The speed of five

Last year when my nephew Hank stayed with me, I wrote a post about “the speed of four“. Well, Hank is older so his mum went away for longer and while she’s been cavorting around Spain, I’ve had Hank staying here. I’ve decided that five is absolutely more lucid than four (good news there) and for the first time ever, the Hank-man (a gentleman of extreme passion and conviction) has made it through three days and nights with only loosing his s**t occasionally (instead of constantly) and without biting a single other person. That’s incredible personal growth. There have been challenges and rewards and I’m almost sorry to see him go home today. Almost. I find these years, the “Mr. Dress-up years” the most challenging of all. Five year olds are too young to be entirely reasonable, too young to get themselves a sandwich and pretty much too old to breastfeed…which, to be entirely honest, was largely my solution to the unreasonable, unsandwich making dilemmas of the younger child.

Note: today’s photos were provided by the five year old in question, who asked if he could take pictures of wool too.

Challenge: There are petrified apple slices stuck to the top of my bedroom heating vent. I don’t know how I got to be a mother of three kids this old without knowing that you could petrify apple slices that quickly…but there you go.

Reward: I get to read this book out loud each night. I love this book. I love reading out loud to people with low standards. I love human beings who fit on your lap and have hair that smells like sunshine and playground dirt.


(Note: I believe this is the purple ear flap hat that Meg is knitting. The photographer may have been under-supervised with the camera while I tried to make something for dinner. Joe went to the grocery store but bought only the first half of the stuff on the list, leaving me to make dinner with the strangest assortment of ingredients. I will go to my grave thinking he does this as some sort of despicable creative exercise to challenge me.)

Challenge: You may not be aware of this, but “Bob the Builder” underpants don’t get dirty. I tried to pry them off him last night when he put them on again after his bath but no matter what I said about hygiene, underwear use and the time limits and relationships of same, he looked me dead in the eye like I didn’t understand a thing about the world and said “But they are Bob the Builder underpants”. I left them. Erin’s coming home today. She can try to get them off him.

Reward: One tiny boy swimming around in one huge claw foot tub.


(That’s the Dale of Norway baby sweater from this book. Design “Voss” two sleeves and 1/3 of the body done.)

Challenge: Explaining to Hank that I don’t buy McDonalds, having him barely accept that without a meltdown and realizing that my life was not going to be worth 10 cents for the next twenty minutes as I heard him say “Ok, no McDonalds…Burger King!”

Hank asked me to give him a ball of yarn. “Home-made” yarn. I asked him what he would do with it and he said that he just likes yarn. (My heart skipped a beat.) I told him that I would give him a nice little ball of yarn when he knit. That’s when he said it, the words I’ve been waiting for. The words that will slide him into my world and make him mine forever. The words that mean that wrapping him in woolies for the last five years have meant something more than a parade of good accessories… he said

“So teach me.”


I used good real wool and warm wooden needles that my friend Denny made. (I think you should have the good stuff from the beginning.)


Note the concentration.


First solo stitch!


The reward. One wee ball of handspun.

What is the old Jesuit maxim?

“Give me a boy for six years, and he is mine for life.”

126 thoughts on “The speed of five

  1. He’s so adorable, it almost makes my ovaries ache. (Notice I said “almost”… my baby is 18 yrs old in 6 weeks. I’m very over having baby cravings.)
    And I’m a mite jealous of the wee ball of handspun the Hank-man received.

  2. Your post today about your nephew was a pure pleasure to read, and what a handsome young guy. I needed something nice as I’m a bit sad, we lost someone close last night, someone who’s wife had a hand in making me a bit yarn crazy. So it was nice to see another generation learning the ways of old.

  3. My nephew will turn five in January. He’s been asking me to teach him to knit since he was three. I told him when he was five I would teach him. Right now, he holds the needles and I maneuver the yarn.
    Whenever he sees someone wearing a sweater he asks them “Did you knit that?” They generally say no – then he asks, “Well who knit it for you?”
    Five is great. But don’t you see Hank getting old too. We’re always asking my nephew – will you still hug and kiss us when you’re five? What
    about when you’re fifteen?
    Aunthood ROCKS.

  4. Five is a fantastic age, but man, is it ever exhausting. But I still think we all need to spend some time with kids that age to help use remember what our priorities should be.
    Congratulations on taking the little one on his first steps to yarndom.

  5. My almost 13 year old nephew asked to be taught how to knit this weekend. Mom gets to give the lessons since it was she who taught my sister and me. I get to take him yarn shopping.

  6. After reading that book over and over again years ago to my now 24 year old son I have to say that the one phrase that got me through many horrible days working at a dreadful job for dreadful people was “I think that I’ll move to Australia” Thanks for reminding me!!

  7. I think that’s what I miss the most about being a mom of young kids…having someone sit on my lap and let me read to them. Pure bliss, that was. How lucky you get to read to a young one again.
    Looks like you’ve done a great job with Hank. Here’s to future knitters.

  8. Apparently, boxer briefs don’t get dirty either. I returned last night from my 14yo daughter’s Thanksgiving weekend hockey tournament in Minnesota and started in on the backlog of laundry. Now granted, all of the laundry was clean when we left on Thursday morning, and it was only Tuesday night (we were supposed to be home Monday eve but got stranded in York, Nebraska- very patient and friendly people in York- when I-80 got shut down due to the blizzard conditions and gale force winds), but when I started folding the cleaned clothes, I discovered that there were 5-6 pr of undies for everyone except my 11yo. He also had no socks, shirts, PJs, or pants in the wash. Hmmm. Perhaps he missed the “bring all of your dirties to the laundry room right now” bulletin while he was in the shower. He went up to check and sure enough, brought down a small pile of clothes. I sorted them into the bins- 1 pr of socks, 1 pr of boxers, 1 t-shirt, and more of his brother’s dirty clothes. I’m hoping he has a small moldering pile of dirty duds under his bed, b/c the thought of him changing his clothes only once in 6 days is making me cringe (he had hockey practice and 5 games while we were gone!!). Tho I suppose it wouldn’t surprise me too much. My oldest son went to Boy Scout camp for a week when he was 11 and every boy in his troop came home with all of their clean clothes still neatly folded in their packs. They figured the nightly dunk in the lake fully clothed covered both bathing and laundry! Congrats to Hank on his new skill. Lion makes a cute pair of kids needles (tho not warm wood) with cat heads on the tops in 2 sizes. My 5yo loves hers.

  9. That’s a great book! I think my favorite, though, is still Good Night Moon. I read that to Hannah multiple times every night for years. I miss having someone to read picture books to.

  10. You gave him the /good/ wool and the /good/ needles? Well I guess it’s only a matter of time now before he’s completely addicted. Next thing you know he’ll be out there with a lemonade stand, or worse, selling newspaper subscriptions door to door just so he can keep himself in wool – the kind he’s been accustomed to. All thanks to Auntie Steph!
    BTW, he sure is a cutie!

  11. What a doll! How many stitches did he eventually do? I’m going to be teaching my 16 year old cousin (a girl) how to knit for Chanukah. I bought her some good wool (best to start with the best from the start) and purple needles.

  12. How sweet! My little one wants to knit, but he’s only two. Looks like 5 is a more manageable age–we’ll shoot for that. πŸ™‚ He does love to use the ball winder for me, though!

  13. What a sweetheart of a boy. alexander and the terrible, horrible very bad day is my absolute favorite book for girls or boys. Both my daughters loved it, but not as much as I did. Our favorite part is where he calls Australia on his dad’s office phone. As for underwear, my 14 yeear old daughter changes hers everyday, but refuses to accept new underwear–her current underwear is at least 4 years old and too small. What is it about kids and underwear?? New, clean undies are one of life’s pleasures!!

  14. Oh boy. Has it been a year since he stayed with you? I can’t believe it. I have been reading your blog for a year now!!
    It never ceases to be interesting and fun and even educational!
    So when are you going to put your books on tape? That is since you like to read books aloud!
    Then we all can knit and listen!!! Yipee
    I got book book book the second last night. And what ensued will be on my blog later.. πŸ˜‰

  15. That’s one of my favourite kids books! I love the pic of Hank concentrating with his tongue sticking out. I wonder if I look like that when I’m trying to figure which decreases go on which side of the sweater…

  16. Tips on teaching young ‘uns how to knit please? Matthew is, at 4 and a half, VERY eager to learn. (He tells me he knew how to knit when he was three, but that was such a long time ago he’s forgotten.)
    He has his own needles, his own yarn, his own little ziplock baggie to hold his, um, “current project” (made me dump My project out of it so he could have the Good ziplock baggie), and the price for getting out of a yarn store unscathed with him is to let him pick a ball of yarn of his very own to bring home. My one tiny little scrap of handspun was worn as a bracelet by him for an hour after it came home from class with me.
    The thing is, as much as I absolutely love sitting with him in my lap with my arms around him making great big loose knit stitches together, I don’t think I’m a good teacher really. Maybe I can just bring him to your house for a while? He hasn’t bitten anybody this week either. Honest.

  17. What a cutie-pie that Hank is! Maybe next time *accidentally* drop the Bob-the-Builderwear into the tub – you know the maneuver, as you open the dry-off towel, whoops, oh dear, Bob the Builder goes fishing…
    …and that recruitment plan of yours seems to going along quite swimmingly πŸ˜‰
    What we all would do for wool…

  18. Today brought tears to my eyes! He is such a sweet boy. And – for the record, Alexander is one of the best books to read aloud. I’ve read it to my niece and nephew so many times that we no longer need the book – we can do it by rote!

  19. Gotta love little boys. Who stay little until probably 30. As for the underwear, that won’t change until he is married, probably. At one point I stopped telling my 15 year old to brush his teeth, figuring he was doing it on his own. Wrong. I won’t describe what I saw when he smiled. Boys…I tell ya.

  20. Ah yes, the speed of five. I know it well. πŸ˜‰ This week my just-turned-five-year-old actually read that very same Alexander book to me. Where has the time gone?
    Hank is a cutie. He’d fit right in at our house, where we have all sorts of strange petrified things that I try to ignore. (Otherwise I’d have no time to knit.)

  21. Absolutely beautiful. I paused on the first picture of Hank knitting for quite a moment.
    I was his age when I learned to knit and I’ve been pondering what made it stick. Why would I keep doing it? I didn’t have the good stuff. I had yellow needles with brown knobs and red arcylic. I remember being challenged. I remember saying to my mom that I could knit and it was getting boring so she taught me to purl. Once I mastered that I learned to crochet! But I picked up knitting again at 10. And it stuck. Lord did it stick!

  22. I got wood needles for my daughter, too, and now that she is 7, we’re trying out the together-in-the-lap method. She made a Barbie neckwarmer with HER handspun (okay, so I was the pincher, but she was the drafter-helper and the spinner…). I think learning might be easier with something a little thinner than Crayolas, though ;-))
    Bob the Builder underwear really does need to be washed. Even in Australia.

  23. Isn’t it amazing how the balance of the universe makes it so the rewards always out tip the challenges on the scale just so? What fun, congrats on creating a new member of our ranks.

  24. My babies (10 and 12) just recently went through their books as we are running out of shelf space and they decided they needed to get rid of their “baby” books – the one you mentioned happened to be on their hit list. I pulled it out of the pile of discarded books to save and reread it. It is a a wonderful book!I had to go through their piles very carefully to make sure there wasn’t anything else they’d put in the pile I couldn’t bear to part with! Sounds like you and Hank had a great time.

  25. I loooove that book – it is the perfect book for those days!!! About the underwear issue – the solution would be multiple Bob, the Builder briefs. I had 10 pairs of Cinderella unders for my then 3 year old.

  26. You’re a good aunt and a good sport. My baby is six and asked to be taught how to knit. It didn’t last long. She was holding the needles so tight that at one point she went to knit a stitch and flung the whole works, slingshot style, across the room. She can crochet a mean chain stitch though, so she’s not totally lost to us.
    I love that book! We graduated to “Alexander…” after months of reading “The Monster at the End of This Book”, which is one of my all time favorite children’s books. Of course this was after “The Pokey Little Puppy” incident in which the book mysteriously disappeared after the fifth mind-numbing reading, never to be seen again. It’s a puzzle what became of it.
    “Voss” looks lovely by the way. I like your color choices.

  27. “so teach me”.
    Are there nicer words to hear from a child? My six year old son has been taught, and “chooses not to knit right now – you do it, Mom”. But he respects the wool and rejects the acylic.
    It’s a start…

  28. He is such a sweetie. And OF COURSE Bob the Builder underpants don’t get dirty. He fixes them. Builds them anew each time they are taken off.
    Is that a copy of “Wise [Womyn] Herbal for the Childbearing Year” on your counter in the photo over at Juno’s? LOVE that book.

  29. Hank is a beautiful boy. That last photo just slays me: such a joyful and impish expression. Sigh.
    How wonderful that you’re teaching him to knit (and with the good wool, yet!). Noah learned to knit two years ago when he was six. I suppose it’s time to teach him to purl, though so far he seems content with garter stitch. i tried to teach Hannah (who’s four), but she can’t quite get the hang of it yet, so we’ll try again in a few months. You will remind him about the Bob the Builder underpants when he’s older, won’t you?

  30. Stephanie, does that boy really look as much like your brother Ian as the pictures say he does? Funny. We recently had an impromptu gathering where knitting occurred, and the knitters aged 10 and under consisted of a 10-year-old boy, a 9-year-old boy, and two 8-year-old girls. I had just taught two of them (1 boy, 1 girl) that day, and all of them were really into it. Garter stitch can be utterly engrossing.

  31. My nine-year-old son has learned to knit and even made himself a scarf. I’m not allowed to tell any of the other boys, lest they torment him mercilessly. Someday, some knitter will be incredibly grateful for raising a son who is not only knitting tolerant, but will actually participate in the knitting and willingly discuss the merits of merino. He will also tell her which colors might be too girly for his next socks, but I think it’s enough to consider this parenting thing a success. The 20-year-old daughter can only bang out the rare novelty yarn scarf, but there’s hope for her as well.

  32. Shanny’s homemaking advice that she will dish out but never take:
    # 1– pay an older child to slip the Bob the Builder underpants into the washer while the adorable child is swimming in the gorgeous bathtub.
    #2–keep an abundance of canned mushroom soup and canned tomatoes in your cupboards of the magnitude to rival your first yarn stash (not your current one…that makes you look like a complete obsessive loon) because if your beloved forgets the items on your list and dinner starts to turn on you in the pan, one of those babies will beat it back into submission.
    #3–buy (or keep, since I have 2 middle schoolers and toddler)a Rug Rats digital camera because it’s totally thrashable and that way you can keep your own beloved digital safe in order to take questionable pictures of your yarn stash spawning.
    #4–find a way to bottle the smell of that kid’s delectable little head… I know I’d pay an easy grand to smell my middle schoolers when they were scented with shampoo, paste, and playground dirt instead of that wierd, “not-my-dog” smell that they accrue after about the age of nine.
    #5–keep, frame, & publish the pictures of the sweet little goombah knitting…here sits a real man:-)

  33. Shanny’s homemaking advice that she will dish out but never take:
    # 1– pay an older child to slip the Bob the Builder underpants into the washer while the adorable child is swimming in the gorgeous bathtub.
    #2–keep an abundance of canned mushroom soup and canned tomatoes in your cupboards of the magnitude to rival your first yarn stash (not your current one…that makes you look like a complete obsessive loon) because if your beloved forgets the items on your list and dinner starts to turn on you in the pan, one of those babies will beat it back into submission.
    #3–buy (or keep, since I have 2 middle schoolers and toddler)a Rug Rats digital camera because it’s totally thrashable and that way you can keep your own beloved digital safe in order to take questionable pictures of your yarn stash spawning.
    #4–find a way to bottle the smell of that kid’s delectable little head… I know I’d pay an easy grand to smell my middle schoolers when they were scented with shampoo, paste, and playground dirt instead of that wierd, “not-my-dog” smell that they accrue after about the age of nine.
    #5–keep, frame, & publish the pictures of the sweet little goombah knitting…here sits a real man:-)

  34. Just so you know: When my staff has me hauled off to the funny farm because they hear me cackling with laughter while alone in my office… your fault. Hank’s a lucky kid, BTW.

  35. Gotta love Hank. My nephews were 10 and 12 when I taught them to knit but now, at 13 and 15 they leave the knitting to me. Though if I was around more, the 13 year old would come back to me. He will hover around me nonchalantly, feigning indifference but I know better.
    My Alexander is almost 20 and when he was 5 that book was our favorite. Thanks for taking me back to those days!

  36. What a cutie, and so good to see such a young’un knitting. A good start to life, really, and he looks so happy with his homespun! (Oh, and I agree–getting to read Alexander over and over is definitely a reward.)

  37. Sweet rewards-Hank a ball of handspun and you a darling, knitting nephew. Love it.
    My other favorite book: “Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday”. Almost as good as the original. Almost.

  38. Of course the Bob the Builder underwear never gets dirty. Just like my 5-year-old Sean’s Spiderman pajamas never get dirty, despite the fact he’s worn them to bed everynight for the past 2 weeks.
    I haven’t started him knitting yet, though he used to pick up my needles while watching “Chicken Run” and pretending to knit a “holiday.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must.

  39. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s hear it for the Hank-man!
    (And now that he’s into yarn, you can begin giving hanks to Hank. πŸ™‚

  40. Go Hank! And thanks for sharing him with us. You brought back my days of “reading” Cat in the Hat from the driver’s seat, adding an occasional “beep!” to tell my daughter to turn the page. She knew the book well enough too to know not to turn too many pages or the words I was reciting wouldn’t match.
    Alexander, though, was one of the very best books. Did Hank’s merino come from Australia?

  41. (The fiber, of course, not the spinning of it.)
    And I also have to add: thank you for making me laugh hysterically over and over. Again. You have such a gift.

  42. Ooo. The fiber is strong in this one! I can’t wait until my little nephew thing is old enough to understand what’s going on around him. I’m hoping that he turns out like your hank so I can pass knitting on to him too. Mark’s kids seem to think that I’m doing a grandma’s past time.
    What do they know any way?

  43. Wow, glad you could bring him over to the dark side, although I think you did that along time ago. “Can I take the photos of fibre?” that is a huge sign that from now on you will have to guard your stash while he is around. Hank already seems to know the good stuff – homemade yarn.

  44. When my daughter, who is now 31, would come home from school saying, “It’s been a book day, Mom”, we would get out Alexander’s story. I think she had better days than she let on, because we really enjoyed that book.
    Hank is getting so big! What sweet pictures all.

  45. Your post brought me to tears … happy tears … Specificallly the look of accomplishment on Hank-man’s face while knitting. Little boys are the best. Little girls are the best too, but in a different way. Your next next bookbook needs to be a “how to teach kids how to knit and not go insane” book. My son, age 4, wants to learn to knit and I have no idea where to start. My daughter, who is 2, likes to grab the end of a ball of yarn and run … then she stops, sees what she’s pulled out (which is usually a few meters by the time I’ve caught her) and says “oh no, mess!” … Kids and yarn are great!
    Have a good one, Steph! πŸ™‚

  46. and another knitter is made… i believe anyone can learn to knit – some learn faster and some are better than others
    however i also believe that its a genetic thing passed down and that i got it from my grandmother and maybe my daughter will have it too…

  47. I just taught my 5 year old to knit this fall. He told me he wanted to learn to knit so that he could make Babas (what he calls his blanket) for all the sick kids. AWWW! so of course out came the wool and wooden needles. He knits about a row a week but he has it almost down and he gets so serious about it. It’s really too cute to watch. Give Hank a few more years and he’ll be catching up to you, almost!

  48. Hurrah! You know, that’s really quite remarkable. I was recruited last year to teach some 3rd and 4th graders (mostly girls) to knit at my school. They found it frustrating and most of them gave up. So I say go forth, Hank, and use your new knitting skills wisely! You must be a better teacher than I am, but then you have kids.

  49. I love that book… I even bought myself a copy for a little “reality check” when life gets me down. Best book ever!

  50. Oh My gosh !
    Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Very bad day
    is one of my all time favourite books.
    i’m thrilled that you’ve been reading it aloud,
    and with a captive audience.
    My dog doesn’t always get the humour of the story when i read it to him. He just likes getting a story read to him.

  51. congratulations Hank! See I think we should do this more. If more little boys saw how fun knitting was maybe when they grew up they would realize it is NOT a “sissy” thing to do.

  52. Oh, you made me smile and have tears in my eyes at the same time – I too love the smell in my four-year -old’s hair when she sits in my lap while I read to her, there’s nothing quite like it.
    I’ve been pondering when to try to teach her to knit (she keeps asking) and I’m inspired by your experiences with Hank, maybe I’ll give it a try soon!

  53. OK, I have a five year old girl and also! a four year old girl. Can I get dibs on an arranged marriage now? Tell his mom to contact me ASAP.

  54. You are indeed magic. Wresting Muggles away and making them knitting-wizards! He is too cute. I wish I could get my men to knit, but alas, no interest.
    There is actually a place on my boys’ heads that still smells good, even though they are teens – right at the hairline above their temples. I don’t know why, but that is the best! My mom was a baby cheek biter – my youngest told her (when he was 3) that she was allowed 1 bite per season! Now all of them are grown and she has no cheeks to nibble.

  55. I love Hank stories! The one from the last time he came, with the unhappy ball winder, was HILARIOUS! Keep posting about this little guy – he’s the best!

  56. Sitting by myself… looking a photo of Hank with the tongue stuck out in concentration… I wipe a tear from my eye and said, out loud and to no one in particular, “That has got to be the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all day.”
    Hank, with that yarn in his wee hands is more handsome (and way more cuddly) than any man who has ever played the role of any superhero in any movie or television show in the history of superheros. Even more handsome than Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-men. And that is my highest praise.
    My heart broke a little at how adorable he is…
    Excuse me, my ovaries are a little itchy.
    (BTW – my great-aunt and my grandmother have informed me that they knit their own mittens to wear to school in the first grade. Can you imagine?)

  57. Awww. Now the ball winder can come out of hiding.
    You know, there might have been many more pairs of Bob Undies at home. That would explain how one pair might make it to the washer. They tag team.

  58. Look at that grin! That’s one incredibly happy little boy. My almost five year old loves his Bob the Builder underwear as well, though from personal observation they DO get dirty eventually. I’m fond of the peel-them-off-the-sleeping-boy technique, myself.

  59. Oh how I miss Mr. Dressup. I hadn’t watched him for a while but just knowing he’s gone occasionally makes me all sad. When I was in the pre-sandwich years I used to serve myself one heaping tablespoon of peanut butter and sit with Ernie and marvel at his drawing abilities and his tickle trunk.
    Hank is a cutie and you just can’t pay for a look of triumph like that one!

  60. That has been my favorite book since the age of 4 or 5. It is WONDERFUL! Almost as good as a tiny ball of handspun. πŸ™‚

  61. Very cute little boy.
    My kids have all said they want me to teach them to knit. I bought them needles and a pattern book, one of those with all the how to’s in it. And then I told them; “After Christmas.” I am in the midst of making 33 mini-weasley’s to give out this year. I have made 3. Need I say more?

  62. Hank looks like trouble. An adorable, familiar kind of trouble.
    And really, don’t we all want yarn simply because…. we like yarn? Hank is just more honest about it.
    xoxo Kay

  63. You will have to get more devious to keep up with a five year old who is attached to his underwear. Tell him that you are going to pretend that his underwear is a bathing suit and put him in the tub with them on. Result: clean boy and clean undies. As for teaching a child to knit, my granddaughter who is 10 has decided to knit. She had tried when she was younger but was easily frustrated by the process. I told her I was amazed at how regular her stitches were. I think she was quite pleased to hear that my first effort at knitting was a strangled mess which I couldn’t get the needle through. Guess what Santa is bringing her for Christmas?

  64. Definitely knew that Bob the Builder underwear do not get dirty. Same goes for Star Wars and Shrek (which has the added benefit of slime patterns).
    And Hank knitting is ADORABLE. Nice to see that more and more young boys think knitting is cool. Have two myself.

  65. Awwwwww … Hank knitting. I think I’m in love.
    Does Hank know about the poem “Being Five” from Dennis Lee’s Garbage Delight?

  66. Um, of course I might be just being really impractical here, but why didn’t you stick him in the bath with them still on? Most kids don’t like sleeping in wet undies.
    Australia’s Creative Knitting mag had a brillo article on how to teach kids to knit. The article suggests: short sessions (kids already know that it takes more than one session to get thigs right – look at how long it takes to master writing an ‘s’); cast on a knit a few rowns of garter stitch for them before they take over; make up a specific project, e.g. a neck-tie for teddy; if they get stuck or drop lots of stitches, after you’ve fixed it always knit up a few rows beyond where they got stuck or stuffed up; and making up rhymes:
    In through the door
    Run round the back
    Out through the window
    and off jumps Jack
    That way you can ask them if Jack has jumped off?

  67. What a great book! I still tell people I want to move to Australia…but now it’s because of the wool as well as the other reasons. There is nothing better in this world than teaching a child something good, like a love of books or knitting. Except maybe reading a story to a sweet-smelling, lap-sitting audience. (Or maybe reading a book you wrote to your knitting friends. This is really why audio technology exists… hint, hint.)
    And the reason you didn’t know about petrified apples and heating vents is because your three were girls, and we all know boys are a different breed. That is why I know peanut butter sandwiches fit nicely into the slot on a VCR.

  68. Wonderful! And yikes, I have a challenging two year old. I thought it was going to get easier sometime soon. Guess I was wrong.
    And, with a name like Hank….

  69. Hank is awesome. My five year old daughter was quite frustrated by the process, and has decided she’s not ready to learn to knit. My three year old daughter loves yarn…to cut up or tangle. I have had two incredibly painful yarn moments with her. I caught her and the cat enjoying a ball of white angora all over the living room. That was less painful than finding her cutting up a skein….the horror!! I now keep my good stuff locked in the china cabinet.

  70. Rock on Hank-Man. Congratulations Steph! You’ve created yet another new knitter. Today a 5 year-old boy tomorrow the world (mmmwwwaaaaawww mmmmmmwwwaaaaawwww ((evil laugh))

  71. Cute, I love knitting boys, but also the kind who can petrify apple slices and don’t like to change their underwear, sounds pretty normal for a 5 year old to me!

  72. Evil Stephanie. You are evil. Get ’em while they are young. Also, years from now, you can blackmail him with those pictures. Give them to his mother, and he’ll take out the trash without argument all through his middle school years.

  73. So, you used breastfeeding as comfort… me too, big time, and wasn’t even sure I knew how to comfort my daughter when she finally weaned at 3.75 yrs (or so)… hmmm, I do miss the oxytocin release at times. Also got me to thinking about those moments when I was left to comfort other people’s children, and though I never nursed anyone else’s child, I did think about it a few times…. this was a big discussion item among my nursing/knitting friends for awhile… would you or wouldn’t you? as a matter of fact, our group was dubbed the knittin’ bitchin’ lactatin’ wimmin’ by a friend of mine. We raised the hairs on more than one coffee shop customer when we met!

  74. Yay, Aunt Steph! You’re the best, and I’ll bet Hank knows it, too.
    I ran an elementary school library 9 years, and “Alexander” was always a favorite. You should hear an entire class of kids shouting out, “…it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!” when you’re reading it to them…what a thrill!
    My little buddy Joey, who has been the recipient of a few pair of ‘Beckysocks’ wants very badly to learn to knit, but is only three, and lives in a not-crafty and quite homophobic family, so I guess there’s no chance of teaching him, as there would be no support. Plus, he lives five hours away and the commute to teach him would be something of a problem. When I visit them (Grandma is a dear friend) he always asks if he can “help” me knit.

  75. Yay, Aunt Steph! You’re the best, and I’ll bet Hank knows it, too.
    I ran an elementary school library 9 years, and “Alexander” was always a favorite. You should hear an entire class of kids shouting out, “…it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!” when you’re reading it to them…what a thrill!
    My little buddy Joey, who has been the recipient of a few pair of ‘Beckysocks’ wants very badly to learn to knit, but is only three, and lives in a not-crafty and quite homophobic family, so I guess there’s no chance of teaching him, as there would be no support. Plus, he lives five hours away and the commute to teach him would be something of a problem. When I visit them (Grandma is a dear friend) he always asks if he can “help” me knit.

  76. I don’t buy McDonalds either, except in extraordinary circumstances such as having a vet appointment at suppertime because that is the only time in the day it fits. When I tell Emily, “We have a vet appointment Monday after school,” her first question is, “And we can get McDonalds??” I wonder if she will associate McDonalds with veterinary care for her entire childhood.

  77. I commend you on teaching young Hank to knit. My 6 year old asked me this past summer to teach him, he loves anything made from mommy, and it was no easy task. We’ve taken a little hiatus. He just informed us this morning that he is knitting us a scarf at school. God bless the brave soul taking on the challenge of teaching a whole class of grade 1’s!

  78. That book (Alexander) rocks! When Cheerios sold it with their cereal a couple of years back, I went through an entire shelf looking for the one with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I’m 36. No kids yet. Some things are timeless.

  79. The Hankster — just another year cuter (no big surprise, eh?). Be still my heart, an adorable knitter, too, with excellent literary tastes.

  80. Mon Dieu, that was the most heartwarming post you’ve ever written…what a joy to read this cold, snowey, blustery morning! He’s the second-handsomest little boy ever! (The first being my Declan, of course.)

  81. Lil boys are the best knitters! Can I share my lil boy knitting sotry? I ended up ‘sharing’ my knitting with some of my husband’s mini-cousins one long afternoon when we were all sitting in a hospital waiting room. Suddenly, the ADD and hyper 7 year old was focused SO INTENTLY! His parents jumped on this and I’ve since been enlisted to teach pree-teen boys to knit. Fun and challenging. Our first 6 hour class (no half measures here) resulted in one knit hackysack and one Play Station Portable (PSP) Cozy. Sadly – no pictures from this adventure, but oh so priceless.
    Thank you for sharing your nephew with us.

  82. My youngest is 3. He loves yarn and the woolly socks I make for him. He sits beside me as I knit (sometimes) and loves to look at stitch books to find all the “snakes” and “webs”. My goal is to knit something for him with Barbara Walker’s spider from her (I think) third book!

  83. Reward: Exploiting that handsome lad as a child model should keep you and our your sis in cashmere for the foreseeable future. He’s a mensch, that one.

  84. Have you read Love You Forever by Robert Munsch? It’s a real tear jerker I tell ya….. I still can’t get thru it with my now 11 year old without crying.

  85. Oh, he’s so cute! So very cute. And congrats to you, for teaching him the path so early in life!!

  86. Oh, “Alexander” was one of my favorite books when I was young! To this day I sometimes claim to have “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days”.

  87. Parents and Aunties,
    Don’t distress if all your pupils seem to do is make a blanket for teddy and never look back. Sometimes your lessons need time to sink in a little. It took about 20 years from my garder stitch lessons to pick my needles back up again!

  88. Oh, sigh. What a lovely post. My own dear boy is asleep in the other room and I’ve been (rather sentimentally) bemoaning the fact that he’ll be 2 on Tuesday. I’m terrified he’ll suddenly wean and be independent and not want handknit socks anymore. Next week.
    So thanks for reminding me that there are good things to come, too. And that I really need to buy a ball winder. πŸ™‚

  89. My son is 5. He likes to pretend knit with his fingers. I will have to post a pic on my blog. He also does the thing with asking strangers if the knit their sweaters. I love how knitting has become part of our lifestyle as much as our vegetarianism.

  90. Well, yes, the male laundry issue lasts well into adulthood. My DH is 34—yesterday I needed to surreptitiously discover his waist size to give Mom Christmas gift instructions. (No, I don’t know his clothing sizes by heart–I can barely keep up with my own rapidly increasing size information!) Pawing through the weekly basket of clean laundry, I felt certain, would reveal some article he wears on his lower torso—wishful thinking, that. The man NEVER puts his clothing in the laundry of his own volition. I was somewhat relieved later (the laundry is never put away sooner than 36 hours after it’s been washed, of course) to discover one pair of boxers among the week’s worth of laundry: good to know he wore underwear at least once last week.

  91. Hey….My boy loves to knit also. His big sister tought him one cold winter night. Check out my blog. I have pictures of him knitting too.

  92. Okay, you made me cry. From the looks of it, I’m not the only one. I have a five year old son who’s going through a tough time. Thanks for reminding me about the good stuff.

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