Finger Knitting - getting started with the simplest work of the hand.


Finger knitting is one of those things that you really only need to teach once – ever!

Once a few children in your class know how to do it – everyone will know! It will come and go as a craze and as long as you keep an awareness of who your experts are, and make sure the craze cycles up again before they move on, you’ll always have children that can teach it when the need arises. Children can begin finger knitting as soon as they enter elementary.

Managing Finger Knitting

As no special tools are required for finger knitting there is no natural control over how many children can finger knit at a time. This means that no one will be waiting their turn to use the materials once their friend has finished with them, and therefore no natural/social time limit on the activity which can lead to children spending all day finger knitting.

For some children this might be a good thing – but for others you may want to manage this. Here are a few of suggestions of ways I have found successful:

  • Limit the number of balls of yarn available for finger knitting – this means only a few children can do it at any one time, but it also removes choice of colour, texture etc. so not my favourite.

  • Roll small balls of several kinds of yarn for you finger knitting basket. You can then either limit the number of balls each child may use in a cycle, or simply not refill the basket for a time.

  • Teach them something new. Often children will buy their own balls of yarn so they can continue with their projects at playtime and at home as well as in class. This tells you the child is really interested in their craft so they need to be introduced to the next stage. Try both single and four finger knitting and then teach them to knit, crochet or weave. I rarely see children choosing to finger knit in my 9-12 class once they have learned more complex and versatile skills.

In a future post I will show you how I teach Four Finger Knitting. Below is how I introduce Single Finger Knitting to my students.

Text in standard font = what I do

Text in italics = what I say

Step 1.

Do you remember in the Story Of The Coming Of Humans we learned about the three special gifts humans have? Can you remember what they are? The mind that can think, the heart that can love and the hand that can work. Our hands are very special tools that can do all kinds of useful things. Today I’m going to show you a way that you can knit yarn, using only your own special tools – your hands. It’s called finger knitting.

Watch whilst I show you how to do it and then you can have a go at your own finger knitting.

Work through the steps as you describe them to the children.

I’ll start by tying a slip knot to make a loop. This is a little like the first part of tying a bow, I just make a small loop near the end of the yarn and then pull another loop of yarn through. Now I can slip it over my finger.

I can pull the end to tighten it up a little, and I’ll tuck the tail under my other fingers to keep it out of the way.

Step 2.

I’m ready to make my first stitch. To do this I’m going to use the end of the yarn that is still joined to the ball. This is called the working yarn.

I’ll lift the working yarn over my finger to make a second loop in front of my first loop.

I think I’ll just tuck my working yarn under my fingers too so it stays a little tight.

Step 3.

Now I need to lift the first loop over the second loop and drop it down below my finger.

If I need to tighten it I can give the tail a little tug.

I have made my first stitch!

Step 4.

Now I just keep wrapping the yarn over my finger, lifting the first stitch over the second and giving a little tug when I need to tighten it.

See how clever hands are, knitting without any other tools! I wonder how many uses we can think of for this cord?

Illicit ideas as you continue to knit.

Step 5.

After making several stitches so children can see the chain start to emerge:

I think I’ve done enough finger knitting for now; I’d like to put it down so I can carry on another day.

There is something I have to remember though. Watch what happens if I take my work off my finger and pull the working yarn…….

Take the loop off your finger and gently tug the yarn so two stitches come undone.....

I don’t want all my stitches to come unraveled so I’ll slip a pencil into the loop, watch now……

Put a pencil into the loop and give the yarn a gentle tug.

The pencil holds the loops I can store my work without it coming undone. You can store your work like this too.

Help the children to begin their own Single Finger Knitting.

Step 6.

When a child’s knitting reaches the desired length they can secure it by cutting off the yarn, threading the tail back through the loop and pulling tight. Depending on the size of the loops/yarn, they may also need to tie a knot.

Children can experiment with their knitted cord to find a variety of uses for it. They can finger knit the cord they have made to produce a thicker cord, weave it, make bracelets, necklaces, headbands, bag handles and keychains.

Please let me know in the comment box below what your students do with their finger knitting.

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© 2020 Carol Palmer   Montessori Handwork