I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve held something yummy in my hand and said “Just take one little bite. Just lick it. I KNOW you’ll like it!” only to be met with the most incredulous snarl imaginable.
Sometimes I forget: you simply can’t tell kids what to like, even if you’re really, really, really, really sure they would like something…say, the wonderfully awesome craft that is crochet? Even if they don’t become prolific hookers themselves (although wouldn’t that be the freaking best?), there are a few ways to get them to appreciate crochet without being overbearing.
*Also, please be cool with the fact that some of these pics are dark and blurry, even for me. If you’ve ever tried to catch a kid in the act of crafting, you feel my feels. The pretty, focused, well-lit pictures are by Erin Markan of Folks Collected. Thanks, Erin!*
1. Make them something to love
You’ve probably already done this, so cheers! If not, this is your chance to blow their socks off – make them a minecraft blanket to cuddle with while they play the game, crochet their favorite animal in their favorite color to make a mystical new creature, or hook them something with their name on it. I usually stick to tv or video game toys because those get the most “OOOOHHH!”s.
2. Make the ugly thing you don’t want to make
I asked Alexander if I could knit him a hat, and he insisted on it being green and blue stripes. Oh, the very idea was nauseating, but I bought some really soft yarn and went with it. He really loves it and never misses an opportunity to tell someone I made it.
3. Let them read your crochet books
I know your crochet books are holy, but if you have one or two they can peruse (especially if you’re willing to make something they pick), leave them just within reach. Liam still loves this Amigurumi book, but he’s lost interest in my stitch dictionaries (who can blame him).
If you’re not ready to share pattern books, you can pick up a kid’s book with a knit or crochet theme. I have and love Extra Yarn.
4. Involve them in your projects any way you can
Alexander and I just donated a square to Yarnbomber for his new project. I picked the type of yarn I wanted to use ahead of time and shoved it all in a bag before we rode in the back seat together on a trip to NYC. Although Alexander doesn’t crochet yet, I asked him if he would help me by picking the color order so I could do the crochet. I think he felt important without being overwhelmed with involvement (with plenty of time between color picks to play Minecraft).
When Yarnbomber received our donation and posted it online, Alexander’s mom was sure to show him the post and define the word “brochet” for him. He thought it was “cool” that hundreds of people liked our work, and he is relishing his involvement in the “bombsquad.”
I think I’ll have no trouble getting him to help with the next project.
5. Show them something huge and unusual
I know that what you make is amazing (duh), but if you have the opportunity, seek out a chance to show them crochet in a way they never imagined.
Our Knit the Bridge crew brought a ton of happy, crochet- and knit-loving kiddos.
They were also on-hand for our heart-bombing (although they mostly ate the heart-shaped cookies Erin made).
6. Let them touch your yarn
If you haven’t closed the browser window already, let me explain: letting them tear your yarn apart and string it across the house gives them permission to love yarn. I use an old set of lockers to store my stash: I put the most-loved yarn high and the crappy acrylic down low. I bet you can guess what they go for…
Bonus if you let them play with your projects (these are coozies for the Warsaw Bar yarnbomb – they make great mittens).
And these are the sample pieces for the Teacher Gift Cup Cuff.
7. Explain what you’re doing
The easiest thing in the world. No prepared speech needed here, just tell them what you’re making, who it’s for, and why you think they’ll like it. Let them know it’s not a mindless task but a way for you to share your talent with someone who will love it. (M&Ms optional)
8. Ask them for their input
These are the cutest critics you’ll ever have. I can’t tell you the number of times they’ve given me very sweet feedback or seen a problem I didn’t (which, I know, is hard to take).
Prepare yourself for less-than-positive reactions.
9. Put a hook in their hand
Let them pick the giant pink, bubbly Q hook and try to make a stitch. Let them turn your golden Js into light sabers. Let them spill all the hooks on the floor and put them, one by one, back in the container.
I try to elevate my hooks one step above toy, one step below tool. They’re free to play with them, but they’ve got to be picked up, put away, and kept out of that spaghetti, please.
10. Let them walk away
Occasionally the boys will ask to help me, or to make their own design, or to learn how to crochet/do yarning. I hold their hands, I go through the motions, and I patiently allow them to quit and walk away a few minutes later. They’re not ready to crochet yet, I know, and I try not to let my impatience show. I know that some day they’ll be great crocheters…or should I say…brocheters.
Do you have any tips & tricks for getting kids to love crochet or other crafts? Share them in the comments!