"I'm a writer living in the Perth Hills with my relentlessly fun seeking children.
Published February 15th 2017
Getting the Ball Rolling Without Needles
Handcrafting something yourself is one of the most rewarding ways to spend a spare hour. Traditional homespun skills like crochet, knitting and sewing are once again in fashion. Social groups in the 'stitch 'n' bitch' tradition and crochet hookers are growing. They're always game for a meetup at a cafe or community centre, but what if you can't get out of the house and you want to sneak in the odd hour with your knitting needles whilst the kids are about. Small children are bound to put the kibosh on your crafty plans unless you can keep them entertained.
No one knits on my watch
Getting Crafty Whilst older kids can easily be taught knitting basics with some big needles, a little patience and some suitably funky wool, little ones might just not have the fine motor control to handle those cumbersome needles.
Often they are just desperate to do "what mum does", usually resulting in a lot of frustration and the odd meltdown. I have discovered a perfect way to keep the younger kids involved, working with the same materials and using their hand to eye coordination to produce something on their own terms. Even better it's virtually free.
Old wool gets a new life
Yarn sticks are the easiest thing in the world to make, all you need to keep most children occupied are a few good, dry sticks (what kid doesn't like collecting sticks?), a big bag of yarn and some accessories. Any leftover wool can be used, but I would recommend buying a couple of big multicoloured balls of wool to start you off, as young kids seem to really love the rainbow effect. Also look out for fluffy or glittery yarn with interesting textures and bright colours, as these are really popular too.
The magical powers of yarn sticks
Winding Up Even the smallest child seems to be able to get the hang of the almost hypnotic winding, round and round routine of making a yarn stick. It's fascinating how something so simple can be so engaging.
Round and round we go
Bells and Ribbons Once the sticks are complete they can go to town with customizing them. I keep a box of ribbons, bells, feathers, and googly eyes especially for transforming sticks into wands, twirling batons and musical instruments.
Big box of fun
In Shape Once they get the hang of this, it wont be long before they start putting sticks together to form stars, letters and three dimensional shapes like snow flakes.
Creative Creatures The creations are endless and there are some great ideas out there for more challenging projects, like mobiles and teepee tea lights. Even better, when they grow tired of their creations the yarn can just be recycled. Yarn sticks are a great way to keep little ones amused whilst you knit or crochet. Children learn to do things by imitating our behaviours and it helps them model something that you're doing in a fun achievable way for them. All children are natural creators, given half the chance.
It's Santa, It's a weasel, It's Santaweasel
Budding Artists This is a really simple way of letting them work with their hands, while all the time learning about the properties of textiles and making their own decisions about colour and design. Best of all, you're giving them a taste of craft, that could easily grow into a fascination with traditional skills like knitting, weaving or crochet, which might mean eventually you get a little bit more yarn time.