ideas for my nephew please

My mom knitted all the time when we kids were young, and one winter we nagged her to teach us. My brothers and I knitted for years, I have done some as an adult but it's been a long time. I have a nephew in his mid-20's who was diagnosed with schizophrenia some years ago. He lives in a small town where there is little for him to do. He's under county guardianship and on meds but occasionally gets into trouble if he has a few beers (starts obsessing, panic attacks, delusions, ends up in hospital). He told me on the phone from the hospital he thinks a lot because he is always searching for the truth but sometimes his thoughts wear him out. I told him how his dad and uncles knitted when they were kids (his dad has almost zero insight into the human mind, let alone a schizophrenic son; the only way he knows how to spend time with his son is to get him on the tractor to cultivate a field on his farm). I think knitting might be very beneficial for my nephew. He lives quite a ways away from me so not sure when I'd have a chance to get him started, although his mother (a depressed alcoholic who is not married to his dad) lives nearby and apparently knitted at one time and could help. What I am looking for is ideas and easy patterns/instruction for a 20-something guy in the hinterlands to perhaps start with. I could buy materials and needles to send to him. Thanks in advance.

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Tallguy's picture

This is a difficult one. While we all have discovered the peacefulness of knitting, not everyone sees it that way. The first thing to determine is if he has any interest in any handcrafts, for without it, he will never take up anything.
Without being there with him frequently (daily at least), it is hard to get someone motivated enough to make it an obsession. (We never think of it as an obsession, do we?) I don't believe anyone can appreciate the state of mind a knitter has unless they do it daily -- it needs to become a habit.
I like the idea of starting newbies on a stocking stitch hat knit in the round. All they do is knit-knit-knit, without having to learn the purl stitch as well. And a hat is short enough that they can complete it within a reasonable time so they don't lose interest, and they get something they can wear with pride (I made it myself!). When the bug catches, then you can go on to other things.
But over this distance, that is going to be very difficult to do! I believe a person needs to knit every day for about 21 days to make it into a habit. We do lose interest quickly! So someone needs to be there to make sure he does it every day! Perhaps the mother can help, but only if she is as dedicated as you are. It may actually help her if she is giving to someone else, so this may help two people at the same time.
I wish you much success with this idea. It is a great idea and one that needs to be tried. You may need to enlist the support of someone he really admires. He appears to have reached out to you, even though he has a father and mother nearby. Can he come to stay with you for a short time?

I've thought about having him visit. And hat makes sense, since he lives 50 miles from the Canadian border (NW Minnesota). He writes a lot--poems and such, very spiritual content. Living in public housing apartment there is really literally almost nothing to do, and other people control his minimal income. I came across some links about using knitting as mental health treatment, in fact. And Waldorf schools use knitting with kids--the idea is that they can't learn to read until they can focus and stay in the zone enough to knit. And yes, if his mom could get into it, it would be good for her too, since she has in the past knitted.

stch's picture

If your nephew does express an interest in learning to knit, here's a couple of ideas.

What I have done in the past with teaching people to knit is to start them out with washcloths/dishcloths. Both Lionbrand.com and yarnspirations.com have easy (beginner) patterns to download or print for free that use the basic knit and/or purl stitches, and substitute the yarn of choice instead of using cotton yarn. These are quick to knit, and after enough are completed they can be assembled into a comforter. Also Leisure Arts has some terrific booklets that contain a variety of simple textured patterns, as well as, a page with basic instructions. One booklet that maybe of interest is titled Garden Dishcloths (it was a favorite of some when they were learning to knit).

Another option to explore is introducing your nephew to knitting using a knitting loom. Most are inexpensive and come with basic instructions for making hats, and scarfs.