Knitting is central to first grade handwork in the Waldorf curriculum. It is often the focus of handwork for the entire  year. While knitting is hand work and productive work, it also fosters thinking and nourishes brain development through hand movement. It is said that Knitting Begets Thinking.

We begin our with a visit to our local farm where the children can see the sheep, scratch behind their ears, touch their wooly coats, smell the lanolin in the sheep’s coat and offer a hand to the farmer who cares for the sheep.

We feed the sheep and freshen their water.

The farmer sends us home with a grain sack full of freshly shorn wool.

We wash the wool.


We rinse the wool.

We set it out to dry.

Once it is dry we card it with carding brushes and little fingers.

We use rectangular wire bristled  dog brushes for small hands to card the wool. Small hands might have an easier time of  pulling the wool apart with fingers, they seem to enjoy the “puffy little clouds.” the smell of the lanolin and the joy of picking out the little bits of twigs and burrs from the fields.

We gave spinning a go with the drop spindle.

Then we then make our knitting needles. See Part II for Knitting Needle Making


For articles on knitting and thinking:

Knitting and Intellectual Development , an article from Eugene Schwatrz.

Knitting Begets Thinking, an article by Marijke McCartney, Handwork Teacher at the Ringwood Steiner School.

lisaLisa Boisvert Mackenzie is the Editor and Publisher of The Wonder of Childhood. She serves on the board of directors of LifeWays North America and WECAN’s Birth to Three task force. She is a Waldorf homeschooling Mama who began homeschooling with Waldorf education in 1998. Lisa offers Celebrate the Rhythm of Life,  a ~living curriculum program, for homeschoolers and homemakers, as well as an eCourse each month on an aspect of homemaking and homeschooling from a Waldorf approach. For more information, visit her website here. She occasionally offers as an eCourse, or in person workshop, From Sheep to Story :: A Tale of Wonder for parents and homeschoolers.




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