For sometime now, my niece Amaya (who will be 5 in August) has been saying that she wished she could knit. About two weeks ago I went out and bought her the shortest, fattest wooden needles I could find and some yarn in colors I thought she would like (orange and pinks).
One night when she was spending the night at our house, we sat down together and began to cast on. She could barely contain her excitement which led to much bounciness and squealing (and sincere gratitude). I showed her how I cast on and explained that everyone does things differently when it comes to knitting and the important thing was for her to do it the way that is most comfortable for her. Having never taught anyone how to knit, we had to work on finding what worked best for her little hands. So we practiced casting on for about 15 minutes or so and then it was bedtime. I told her she could practice at home and even if she forgot how she could pretend and just play around with the yarn and needles (which she calls 'beedles').
Last night was the first night since then that she has spent the night and so she brought her knitting gear. Again, we sat together and we got to practicing. She said she had forgotten how, but since the yarn was off the needles I assume she had been trying. Again, I began to show her how to cast on asking her what steps I should take to make my first loop. She directed me perfectly! I think her brain knew how to do it, but her hands had forgotten. I cast on two stitches for her and then passed the needles (beedles). The first few stitches she needed help keeping the yarn on the needles, after that very minimal intervention was needed on my part. We cast on eleven stitches. She was ecstatic. She declared she was making a blanket for her dolls.
Next I told her we would start the knitting part. This part was pretty easy since it is not much different for casting on. She had some trouble getting the loop off the left needle with out pulling off extra stitches, but she didn't give up. Soon she had knit eleven stitches and she was grinning ear to ear. I was so proud of her and not much beats seeing a 4 year old so proud of herself! I hope this excitement stays with her, what a treat this would be to pass this craft on to her. I'll keep you posted.