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Dear everybody, 

Today we extend a warm MDK welcome to Tanya Singer. We first met Tanya when she shared with us a fascinating bit of knitting history (more about that later). We soon discovered that she also has wisdom and encouragement to offer on a subject near and dear to our hearts: passing along knitting skills to a new generation. We hope you’ll be inspired to share the love of knitting with a young person in your life. 

—Ann and Kay

The Impromptu Knitting Camp

Equipped with my bulky yarn and size 19 wooden needles, I was ready to face a group of teenage girls who were homebound due to the cancellation of summer camp. Having my own teenagers in the house, I knew what I was walking into—an increase in anxiety, sadness and loneliness due to months of full-time virtual school coupled with the elimination of favorite summer activities. I was ready.

The girls’ parents knew that I taught school-aged children to knit in the South Bronx through my work with Green Bronx Machine, and had asked me to help occupy their kids during the summer. None of us expected what happened next: My schedule went from non-existent to running a totally booked knitting camp, all outdoors, with distance and masks, in the hot and humid New York summer, just miles from the original epicenter of the pandemic.

We started by choosing favorite colors of Loopy Mango Merino No. 5. Then, with teaching guidance from beloved educator and knitter Cat Bordhi, we began to learn to knit.

So much more than mastering a few stitches and making a cozy No Gauge Neckwarmer came out of these classes. While the campers were enjoying learning to knit, they would talk about what they gave up. Some lost family members, most gave up family vacations and summer camps. My own rising high school senior questioned if college would even be an option for him next year.

It’s easy for each of us to dream of life “B.C.”—Before Covid—with a strong dose of melancholy. The weight of the pandemic and the fears and loss that accompany it are heavy.

Those feelings can sometimes cloud the fact that the B.C. days weren’t perfect for everyone. Too many children and teens were already suffering from anxiety and depression at alarming rates. Add the pandemic to these stress levels, and many become at risk for toxic stress and, in the words of California’s surgeon general, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, “increased stress-related cognitive impairment and diseases.”

Knitting camp provided a relief for these teenagers that went beyond occupying a few hours.

Yes Ewe Can

Why not give the children in your life the gift of a hobby they can turn to throughout this challenging time and for the rest of their lives?

Here’s where to begin: Get some super bulky yarn, size 19 [15 mm] needles (ideally wood), and check out the detailed handout in this one-minute read for recommendations based on my experience with children ages 8 and older. 

Teaching children to knit will inspire confidence, independence, and joy!

About The Author

Tanya Singer started Knitting Hope, a project that highlights the stories of people who were sustained or even saved by handknit items throughout history. And she runs Ewe Can Knit, a knitting lesson business in Westchester County, NY, where she teaches adults and children starting at age 8.  She shares the magic of knitting through lessons she developed to maximize learning and joy.




  • I love this story! I love that these kids are learning to knit & that they have a space to talk & share. I love that they had a summer like the one you gave them. You’ve given me a beautiful, inspiring & cozy start to my day. Thanks you.

  • Thank you so much, Tanya. I have been wanting to do this!

  • Oops. Hit the wrong Button!
    With winter in New Hampshire in full swing, outside is out. Cannot come up with an alternative, but haven’t given up hope…

    • May e see if any gyms or rec facility, yoga studio or something like that will donate some time to use?

      They tend to be large and have good ventilation.

  • This is beyond awesome!!!

  • Thanks. I teach crafts including knitting and crocheting to kids, newbie adults, and those who never got it the last 3 times someone tried to show them. It is very rewarding for them and for me so i loved this story. Once learned many go on to create not only for themselves but for the homeless or shut-ins, etc. Right now these projects can be especially useful and appreciated by both the creator and the recipient.

  • I recently taught a 9 year old in our pandemic bubble to knit. I always hesitate to teach anyone, despite having been a middle school science teacher myself, because I am left handed and my right handed knitting is rather slow and sloppy. I am always glad when I decide to throw caution to the winds and teach someone. Thank you for your tips and the link to Cat’s curriculum (yet another example of Cat’s generous spirit). Bless you.

    • My sister and I both learned from our left-handed mother. I’m sure that only helped us learn that there is a great amount of diversity in the universe.

      • My right-handed mother got our left-handed neighbor, Sunny, to teach me how to knit. She knew that I would only love it if I could do it left-handed and had not idea how to do anything left-handed (my father was the lefty and there are more lefties than righties in our family – this tends to freak out guests at family dinners since we do everything, including eating, left-handed!).

  • I just forwarded this on to a friend who is an activities director at a retirement (assisted living) home. When the residents were original shut in for Covid she put the call out for needles and yarn.
    This article may help the “never knitted” get started in an easy and fast way.

  • Before retiring, I taught many fourth graders to knit. We held our classes in the morning before school started. I LOVED all I learned about the kids during this time of sitting in a circle when conversation just flowed. We had no budget and knitted on chopsticks until someone donated knitting needles. The kids were creative and the boys knitted wrist and headbands in their favorite team colors. These student knitters are now in their mid to upper twenties (How did they get to be that age so quickly!?!?) and some still knit. Thanks for this article that triggered all these wonderful memories! I encourage any teacher that knits to share her skill with her students.

  • This is fabulous! My children learned at the Waldorf school at 6, after sharpening their own knitting needles on the blacktop, then sanding and waxing them. (Maybe more camp hours?) And everyone learned…boys, too. There is a nice verse that Waldorf uses that makes it go smoothly. I am sure the,verse is easy to find. It starts “In through the front door, circle round the back…” If more children knit, we will all be better off.

    • “In throught the front door,
      Once around the back.
      Peep through the window…
      And off jumps Jack!”

      • Yes. I use that rhyme when we begin each year’s knitting club at my middle school.

  • So inspiring Tanya❤ What a wonderful gift you’ve given these kids!

  • There is a special place in River Forest, IL, The Little Bits Workshop. Here children learn to knit, crochet, sew, quilt, paint, and create. The owner and the other teachers are the most creative and nurturing women I have been blessed to know. I have volunteered there for many years on Saturday mornings and summer knitting camp. This experience led me to start a knitting club at my elementary school for third and fourth graders. It answered the need of an anxious student who needed an alternative to the lunch room. I volunteered my time and the supplies. Every once in a while a parent would send in yarn. The kids were enthusiastic and committed. I retired in June and some of my most cherished teaching memories come from our lunch time knitting.

  • Art heals, handwork heals, what a wonderful gift to kids this year who are so easily drowned out by the sounds of adult experiences.

  • Yesterday I went to buy some size a double pointed needles. There was a young girl of about 15. She and her mom were looking at kneeling a crochet supplies. It was decided that she would begin with learning to knit. I had sort of included myself in to their conversation. The girl was concerned about the fact that she would be learning on metal knitting needles rather than wood, which were not available in her size. I told her that my 1st pair of knitting needles were metal, and that seemed to satisfy, and they went over to pay. It got me to thinking and reminiscing. I was so anxious to learn when I was about 7 years old. My mom got a little pamphlet about knitting so that she could read it and teach me the basics (no YouTube in those days).Sometime in this coming year will mark the 60th year since I began to knit. Thanks mom, if you can hear me, for teaching me how to knit even though that wasn’t your thing.

  • thanks for the inspiring article! The handout you put together is also such a great resource! I’ve taught a few children to knit or crochet, but always just one-on-one informally, but have wanted to try it in more of a group context, because for those who take to it, it can open up a whole world of possibilities of making, and it means they are never bored, just to name a few of the many benefits.
    I read on your blog about potentially trying out zoom knitting classes for kids? If you do it, I’d love to hear how that goes.
    Thanks again,

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read the handout and my blog. I am conducting my second week of zoom classes with kids ages 10+. It’s such a learning process and a total delight to see the kids and help them to problem-solve over zoom. I will share more about the adventures in zoom teaching in the weeks to come! Many thanks again for taking the time to read and respond. I’m so happy and humbled.

  • Your timing is perfect as my nine year old granddaughter just asked me to teach her to knit. I wasn’t sure how to start but now I have a roadmap. You’ve helped not only the children you personally taught but I’m sure there will be hundreds who will benefit from your generosity. Thanks so much.

    • When a child asked me if I like to teach knitting I answered “did you ever taste something so good that you wanted to share it with everyone you know? that’s how i feel about knitting!” Thank you for your kind words. You are making wonderful memories with your granddaughter while giving her the best treat one could ask for!

  • Beautifully written and inspiring, Tanya! On so many levels the project you created and followed through D.C. (During Covid) has helped these children, and I’m sure has positively impacted their families as well. Keep up the great work!
    Love and hugs, another teacher in the family,
    Aunt Ronnie (Feder)

  • This is such a lovely piece. I’m now dreaming up a plot to sit in my small front yard with a basket of bulky yarn and big needles beside a sidewalk chalked sign that says “Learn to Knit.” I am a relative newcomer to my neighborhood, and this seems like a good way to share knitting (which has kept me sane(r) through any number of stresses) AND to get known as That Knitting Lady. 🙂

    • Smiling from ear to ear! Please tag me in pics so I can see you work your magic.
      Every town needs *that knitting lady*!

      • I will!

        Do you (or anyone reading this) have suggestions for video tutorials made by men, people of color, and/or lefties? I’ve been pondering the logistics of sidewalk lessons during pandemic. We’ll be masked, and outside, but I still don’t think we’ll be able to sit close to one another for the amounts of time that might be useful. I thought I could have a list of links to videos for people to watch very closely for as long as they need. But as a right-handed white woman, I’m cognizant that my hands won’t always resemble the hands of the people I’m teaching. I’d love to be able to show people hands that resemble their own, too.

  • My husband’s fifth grade teacher, Miss Louisa Montgomery, taught her whole class to knit. We still have the red wool hat he made 65 years ago.

    • I have chills reading this. How does he talk about what that hat means to him and why he saves it? Beautiful.

  • Thank you! I will plan on this with granddaughters, ages 8-17 (5 of them!) this summer. Was looking for way, straightforward way to teach them. Thank you!

    • So happy to hear that!

  • What a great idea. I taught my granddaughters to knit years ago and now they are mothers. Unfortunately for me they are a little too distant for me to knit with the great-grands now.

  • A knitting camp=genius! I am a longgg time camp person and that would be a fabulous idea to add to any camp program. I’m also a HS Special Ed teacher. I had the pleasure of teaching special teenagers how to knit both girls and boys. Such a rewarding experience to see it all click!!

  • While teaching second grade I ran an afternoon knitting class for 2nd through 5th graders, about 8 per class. We used worsted weight and size 7 needles. These were comfortable for the children to hold and the stitches were big enough so they could see what they were doing. Our first attempts were garter stitch squares in white yarn. When the squares were done we dyed them with Kool Aid. Then we felted them, traced ornament shapes on them using cookie cutters, and cut them out to make ornaments. After that we used Knit Picks Bravo Superwash yarn to make a scarf, slippers, wrist bands, and one year a baby blanket for one of the teachers having her first baby; each girl made a square.

    • Oh! Those sound like fun projects! Thanks for sharing!

  • I recently read a much more child inspiring learn-to-knit rhyme than the one about Jack. It goes:
    Stab it,
    Strangle it,
    Pull out it’s guts,
    Push it off the cliff!
    Well maybe it’s my warped sense of humour but I think I’d have enjoyed being taught using that!

  • I have been planning to teach 6 year old granddaughter to knit as she loves making all sorts of craft projects. This would have been the year to start but visits didn’t happen. Wonder of it would work on FaceTime?

    • My experience teaching on zoom has convinced me that both you and the student need an overhead camera that shows your hands. Both have to login to zoom on a computer and the overhead camera, two windows each, for the best experience. Six is very young and I might instead focus on cultivating a lot of fiber through felting soap and other activities.

  • Hello there. I’m starting a knitting club at my elementary school and need some advice. When I click on the ‘one minute read’ for recommendations, the link does not open. It says the page is gone. Any advice would be appreciated.

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