Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Casting On

updated: please go to https://www.facebook.com/knittingwithchildren/?ref=bookmarks
 to stay abreast of a new website, coming soon, that will give you everything you need to know to teach children to knit, and support you and your children in a developmental, imaginative, gentle way. Patterns and stories included.

When teaching children to cast on, I usually tell a story the day or two before about a boy with a ship. Then, I retell the story, adding instruction and supplies. I give each student a rolled ball of white yarn and one knitting needle.
There was a boy who found a treasure map one day. The treasure map had a curious inscription:
 If you would climb Thumb Mountain, then over to Pointer Mountain soar,
Scoop up the gold , under vines, back home, then treasure will be yours.
This boy, when he read those words, knew exactly where to find thumb mountain. It was an easy journey for him, and he knew it well. He had a ship, and he knew just how to sail it.
This is your ship. Put your slip knot on the knitting needle, with pads of fingers touching the shaft. I tell the students to hold their needles 'birds on a wire' so their fingers are a bit looser. Some want to grip the needle in a fist...help them hold their fingers over the needle like so:

Now you can sail your ship up, down, and through waves.
The boy knew he was getting close because he could see the beach. He then set out to anchor his ship by grabbing the line hanging from it.
Then, he split the line so the boat would be steady while he was gone.
At this point in the story, the tip of the knitting needle becomes the boy.
Now it was time for the ship to rest and for the boy to go to the island to find treasure. He landed on the beach. The knitting needle comes forward and down. The "mountains" stand strong.
Now the boy crept up Thumb Mountain, under the vines, all the way to the top, and he never fell off. He remembered the writing:
If you would climb Thumb Mountain, then over to Pointer Mountain soar,

Scoop up the gold , under vines, back home, then treasure will be yours.
From the top of Thumb Mountain, he could see Pointer Mountain. He flew over, because he was a very special boy and could do things like that.

You will notice my hand has turned to the side here. The boy is on top of Pointer Mountain.
Now he sees the gold and scoops it up, and flies back to the top of Thumb Mountain.

The yarn coming from Pointer has been scooped and is on its way to Thumb.

Now the boy is on Thumb mountain and is ready to go home. He slides down Thumb Mountain, under the vines with his treasure, and lands on the beach.

He is back home on the beach! Now take your whole hand out and pull one of the strings to close the loop. You will have two stitches on the needle now. Congratulations! A continental cast-on. Start the whole process again to cast on the rest of the stitches (there's more gold in those hills!)
Eventually, instead of taking out your whole hand, you can simply sweep your thumb across to close the last loop.
See knittinghelp.com for a video of the Continental Cast-On.


  1. What a beautiful story, and such a wonderful way to teach casting on! Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. Hi This is cool, it will help my young nieces, cheers Marie

  3. this is amazing posts on your blog wow. I would like to invite you to come on over to my blog and check it out


  4. This is beautiful. I'm going to use it with the Girl Scouts I'm teaching this spring!

  5. beautiful! What grade do you teach the children to cast on? I know that some teachers wait until grade 3, others start in grade one. What has been your experience with casting on in the grades? thank you so much for your wonderful ideas.

  6. Hi, thank you very much for the wonderful resources on Waldorf handwork. I have used the knitting story to teach my 5 years old daughter, who loves handwork, to knit with great success. I would very much like to use this story to teach more children to knit in Singapore in holiday knitting camp. Would it be ok for you that I use this story for that purpose. Many thanks and warmest, Doreen