Courtesy of Broadwick
Arm knitting involves using your arms to make the stitches with yarn. While it's similar to traditional knitting in the movements that you make, there are differences, too. "The main difference is that with arm knitting you always keep your knitting facing you, whereas in traditional knitting, you turn your work around every row," explains Anne Weil, designer and author of Knitting Without Needles: A Stylish Introduction to Finger and Arm Knitting ($17.49, amazon.com), and Flax & Twine blogger and shop owner. "This means that a pattern designed for arm knitting would require you to reverse the even row stitch directions. For example, in traditional knitting to make the garter stitch, you knit every row. In arm knitting, to make the garter stitch, you need to knit 1 row, purl 1 row."
Getting the hang of it can take some time but the results are worth it. The main thing to keep in mind is practice. "Arm knitting is easy to learn, just be patient with yourself as you are learning a new skill. It will take a little bit of time for your arms to do what you want them to," says Weil. "Here is a great free video that shows you how to arm knit. I suggest practicing with something simple and then adding more complex stitch patterns or shaped projects." Over time it will become as natural to you as traditional knitting had.
In addition to learning how to use your arms for knitting, you need to consider the yarn that you will use. Traditional knitting projects will use yarn that is less dense in thickness than the type of yarn you are likely to use for oversized knit projects like blankets, scarves, and sweaters. There are a variety of brands and weights to choose from, says Weil, that can fit any budget. But which type of yarn does she not recommend? "First, I do not recommend wool roving that is untreated," she says. "Though it is the correct size for arm knitting and will look fantastic at first, it will pill and shed wool quickly. It may split or break. I have heard that if you dry clean immediately, the wool roving will wear up better under use."
Mid-Range Yarn: Cascade Yarns Magnum Yarn
Budget-Friendly Yarn: Lion Brand Yarn Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn
Ahead, shop more skeins and learn why they're recommended by knitwear designers and knitters everywhere.
If you have the budget to splurge, high-end yarns are a great way to create the softest, most beautiful arm knitting projects. Weil recommends Jacqui Fink's Little Dandelion yarn because it "is sized correctly for arm knitting, and the fibers are already felted so you won't get annoying pilling, your investment will stay of high quality look and feel," she says.
Shop Now: Little Dandelion K1S1 Extreme Knitting Yarn, $95.67, littledandelion.com.
Another high-end yarn Weil recommends is Broadwick Fibers, which offers 100-percent merino wool from Australia. Camille McMurry hand dyes the roving and felts it into strong but supple felted strands of yarn.
Shop Now: Broadwick Fibers "2KG" Felted Superfine Chunky Merino Yarn, $180, broadwickfibers.com.
Echoview Fiber Mill
Called "Rug Yarn" for its grandeur, this yarn is spun from soft merino and a cotton cord that gives it strength. "I love this merino core spun yarn," says Weil. "This wool has been spun around the cotton, so won't show wear as quickly as wool roving."
Shop Now: Echoview Fiber Mill Rug Yarn, $55, echoviewnc.com.
Love Fest Fibers
Each skein of this yarn uses about 10 plastic bottles, resulting in an added resilience. "Core-spun wool is sturdier and larger scale. You can arm-knit with one or two strands at a time. This yarn is typically merino wool spun around a sturdy cotton core, usually," says Weil. "Try this super soft alpaca core spun yarn."
Shop Now: Love Fest Fibers "ReLove" Alpaca Yarn, $68, lovefestfibers.com.
Flax & Twine Giant T-Shirt Tube Yarn
T-shirt tube yarn is jersey knit fabric that's sewn and stuffed with polyester filling. "This has a very full and fun look and definitely wears well—it just doesn't look or feel like wool," says Weil. "The bonus of this yarn is that it is fully washable. I love this color range of T-shirt tube yarn. It is less flexible and soft than wool. For this reason, it makes good structural arm-knit pieces like poufs."
Shop Now: Flax & Twine Giant T-Shirt Tube Yarn Skein, $47, flaxandtwine.com.
For a mid-range yarn that's natural in fiber, try Cascade Yarns super bulky weight—they come in a palette of colors and made with 100 percent Peruvian Highland wool.
Shop Now: Cascade Yarns Magnum Yarn, $28.95, amazon.com.
Loops and Threads
If you're a beginner and want to practice on less expensive yarn or have a limited budget, then these skeins are a good choice. "Now, you can find even lower priced super bulky yarns at craft stores that are a mix of wool and acrylic," says Weil.
Shop Now: Loops and Threads "Chunky Luxe Big!" Yarn, $9.99, michaels.com.
Loops and Threads Twisted
Similarly, this type of yarn comes with a braided look for added visual interest. "If you want to stick with jumbo yarn sizes, they now make lots of big acrylic yarn that you can use for arm knitting such as Ariel Big," adds Weil.
Shop Now: Loops and Threads "Ariel Big!" Yarn, $9.99, michaels.com.
Lion Brand Yarn
For natural fibers, Weil recommends opting for a blend. "If you want to arm knit with multiple strands and a less expensive yarn that still has some wool, I recommend arm knitting with four strands of Lion Brand Thick and Quick."
Shop Now: Lion Brand Yarn Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn, $9.02, amazon.com.