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Archive for the 'Kids who Knit' Category

Eensy-Beensy Socklets!

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

The fun is taking over here at Casa de ColorJoy. Eensy Beensy Socklets are so fun I can’t seem to stop. Fortunately for me, friends and students are joining with me for the fun!

Above is a string of socks in yarn weights from Magnum (appx 2-3 sts/inch), bulky, Aran, worsted, DK, handpaint sock, commercial fingering, laceweight. The finished socks range from about 4″ (10cm) to 3/4″ (20cm) tall. They are all knit with the same pattern. All have a circumference of 8 stitches. The yarn is the only thing changing their size.

Here are some things I did with the socklets:

I’ve taught 3 classes in the last 2 weeks, on how to make these socklets. One woman made them for her daughter’s birthday, since the daughter is fond of miniatures. One woman was making little decorative socks in Christmas red, in every size of yarn she could find in that color.

And one… my 11 year old knitter… well, she can be proud of herself. She finished her first full-sized sock this week (toe up with afterthought heels). I’ll get a photo of those for you when she finishes the second sock.

She’s also knitting a wonderful leaf-patterned hat in the round, from a graph/chart. It’s only her 2nd hat.She’s a quick learner.

And she knit an Eeensy-Beensy socklet in worsted weight yarn. She was interested in figuring out the structure of top-down socks. and thought these socks would fun nice gifts (and good holiday travel knitting) as well. Since these follow the same structure (althoug abbreviated) of a heel flap sock with turn, she got a taste of the structure while having some fun.

Look at her work! Remember, this young lady is only 11 years old and has not been knitting very long. She’s just wonderful to work with.

Sale Today Only

Sunday/Today, I’m selling some of these earrings at Rae’s Yarn Boutique in Lansing, Michigan. I’ll be there noon to 5. The price on the earrings I showed above is $24. There will also be a few other specialty items such as extra-tiny laceweight socklet earrings, and the necklace you also see above.

While the sale is on, Rae is also offering a 25% off sale on all of my patterns in her stock. They do accept sale orders over the phone. the number is 517/336-YARN.

After the sale at Rae’s shop is over, The  jewelry will go up on my ColorJoy Etsy shop for sale.

Tiny things can bring such joy. I don’t know what it is, but showing folks my super-tiny socklets really makes them smile. I think that’s all the reason they need for being.

Kids Knit, Again!

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

For the last month or so, I have been teaching knitting to a group of kids at Bath, Michigan Elementary school. There is nothing else so rewarding, truly.

I start them out with a five-stitch garter fabric wristband. Some kids really get into these, and make dozens of them, one for every friend and relative in their lives. It’s wonderful, generous, passionate… and adorable.

Some kids want to know what else they can knit. One girl already knit a scarf at home. Right now, the cool thing is to make a larger piece, a rectangle that they can sew together into a tube with thumb hole. Voila! Wristwarmers. These are great for playing on mild-weather days, or for wearing over gloves on colder days.

I took this photo of their progress, the third week we were together. Can you see how proud I must be? (Love the finger bandage… true kids in all ways.)


I Looooooooove these kids!!! Each is an amazing person, each is very different from the others. All have chosen to spend time after school with me. I’m honored.

A 6-Year-Old Knitter

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

beawristbandThis is a triumphant photo. I taught 6-yr-old Bea to knit a few weeks ago. She made a wristband in merely a half hour.

To be honest, she had made a few stitches off and on in the past year. Her mommy knits, but Bea did not have the focus and hand coordination she needed. Teaching very young knitters is a skill that I have developed over many years, and Mommy did not have that experience under her belt.

So I got Bea and we worked at focus and understanding. She was very happy to be so competent, so quickly. She wore her wristband to acrobatics class later that day, to show off to the teacher (who is my dance teacher, too).

Last Monday, I also taught four 4th graders how to knit, also. It’s an after-school program, where the teacher is also one of my knitting students. I’m happy to work with more kids again.

Congratulations to Bea!

A Fine Project, by a Fine Kid

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Many of my friends have girls. I believe that all kids benefit from knowing adults who are not their parent (although some don’t get that lucky).

Since I a) don’t have any kids of my own, and b) really like kids, I enjoy taking the girls out on dates from time to time. This is one of the best parts of my life.

Monday I had the pleasure of four hours with a remarkable 10 year old. We had dinner at a place she had never tried before. Then we went back to my house, made brownies (and later brownie sundaes – with Brian), and had a creative time.

She had just acquired a stack of books at Everybody Reads Bookstore, before I picked her up. The pile of books came in to the house. One of them was about embroidery. Cool! I love to embroider and had a bag full (yes, maybe too full) of supplies.

While the brownies were baking, we found a rag made from an old shirt, to embroider. It turns out that piece of the shirt had a pocket. Not too long after the find, she determined it might make a fun purse.

We got out the embroidery floss and a needle, and she commenced to experiment with sewing a bit. This turned into the choice of a word, “Heart,” embroidered on the pocket.

She chose a button to sew on the pocket, and I let her pick a ribbon from my collection for a strap. She did all of the sewing herself, and all of the design choices. I just presented materials and she did the rest.

I sent her home with an embroidery kit of her own. I had a great hot-pink plastic embroidery hoop I could spare.

We found a bag in my supplies for teaching kids (thanks, Riin!), and she picked several colors of embroidery floss to take home. I had a mint tin where we could put her sewing needle safely , a small pouch for her to put that tin and the floss in, and a pair of inexpensive scissors. She’s all set to keep going!

I love what kids do when we let them. A few supplies, and the hands and mind pull a project along.

Nice job, sweetie!


Thursday, December 17th, 2009

The young knitter, K., who attends my Knitting Rocks! program most regularly, brought me a little gift for our last session in 2009. Check this out:


It’s a gift card to a Biggby Coffee. This company is now franchising all over the USA, but it started in Lansing, Michigan, where I live. It’s a favorite spot for artful folks, I love it there.

K. wrote the inscription inside, by herself. Good kid. (She is in 4th grade, if I remember correctly.)

I did not realize until I got this home, that the Candy Canes are taped to the card in such a way as to make two hearts. HOW SWEET. Awwwww…

Quick Hello

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

MsLynnFixingTalking-byannamaybe10I have never been tidy. For many years, I have had many friends.

Tomorrow a beloved friend is coming to stay for a few days. This means I need to do a whirlwind in the house so our friend will be relatively comfy. There’s no time to post much.

However, I’ll share this photo. It was taken of me in a Knitting Rocks! class at Rae’s shop. This is my group of young knitters.

I put the camera down and invited the kids to take turns snapping photographs of the session. Someone, I don’t know who (A?) took this shot. (Edited later: Yes, A. took the photo.)

I like it. I’m knitting, chatting, fixing someone’s mistake, and wearing bright color. That’s me.

Kids are the best. I like them more every time I spend a few hours with them.

See you tomorrow.

Working with Kids: A Flag

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I can not tell you how wonderful my time was with the 3rd graders this year. I started out in late fall, absolutely certain that I would go twice a week for maybe a month, and then I would set them on their own. Then I found myself charmed, just in love with being in their presence. And I couldn’t bear to quit.

This was a volunteer thing. I can’t really afford to give up time every single week to volunteer at this time in my life. I am self-employed without a secretary or other helpers. I not only knit samples, write patterns, write class handouts, schedule, do publicity, teach… I dye yarn, wind it into skeins, print labels, attach labels to skeins. I also invoice clients, make the bank deposits, package mailings and take them to the post office. I lay out my advertising, print my patterns, deliver patterns to shops within driving distance.

There is sometimes not quite enough time to sleep. I have volunteered a lot in my life, but right now is not a good time for it.

Yet regardless of what made good sense for my business, I found it impossible to say goodbye to these energetic, young, wonderful, joyful people. And now that school is over, I find I miss them very much. I’m very sad they are out of my life.


Musings on Teaching Kids

I feel inspired to talk here about teaching kids to knit, in general.

I have taught probably hundreds of young people to knit, from age 5 all the way through high school. Most of the time, by about age 10 or 11, they become so busy after school that they find no time to knit.

Occasionally I’ll have an amazing young teen or two stick it out (these almost always have parents who encourage and support the knitting in the busy schedule). The teens are a lot of fun, because by then they can accomplish whatever they choose to do. They are rare, though. I do enjoy them when I have the luck to teach them.

I must say that my favorite age to teach (kids, that is) would be 3rd grade or so, about 8-9 years old. At this age, they are rather fearless, in part because their job in elementary school is to deal with learning new things all the time.

They learn to write, first printing and then in cursive, they learn to ride a bicycle, they learn their math basics, they learn to spell, they master their limbs in physical education. They start to piece together how the world around them works.

At this age, they are not yet self-critical. They are not playing it safe so that their peers will not be mean to them. They don’t need to conform. Yet.

A third grader does not usually expect to do something perfectly. They expect to make several stabs at a new skill. and get better as they continue to try. This is an excellent mindset for learning to knit.

LynnH’s Rule #1 of Kids’ Knitting: NEVER RIP a Child’s Work!!!!!

A child has to work very hard to master the movements of knitting. They are using two tools (one in their non-dominant hand) and a floppy string/yarn, to make something that requires a bit of fine motor skill mastery. Some kids struggle to make a few stitches. No matter how bad it looks, don’t rip!!!

A knitting teacher’s best tool working with students this age, is a sewing needle. If you can not fix the piece by chaining up a dropped stitch or knitting a few together to un-increase above the spot where increases were not needed, you need to sew the piece together and let the child keep working.

pakistaniflagafter.jpg It does not matter how much you need your own work to be right. A child who watches you take out his/her hard work, will almost always stop knitting. For the sake of your young students, you need to leave your perfectionism at home in your own knitting basket.

“Perfect,” as my friend Howlin’ Hobbit says, “is the enemy of Good Enough.” Well, he says it something like that, anyway. Elementary kids are all about “good enough.” Honor their intent.

The Successes that Can Emerge

You have seen two hats (here–scroll down, and here) made by boys who started out making a five-stitch wristband. I should have taken photos of the knitting before I sewed them into hats. They were incredibly messy, very large triangles. Where one side of the triangle could reach all the way around the boy’s head. Yup. Not what was planned at all. Cool, anyway!

It took some head-scratching for me to figure out how to make these pieces turn into something real, but it worked. It’s all about hand-sewing, my friends. About 10-25 minutes per hat, and worth every stitch!!! The boys were beside themselves, delighted to have made something that could actually be worn.

Follow Inspiration

So today I bring you before/after photos of another project. Sometimes kids notice that a small bit of knitting on a long knitting needle, can look like a flag early in the knitting. This term, I had two boys who wanted to make flags. One finished, one did not.

Many of the kids in this classroom were not born in the USA. They are in Lansing because their parents are studying (most of them Graduate Students) at Michigan State University. In fact, in this room I am quite sure that a majority of the kids do not speak English at home.

I just love this cultural diversity! It makes me very happy to be in a place where we have a sense of the largeness of the world and the alikeness of the people upon it. (Yes, I’m an idealist, and it’s quite lovely!) In this room, sometimes a sentence will start with… “In your country, how do they….?” I eat that up.

The Process of Completing a Flag

The boy who made today’s photographed project, was born in Pakistan. He wanted to make a Pakistani flag. I did not know what they looked like, but the school has flags lining the halls and so he could take me down the hall to see one.

He needed a moon and star. There was no way to knit these in, given this child’s knitting skills.

I went home and got a piece of white wool felt that I’d made while teaching a wet felting class some time ago. I took it in, we cut it up, and we glued the bits to his acrylic-worsted-weight-yarn flag. It worked enough for the child.

He then bound off the flag, and it was quite the mess! It turns out that two edge stitches had raveled all the way down to the cast on. I took his flag home to make it work.

I used a sharp-pointed needle with a large eye, and I worked all the green ends to the back of the fabric where they were hidden.

Then I used his white yarn tail to sew the flag to a chopstick. I finished the end and then used some white glue on the back side, to stick the yarn to the chopstick.

Smiles All Around

I think it looks great. Mind you, all of those knitted stitches, he knit himself. He guided me through cutting the star, and helped me cut the moon. He stuck the felt pieces on (with my help applying glue). So, he did in fact knit this piece. I just sewed the ends in for him. I admit there were a LOT more ends than I expected on this project!!!

He was a happy kid. I was proud of him.

I miss “My Kidz.” Pout.

The Last Day of School

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I saw my 3rd grade knitters today for a short while. It was their last day of school, and it was an intense experience to be there when the final bell rang for the year. There were a lot of goodbyes, a lot of happy faces, and one very sad one. I gave encouraging words and caring to the sad child, and did what I could to be a loving and cheerful presence to the rest.hatnomanredcedar.jpgWe did not knit today. I had been working on sewing pieces of unruly knitting into recognizable shapes, so that I could get the kids finished products when I could. I have more photos for a later blog post, but here is a project I helped a boy finish about a week ago.He was another of my kids who started with 5 stitches, and kept increasing accidentally until there was a substantial piece of fabric. The only thing this would agree to be turned into, was a hat. So I made sure it reached around his head, and then I took it home. I put it on this wig head and sewed edges together (tucking extra fabric inside the hat). It became something he could wear with pride.I love 3rd grade! Most of the kids are not perfectionistic, they just like the process of making something. A few will always be pickier but they tend to be more aware of what they might be doing wrong. The others, they knit for the joy of doing something with their hands.I’m still trying to catch up on that incredible, ominous to-do list. For now, contemplate what it might be like to just create for pure joy and NOT NOTICE the “hiccups” in the product. After all, the child got a hat when he started a wristband. I can’t see that as anything but a big success.I already miss “my kids.” I really need the time that is now free in my schedule, but I find myself loving all the kids I work with. Today is bittersweet for that reason.Keeping on keeping on, learning as we work, that is what 3rd graders do well. I think I will contemplate that lesson today… just keep doing it, don’t worry about perfection, just keep practicing. Mastery follows practice.Happy summer to those who were set free today!

Kids Knit Hats!

Friday, April 24th, 2009

I have three hats to show off today. All were knit by kids I work with.

Example 1, A. (age 14) knit herself a Topper-Down hat with lovely self-striping yarn (I believe this yarn was a gift). It fits her perfectly and goes great with her “I love it” coat.


Example 2, M. (age 13) HANDSPUN some yarn with rovings gifted to her. She held two strands together and knit an EZ Fit Hat (pattern by my friend, Rae Blackledge). At the top of the hat, she was getting low on handspun so she held one strand of handspun with alternating stripes of dark blue Nature Spun yarn and green O-wool. I think it looks magnificent! It’s worthy of two photos.

maitriezfithat25side.jpg maitriezfithat33back.jpg

Example 3, B., a boy in the 3rd grade class I volunteer with, started a wristband on 5 stitches late last autumn. He found himself increasing by many stitches on every row, while I was working with other kids. The next thing we knew, he had a very large triangle with many stitches per row.

brianhatfront.jpg brianhatbacksm.jpg

To his credit, he did not give up and he kept knitting. He changed colors when he started getting bored, so there are many stripes.

A few weeks ago he really wanted to be done, and it was no longer a wristband. He was hoping he could make a wristwarmer like his friend, but the triangle was much larger than his hands. I told him we could make it into a hat.

So I found the largest side of the triangle and made that the bottom of his hat. I sewed together the 5 beginning stitches to the bind off at that point. Then I put the hat on his head and figured out how to fold the piece of fabric to fit his head. I took it home, and continued to sew with the hat on my styrofoam wig head. I had to put some excess fabric on the inside, which makes a little sculptural bump at the top of the hat.

In the end, it fits him and he’s pleased. We are talking first project, friends. There are “hiccups” because he was learning, but he finished something pretty big!

A boy in 3rd grade, I think that is about 8 or 9 years old. This is quite a lot of stitches for a child of that age. Go, B.!!!

More Kids’ Knitting

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Cool, Cooler, Coolest Kids

I continue to be amazed and delighted by what kids can make if we let them follow their own “star.” They can be amazing, and very unique in the projects they choose to express themselves.

Here is a project by a THIRD grader. We are talking elementary school, my friends.

Do you notice how even his stitches are? This was his second project, ever. And there were no “hiccups” I needed to fix or disguise with a sewing needle when he finished. He really does knit this well.


This boy came to the US (in early 2009) from western Africa and I met him on his 3rd day here. He was still trying to figure out what was going on around him (it is so different here) that he was not yet speaking out loud, though he knew English. He was soaking up his surroundings silently, yet he did indicate he wanted to knit with me.

I stood behind him as he sit in a chair. We both held the needles at the same time (my hands on top of his, which were on top of the needles). I said “Up,” “Around,” “Down,” “Off.” And every time I made a motion to create a new stitch, I repeated those four words.

Then I let go of his hands, continuing to say the words for a while, then letting him work alone. It was like he was a fish taking to water, he took almost no time to learn.

Never Stop Making Stitches…

First he finished a scarf. I mean, a pretty wide scarf long enough to wrap around his neck and stay wrapped because the ends were long enough to weight it down. He avoided boredom on the scarf by changing colors many times, which created colorful stripes. Here is a photo (with another boy standing on the right in the photo, knitting what is today almost a hat).


He was the first in the class to finish something he could wear. The whole group now sees him as a knitting leader. Sweet!

So on a very cold day, he told me he wanted to make gloves. I recommended that he might not enjoy the process of making gloves, but he might like wristwarmers. I let him try on my own pair, and he liked that idea. I let him know he could even layer them on top of other mittens or gloves on the playground.

He wanted wool. The only wool we had was some Lamb’s Pride Worsted wool/mohair, very warm yarn… in mauve.

Remember, he comes from Africa where all colors are worn by all people. I saw mauve school uniforms in Ethiopia, worn by both girls and boys. This boy decided he would like wristwarmers of this yarn and we started in.

International Awareness

Now, this is a very special classroom. There are maybe 4 kids in the room who were born in the USA, so the kids routinely ask questions that start with “In your country, how do they…”

So I just told the group that in Africa, boys and men wear all colors, and schools often use this color for their special uniforms. And the other kids said, “Oh, really?” No hassles with the color choice. Love this classroom!

Leader of the Pack

So now he has maitrishawl1-400.jpgfinished (first photo). And now, all the other boys want to do what this boy has done.

They pick the yarn they like best, and ask him how many stitches to cast on. He has the answer… and they are many in this “pack” now, seeing if they can finish their own pair.

For third grade, this is a LARGE project. Some will not finish two. I hope that most will at least finish one.

Can you see why I keep doing this work? It is the coolest thing, ever.

And There is More…

And, not to leave out another talented young lady… my student at Rae’s, M, finished this shawl.

She worked on it off and on for about a year. She was age 12 when she started, and is now 13.

It got very boring for her (this is the girl who made the Debbie Bliss baby bolero). Yet, here she is!!!

Beautiful, don’t you think? Both the girl and the shawl!

M’s Hat Success

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

mhat66.jpgMy 13-year-old student, M, completed a “Tweed Beret” from Interweave Knits (Winter 2006) magazine. A few copies of this issue were donated to my “kidz” a few years ago, and they have really enjoyed them.

She really loved knitting this, and for the most part she worked alone by figuring out the pattern without me. I did help her through a few spots, but she is really growing in her ability to follow very brief pattern instructions.

She enjoyed knitting this hat so much, she has started another. One of my adult students donated some soft mohair in greens (thank you, S). She is ready to go already!

I think M. did a great job. She’s delighted with the results. All right!

A Happy Kid

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Last Wednesday I was teaching my “Knitting Rocks” kidz’ knitting program at Rae’s. My newest young knitter, K (I met her at a Jen Sygit concert, we were both knitting in public), realized not long before her mom was going to come and get her, that she needed to have Valentines for her parents.

kidwithshrug.jpgThere was no way I could teach her how to knit a heart in that amount of time. My mind raced, and came up with an idea.

We have some sweaters in the storage boxes for the kidz, that I shrunk several times in the washing machine. They can use these for anything they want. Often, my knitters would rather knit than cut and sew, so we access the sweaters infrequently.

I figured maybe we could cut hearts out of a felted/shrunk sweater, if we had any colors that seemed suitable. I thought maybe we had a burgundy sweater.

So I descended the stairs in Rae’s store, and went to the three boxes which store the kidz’ supplies. And we found better things than I had remembered!

There was a small part of a red sweater remaining, and a burgundy sweater that was partly already cut up, some neutral sweaters, and most of a lavender/purple sweater with embroidered flowers.

I could see immediately that the lavender sweater would fit the newest knitter. It had been cut down the middle front already by another child, and the sleeves were cut off at a good short-sleeved length. The fronts were chopped up from someone making a pair of mittens once, but the top section was whole.

I put it on the child and she liked it. We took it off her shoulders and I cut the bottom as straight as I could, and then we decided to round off the corners of the front like a bolero or shrug. She LOVED it. I think she looks adorable, don’t you agree?

Oh… and after the fun shrug adventure? We cut out red felt hearts. Those turned out great for her Valentine project.

Everything turned out even better than we could have imagined. Isn’t it nice when things work out so well?

Never Doubt what a Kid Can Do!

Friday, February 6th, 2009

I am delighted to present to you, the product of many months of hard work, learning, mistake-making, ripping, and re-knitting. My student, M, age 13, just finished this adorable baby sweater this week. I think it’s time for a party. What an amazing accomplishment!


She used a pattern from a Debbie Bliss baby book she checked out of the library. Debbie Bliss makes high-quality designs, but they are not as simple as some other patterns. No problem! This kid could picture herself finishing the project, and she kept on focusing on that finish line. For the record, she used Berocco Comfort (I think the DK weight) for her yarn.

The scarf around the sweater in this photo was a little fun project she made up in the last week. She had some tiny balls of luxury yarns, one of silk with sequins. She made a fringe-to-fringe scarf in the luxury yarns and it was done in no time.

But the sweater? There are adults who would have given up. This sweater is cast on at the bottom of the back, you increase to make sleeves then split for the neck and decrease sleeves and front to make the shaping. After that you pick up and knit ribbed trim for front and back. There are two seams, one  under each arm.

Wednesday she learned to do mattress stitch to sew the sides together. I had her sew the straight parts on each side, and when it got curvy I did the sewing for her.

The truth is, she will meet the baby, on Friday. She had to finish this week. Nevertheless, she put off the sewing in our Wednesday class until it looked like that baby would not get the sweater… so I made her sit and sew the sides. The curves were an experience in playing it by ear, and I figured I could do it myself but I was unsure I could explain/teach what I was doing.

M, pat yourself on the back again. You did a fine job and it is good to be proud.

Creative Kid Knitter

Friday, January 30th, 2009

kidwithhorsesweater.jpgAbout a week ago, a young knitter came in to Rae’s shop with her mom and they hung out a while. I was delighted to see the child’s creative project. She figured out how to make a sweater/coat for her stuffed horse.

I asked the child and Mom if I could take a photo for my blog. They decided that might be fun! They know my regular kid knitters and perhaps they have seen photos of the other kids here before.

So I present to you a very creative kid, who made up her own project without a pattern! She’s a winner in my book.