Introducing our newest knitter... Kitty Bill.
He announced around Christmastime that he was ready to knit.
As he watched his sisters and me busily planning and crafting presents for each other, he realized that he needed to come up with some presents, too. And those presents, he decided, were going to be knit. By him. For us.
He's six. And in all honesty, he's been around knitting his whole life. Over the last three years, he's even made a few stitches with help here and there when he felt like trying it. His interest never lasted for more than a few stitches on whatever project I was working on. And I wouldn't say he really understood what he was doing, he was just testing the waters.
In September I gave him a huge, beautiful hank of handspun wool for his birthday and a very cool knitting tool, kind of like a knitting Nancy, but very simplistic. I bought it from a cute little shop in Arlesheim, Switzerland called Ahornblume.
Well, the huge hank of wool lasted maybe two days. After his initial bewilderment, he absolutely loved it! He quickly turned the entire hank into one unimaginably long knit "snake."
Fast forward to December.
He had a few ideas about what he wanted to make-- ideas that are completely out of reach for a new knitter. I tried to gently steer him into the realm of things that can be made from a simple square or rectangle, but he wouldn't have it. Instead, he pulled out our pattern books and started pouring through them. He came back to me wanting to make Moonshine the elephant pattern from A First Book of Knitting for Children. I took one look at the pattern and saw the determination in his eyes and said, "Are you sure? It's going to require a lot of work and attention. You'll have to knit every single day." He didn't even blink.
So I pulled out some yarn and let him choose a color, and we sat down and worked on casting on and simple knit stitches. He has a very mechanical mind-- he's always drawing complex factories for some reason, so he had no trouble figuring out the engineering of the stitches. In fact, he paid quite little attention to what he was actually doing once he figured out the stitch. He'd carelessly knit a few rows and put it down again, pick it back up hours later, and almost with his eyes closed, begin again.
It's no big deal. It's just string.
This was a very different experience for me. --Three different kids, three very different kinds of knitters.
His whole attitude about it made Sunburst completely crazy. She couldn't watch him without cringing or trying to help him in some way. "Your needles are backwards!" "I think you slipped a stitch." "But you dropped a stitch, let me help you!" Frankly, he didn't want her help. He didn't want anyone's help.
He could care less about how many stitches he dropped or if he accidentally slipped a few stitches. People in this house knit stuff all the time, and it doesn't look so hard. What's the big deal?! The more he knit in his careless way, the more panicked Sunburst became, and I finally had to separate the two of them. The rule quickly became, "If your brother is knitting, you're not allowed to watch. Period."
And that got us through December. He knit every day. I helped him with the shaping-- there was a lot of binding off and casting on involved to make the legs and trunk. But in the end, it looked mostly like it was supposed to. There were holes a'plenty, but together we closed them all up so the stuffing wouldn't fall out. And then we sewed it up together, and it looked like an elephant! It really did!
The excitement came back on Christmas morning when he presented his wrapped present to Moonshine. He was bursting for her to open it. And she loved it, of course. There was no question about it. She had already shed a few tears when she found out that his first piece of knitting ever was a present for her!
In January he starting knitting a dollhouse-sized doll for Sunburst's birthday using a pattern from the same book. This required a doll's head made by mom, and more closing of holes and help with the shaping, but again he had the determination to see it through to the end.
He's a knitter now. He has already started his third project-- a robot for himself. Who knows what's next!