Crocheting is much different than knitting. I've found it is harder for the children to learn, and easier for them to do. Is this because of where they are developmentally?
Because crochet uses one tool, and this one tool is held in the dominant hand, I bring it at two different times, depending on the class.
The first time is during the last half of second grade. The movement of the hook strengthens dominance, especially in children who have issues with hand dominance, or sensory integration issues. The movement of the hook requires building the capacity for a fluidity and rhythm that is needed in cursive writing. Because children are introduced to cursive writing in second grade at a Waldorf School, this fits nicely.
The other time I bring crochet is in the third grade. Children in third grade in a Waldorf school experience the "nine year change". Much is written about this change, so I won't go into detail here, but the basic idea is that children are "waking up" to their inner life. Their subjective inner reality comes to meet objective outer reality and it is an exciting and somewhat difficult time in a child's life.
Because of this awakening of ego, crochet and stitching meet the needs of the child at this time. The pointed, direct gesture of crochet contrasts the dreamier, bilateral rhythm of knitting. In crocheting, too, the will is awakened. One must have the capacity to balance sympathy and antipathy. For example, students toward either placing too many stitches into one stitch, or skipping stitches. The balance is to be wakeful enough to hold back where necessary, and determine the right time for moving forward. Is this not the lesson for our own egos? Holding on, letting go.
I begin with a flute case and a discussion of the color work I learned in my training. The challenge is to "blend" two colors gradually from top to bottom, ending with the light color on the top. The flute case is made during second grade, or at the beginning of third. If I have an older or more "wakeful" (aware, intellectual) second grade class, I will bring crochet in second grade. Otherwise, I feel capacities are still being built through knitting and will continue that.
Here is my flute case:
Next comes a hat in third grade, and this is where the sculptural possibilities of crocheting are seen. We do not use a pattern, but instead fit the heat to our heads as we stitch. Colors are freely changed with two rules: the colors you choose must make the top of your head shine, and make your face shine.
Here is my daughter's hat:
Third graders may move on to making Granny squares. In third grade, we also have an auxiliary handwork class where we wash, card, spin, dye, and weave.
Here are a couple of poems for teaching crochet. I start with a story a class or two before bringing the actual skill.
If your garden you would grow, I'll tell you softly what I know
Into the ridge, now place it deep, put it under those two feet
And now pull through the dirt, and seal where you've sown
That is how your garden will grow!
Steer your boat under the bridge of two
Catch one fish and pull it through
Catch another and with the hook fetch
See where you are and on to the next!
I hope to have good pictures of the process of crocheting next week, similar to the knitting ones.