Playing with sticks

• Sister Arts Studio, Inc.
721 W. Wrightwood, Chicago 
(773) 929-SASI (7274)

• My Sisters' Knits 9907 S. Walden ParkwayChicago(773)

• Three Bags Full 1130 Shermer RoadNorthbrook(847) 291-9933threebagsfullknitting

• Wool and Company 23 South Third St., Geneva(630)

Before Wii or Game Boy—even before Pac-Man—kids of many cultures often knit to occupy their hardly-ever-idle hands. Now in spite of, or perhaps because of, all the techno-toys available today, many parents and kids are rediscovering the joy of making something new from a pair of sticks and a gussied-up ball of string.

While firing kids’ creative instincts, knitting is also praised for being calming and meditative, and for heightening concentration. Your child can learn knitting solo or in tandem with you, in a knitting shop class or an after-school program. Most classes start at age 7 or 8, though instructors say 4-and 5-year-olds can learn if they are highly interested.

“Here is a chance for kids to get away from the computer or the television and realize they have other talents. They pick [knitting] up quickly, and are not critical of themselves the way adults are,” says Donna Palicka, owner of Sister Arts Studio in Lincoln Park. She leads parent/child classes on Saturdays, Tuesday/Thursday after-school classes and regular Tween Knit Nights.

At My Sister’s Knits in Beverly, Carol Oprondek offers at least one class a month geared to the younger set. Regular topics include"Dyeing Yarn with Kool-Aid,”"Beginner Knitting,”"Finger Knitting” and"Mitten Making” (sewing recycled sweaters into mittens).

Three Bags Full in Northbrook offers 4-week child or parent/child classes on Saturdays; the next session starts in September. Classes are busiest as winter and gift-giving season near, owner Lynette Swanson says."[Students] mainly knit blankets for stuffed animals, scarves and headbands. But I have some precocious kids who knit booties on double-pointed needles,” says Swanson.

If you gather the group, Wool and Company in Geneva will organize a class or even a learn-to-knit birthday party just for you.

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