If you read MakerBridge regularly, you may have figured out by now that I love all things yarn. I geek out over crocheting mathematical structures, and I’ve been writing a lot lately about my experiences teaching crochet at the library’s maker events. All that focus on crocheting at our events has actually felt pretty strange to me, though, since for the last couple of years I’ve been much more focused on learning to knit. Because I’m much less expert at knitting than crocheting, and because knitting can be much slower, more fiddly, and confusing to a beginner than crochet is, I’ve been holding off on trying to teach knitting at maker events.
Anyway, I think I may have found the intro-to-knitting solution I’ve been looking for: Arm knitting. You use your arms as needles, so there are no needles for the beginner to fight with. Plus, every stitch is so huge that you can finish a project like a cowl in an hour or less. The only special supplies you need to make sure to have on hand is lots (and lots!) of chunky yarn. Piece of cake! It’s everything a knitting instructor could possibly want.
You can see from the pictures above that I didn’t actually have any chunky yarn on hand as I was learning this. That doesn’t affect the steps involved–just the attractiveness of my finished project. Working with two strands of regular worsted-weight yarn, I ended up with a finished product that looked more like a net or a hammock than a scarf. It wasn’t really what I was going for–but if you have someone who’s looking to make a net or a doll hammock, you might want to keep this in mind! Here’s my finished product:
I learned arm knitting from a book in our library (Knitting without Needles), but the author also has directions up online, and with a little quick Googling you can turn up several video tutorials if that’s your preference. Arm knitting was very easy to learn. I spent about half an hour learning it from written directions, and ended up with the object above, which could have been a scarf or cowl if I’d used thicker yarn for the project.
I love how easy this was to do, and how quickly a finished project worked up. This would be a very quick, easy, low-mess activity for a maker event. It could also be a good introduction to knitting for an absolute beginner–start with this, and when you’ve gotten a sense of how it works, move on to working on needles.
If you’re looking for projects or inspirations for things to do with arm knitting, check out some of these:
- Project: Arm-knit bag
- Project: Arm-knit blanket
- Project: Arm-knit wrap
- Inspiration: Arm Knitting Revisited via Giant Hand-Knit Furnishing Series
- Inspiration: Jacqueline Fink’s giant knitting projects
Note: Jacqueline Fink’s work looks like it’s done on giant knitting needles rather than arms–but that’s why it’s inspiration! You could achieve similar effects with arm knitting in many cases. Plus, it’s just cool.
Have you ever arm knitted? What did you make? Drop me a comment, or tweet @makerbridge. I’d love to see your projects, or hear how it went if you taught this to beginning knitters!