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Plagued by a distinct lack of knitting needles on airlines these days? Kids driving you crazy on road trips? Well, I've got just the solution for those needless times: finger knitting.

What, might you ask, is finger knitting? Why simply knitting with one's own fingers in place of the traditional knitting needles. Whether you are searching for a new fiber experience, or stuck in a needle-free-zone, finger knitting is for you. The process is amazingly simple, and the only supplies required are some yarn of your choosing and your own fingers. Finger knitting is a great, kid-friendly project (read: cheap and easy) that anyone can do. Follow my fingers and you'll be knitting right along in just a snap!

Finger knitting produces a long, thin strip of stockinette stitch. The resulting thin strip may not seem like much, but think of the possibilities...scarves with single or double strips, three strips braided together, handles, straps, ties, sew many together for a throw blanket, all without needles. This is the ultimate on-the-go, take-it-anywhere, super-simple knitting project.

For this project, you can use absolutely any type (and mixture) of yarns imaginable. I recommend using a bulky weight yarn or working with two or three lighter weight yarns together at the same time. Play with novelty yarns, different textures, or crazy color combos. Finger knitting is a great way to experiment with putting different yarns together without a serious commitment. Mix it up and have fun!

I chose to work with two wools held together -- both from Kraemer Yarns, Naturally Nazareth Aran in Summer and Mauch Chunky in Kiwi.

Casting On

Begin with your left hand facing you (assuming you are right handed. For lefties, begin with the right hand facing you). The tail of your yarn(s) should be placed in the area between your left thumb and index finger. Begin casting on by wrapping the working yarn over the index finger, behind the middle finger, over the ring finger, etc. Once you wrap around the pinkie, continue back the other direction until your reach the index finger once again. Go around the index finger a second time and wrap all fingers in the same manner slightly above the wraps from the first pass. Try to maintain loose wraps. You not only need to be able to work the stitches, you also don't want your lovely fingers to turn blue.

The First Row

Beginning at the pinkie, lift the wrapped yarn on the bottom (nearest your palm) up and over the tip of the finger, keeping the top wrap on the finger as you pass the lower wrap over and off. Remember that in these photos, I'm using two strands held together as one. Continue this process along the hand until your reach the index finger. Be careful as you lift the stitch on the index finger since the bottom wrap is actually the tail of your yarn. (Just don't let it get away from you!)

All Following Rows

For the next row, and every other row, begin by once again wrapping the working yarn around all four fingers as in step one. Next, each lower stitch is passed over the upper stitch and lifted off the finger as in step two. This two-step process continues until the work is the desired length. When making scarves, I like to knit about eight to ten feet of finger knitting and double-up the strips around the neck. Should you need to put down your finger knitting sometime during construction, I recommend sliding the working stitches onto a ballpoint pen and hooking them under the paper-clippie thing at the top. (This is a needle-free area, remember?) When ready to begin again, place the working stitches back onto the fingers with the stockinette side of the work facing the back of your hand.

Binding Off

Once the chosen length is reached, the knitter must bind off the working stitches. On this last row, do not wrap the fingers. Each finger should have only one loop on it. Lift off the loop on the pinkie finger and place it onto the ring finger. On the ring finger, lift the bottom loop up and over the top loop and off the finger. Next, place the remaining loop from the ring finger onto the middle finger and repeat the lifting off/moving over step until one loop remains on the index finger. To finish, simply cut a tail and pass it through the remaining loop, pulling it tight.

TA DA!!! A fantastic bit of knitting magic with not a needle in sight! Give you ingenious little fingers a pat on the back.



In the brief moments when Janelle is not knitting, she studies art at Central Washington University.

She shares her home with an ever-patient and loving husband who tolerates her yarn addiction and extensive knitting book collection surprisingly well. The two are happy so long as a little room is left for him between the piles of wool and she doesn't blow the financial aid money on merino. She blogs over here.