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This Season, Give the Gift of Knitting & Crocheting (5 Tips for Teaching Beginners)

In our NJ office, we have a big mural that says, "You never forget the person who taught you to knit." It's really true. I know that personally I am so grateful to my mom for teaching me to crochet and my friend Essy for teaching me to knit, because each of them gave me a gift that's allowed me to express my creativity, give to others, relax and unwind, and have lots of fun. Teaching someone to knit or crochet is a gift that keeps on giving, so this holiday season, why not pay it forward?

Create a little gift bag or basket of supplies and make a date to teach someone in your life to knit or crochet!

A few tips for teaching yarncrafting:

  • Provide the supplies! Give them yarn; straight, smooth, light-color yarns are easiest for beginners to work with, since it's easier to see the stitches. We like category 4 (medium) to category 6 (super bulky) yarns to teach on, depending on the person. For instance, a friend with delicate hands might find super bulky yarn to be a little unwieldy, but thick yarn is great for guys who like big stitches and quick results. Yarns with a little give (acrylics and wools) are also easier on beginners' hands. Vanna's Choice, Wool-Ease, and Wool-Ease Thick & Quick are all good options.
  • Compensate for tension. Pair your yarn with needles or a hook that's a size or two larger than the size recommended on the label, since beginners tend to work tightly. Remind your student not to pull too tightly on the working yarn--tight stitches are only harder to work into later!
  • Sit shoulder-to-shoulder. We find that it's easiest to see how each step works when you're sitting right next to each other instead of across from each other. It allows them to see your work from your point of view.
  • Break down the moves. While skills like casting-on or chaining might come naturally to you, they will feel awkward to a beginner. Go slowly, explaining each individual hand motion and why you're doing them. It's also important to remind your student that it's okay for her/him to hold the yarn differently than you do. As long as the yarn is wrapped and/or pulled in the same direction and into the right place, the way she/he tensions the yarn or moves the yarn is okay! It's even okay for your student to use her/his fingers to move the loops of yarn around--I know I needed to when I first started crocheting!
  • Share resources for when you leave, so your student has ongoing support. If you're giving the gift of yarn and a hook/needles, be sure to also include a beginner direction book (for instance, our Crochet Essentials book), a gift certificate to a local knitting/crochet class, and/or a print-out of  the Learn to Knit or Learn to Crochet directions [PDFs] from way she/he can continue to figure things out, long after you leave!

Here are just a few affordable kits from that include yarn, matching needles/hooks, and illustrated, beginner how-to instructions:

Finally, remember that a first project doesn't have to be just a scarf. Since you're just making a knit or crochet rectangle, keep in mind that a rectangle can be so many different things! Sewn up on one edge and gathered at the top, it's a simple hat (just make sure the width is the circumference of your head). Make two and sew them up, leaving a hole for your thumb, and you've got wrist warmers. Sew up the long edge and one side of a small rectangle, and you've got a glasses case--even your student's first project can be useful in so many ways! Get more ideas by typing "beginner" into the search box at

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