knitting · parenting · Raising children


Knitting. It’s one of those simple past times I associate with Sunday afternoons, Earl Grey tea and Midsomer Murders. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things but I’d always assumed that knitting was one of those things old people did.

I was shamed into changing my thinking on this subject quite recently while on the school run with Little Monkey. 

One fresh and frosty Friday morning we walked down the road towards school and in front of us were two boys; one short, one tall, possibly brothers. Both were knitting. Knitting? On the way to school? 

“What’s them boys doing?” Little Monkey asked, genuinely confused by this. We were used to seeing boys (and girls, let’s not be exclusive here) kicking footballs or trying to run people over on scooters and bikes, but knitting? This was new.
I decided to investigate further, I mean, what makes two boys, no older than ten, walk to school equipped with knitting needles and wool and actually use them for the purpose they were intended?

 “What are you two knitting?” I asked, in what I thought was a cheery and breezy tone of voice. I tell you now, dear reader, no one can make you feel more stupid than two pre-teens. 

“Scarf innit?” Retorted the taller boy. 

“Jumper as well.” Added the small one. 

 “Oh. Right.” I floundered slightly, there was more I wanted, nay, NEEDED to know about these two and their wool but from the look of scorn on their faces, further questions would not have been welcomed. 

Sod it.

 “I see. Why? Is it homework?” Little Monkey’s eyes were transfixed on the clicking needles and inches of wool snaking from their pockets. 

“No. We just like knitting.” The conversation was clearly over as they pushed past us and went on, walking and knitting and chatting; thoroughly putting paid to the notion that males can’t multitask. 

 This got me thinking about my niece; a small, feisty, firecracker of a girl who is just as comfortable in a princess dress as in wellies and a muddy puddle. She shouts and screams, she laughs and cuddles and she knits. She’s four years old and she knits. Just before Christmas she watched my mum knitting a blanket for Little Panda and asked if she could do it so mum bought her some needles and wool and now she knits.

Is there some trend that I’ve missed out on? I remember collecting Pogs, Trolls, Gladiator stickers and The Simpsons cards. Everyone had roller blades at some point and we all spent hours and hours on Bop-It, but knitting?

 I do remember asking mum to teach me how to knit (in fact I probably asks her several times) I mean, how hard could it be? I can sew, my embroidery isn’t too bad and I consider myself quite a patient person. The idea of sitting with a brew and watching Midsomer Murders with mum on a rainy Sunday afternoon was quite appealing. The reality was quite spectacularly catastrophic. I am NOT a patient person, I do not have the hand-eye coordination to manoeuvre two unnecessarily thin pieces of bamboo in the correct way and I do not have a third hand to keep the wool under control. Knitting is like alchemy to me. How someone can take a ball of wool and two needles and click clack away for a few hours to produce a blanket, or a scarf or a jumper is an absolute mystery to me. Furthermore I’m not sure how, when or why it became such a trend with the juniors of the world. Tall boy, Shorter boy and Firecracker’s combined ages are less than I am now and they can all knit. I feel ashamed that I don’t posses the necessary skill to even produce a few stitches and live in fear of the day Little Monkey will ask me to crack out the needles and make him something, or even, God forbid, teach him how to knit. 

 What has astounded me with this whole knitting malarkey more than anything, is that it was two younger-than-your-average knitters who reinforced to me the notion that children, (and knitters) can’t be placed into nice little convenient boxes. Yes, I will admit to finding it odd that two boys should A) want to learn how to knit. B) be so skilled at it and C) choose it as a way of passing the time on their way to school over knocking down pensioners with scooters but it’s delighted me in equal measure. I think we’ve been conditioned to assume that today’s kids miss out on the past times that their parents enjoyed (game of curby, anyone?) and prefer to be plugged into some kind of technology. That they’d rather engage in sexting and cyber bullying than in real life conversations with real life people and have to deal with the consequences of their words in a face to face situation. The media would have us believe that our country is awash with under-aged parents with drink and drugs problems, who have no desire to work but are quite happy living off handouts, takeaways and have more gadgets than your average working family.

It’s funny how a brief encounter with two small people can really make your day seem brighter and bring you back to a place where children are innocent and actually find joy in the simplest of tasks, like knitting a ‘scarf innit’ and a ‘jumper as well’.