5 Reasons to Teach Your Loved Ones to Stitch

It’s not always easy to teach a skill to someone you love, but the payoff can be huge. I was lucky enough to be taught knitting and crochet by some VERY patient friends and family members. In middle school, I was taught to knit by a close friend who was a very skilled knitter even back then, though she didn’t necessarily know how to teach knitting. The trouble was, she is a lefty and I am not. Puberty-fueled tempers ran high and eventually my mom had to step in and teach me the basics. Now, my friend, my mom, and I all love to knit together more than ten years later. 

Learning to crochet went much more smoothly. My friend Susanna Tobias, then-project editor for Interweave’s crochet publications, taught me the ropes. She is both very patient and a very skilled teacher, and we have grown much closer thanks to her tutelage.

I didn’t try to teach anyone to stitch myself until 2018. My then-boyfriend (now husband) expressed a desire to learn how to knit and I wasn’t sure what to do. While I had been knitting for over a decade, I could not confidently say, “I know how to teach knitting.”

But I’m pleased to say I went for it, and that it went really well! I was surprised to find how rewarding it was to teach a skill that I now take somewhat for granted. I’ve since taught two other friends to knit, including one taught over Zoom during the pandemic. It’s still a big challenge for me, but always extremely worthwhile.

If you have shied away from teaching a friend, family member, or significant other to knit or crochet, it’s time to end the excuses! Here are five reasons why you should teach everyone you love to stitch, even if you don’t think you know how to teach knitting or crochet, plus tips for getting friends and family on board.

1. Precious Quality Time

My fiance and I needed activities where we can spend quality time together and also talk (aka not screen time). Knitting and crochet are perfect when combined with a coffee or a beer, and stitching is a great activity to facilitate conversation. 

A woman and a man with knitting.
My fiance nicely agreed to pose for some very silly pictures with his first-ever knitting project.

Here’s How to Sell It: You’re constantly stitching. You know it; your loved ones know it. They almost certainly are as hungry for quality time as you are, so knitting or crochet lessons are a fun way to make time for each other.

Need a little extra help convincing your significant other? Let them know that the best way to learn how to knit is to have a knitter sit on your lap (or sit on a knitter’s lap) and get cozy. That’s a win for everybody.

2. It’s Incredible for Mental Health

Both knitting and crochet are powerful tools for healing. There are countless stories out there of people using stitchcraft to cope with illness, to foster healing during and after wartime, and maintain wellness in old age. Scientific studies also show that knitting reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the body, helps focus the mind, and can even help overcome addictive behaviors. Plus, it might just get you to put down your darn phone for a bit!

Head with a brain replaced by yarn

In my own life, I’ve found that crochet, especially crocheting mandalas, is one of the most effective ways for me to practice mindfulness. Meditation is tough for me — I have a very noisy brain and I tend to be really hard on myself when I can’t turn off the noise. But give me a crochet hook and yarn, and suddenly my mind is crickets. 

Here’s How to Sell It: You could show them the scientific studies . . . but does anyone really listen to those? You might have more luck explaining the personal benefits you’ve seen in your own life. We’d love to hear your stories too! Share them in the comments and maybe browse them for ideas to convince your own loved ones to pick up a hook or needles.

3. Adorable Matching Outfits

When you have the ability to create your own garments and accessories, there are endless possibilities for fabulous matching and coordinating outfits. Even if you don’t “match,” strictly speaking, two people decked out in fabulous knitwear will turn heads.

A man and a woman in blue and grey sweaters.
Two fetching projects from Interweave Knits Spring 2017.

Example: My best friends all made matching Harry Potter scarves in high school. We were highly enviable, I assure you. And we had so much fun making them! Matching beanies, mother/daughter hooded scarves, or crochet necklaces are all fun make-along projects that let you spend quality time together while making an object that marks your enduring affection!

How to Sell It: With your best friends and family, this won’t be a hard sell. Significant others might be a little more resistant. Maybe start with matching beanies.

4. You’ll Inspire Each Other

One of the reasons I love to share my hobbies with friends and family is so they can inspire me to new heights. I’m a little on the competitive side; there’s nothing that lights a fire under my behind like someone against whom to measure myself.

While fiber arts aren’t (usually) competitive, it’s definitely inspiring to watch others succeed. It’s motivating to see a friend or family member, especially someone newer to the craft, try out a skill you’ve shied away from!

A man with a handspun skein of yarn.
Here’s my husband, holding his very first skein of handspun yarn.

I once brought my husband over to a friend’s house for a knit night. He brought along his “scarf” that he’d been working on for more than six months (a whopping two inches long at the time), but the scarf didn’t get worked on. He was offered the chance to learn how to use the spinning wheel, and he took it! Now, I’ve been shame-facedly turning down offers of spinning lessons for more than ten years. Let me tell you, watching him spin his first skein was the motivation I needed to finally give it a try. 

How to Sell It: This is more of a benefit for you than it is for your potential pupils, but I find that when I frame knitting as a fun challenge and a skill to be learned rather than just a hobby to fill time or a way to make garments, people find it a lot more interesting.

5. It Makes You Better

They say that the best way to learn a new skill is to teach it. Knitting and crochet are no exceptions! Nothing will test your knowledge of stitch anatomy and your ability to troubleshoot the weirdest problems like teaching a loved one.

how to teach knitting

“What even is a stitch and how do I count them?” “I have way more stitches now than when I started.” “I can’t get my hook in this loop.” “Some stitches just slid right off my needle.”

These are only a few of the questions that just about every beginner runs into. Walking a new stitcher through these problems won’t just help them learn the basics; it will also help you to become better at your craft. You’ll become more skilled at repairing mistakes, more able to judge at a glance whether a problem has occurred, and more confident in trying out new techniques yourself.

If you get really stuck, don’t be afraid to outsource the question to experts like Kate Atherley! You’ll learn a lot in the process and will be able to cement your understanding by then passing that knowledge on to your pupil. If you start to sense frustration in your pupil, remember that learning new things as an adult is hard! It’s often best to take a break and a few breaths before tackling the problem again from another angle. Don’t forget that Interweave has a huge library of online workshops and technique articles so that you can learn together.

How to Sell It: Again, this is more a benefit to you than to your potential pupils, but you might try asking someone straight out, “Do you mind if I try to teach you how to knit? I’ve heard teaching someone is the best way to make sure you really understand what you’re doing.”

Bonus Tip: Show Off Your Knits

Of course, the best way to convince your friends and family to ask you for stitching lessons is to show off your best handmade garments all the time, as gifts, and by wearing them yourself. If someone asks you to stitch them something, you can offer lessons instead!

I am so grateful to have friends and family that respect and understand my love of fiber. It really does make the craft more fun when you have company. So don’t be shy! Ask your loved ones if they’d like to learn how to knit or crochet. They won’t believe the benefits of joining your fiber crew—and neither will you!

Yours in Stitches,

Andrea


Originally posted on March 19, 2018; updated on May 12, 2021.


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Responses

  1. I am right handed and I taught my left handed sister to crochet by having her sit in front of me. It worked great. It wasn’t working with her sitting next to me. 😀

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