A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Let’s do finger knitting!

Last week my eight year old daughter and I were flying home to Atlanta from a lovely long weekend visiting my extended family in Pittsburgh. Shortly after boarding the plane we discovered that her DSi was out of battery power.

Uh oh.

Here it comes.

I braced myself…

Three. Two. One.

“MOM! Why didn’t you remind me to charge my DSi last night?” she verbally lunged faster than a cornered snapping turtle at an impromptu roadside petting zoo.

Me? Oh-no-she-DI-INT!

“Um, excuse me, Miss Thang, but you are eight years old; it is YOUR job to be responsible for your own electronics, not mine.”

That’s me on the defense…can you tell? I was acting all tough, but deep down inside I was silently kicking myself for not charging that thing for her. You see, I want to be a good parent. I  want my children to learn from natural consequences and grow up to be responsible, self-sufficient adults. However, on an airplane, surrounded by 200 cranky strangers with nothing but diminutive packets of peanuts to break up the time, regular rules don’t apply. The fact that her DSi was uncharged was about to create some pretty fucking negative consequences for everyone else on the whole plane. I cannot be a party to that.

Believe me, you do NOT want to be sitting anywhere near THIS… especially on an airplane:

We’re talking kick-the-seat-in-front-of-her, see how many times the tray table can go up and down, repeatedly raise and lower the window shade so fast that it creates a strobe light effect and sends people into seizure mode. Not okay. So since I forgot to remind her to charge her electronic babysitter, I needed to think fast and find a way to keep the little bitch busy.

Fortunately, one of my aunts had just given Mini-Me a really cool “French Knitting Spool Kit” with a couple skeins of really pretty variegated yarn. Unfortunately, as we learned the night before at dinner when Mini-Me spiraled into an “I can’t DO this!” meltdown, she’s probably not quite developmentally ready for Spool Knitting. Ooops. Well, it was the thought that counted.

But never fear, with my cat-like parenting reflexes, I engineered a quick alternative: FINGER KNITTING!

Super easy. Super fun. Hours of zen-like busy work with really cool results. I’ve seen kids as young as five years old do this with no help! All you need is yarn and two hands and you can make headbands, belts, necklaces, decorative garlands, a leash for your little brother, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s how you get started:

Turn your non-dominant hand to face you. I’m using my baseball-glove-sized right hand below, because I’m a lefty. Now take the end from your skein of yarn and loosely weave it in and out of the four fingers of that non-dominant hand, figure eight-style, like so:

It doesn’t matter which side of your hand you start the weaving from. I usually tie the loose end to the skein end when I make it back to the finger where I started from (in this case, my pinky):

Next, wrap the skein end all the way around your hand, slightly above the in-and-out woven part you just did, then around the back of your hand, and returning to the side with the knot, like this:

Then, using the thumb and index finger of your other hand, pick up each of the finger loops one by one and lift it OVER the wrapped hand piece of yarn, one finger at a time. In finger knitting, your fingers can bend toward your palm to make it easy to pass the yarn over each finger. Sounds complicated, but it’s not. Look at these pics. First I’m doing my pointer finger loop…

Next, my swearing finger:

In this next pic, I’ve already lifted the yarn over the first three fingers, one at a time (working toward my pinky), now I’m about to lift the wrapped loop on my pinky over the other piece of yarn that was wrapped around my whole hand:

After you’ve done this to each of your four fingers, it will look like this:

You’ve just completed a row! Wrap the working end (skein end) of the yarn around your whole hand and back again. And one by one, lift the bottom finger loops over the top hand loop. Do this over and over until the back of your hand looks like this (we’re switching to Mini-Me’s sweet little hands now):

Keep working. A few more rows and it will look like this:

Once it gets about that long, you can gently start to tug on the knotted part and a chain will form down the back of your hand. If you keep knitting, eventually you’ll have a long chain like this:

Look how peacefully occupied and content she is! Totally not kicking the seat in front of her, by the way.

Naturally your child will need to go to the bathroom at some point. You have two choices, tell her to hold it and hope for the best, or remove the finger knitting from her hand so she can go to the bathroom without turning her knitting into a bio-hazard. I chose the latter. Here’s a picture of me temporarily using a pen to hold her stitches in place while she drains the main vein on the airplane (hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it!). I’m nothing if not über resourceful.

So there you have it: my desperate version of Impromptu Airplane Finger Knitting. Take my advice and keep a skein of yarn in your bag o’ tricks! You never know when it will come in handy.

If you would like more information on Finger Knitting, here is a good (short, sweet, & silent!) YouTube tutorial for your viewing pleasure. And here’s another. It’s so easy, just ask these adorable kids!! (But kids, don’t wrap the finished product around your necks! Der.) And look…there’s even one for my Spanish speaking friends. As you can see, there are a variety of personal finger knitting styles and techniques. All of them work, so pick one that makes the most sense to you and give it a try. Or let your kid annoy the shit out of everyone on the airplane just because you were too drunk to charge up their electronic game. Totally up to you.

yours in desperate craftiness,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Kate Yarris

    And THAT, my friend is how you don’t end up being one of the parents LZ Granderson talks about here! http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/07/05/granderson.bratty.kids/index.html

    • The Bearded Iris

      Whoa…that is kismet! I assure you that my little brat was NOT the one annoying that brilliant man…she was too busy finger knitting! Clearly I’m a fabulous parent. Love his article! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Julie @ mamamash

    Quick thinking there, mama. Brilliant.

    Heh, main vein.

  3. Kristen Kotrlik

    Awesome… I’ve been teaching the neighborhood kids how to do Gimp/Lanyards, and this will come in great next time they are fighting in the hammock.

    Hey- maybe they can finger knit a little bag to collect the “100” pennies they are finding in the yard.

    • Kate Yarris

      Kristen, you need to explain the Lanyard thing. Currently my son is beating up my daughter because he got tired of reading and composing music.

      • Kristen Kotrlik

        You need to give your kids some Nerf Swords. Let them duke it out. And then tell them to find the pennies you threw in the river.

  4. Mary Lou

    Kristen! “Finger knit a bag for the pennies…”!! LOL!! My kids made YARDS of that stuff when they were little….we used it for Christmas tree garland for YEARS!!!

  5. Alison@Mama Wants This

    Whoa, you’re one crafty one!!

    You lost me at the second picture.

    Forever your craft-challenged bloggy friend,

    • The Bearded Iris

      It’s true – I’m a recovering craftaholic. Hi, my name is Iris. (Hi Iris.)

      My directions are terrible. It sounds so much harder than it is. Seriously, little kids do this, unassisted, for hours. Check out one of the video links I included and see how simple it is.

  6. Katybeth

    When you send your child to a Waldorf school-where media of any kind is strongly discourage they keep parents from whining by teaching them ways to entertain their children without electronics. Finger knitting is an all time favorite. What a brilliant mom you are! As far as craft challenged? Joe was in charge of all school crafts; my job was to get permissions slips back on time….but even I learned how to finger knit. Eventually. They can get that huge metal piece of equipment in the air but can’t figure out how to add charges for our devices….go finger knit I guess.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh of course you are a Waldorf Mom! I should have guessed (because you are so frickin’ cool!) I’m a Waldorf-wannabe.

  7. Didi

    *bowing down to your craftiness and ingenius* 🙂

    I would of pulled out the yarn and had them do “cats and cradle/spider” and just let it go at that… probably would of given them a “look of death” to make certain they knew to not mess w/ me at this point, lol!!!!

    Your inspiring, thank you!!!

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