Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Arm Knitting

published Jun 14, 2017
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(Image credit: Flax & Twine)

Oversized knit blankets crafted from chunky yarn and PVC-pipe needles have been floating around Pinterest for a few years now. And while the finished projects looked amazing, I couldn’t bring myself to buy supplies that would take up any more space in my apartment. But now that needle-free arm knitting has hit the DIY scene, I’m 100% on board with giant knit everything. To guide our foray into needle-free knitting, we’ve rounded up answers to the most-asked questions and sources for stocking up on, then using, enormous yarn.

Apartment Therapy teamed up with a bunch of talented knitters — like KOEL Magazine and Flax & Twine — to give you a rich mix of informative posts about this useful and meditative craft, including resources and original patterns. If you’ve never picked up knitting needles before, this is a great time to start. See the entire knitting series right here.

Arm Knitting 101:

If you already know how to knit using needles, then picking up the art of arm knitting will be a cinch. It’s very nearly the same process, except that your arms stand in for the needles and every step is super-sized! If you’re brand new to knitting, a quick arm-knit project will help build your crafting confidence. For starters, watch the video below and follow along as Kaitlin Flannery, the Social Media Manager for Kitchn, shows how to cast on and arm knit a blanket. Then, continue reading for answers to those burning FAQs.

Arm Knitting FAQs:

1. Can I stop in the middle of an arm knitting project?

What do you do when you’re elbow-deep in a merino wool scarf and your doorbell rings, or you suddenly feel the need to reclaim your arms as arms rather than giant knitting needles? Good news, arm knitters: stopping in the middle of a project is both possible and surprisingly easy. Simply move each stitch one-by-one onto a stitch holder. Anne Weil—the foremost expert on arm knitting and author of Knitting Without Needles (Potter Craft)—recommends sliding stitches onto a cardboard gift wrap roll. If you don’t have one available, placing the stitches on a long scrap piece of yarn will also work. Try to remember which arm your last row of stitches was on, so that when you’re ready to get back to work, you can quickly pick up where you left off.

2. How can I make tighter stitches?

By its nature, arm knitting is going to produce looser, chunkier stitches than traditional knitting, but to make more consistent stitches, try keeping your stitches as close to your hand as possible. Make sure each stitch is snug around your arm (but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable!). As you knit, pull each stitch slightly to tighten it, and try keeping your hands closer together. Just like in old-school knitting, you’ll start to build up muscle memory and will eventually make more uniform stitches without even trying.

3. How do you knit with multiple strands of yarn?

To make chunkier yarn, knitters will often double, triple, or even quadruple up on thinner yarn. Start with multiple balls of yarn and hold the ends of each strand together when you cast on. As you knit, continue to work from separate balls of yarn, because winding the strands together beforehand will likely result in a tangled mess.

The Best Sources for Patterns & Kits:

(Image credit: Flax & Twine)

Flax & Twine: Not only does arm-knitting expert Anne Weil’s blog offer tons of project ideas, but the site also sells complete pattern kits that come with everything you’ll need—including yarn from 100% Peruvian wool. I’ve got my eye on the fabulous knit pouf kit ($88) and the adorable arm knit cowl kit ($67).

(Image credit: Simply Maggie)

Simply Maggie: This knitting- and crochet-focused blog offers plenty of free patterns for arm-knit scarves, bags and area rugs (like the pretty yellow one, above). Knitters who aren’t ready to let go of their needles will also find an excellent selection of regular knitting projects, including some especially cute baby booties.

Where to Buy Chunky Yarn and Wool Roving:

(Image credit: Loopy Mango)

Loopy Mango: Unlike many sources that sell raw wool roving, Loopy Mango’s “Tough Loop” Merino wool ($198 for 40 oz.) has been felted, making it denser and sturdier. Because this felted wool is much more resistant to tears and pilling than roving is, it’s the ideal material for home projects that will face a lot of wear, such as poufs or rugs.

(Image credit: Manoush)

Manuosh: All of Manoush’s pillowy merino wool is ethically sourced and then hand-spun and hand-dyed in the Hudson Valley. Their ultra-chunky pink Bubble Loop yarn looks like it was dreamed up by our childhood selves.

(Image credit: Becozi)

Becozi: The chunky wool used in our blanket video tutorial came from Becozi, a West Michigan-based company supplying Merino sheep wool from Australia. Each cozy ball of wool is $35 per pound, with discounted rates for orders over 10 pounds. Your cat is absolutely going to flip over your latest hobby.

Still not sure what to make with your newfound arm knitting skills? Consider these 5 awesome arm-knit projects.