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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #45
March 05, 2008

Getting Crafty

The Daring Book for Girls + Endangered Fun: Jacks, Daisy Chains and Knitting

Winter is still firmly entrenched over most of the country, so we decided to embrace housebound days and re-visit some of the classic games of our girlhood. We weren't sure we remembered the detailed rules of old faves like jacks and hopscotch, so we turned to the newest literary rage, The Daring Book for Girls. Between robins-egg blue covers, the authors lovingly describe many a nearly-forgotten pastime. Want to know how to make a lanyard, create a daisy chain or even put your hair up with pencils? How about making paper flowers, tying bandanas or building a campfire? The list is like a trip down memory lane, but sharing some of these lost arts with your daughters is like catching up with an old friend. For just a few dollars, we brought home a few sets of jacks, and with the help of the book, challenged our girls to a game. Onesies and twosies were no problem for us moms, but threesies and around the world? Turns out, those modern fingers are just as nimble with jacks as they are with texting.

Once upon a time, knitting was something that Great Aunt Millie did to commemorate new babies. No longer. Knitting has picked up cache among the elementary-school set, and we have watched many a cool knitting store pop up around town. Inspired by our success with projects from The Daring Book for Girls, we investigated classes for kids and discovered that beginning knitting classes for girls and boys are all the rage. Most stores will also be happy to get your kids started on their first project, most often, a small blanket or scarf. Not expecting the Groundhog to see his shadow any day soon, we took our kids to a local shop and let them choose some yarn and easy-to-use first needles. While their first efforts were far from perfect, there is something endearing about their first blanket with a bunch of dropped stitches. By their second projects, our girls became mini-fashion designers, determined to create colorful skinny scarves that would reach almost to the ground to greet the first days of spring.

Film Title: The Daring Book For Girls
Directed By: Andrea J. Buchanan, Miriam Peskowitz
2007, Rated G, 279 pages

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Book:

  • Why It's Worth It: This is the perfect book to leave lying around the house. Inevitably, someone will pick it up and lose themselves, and several hours, by discovering a new pastime. Here are some sample chapter headings: Bandana Tying, Chinese Jump Rope, Pressing Flowers, Coolest Paper Airplanes, Slumber Party Games, Women Spies, Bird Watching, Rules of the Games for Darts, Words to Impress, Doing a Sun Salutation and Roller Skating. You can't go wrong -- buy this book!
  • Red Flags: Absolutely none - and, this is a great book to keep in your gift closet.
  • Other Reading: We love The Dangerous Book for Boys and wrote about it last year. Click here to see what we said.

Our Tips for Talking with your kids about this Book:

  • Craft Savvy: We love the book D.I.Y. Kids from a KOTC subscriber, which has a ton of fun projects to do at home.
  • Literary Savvy: This book allowed us to take a trip down memory lane and talk about the types of projects we did as kids - playing cards on rainy days, setting up a lemonade stand and playing imaginary games.


Endangered Crafts: Learning to Knit

Age Recommendation: third grade and up
Time Allotment: a few hours

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this adventure:

  • What Worked for Us: The local yarn store welcomed our fourth grade girls with open arms, and we dropped in weekly for knitting help and to buy more supplies. Soon, we were bringing our friends' children along, and the knitting craze caught on. It's a great activity for a long car ride, or just for calming down after a long day. And, there's nothing better than wearing a scarf or hat that can't be seen on anyone else.
  • Before You Go: Set a budget with your child. Being in a yarn store is like being in a candy store - the colors and textures are beautiful and we've often gone home with much more yarn than we can possibly knit up in two years!
  • Knitting Basics: Every thing you can possibly do with needles is a combination of two simple stitches: KNIT and PURL. Every pattern changes up the combination of these two stitches, so that combined with the variables of yarn color and how the rows intersect, the possibilities are vast! Spend the time learning these basics and the kids will be set. An adult at the yarn store can help with the tricky 'casting on' process (by which the stitches are initially loaded onto a needle). A whole scarf can be made just from the knit stitch, so don't try to introduce anything else for a first project. Then, the second project can combine the knit and purl stitches. It takes a while for fingers to get comfortable holding the needle, and wrapping the yarn, but once the kids master it they can do it without looking. Click here for a basic how-to lesson from Martha Stewart, or here for a video lesson.
  • Mom's Tip: Once the kids can knit without staring at the needles, they can do it while riding in the car or watching television. It makes a passive activity active.
  • Can't find a friendly yarn store? Click here for a website with hundreds of free patterns, here is a website with more sophisticated patterns, a website with unusual, whimsical projects, and one more for fun.

Our City Editors' tips for enjoying this Popcorn Adventure around the USA:
  • Anywhere: Google your city + knitting shops, stores. You'll not only find store listings, but often local knitting blogs or groups that offer recommendations on the best yarn shops and classes.
  • Chicago: Sister Arts Studio is a wonderful  novice-friendly knitting store located in Lincoln Park. Not only do they have novice knitting classes for kids older than seven on Saturday, but they also have after-school  classes on Thursday afternoons. There are special Tween nights, and even summer camps. They carry craft kits suitable for ages two through adult and cover pretty much every fiber craft—from knitting to weaving to crochet.
  • Houston: Tap into the therapeutic value of knitting with others at the Mary Charles Yarn Company.  Mary offers a neighborhood feel, quaint, comfortable place to knit, with "not-your-average yarns". Her "Basics and Beyond" class is offered on Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m.  She also has private instruction available as well as a complete selection of knitting yarns, books and supplies. You are welcome to come and shop or sit and knit and enjoy the cozy environment.
  • San Francisco: Who doesn't love to purl here in San Francisco? With so many delicious yarn shops, fun classes, and knitting groups, there's hardly time to drop a stitch. The uber-popular Imagiknit San Francisco in the Mission Dolores district has classes and and a big list of charity knitting causes.  You and your kids can work together, knitting chemo caps for cancer patients, or making blankets for local hospital-bound babies. In the East Bay, check out the funky and fun Article Pract in Oakland, or the airy and colorful Stash in Berkeley, which includes Wednesday night "knit-ins." New and notable is K2Tog  (just down the street from Stash), which offers classes SPECIFICALLY for kids and teens, including elementary kids projects, junior high projects, Christmas ornaments, top-down socks, ribs and ruffles scarfs, wrist warmers, hats, and "teen time." Or, call any of the local knit shops to plan a party for your kids; many of them offer their class space for special events.
  • Washington, D.C.: At Knit and Stitch = Bliss kids 8 and up can take a beginner knitting class. Private classes are available and recommended for younger children.  They also offer a family class for groups of two or more. Both classes offer three sessions of the basics to get you started. For additional help, on the first and third Saturday of each month they offer a "mini class" free to anyone who is working on a project with yarn purchased from the store.  They are conveniently located near Metro's red line in Bethesda.

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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