Loom Knitting

Knitting without Needles

Loom Knitting
A piece of fabric being worked on a knitting loom, with a pick displayed. © Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The most common form of knitting is, of course, the kind that uses two knitting needles, but there are other ways to make fabric with yarn that looks like what you can achieve with needles. One increasingly popular method of knitting without needles is known as loom knitting.

What is a Knitting Loom?

A knitting loom is a pegged board, often circular but sometimes in other shapes as well, usually made of plastic or wood.

To use it, yarn is wrapped around some or all of the pegs and stitches are formed with the help of a knitting pick, forming either a tube or a flat piece of knitting.

Many of the same sorts of stitches that can be performed with flat knitting are possible when working with a loom, including knitting and purling, textured stitch patterns, lace, cables and projects requiring increasing and decreasing.

The size of a project is limited by the size of your loom, and gauge can vary widely depending on the type of yarn and loom you are using and how you work the stitches. And the project often comes out a lot smaller than your loom looks because the stitches are worked under tension but relax when they are no longer on the loom.

Forming Stitches

There are a couple of different ways to form stitches when working with a knitting loom. First, you must get loops on all the pegs you want to work with, then you either pull the yarn through the loop to make a stitch or carry the old loop up and over the peg.

YouTube, a good book or a friend who knows some techniques is the best way to learn, and with time and experimentation you'll find your favorite way to make stitches and use the pick.

For me, I like what I've seen referred to as the flat stitch, which is formed by just placing the yarn on the pegs above the original loops, grabbing the loop with the pick and pulling it up and over the peg.

For what it's worth I also like to go into the loop from top to bottom; this is what feels easiest for me.

Once you have the knit stitch down you can also learn how to purl, make textured stitches, lace, cables and more. Check out the blog Knitting Board Chat, run by a manufacturer of knitting looms, for lots of great advice, tutorials and patterns.

Why Choose Loom Knitting?

I am curious as to why people might choose loom knitting over conventional knitting; if you're a loom knitter I'd love to hear why you enjoy it. It is fun as something different but, as a stick knitter, I know that I'm a lot faster working with needles than I am with a loom.

Some people who are nervous about learning to knit or afraid of dropping stitches might find loom knitting a nice introduction to knitting that is a little easier to get started with and perhaps a little harder to drop a stitch because they're more stable on the loom.

I've read that loom knitting can be better for people with limited mobility and hand or arm problems because you can hold the weight of the project in your lap. It may be my limited experience with the craft, but I still hold the project up where I can see it better, and a loom is heavier than needles.

I also feel the effect of repetitive stress a lot faster working with a loom than I do with needles.

It's certainly worth trying out if you're interested in a different way to make fabric, but I would try both a loom and needles to determine which one you prefer. While you can knit almost anything on a loom, there's a much more limited range of patterns available, and it can be a little tricky to convert a pattern to loom knitting if you want to re-create the look of a needle-knit project.