Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop

January 22, 2016

You might have noticed that I like knitting. It is a useful life skill that may also be incredibly pleasurable, relaxing and meaningful. Knitting can make a stalwart companion through the wilderlands of life.  Whilst my children may decide that knitting is not their life’s companion, I would still like them to know how to do it, just as they ought to know how to plant a tree, make a meal and oil a bike chain.

I have read a lot of knitting books for children that have neither excited me or my children. Recently, I was asked to read and review Susan B. Anderson’s Kid’s Knitting Workshop (2015), published by Artisan Books and I am pleased to be able to say that I think it is a cracker of book! It is subtitled The Easiest and Most Effective Way to Learn to Knit and it might well be.

COVER. Susan B. Anderson's Kids' Knitting Workshop

Excerpted from Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop by Susan B. Anderson (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Lauren Volo. Illustrations by Alison Kolesar.

It is aimed at children around nine or ten years old which is the age of Our Dear Boy. We have had a few forays but he doesn’t know how to knit yet. He is pretty keen on weaving but only if we can get a floor loom with pedals. Since this will happen probably after he leaves home, knitting is what we will focus on for now.  I reckon this might be the book that gets him knitting because it is so well pitched to his age, both to his skills and practical aesthetic. Anderson suggests ten is the ideal time to learn to knit as by this stage children have the fine motor skills necessary for knitting and they also developed the perseverance and determination necessary to succeed at knitting.

This is not simply a pattern book for kids but rather a methodology for teaching children the basics of knitting and then building and extending those skills. It does this through projects that are both useful and appealing to children of that age.

50_Little Hat

Excerpted from Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop by Susan B. Anderson (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Lauren Volo. Illustrations by Alison Kolesar.

The first project for example is a Little Hat. It is little to fit your bear or your doll. This appealed instantly to Our Dear Boy who thought he would make one for his little sister’s doll. Its size means that it will be finished quickly and to further expedite things, it is knit in bulky weight on 6 mm needles and it is knit in the round. Most of the projects in this book are knit in the round and this is one of the key aspects to Anderson’s method. Not only does this increase the speed of completion which builds confidence but also centres the knit stitch as a practice. You just go round and round, practicing the knit stitch. She even recommends that you cast on the first few projects for your child precisely so they can just concentrate on the knit stitch.

In the early stages of her method, the child never has to start or finish a row which is where I find my kids most often struggle to hold onto stitches. It also introduces the idea of the right side of the fabric and the wrong side very intuitively. When the purl stitch is added in a ribbed band in a subsequent hat project, the knit stitch has been consolidated and the purl stitch can be seen very clearly as the opposite of the knit stitch. There is none of the confusion of sides, of stitches and endless drudgery of the garter stitch scarf on two needles that kills off so many eager young knitters. Working back and forth is not introduced until much later in Anderson’s method.

The second project is genius for this particular age group. It is a Wrap Bracelet knit in the round.

58_Wrap Bracelet

Excerpted from Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop by Susan B. Anderson (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Lauren Volo. Illustrations by Alison Kolesar.

The Wrap Bracelet builds the skills of casting on and casting off with only three knit rounds. These are reminiscent of the Loom Band style craze of a couple of years ago. Once they got the hang of these, I can see a child knitting lots of them, to wear and to give away.

Other patterns like a cowl and a tubular scarf build on the skills with other wearable garments that children can customise to their own preference with stripes and colours.  There is even a section where more advanced skills like increasing, yarn overs and cable stitch are introduced through small projects like Mason Jar Cosies and Puppy and Bunny Hand Puppets.

71_Stripy Tube Scarf

Excerpted from Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop by Susan B. Anderson (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Lauren Volo. Illustrations by Alison Kolesar.

Techniques are introduced with clear written explanations and accessible illustrations. Anderson treats children with respect in her writing. She doesn’t dumb anything down, just makes things very clear and builds skills step by step. She introduces concepts such as gauge and how to read a pattern very early in the book. She even shows children how to read a yarn label and how to care for their knitted items. Anderson doesn’t try to be cool, there are no crazy titles of projects or wacky styling which always seem to miss the mark slightly and leave everyone feeling faintly embarrassed. It is straight up and I think its simple yet attractive styling will make this book a classic for teaching children to knit.

Other useful features of the book:

  • It is spiral bound so sits open and flat so children don’t loose their place.
  • Whilst the photographs are all of girls, the projects themselves and the colours depicted are all very unisex.
  • The projects are insightful and appealing to this age group and include useful wearable articles like hats, scarfs, cowls and leg warmers.


  • It is a great omission that not a single image of a boy knitting has been included. This book clearly states in its title that it is a knitting book for kids and certainly Anderson’s text is inclusive and non-gendered. And yet to look at this book, it would seem that knitting is just for girls. Knitting is a skill for everyone, not just girls. How can boys relate to knitting, if they do not see images of themselves within the text?
  • My other criticism of this book is that there is no information for how to approach teaching a left-handed child to knit. Many children are left-handed nowadays as the education system no longer sees this as deviant and requiring correction. But we do need information on the best way to approach teaching left-handers techniques that have been developed for right-handedness. As a mother of a leftie, I am still learning how to provide tools such as left handed scissors, bread knife and peeler so that my child is not disadvantaged in acquiring these life skills by having to use tools designed for right-handers. A discussion of handedness and knitting would have been most appreciated in this otherwise exceptionally comprehensive book.

Despite these criticisms, I do think that Susan B. Anderson’s Kids’ Knitting Workshop is an excellent, intelligent book that can save children from the Herculean labour of learning to knit through the garter stitch scarf. I will be leaving this book open on the breakfast table for Our Dear Boy to browse through. I will be casting on a Little Hat and leaving it out for Our Dear Boy and I to cosy up with. I might even break out some old Noro I have in stash. I will let you know how we go.

FYI: Whilst I have not received any monies to publicise this book, I did receive a copy of the book for the purpose of reviewing. My views and opinions of this book are my very own.