On Knitting With Young Children


(Alternative title: On Knitting Despite Having Young Kids.)

Knitting with kids isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s often hard. Like the time Reed raced through the house with my pricey skein of delicate Woolfolk, which was still attached to my cowl, criss crossing yarn around the dining room chairs in a wool web of hell, cackling the entire time, so proud of himself.

Um. Not cool.
Luckily kids are so cute, such that the impulse to lock them in a closet and leave them there for a few hours (usually) passes in a matter of moments. I had planned to write this post on my quarterly winter-inspired bucket list, but I kept thinking about this photo Reed and I snapped together a few hours ago. My fingers flipped to my phone, again and again. Looking at this snapshot and smiling. Thinking how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go. And, just like that, the winter bucket list was out the window. At least until next week.

I first started my foray into obsessive knitting when Reed was a young infant. At the time, it seemed like a doable venture because he slept most of the day. (Note he did not sleep most of the night, but that is a blurry recollection for a different day.)

When Reed slept, I knit. I didn’t do the dishes or shower. No cooking. I (mostly) saved that stuff for when he was awake and made do as best I could. When he was a baby, Reed took several naps a day, which meant I enjoyed several determined and purposeful knitting sessions each day as well.

Blissful. Productive. As it should be.

Then I went back to work (part-time). Result: less knitting time.

Soon thereafter, Reed transitioned to only two naps each day. Result: even less knitting time.

Soon we were down to one nap a day. Result: two hours of knitting time daily, at best. Some aches even wine cannot dull.

And now, for the most part, no naps. The bulk of my knitting time comes in the evenings after Reed is asleep. I hunker down in front of the TV and catch up on the computer bits and work on my knitting.

The reality is Reed always come first. I make sure we always have plenty of time to snuggle, read books, cover the house with glitter, bicker, and generally just be Parent and Child. I often wish I could have just one entire day to KNIT all day long, but that doesn’t happen and probably won’t for YEARS. That said, I do have a handful of other tricks I fit in throughout the day that suffice to sneak in extra rows. These extra rows add up.

Follow Your Child’s Lead

As Reed has gotten older (he’ll be four next month!), he’s embarked on stints of independent play, both inside and outside. If I notice Reed is playing independently, I will take a break from whatever I am doing (cleaning, laundry, cooking…) and sit down and knit, even if it’s just for ten minutes. I think socks are particularly handy for these little bits of time when I am not sure if I will have enough time to finish one row or ten rows. If I happen to have a bigger project that’s pretty basic (like my Stoneland Poncho), I’ll go with that as well.

Cartoon Time = Knitting Time

Reed doesn’t watch cartoons every day, but he does get to watch a show or two most days. If I can swing it, I always make a point to join him with my knitting. Sometimes I am stuck whipping up dinner during a cartoon or on a conference call for work, so I don’t always get to make this happen. But I do try.

Your Child is Your Helper

Now and again, Reed likes to “help” me knit. Usually he offers and I make an effort to take him up on it. Sometimes this means he’ll hold my skein and “give” me yarn as I need it. He is also particularly fond of winding skeins on the swift, although this requires a bit of extra patience on my part. (Did I mention I am the least patient person alive?) Other times, he comes up with a designated project that I am instructed to knit for his benefit, such as Lion’s recent wardrobe of sweaters. If I am knitting a Reed Assignment, I am allowed to knit it as he supervises, frequently querying as to my progress and estimated time to completion. Reed often asks me to teach him to knit, but I don’t think he’s quite there yet. I’ve promised him (five thousand times) that of course I can’t wait to teach him when he is ready.

Sans Child? Knit

The True Secret to knitting with young children is to knit whenever you are not with your kids. Unless I am at work, I am almost always with  Reed. There have been times I am not with Reed, and I am always try to knit during these rare windows. Quarterly girls night out? I take my knitting. Grandma’s in town and occupying the Little Terror? I take up my knitting and watch them giggle and plot mischievous acts, pretending not to hear. Occasional slow day at work and Reed’s still in preschool? Coffee shop (or bloody mary at the bar…) and knit!

I know these days with my young son are fleeting. As they say, the days are long but the years go by quickly (or something like that). I wouldn’t wish away my days with Reed for anything, not even knitting. I know they’re zooming by, and soon enough, he’ll be in school or playing sports. Sleep overs. Friends. My free time will expand and with it, time for knitting or just for me. This must be so bittersweet for mother’s everywhere: to simultaneously rejoice in getting yourself back at the expense of feeling less significant to your child.

I am sure knitting will help ease my pain.


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  • Reply LT November 20, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Ah, how this resonates. Especially the last part. My boy turned 4 in Aug. this is the best time, I enjoy it so. Sometimes I long for more knitting time, more me time, but I also know it comes with a price. It will be here before we know it, and then we will long a little for this time back.

  • Reply stephanie young November 20, 2016 at 7:58 am

    You are probably at the very busiest ‘pure’ mommy-i-need-you time….soon, unless you homeschool, Reed will be in school and he’ll be trying out different sports and activities and you will be thanking yourself for having knitting for all those bleacher-sitting hours, pool-side afternoons…..and pitying all the other moms who totally waste their time—just ‘watching’ their kids—you, of course, can knit AND watch at the same time! (or worse, they are just watching their phones!!!) AND while I’m sure you can’t even imagine the day—-you will still have it while you are watching your grandkids! (and bleacher-sitting AGAIN!…I have three drawers FULL of bleacher-sitting-socks. Just saying.)

  • Reply Roslyn November 20, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Hi Andrea – my youngest of 3 turns 16 this week…yes, most definitely “the days are long, but the years are short”. Sounds like you do a good job of mixing knitting with being mama to your most adorable little guy. Four is such an awesome age – independence, wanting to help, the ability to self amuse (at least for little bits of time!), able to hold a conversation (they can say such amazing things at this age!) – enjoy it all, but keep fitting in your knitting!

  • Reply Knit Potion November 20, 2016 at 11:38 am

    This is an absolutely lovely post, both for your thoughts on being Reed’s mom and for your reflections on knitting. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

  • Reply Stefanie November 20, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Good points here. I totally LOL’d at Reed’s mad dash about your house. Jellybean liked to unscrew and screw the top of my Chibi container that holds my tapestry needles. Broke it she did and of course put it back into my notions bag like nothing happened until Mama found it and yelled.

  • Reply itsallaboutpurple November 20, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    My boys are grow and I really had no experience with these things – BUT – I babysat for my 2 year old great niece and learned very quickly. Boy are they fast…it took the hubs 4 hours to undo the yarn knot she created, he about gave up. Reed is adorable and he will grow up, it’s just hard to imagine that now!!

  • Reply Alina November 20, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Love this essay! When I was staying with my friend and her two year old, I realized that it is actually a big challenge to knit with the kids!!! He was so interested in the process and constantly tried to take over and offer his help 😉

  • Reply itsallaboutpurple November 22, 2016 at 11:40 am

    thank you for your sweet comment – happy thanksgiving!!!

  • Reply Julie Crawford November 28, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    oh my gosh, that photo of Reed on your knitting is so precious!! I hear you, I’ve had minuscule amounts of knitting time since my second baby arrive,d it feels like at best I might get an hour or two each evening, after the kids are in bed, and if I’m not working on a blog post. Ah well. these years are fleeting!

  • Reply Heidi December 14, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    This essay made me so happy! My kids are now teenagers, but your words are still relevant. Knitting is the perfect parenting activity as it adapts to every age and setting.

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