In a world where I keep coming across the idea of becoming minimalist, I was surprised by the enthusiasm and dare I say the pure joy people were experiencing with ‘Arm Knitting’.
Arm Knitting went viral a number of years ago. This kind of knitting is on a massive scale, instead of knitting needles, you use your arms.
By no means is the knitted fabric created minimalist. The arm knitting yarns that work best are ‘Jumbo 7’ “Chunky’ or ‘Bulky’. A form of extreme knitting, without the giant sized needles often made of PVC-pipe. Using forearms instead of knitting needles.
Table Of Contents
- What is Arm Knitting?
- How Do You Arm Knit?
- Casting On Stitches With Arm Knitting
- How do you knit a scarf on your arm?
- How To Arm Knit A Blanket
What is Arm Knitting?
Arm knitting is a unique knitting technique when you use your arms instead of giant sized knitting needles.
The loops of the knitted fabric are supersized. The thickness of the yarn determines how many stitches fit on your arm. Be prepared to make narrow items. With Jumbo and super bulky yarn, you can make Arm knitted garments, scarf, cowl, blankets, toys and home decor items.
This technique is extremely popular, particularly for those living in a cold climate.
With practice, arm knitters can create knitted goodies in a short amount of time.
Unlike knitting you don’t have to turn the work when working back and forth. You swap the stitches from right arm to your left arm or left to right.
Casting on the stitches on the left arm is more comfortable for lefties.
Giant or extreme knitting looks amazing but having to store massive items can be a problem. Particularly if you don’t have the space. Needle free arm knitting is the go!
I wondered if the enthusiasm for arm knitting gave people the opportunity to create something quickly.
In reading I’ve done, beginners found it takes much longer than they were lead to believe. Jodie from the Design Twins and Janine from Happy Nesters got together to make an arm knitting blanket. They experienced all sorts of challenges.
Knitting a blanket isn’t the best beginner project. Although it looks easy!
Knitting with arms takes practice and no two arms are the same. Unlike knitting needles. If you love the look of a arm knitted blanket and the pattern designer had thinner forearms than you, it’s possible that your size blanket will look entirely different.
The diameter of your forearms determines how big your stitch loop will be.
In Lisa Schroyer’s 10 Life-changing truths about Arm Knitting post, she explains how you find out what diameter your arm is and compares that to knitting needle sizing. Lisa’s post is a really fun read.
I particularly loved her take on the real knitters debate and how non-knitters find this technique so fascinating. Also answering the question Is It Real Knitting?
I was intrigued to find out more about Arm Knitting, with the aim to put together a helpful resource and guide for my readers. They also wanted to know more.
How Do You Arm Knit?
To arm knit you cast the first stitch onto one forearm and continue casting on stitches until you have what you need.
Use your hands to work through the stitches by pulling the working yarn through the loop to create a stitch. Place the new stitch on the other arm . Repeat on the opposite side. Have all the stitches loosely on your arms. You can always tighten them afterwards.
With anything new, it’s important to remember gaining a new skill takes time and practice. Be prepared to make mistakes but be kind to yourself. Arm knitting is meant to be fun!
Sure pulling anything out and starting again is never fun. But with perseverance and patience you get better and quicker at creating stitches.
Casting On Stitches With Arm Knitting
The two Arm Knitting cast-on methods are the “M” Method and the “Loop” Method. Many people found the “loop” method is much easier. If you are brand new to this knitting technique, watch Larissa from BeCozi demonstrate the Loop process using giant yarn.
If you’re feeling up to the challenge, watch the M Method demonstration by Diane from ArtizenHome.
Diane is very encouraging as she guides you, often making comments such as “don’t become too frustrated and “give it a few goes.”
Watching both techniques gives you an idea of which works best for you. Watching the M method I was pretty bamboozled. I’d opt for the Loop method.
I also found this step by step tutorial by crafter extraordinaire Anne Weil from Flax and Twine super helpful. It contains clear pictures of each step. Her blog Flax and Twine is full of inspiration, diy art and craft and patterns.
Anne Weil is a expert in the art of knitting without needles and has published a book covering some gorgeous designs and ideas for arm knitting.
Here’s the book on Amazon Knitting Without Needles - Author Anne Weil
Tips before you get started:
- Decide what sort of fiber you want to work with, synthetic or natural.
How bulky do you want your garment/blanket to be? This determines the weight of the yarn. Best weights of yarn are Chunky, Bulky, Super Bulky or Jumbo. Super Bulky or Jumbo yarn are often called Roving. (See more tips below for how to pick a yarn.)
- What look are you trying to achieve? Do you want to work with one bulky yarn or a combination of different yarns using 3 to 4 strands together?
- If you’re following a pattern, there’s often a suggestion of the best yarn weight/types to use.
- The thickness of the yarn determines how many stitches fit on your arm. Be prepared to make narrow items. If you have doing a bedroom refresh and you hoped for something that fitted the complete length and width of a queen size bed, you may be disappointed.
- Your stitches won’t be completely even. The diameter of your arm varies from the wrist to the upper arm. That’s ok! The overall loose weave of arm knitting is more rustic and that is the appeal. The loops look a little similar to those used on size 50 needles.
Tips For When You’re Ready To Start Your Arm Knitting Session:
- Have the yarn you’re using completely unwound from the skein. You need to twist the yarn as you’re creating the stitches. If the skein isn’t unwound, you’ll experience knots.
- If using Super Bulky or Jumbo yarns like Knit Collage Wanderlust yarn , have a clean sheet or mat underneath to keep it clean. You’ll want to keep the expensive merino wool in tip top condition.
- Be prepared to concentrate completely on this task. If you’re used to watching your favorite program when you’re crafting, it’s best not to when beginning arm knitting. Leave the T.V. off 🙂
- Have Saran wrap/Plastic wrap ready for when you take a break from your arm knitting. You thread this through your stitches, then tie the two ends of the plastic wrap together to stop the stitches from coming off.
- Wear short-sleeved clothing. It’s easier to have stitches on bare arms.
- You need to leave enough yarn (enough for about a row and a ½) to bind off. Keep your eye on how much yarn you have left as you near the end of your project. Jumbo Yarns have less yardage, so the end comes up quickly.
Tips for when you are arm knitting:
- Try to cast your stitches onto your forearms tight. (That’s when you get a nice even pattern on your blanket).
- As you knit each stitch cinch it up so it fits firmly on your forearm.
- When you cast off (at the end of your knitting process), be sure NOT to tie your hoops too tight but rather loose.
How do you knit a scarf on your arm?
- To knit a scarf on your arm start by making a slipknot. Continue by casting on loops on your forearm. Using a bulky yarn cast on 10 stitches (more if you prefer) on your forearm. You’re ready to knit your first row.
- Hold the yarn to be worked in your right hand. The same hand that has all the cast on stitches.
- Grab the first loop closest to your hand and slide it over the strand you are holding. This creates a loop.
- Place that loop over to your left hand and tighten it on your left forearm. This is your first knitted stitch.
- Repeat this process until you have moved over all the stitches on to your left forearm.
- Continue with the second row.
- This time you hold the yarn in your left hand, the same side holding all the stitches.
- With your right hand slide the loop closest to your left hand over the yarn. This creates a loop.
- Place that loop on your right forearm.
- Continue so all stitches on the left are arm knitted on to the right.
- Knit how many rows you like, until your desired length is achieved.
- To cast off, follow these steps.
- It doesn’t matter which side your stitches are on. But let’s say they’re on your left arm.
- Knit your first stitch, then knit the second stitch on to your right arm.
- With these 2 stitches you need to bring the first knitted stitch over the second knitted stitch, leaving you with one stitch on your right arm.
- This is very similar to casting or binding off when you’re knitting with needles.
- Knit another stitch over to your right arm.
- Again bring the stitch that was on your right arm, over the newly knitted stitch. You have one stitch on your right arm.
- Continue with this method until you have binded off all the stitches.
- Put the yarn through the last loop and pull tightly. This keeps the stitches from unraveling.
- Weave in the ends, you can do this with your fingers.
- Cut off the excess.
- Your arm knitted scarf is now complete.
- Enjoy your new style!
For a fabulous easy to follow tutorial, watch Chandi from Expression Fiber Arts video below:
Prefer to make an arm knit blanket?
Follow these steps and you’ll have a gorgeous arm knit blanket in under one hour (give or take).
Before you begin, ensure you’ve blocked out about one hour where you won’t be disturbed. As I said above, it’s not easy to stop midway when arm knitting. Possible but not recommended.
Have a drop sheet over any carpet and be in clothes you don’t mind getting some fluff on. The yarn you’ve chosen may not shed, but it’s better to be prepared.
Get comfy, be in a chair you’re happy to sit in for about one hour.
Now to the actual process of starting your arm knit blanket.
How To Arm Knit A Blanket
- Unravel about a 5-6ft length of yarn for your tail.
- Make a slip knot on your right forearm
- With your left hand create a V-shape with the working yarn (working yarn is the skein of yarn) and with the tail with your left hand.
- Push your right hand under the working yarn on the left hand. Pull the yarn from the tail through the loop.
- Take the loop and pull it over your right arm.
- Keep casting the stitches on your right forearm. Make it tight but not too tight.
- You need to continue this until you cast on 25 stitches on your right forearm.
- Once you’re done with 25 stitches, start over on your left forearm. Hold the working yarn in your right hand and pull off the first stitch over the working yarn. Create a loop with the working yarn and over your left hand.
- Continue taking the stitches until all are on your left forearm.
- Keep knitting from left to right, then right to left until you have about 34-38 rows or until you’re happy with the length.
- A decent sized arm knit blanket takes more than one skein of wool. To join the ends to continue knitting, tie them together with the least amount of yarn.
- Pull the knot tight. You can cut the excess yarn off once you’ve finished your arm knit blanket.
- Once the ends are tied, continue knitting.
A helpful video to watch to learn how to tie ends together is by Amanda from Simply Maggie.
- Once you’ve reached your desired length, the last step is to cast off.
- Knit two stitches from your left arm to your right arm, as you did all the way until this point. Then slip the first stitch over the second. This is very similar to casting off with needles.
- Knit another stitch on your right arm. Then slip the previous stitch over the last one. Continue until you only have one loop left.
- Cut off the working yarn, pull it over and tie a knot.
- To hide the tails weave them into your blanket.
- Trim of any excess yarn where you’ve tied knots to join the yarn.
- Ta Da! you have your arm knitted blanket.
Once you’ve had a go at Arm Knitting you’ll probably have some questions, like:
How can I make tighter stitches?
To make tighter stitches try keeping the stitches close as possible to your hand. Pull the yarn as you go for each stitch but not so tight it’s uncomfortable.
Remember arm knitting produces looser, bigger stitches. With a few tries, your tension improves, have patience.
How do you knit with multiple strands of yarn?
To knit with multiple strands of yarn, find up to 4 bulky yarns that you like.
Pull out the strands from each ball of wool and bring them together.
As you’re knitting keep all the yarns together and each knit stitch is the combination of those fibers.
Enjoy making your own very unique look with multiple strands of yarn in different colors and textures.
I hope you enjoy making your own arm knitted projects. There are plenty of ideas to choose from: scarves, cowls, blankets, pillows, pet beds and sweaters, yes giant sized sweaters!
Hope this post helps you. Have fun!
Message me here, with your email address, so I can reply with any help or suggestions