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Best of Naturally Frugal: Loom Knitting 101

I’ve been a knitting fool lately! I’ve determined that this year I am making as many of my gifts as I possibly can, and so I’ve been very busy with different projects. My favorite projects so far have been my yarn projects. I am by no means coordinated or talented with knitting needles, but I love the idea of making my own scarves, hats and more. I’ve known how to knit and crochet since I was a teenager, but I was never able to finish a project. My hands would cramp up, I’d drop stitches, or I’d get bored before a project was done.  Telling me to “purl” was like speaking a foreign language. Then one day I saw my mom using the knifty knitter loom and I was hooked–literally! Not only is it really, really simple, to do, but loom projects knit up quickly. As in, I do it while watching television every night and within a week I’ve got a finished scarf. Overall it probably takes me 6-8 hours total to knit up an extra long scarf. If I keep my yarns thick and my stitches basic, I can get that down to three or four hours. In other words: it’s not too late to make knitted gifts for Christmas!

Now, before you tell me you can’t knit, let me tell you that this is WAY simpler than crochet or using two knitting needles. Remember making potholders on looms? Or making small decorative rugs with a hook? This is that simple–butlooks just like traditional knitting. Really. LittleMissSunshine regularly uses looms to pop out socks, hats and scarves for her American Girl doll. My eight year old is better at this than I am. And trust me when I say that I am NOT coordinated in any way. If I can loom knit, anyone can!

There are many great tutorials out there on how to use a loom, so I’m not going to go into that right now. (My favorites are at LoomKnitting.com.) I did want to go over some of the basics, and share some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Types of looms

There are two basic types of looms: a straight loom or a circular loom. Both are very useful, depending on what it is you want to make most. I’m a huge fan of the straight loom, because I like to make scarves, wraps and washcloths. The straight looms are also great for anything you want to be double knit, like thick, fluffy scarves. I have spent most of my time knitting on the straight loom, but I am beginning to learn to use the circular looms. Circular looms are great for hats, socks, slippers, leg warmers and boot socks, amongst other things. I made my first pair of boot socks last week–took me about four hours to make the pair. I am currently using a round loom to make a ribbed cowl scarf, in a flat panel. (Meaning I knit around the loom but don’t join it at the ends.) You can see both the straight loom and the circular loom in the photo at the top of the post. Both projects in the photo are infiniti scarves or cowls. The purple scarf on the round loom is a rib knit, an intermediate level stitch. The straight loom is a double knit, in a braid stitch. You can buy the looms separately for about $12-15 each, or order the whole set of Knifty Knitter looms for $21 on Amazon. Most craft stores also carry them for the same price.

How to loom knit

Loom knitting is very simple. There are more complex stitches, but for the basic stitch, it is very simple: wrap the yarn around the pegs, one after the other. This is called “casting on.” (The looms come with good instructions.) Do this all the way around the loom once. Now, go around again, and when you’re done, pull the bottom loop up over the top loop, and off the peg, leaving the top loop on the peg. This is the most basic stitch, called an e-wrap. Here’s what it looks like:

This is all you do. I wrap each peg in the row, then hook it and pull it one by one over the peg. Then repeat for the next row. It is really simple! You simply keep going until your project is finished. This is known as the stockingette stitch. As you get comfortable with this stitch, check YouTube for tutorials on how to create rib knit and other more advanced stitches.

Yarns

This is where I get into trouble–big trouble. I walk into a store and see all the gorgeous, soft yarns and have trouble making up my mind! I always end up buying more yarns than I should. Standing in front of those rows of beautiful yarns my creative juices start flowing, and I want to knit all day long!

With loom knitting you’re most likely going to want to use a chunkier yarn. Thin yarns work okay, but they have gaps between the wide-set pegs, and so it comes out looking a bit lacey. Thick and chunky yarns knit up tightly, and quickly. If you want to use a thinner yarn, try doubling up the strands. That works about the same as a thicker yarn.  That said, some looms have thinner pegs that are closer set together, designed for the thinner yarns. These are excellent for more delicate work, like for socks or baby clothing. These are often called Knitting Boards.

Moving Beyond the Basics

There’s a lot more you can knit than just hats and scarves! Using the larger looms in your sets you can knit blankets, shawls, wraps, sweaters and so much more!  I learned a while back how to make purses, cases and bags with my straight loom. Earlier this year I used the same technique to knit up a case for my Kindle. Over the summer I used the loom to quickly knit up some mesh-type produce bags for when I go to the farmer’s market. If you search the internet you’ll find thousands of patterns and tutorials for lots of great projects.

Do you loom knit? Do you have a favorite project? Share it with us in the comments below. Or, if you’re new to loom knitting and have questions, let me know! I would love to help you learn, if I can.

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Comments

  1. For the cast on do you wrap it around alternating pegs or do you wrap the pegs side by side until you have gone around the bottom and top side?

    • I have a saying I use a lot “Begin as you mean to go on.” So it may not be the proper form, but yes, I just start right with the stitch. So alternating pegs. It just helps me to be consistent.