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A small spool knitter was my first introduction to the knitting world. I was young and rambunctious and the only way for my Grandma to keep me out of trouble was to sit me down and give me some yarn.  I remember sitting by her side knitting away, she knitting away on a pretty sweater while I knitted a cord long enough to wrap around the world! A few decades later, I can say that I have graduated from my small four-prong spool knitter to a bigger spool knitter. Instead of miles of cord, I am now creating accessories and knitwear items.

You have probably seen them at the stores, colorful circles with pegs poking out of one of the sides. They come in circular and rectangular shapes in vivid colors that attract your eye. These are modern knitting looms, although historically they have been known by many names:  knitting wheels, knitting frames, rake knitters, French Knitters, corkers, and spools.

Loom knitting traces its existence as far back as the 16th century. Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book, tells us that frame-knitting’s noble origins began as finger knitting, followed soon after by the spool knitter.  Small spool knitters were once used to make long pieces of cord that were later turned into household items such as rope, rugs and even blankets. 

Just like in needle knitting, the stitches on a knitting loom are formed by interconnecting loops that become a piece of fabric. The pegs function as needles; each peg holds one loop that becomes a stitch. The yarn sits around the pegs. The knitter comes and wraps each of the pegs, then lifts the bottom loop over and off, letting the loop drop to the inside of the loom. Each time the knitter lifts a loop over and off, a stitch is created. 

Usually, you will see chunky stockinette knit hats demonstrated alongside the knitting looms in craft shops. But we can create much more than just simple stockinette.

Like needle knitting, loom knitters have at their disposal the purl stitch and, combined with the knit stitch, an arsenal of hundreds of stitch patterns. At one point, the designs were limited to only knit and purl combinations but recently, loom knitting has seen a tremendous breakthrough. Now we can knit simple lace patterns, cable designs, and even stranded colour knitting.

Just like needles come in different sizes, knitting looms come in different sizes too. The knitting loom standards are still being established by the industry but you will be able to find some popular sizes. These are commonly known in the industry as “loom gauge”, not to be confused with knitting gauge or knitting tension.  In loom knitting, gauge is influenced by three factors: knitting loom gauge, yarn used, and knitting tension. The gauge of the knitting loom is determined by the measurement from center of one peg to the center of the next peg.  The diameter of the peg shaft also influences the gauge achieved—if the peg is too thin and the spacing from center to center of peg is too large, the stitches formed will have a pronounced running ladder from one stitch to the next.  Typically, the closer the pegs, the smaller the knit gauge.  To achieve a certain gauge, the knitter must change any of the above factors—knitting loom, yarn, or the tension with which you hold the yarn.

Loomy Tools

The term “knitting loom” is a broad name that covers the three types of looms available: rounds, single-sided rakes, and knitting boards.

Round knitting looms are commonly known as hat looms. They are the most widely known looms and they are come in different sizes and shapes—from small circles that create small tubes for baby socks, to large circles that can make larger tubes for things like adult-size hats.

Items made on a round knitting loom provide a fabric with a right and reverse side. The stitches produced resemble those in needle knitting.

Although a round loom can produce a tube by knitting continuously around, if you were to use it from point X to point Y and then back from point Y to point X as in a letter C, you can create a flat panel that can be used to make sweaters. When a knitting loom is used in this form, it is being used as a single sided rake.  

However, you will also find Single Sided Rakes as part of a the loom knitting world: It is a single bed of pegs, used specifically to make flat panels.

The Knitting Board is part of the family but it creates a fascinating fabric. This loom has a double bed of pegs facing each other, picture two Single Sided Rakes in front of each other with a small center gap that allows the knitting to pass through. Knitting boards are known by different names: double sided rakes, knitting frames or just frames. They produce a fabric that is double sided: no wrong side.  Stitches are made by weaving the yarn from one side of the board to the other.

Knitting Tool: a knitting tool is used to lift off the loops off the pegs to create stitches.  It is a long piece of metal with an angled tip similar to a crochet hook.

The loom knitting instruction presented in this article is intended for use with a round loom for knitting in the round or as a single-sided rake.

Once you have mastered the basics, you will be on your way to creating knitted items without needles! Enjoy your journey!

 

The Basics of Loom Knitting for Rounds and Single Sided Rakes

Cast on
Prepare: Obtain a crochet hook that works well with the yarn weight you will be using. Form a slip knot. Place slip knot on one of the pegs, if the loom has an anchor peg, place the slip knot on the peg to the left of the anchor peg.
With crochet hook on your right hand and working yarn on the left hand, move around the knitting loom in a clockwise direction

Step 1: Insert the crochet hook through the slip knot.
Step 2: Hook the working yarn and form a chain, place the chain on the next empty peg to the left.
Step 3: Insert hook, through the loop made on Step 2. Hook the working yarn, and form a chain. Place the chain in next empty peg to the left.
Step 4: Repeat Step 3 until you have the desired number of stitches on the loom.
 

To knit a circular item, you will place the last chain formed on the first peg. The first peg will have 2 loops on it.

Your knitting loom is threaded and ready to be worked. Try out one of the basic stitches below. When you have mastered the basic stitches, combine them to make different stitch patterns.

The Basic Stitches

The knit stitch, twisted knit stitch and purl stitch are the building blocks of loom knitting.  With these three stitches, the creative possibilities are endless.

The Knit Stitch

Step 1: Place working yarn in front of the peg and above the loop on the peg.

Step 2: Insert knitting tool through the loop on the peg (from bottom up). Hook the working yarn.

 

Step 3: Pull the working yarn through forming a loop.  Hold the loop securely with the knitting tool.

Step 4: Take the loop that is on the peg off the peg. Place the loop made in Step 3 on the peg. Tug on the working yarn gently to tighten the stitch.

Repeat Steps 1-4 with each stitch.

The Twisted Knit Stitch (single stitch)

The twisted knit stitch is more commonly known as the single stitch, it involves wrapping the peg in the e-wrap method. It is the most well-known stitch in loom knitting as it is the only stitch instruction that comes with the mass-produced knitting looms.

Step 1: Bring working yarn towards the center of the knitting loom.

Step 2: Wrap around the next empty peg in a counterclockwise direction. Bring the working yarn back towards the center of the knitting loom.

 

 

Repeat Steps 1-2 with each stitch. When the pegs are wrapped, knit by lifting the bottommost loop off the peg.

Loom knitters have different variations of the Twisted Knit Stitch.  There is also the double, the chunky, and the half stitch. They all involve wrapping the pegs in the same manner, except in the double you wrap the pegs one extra time, so each peg has 3 loops. In the Chunky stitch, you need 4 loops on each peg and in the half you need 4 loops but instead of lifting the bottommost loop, you knit by lifting the bottommost two loops.  The different variations provide the knitter with a tighter stitch.

The Purl Stitch

The purl stitch is achieved similarly to the knit stitch except instead of placing the working yarn above the loop on the peg, you place it below.

Step 1: Place the working yarn in front of the peg and below the loop on the peg.

Step 2: Insert knitting tool through the loop on the peg (from top down).

Step 3: Hook the working yarn with knitting tool. Bring knitting tool back up. Knitting tool has a loop on it.  Hold this loop securely.

Step 4: Take the original loop off the peg and place the newly formed loop on the peg. Tug on the working yarn gently to tighten the stitch.

 

Although loom knitters use the same stitches as needle knitters, loom knitters face a few barriers as there is a limited quantity of patterns available or for that matter, instructions.  We can translate a few patterns from needle knitting to loom knitting but most of the time we have problems matching gauge, or manipulating stitches to create fanciful designs.

However, adversity has not deterred the loom knitting community; we strive forth writing up instructions and taking needle knitting techniques and applying them to our knitting looms whenever possible.  A sea of undiscovered treasures lays ahead of us and we are ready with knitting looms and yarn at hand.

As a needle knitter, you may ask yourself why in the world you would ever trade your needles for a loom? If you come from a world of needles and pick up a loom, your first reaction would be that it is too slow-going and more cumbersome. At first, like every other hobby, it takes time and dedication to learn the craft, it is not something that you just sit down and half-an-hour later you have a finished sock.  Crafters of all ages have come to love loom knitting for very simple reasons:

  • It is easier on the hands than working with two needles. The movements are not as repetitive and thus produce less wrist pain.
  • Hand coordination does not need to be so acute. Children can pick up a loom and with a couple of tries, they can be knitting away.
  • Older adults that have lost hand dexterity can continue crafting as a loom is easy to handle.
  • A new knitter will be able to clearly see how a knitted fabric is made up of interlocking loops.
  • Less prone to drop stitches or add stitches as you can visibly see when a peg has a missing loop or an extra loop.

To join us in our journey, here is a short list of knitting loom vendors sites, or next time you stop by your local craft store pick up a set and give them a whirl.

Authentic Knitting Board: www.knittingboard.com
Cindy Woods Crafts: www.cindwoodcrafts.com
Décor Accents Looms: www.decoraccentsinc.com
In the Attic: www.knittinglooms.com
The Knitting Loom Company: www.knittinglooms.bigstep.com

References: Mary Thomas’s Knittting Book

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isela loves her yarn. She keeps a drawer full of hand-dyed sock yarn which sometimes she just likes to take out and pet and admire the beautiful colors.

She maintains the Purling Sprite blog which she updates with loomy and knitting tidbits.