Guest Author - Lisa Linnell-Olsen
Loom Knitting and knitting boards have made a huge resurgence the last few years. Knitting looms from previous decades were limited to always knitting in the round or making a double knit fabric. Stitches were limited to knit and purl only. With the boom in loom knitting, many of these limitations have been overcome. Cable and Fair Isle patterns, socks, mittens, fine gauge hats are all now possible to create on looms. If you are an experienced needle knitter, you may wonder why you should set down your needles to try this method of producing knitted fabric. Here are some advantages (and disadvantages) of today's loom knitting.
Easier to manipulate stitches- It is easier to manipulate the stitches on a knitting loom. Children who are not ready to knit or adults who have lost some of their fine motor skills due to age or injury are able to knit on a loom. The loom has a series of pegs and a special knitting tool or hook to pull the new yarn through or over the yarn on the pegs. It is very much like finger knitting, and it is the same knitting as that done on a knitting spool. This allows people who may not be able to knit with needles to find ways to make knitted projects who otherwise would not be able to.
Less repetitive movement- The manipulation of yarn for a knitting loom is not as repetitive as that of needle knitting. Anyone who needs to be concerned about repetitive stress injuries, or would like to sit and knit for long periods of time may want to explore this method as one way to avoid injury.
Fewer dropped stitches- It is easier to see when a stitch was skipped on a knitting board. This means that you are less likely to drop a stitch or make a mistake. The nature of the knitting loom allows a new knitter to see how the fabric develops from a series of interlocking loops. Being able to understand the fabric making process means the knitter will be far less likely to make mistakes.
More options than before for loom types- Knitting looms were popular in Europe during the middle ages. Until recently, loom knitters made their own frames out of recycled materials. Many public libraries and some internet sites have older books available for free. You can find old pamphlets and books available detailing how to make knitting looms out of commonly available materials, ranging from old soup cans to wooden boards and nails. If you are not wanting to create your own board, a variety of looms are available in many price ranges. Darice, Lion Yarns with Martha Stewart, Knifty Knitter, and the Authentic Knitting Board are just a few of the companies manufacturing knitting looms that are available nationwide. Long looms for available for afghans and sweaters as well as round looms for hats and scarves, or special looms just for knitting socks.
The challenges- Using a knitting loom isn't any faster than knitting with needles. If you are already proficient in needle knitting, you may find the adjustment to the knitting board to be a bit slow. Think about your reasons for trying the loom and then continue to practice, knowing you will get better.
Another challenge facing loom knitters is that patterns still are not as easily available for loom knitting as they are for needle knitting. Loom knitters are posting free patterns on the web regularly, and many local stores are offering classes for loom knitting. Although the designs for knitting looms is catching up, it hasn't caught up to needles yet.
It isn't always possible or easy to transfer a needle knitting pattern to a loom knitting pattern. Getting the gauge and stitch pattern to match can be difficult, as it means having to change the peg size or position, and sometimes which type of knitting loom someone is using to try to match the gauge of the original pattern.
Even with some of these challenges, many people are still picking up loom knitting. If you would like to share your knowledge, thoughts or experiences with loom knitting, please post in the knitting forum.