces individually and sewing them together at the end).

Circular Needles

Fixed circulars

Most knitters I’ve come in contact with over the past couple of years prefer circular knitting needles. They’re great for any kind of project, either flat or round (tubular). With circular needles, you can join your stitches to knit around and around in a tube, or you can turn the work over at the end of the row and knit back and forth to create a flat piece. You can also use the “magic loop” method to knit small diameter things, but I don’t particularly like that, so I won’t focus much on it.

Double Pointed Needles


Double pointed needles (DPNs) are use for knitting small diameter projects in the round. They’re mostly used for the tops of hats and sweater sleeves. DPNs come in a set of 5, and each one has points at both ends (rather than one point and a stopper). They’re also quite a bit shorter than straight needles. When you use DPNs, you put 1/3 of the stitches on each of three needles and then use a fourth to knit with, one needle at a time (just like straight needles). When you get to the end of one needle, you rotate your work, move the now-empty needle from your left hand to your right, and keep going. 

The main downside with DPNs is that they don’t have that stopper on the end, so it’s very possible for your stitches to fall off. It’s not a huge risk so long as you don’t fill them up too full; typically there’s plenty of room on a given needle to keep the stitches in the middle and avoid them being dropped.


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Book Club: Keep Moving

Book Club with Lori

You know who Dick van Dyke is, right? He’s one of Hollywood’s most loved actors, starring in such films as Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He was also the star of the TV shows The Dick van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder for a number of years. I didn’t grow up watching him much, but my husband did, and I was introduced to his work as an adult. Since then, I’ve become a big fan.

When I found the audiobook Keep Moving on my Overdrive app, written and read by Dick van Dyke himself, I knew that was one I wanted to read (listen to) for Book Club. Luckily, Lori happily agreed, so here we are.

We weren’t able to find questions about the book (it’s fairly new – less than a year old, I think), so we’ve decided to just write a few words about our thoughts on it.

Keep Moving is a memoir of van Dyke’s life, but it’s also more than that. Besides the anecdotes and stories from his lie in Hollywood, the author reminds us of the importance in moving every single day. As he approaches his 90th birthday, I think he’s a pretty good source on what might help us to live longer, and he says that moving – exercising – especially something you love doing – is a vital part of that. That’s where the title of the book comes in. Keep Moving. Sing and dance and walk and run every day. If you don’t like any of those things, find something you do like to do, and move every day. This is good for your body and your spirit.

Besides having lived a long and full life himself, Dick van Dyke has one other piece of personal history that gives him credibility to the “Keep Moving movement.” When he was a young man (mid-30s) and acting in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he had an accident on set. He visited the doctor, where he was told that he had severe arthritis and would be basically lame within the decade. He rejected this notion. Not all of it, obviously – arthritis isn’t something you just decide that you no longer have. But the part about being unable to walk within just a few years… he rejected that. He continued to sing, dance, run, jump… move. And by fighting his arthritis, he has been able to live a full and happy life, continuing to do all the things he loves. What an inspiration!

I have really enjoyed listening to Dick van Dyke read his own book. It’s one that Will and I have been listening to together in the evenings while he works and I knit. It’s a fun book, and hearing his voice has made me want to find some old Diagnosis: Murder episodes to watch 🙂

Make sure to head over to Lori’s blog and find out what she thought about this book.

Next month, we’re reading An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff. It’s “the true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny.” The based-on-a-true story genre is my favorite kind of movie (not documentaries, but films with actors telling a true story), so I’m looking forward to this book. We haven’t been able to find questions on that one, either, so the post will be much like this one was.


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