You probably know that you can knit with needles and weave with a loom, but have you ever tried knitting with a loom? Not only is it possible, but loom knitting is a fast and fun way to create all kinds of beautifully knit items.
Learning the basics of loom knitting is an easy way to get started and it's a great way to introduce kids to this craft. With just a few simple steps they can see the knitted material forming! But this isn't only for children. Knitting on a loom can produce the same types of projects that traditional knitting can, including intricate designs like cables. The benefit to making these on a loom is that it's often easier on your hands and it usually works up faster.
Loom knitting has been around for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. The most reliable information dates back to the 16th century, when someone was looking to create an alternative method of knitting and a framed knitting "machine" was born. If you've ever tried finger knitting or spool knitting, you'll see the connection, which may even be how this larger form of knitting on a loom came to be.
Types of Knitting Looms
Knitting looms come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, and go by a variety of names such as a knitting board, rake, frame, or the classic loom. Some have a set number of pegs, while others are adjustable. You can even make your own!
Just as knitting needles come in different thicknesses, which determine the size or gauge of your knitting, the peg size and spacing on knitting looms also determine the gauge. Larger pegs spaced farther apart make bulky or open knitting, while thinner pegs spaced more closely result in finer or tighter knitting.
Each peg on a loom holds one stitch, so the number of pegs also makes a difference. You don't have to use every peg for a project, but you do need to have enough to achieve the size of the knitted piece you want. For example, to make a blanket without joining several pieces together, you would need many pegs, which you find on looms shaped like a large S or figure 8.
Because the loom size and shape is so important to the outcome of the knitting, it's crucial to check that you have the correct loom for a project. Patterns typically tell what type of loom to use, along with peg count and spacing. It's also important to pay attention to the yarn weight recommended for a pattern or loom, including whether to hold more than one strand of yarn together.
How Knitting Looms Work
Most loom knitting falls into three categories: circular knitting, which forms a tube; single knitting, which forms a single panel; and double knitting, which forms a reversible, extra thick fabric. Different types of looms help make this possible.
You can do single knitting on any type of loom, while circular knitting requires a continuous ring or frame of pegs. If you have a round loom but want to make a flat (non-tube) piece of knitting, simply work back and forth on the pegs instead of going around in a circle.
Both single and circular knitting usually begin with an e-wrap cast on, which wraps the yarn around each peg you are using for your project. The process of wrapping remains the same as you add more rows or rounds of stitches.
Long looms with double rows of pegs are for double knitting. (Some have a peg at each end so you can use them for circular knitting, and you can also always use these for single knitting.) Double knitting starts with a figure 8 cast-on, wrapping the yarn back and forth across the rows of pegs, which continues as you knit.
When doing single and double knitting, you can adjust the size of your project by working on only one portion of the loom. That's harder to do with circular knitting, which needs evenly spaced pegs for all the stitches.
After wrapping yarn once around all the pegs, it's time to wrap it a second time. Next, use a knitting hook (which comes with most looms) to lift the bottom loop of yarn up and over the peg, leaving the top loop in place. This completes a knit stitch. After lifting all the bottom loops over the pegs, you start again, wrapping the pegs and making new stitches.
You can also learn how to make other types of stitches such as traditional purl stitches, loom-knitting-exclusive stitches, and cast-on and bind-off methods to craft patterns and shapes in your work.
Types of Projects
There are lots of items you can make on a knitting loom, and some may surprise you. Hats and scarves are classics, but with the right looms you can knit shawls, bags, socks, toys, mittens, and more! Start with something simple, then try working with more complicated designs. Soon you'll be loom knitting like a pro.