An Intro Guide to Arm Knitting
"Arm knitting is easier than traditional knitting as there are no needles to deal with" explains expert Anne Weil of flaxandtwine.com, and author of Knitting Without Needles.
Laura Strutt from madepeachy.com talks us through how to get started and reveals her favorite yarns and patterns. Plus, find bonus insights from some of the best designers around the yarn-block.
So what is arm knitting?
Well, as the name suggests, this is knitting with your arms - sans needles! Stitches are cast on to one forearm, using your hands to work through the stitches to grab the working yarn drawing through to create a stitch, which is then placed on your other arm.
The rows of the project are worked in a back and forth manner. There is no turning of the work as you would in regular needle knitting - you are simply working through the stitches from your right arm and passing the new stitches onto the left. When you're finished working the row, you simply work in the other direction, working through the stitches on the left arm to pass them over to the right!
Experienced knitters will soon get into the flow of catching the yarn and creating the stitches, while for knitting newbies, working on such a large scale, is a great introduction to how stitches are created and how they join together in a series to create the fabric of a knitted piece.
For those of us that are a dab hand with the needles, you might be wondering why your would put down your dps, circulars and cable needles in favor of knitting with just your arm alone. Well, there are stacks of reasons why you might like to try this clever and ultra simple technique - primarily speed is one of the main reasons yarn-oholics like to work on arm knitting projects.
To jump straight in, check out all of our arm knitting patterns.
Learn how to arm knit
If you're looking for a quick-start tutorial to arm knitting, check out this pattern, which comes with a full how-to guide by Anne Weil. Master the basics with a hands-on tutorial - and create your own chunky cowl!
As the tension of the knitted fabric is created by the size your arms, and not needles, the stitches are so much larger and you can create super-sized projects in just a few hours. Now, show me a knitter that doesn't want to work up a luxurious on-trend chunky throw in an afternoon!
You can also discover how to make your arm knitting tighter by visiting Anne's blog.
Here are just some of the gigantic patterns you could complete today, including Anne's simple tutorial.
Is stopping in the middle of arm knitting possible?
“It is not only possible but also very easy to stop in the middle of arm knitting. Simply, take your stitches off your arm one by one and put them onto a holder, I use a gift wrap roll but anything similar will do! As you put the stitches back on your arm, remember to keep the left leg (side) of the stitch behind your arm and the right leg (side) of the stitch in front of your arm.” -- Anne from Flax and Twine, author of Knitting Without Needles
Chunky yarns for arm knitting
You can arm knit with roving yarn, exceptionally super chunky yarn, or you can often save a bit of money by layering up several strands of a more standard chunky weight like these:
How do I pick a yarn?
“Arm knitting was the first yarn thing I learned to do and I think most people curious about arm-knitting are absolute beginners. So thinking back to when I first started, one of the hardest things was yarn selection. During my first project I had to stop in the middle to go buy more yarn!” -- Michelle from The Snugglery
- Opt for plump knits with a full bodied yarn like the Wool from We Are Knitters - want to turn up the volume? Work with two or more strands held together as one!
- Eco-friendly knitters will be taken with this blend of cashmere, silk, polyamide and viscose in Lana Grossa Cashsilk - it will give a sleek modern finish to statement arm knit accessories and garments.
- Why not try adding more interest to the individual stitches with this ‘chain’ construction yarn? Debbie Bliss Paloma is created in such a way that rather than the fibers being plyed together they are knitted into a chain - giving you all the volume and impact of a chunky yarn, while maintaining a lightweight finish.
- Variegated and multicolored yarns will add a pops of bright colors while you knit without the need for changing yarns as you work - Rowan Big Wool Color is available in six stunning shades, so you're sure to find the perfect one for you!
Feeling like getting a little fancy? Work with two different weight yarns in complementary tones to create a richer, layered finish to the arm knitted fabric. This striking shrug teams a boucle and a chunky to make a really show stopping garment!
When it comes to giant-knit blankets: To rove or not to rove?
“A lot of the giant-knit blankets that are going viral are knit not out of commercial yarn, but from roving directly.” -- Laura from Nocturnal Knits
Five scarves to arm knit
Chunky knits never go out of style and arm knitting is a quick and easy way to whip up some striking accessories - here is a round up of our five favorite arm knit scarves
Knitted accessories are the perfect items to transition your wardrobe through different seasons, not only that, but they are a simple way to update your look without a huge price tag. Once you've mastered the basics of arm knitting you'll want to work on some projects to build your skills. Why not try your hand at classic scarves, cosy cowls and elegant wraps and shawls, which are the perfect items to try when branching out with arm knitting.
Here is a collection of our five must-make arm knitting patterns for scarves, shawls and cowls…
- Elegant Fringed Wrap: Surround yourself in the wonderful softness of this super-sized arm knit wrap. This design is worked with a combination of two textured yarns to create a rich and luxurious finish. Measuring 183cm long, this can be wrapped around you to envelop you in a cosy style.
- Variegated Chunky Cowl: Add a bright pop of color to your outfit with an arm knit cowl. The unique, yet simple, construction of this cowl creates a continuous loop of arm knitting which translates into a clean and modern shape around the neckline. Variegated yarns, like this one, blend lots of brilliants colors and shades together, and remove the fuss of switching between different yarns when arm knitting.
- Triangle Kerchief Shawl: Give the traditional triangular shawl a funky modern update with arm knitting in a chunky textured yarn. This classic shape is created with the simple use of increase stitches to form the neat triangle, which can be looped around the neck to really showcase this statement accessory. This design is worked in a tactile boucle yarn which give the make a wonderful lux finish!
- Classic Scarf: Play up the preppy style with a classic straight arm knit scarf! This design couldn't be easier - with a small number of stitches required when arm knitting to make up each row, you will be delighted at just how quickly you can work up this wardrobe staple! Selecting a bright and bold multi-colored yarn like this one will really turn up the fun on this quick and easy project!
- Glamorous Multi Yarn Cowl: For a more dressed up look why not team together a complementary palette of yarns in a range of finishes? This design works with four different yarn types, which are held together as one and worked to create stitches with lots of interest, that will look striking against simple evening wear and tailored coats.
Ten arm knitting yarns to try out
Boost your stash with these fantastic yarns that are ideal for your next arm knitting project.
One of the greatest appeals of arm knitting is that you can whip up bold striking projects in next to no time at all. Using your arms as needles means that you will be creating knitted fabrics with a much more unique tension and featuring super-sized stitches - ideal for working with chunky yarns!
Here are some of our favorite yarns that will look perfect in your next arm knitting project…
- Lion Brand Quickie: When it comes to arm knitting, this yarn has been designed specifically for this technique and with seven tempting colorways it is no wonder this is top of the list for many arm knitters! This yarn is a super-soft blend of acrylic, wool and synthetic, which gives its distinct finish when knitted and, with 20m per ball, you’ll be able to make a cowl!
- Schulana Piumino Print: This generous 32m ball of chunky yarn is ideal for funky oversized arm knitting projects. Despite appearances the yarn, which is a super chunky, the sumptuous blend of alpaca, wool and polyester give it a light as a feather finish - which is great if you are using multiple strands held together as one.
- Katia Velvet Loop: Nothing says glamour like a velveteen finish - so this yarn is the best choice for projects that you want to have a more polished, dressed-up finish. Created from polyester this yarn knit up to feel like chenille, with the handy benefit of being machine washable and easy to care for.
- Debbie Bliss Paloma: With a striking chain-stitched construction, this yarn not only looks great but feels wonderful to work with - and if you're replacing your needles with your arms, then all the better! The composition of baby alpaca and wool makes this ultra-soft and available in a host of divine colorways this is sure to be great yarn for that extra special project.
- Rico Fashion Gigantic Mohair: If you are looking for something with a little more volume then this is the yarn for you. This super chunky mohair yarn is created with acrylic, merino and nylon and with a massive 60m per ball you’ll be pleased at how far this yarn will go. Available in a range of classic neutrals to stand-out bright tones, there is guaranteed to be the perfect shade for you.
- Universal Yarn Bunny: Turn up the fun with this fancy novelty yarn. This easy-care polyester and acrylic blended yarn is super chunky and studded with adorable fluffy bunny tufts - which will add a real talking point to your next arm knitting project.
- Wisdom Yarns Poems Puzzle: If you want to add more texture and interest to your oversized arm knitting stitches than this is the yarn for you! This superwash merino and polyester blend yarn is created with a unique braided construction that will make each stitch eye-catching. Not only that, the glorious Paintbox style colors of the yarn will really pop on your finished make.
- James C. Brett Flutterby Animal Prints: Add some animal magic with this fun novelty yarn. This massive 90m ball of yarn is great value and is perfect for larger, more yarn-heavy projects. The collection includes 10 funky animal print inspired colors, with a super tactile chenille finish - a great yarn to really have some fun with.
- Loopy Mango Big Loop Yarn Merino Mini: If you fancy treating yourself to something extra special then look no further! This 100% merino yarn is soft and snuggly and will be ideal for creating eye-catching arm knit accessories. Available in a rainbow of on-trend colors, this yarn is definitely one to add to your wish list.
- Spud & Chloe Outer: For an unbeatable softness against the skin this quick-knit chunky yarn is perfect for arm knitting. Blended from wool and cotton and with a huge 55m per ball this is a great choice for arm knitted scarves and hats. The subtle, muted color palette is ultra wearable and sure to make your projects look fantastic.
Picked your pattern? Selected your yarn? What’s next…? Two final tips before you get started!
“Before you start to arm knit a good tip would be to remove any jewelry on your arms, wrists and hands, because it can snag your yarn. Roll up your sleeves as, with chunky yarn especially, you'll need plenty of room along your arms.” --
“Another good tip to remember is to keep stitches nice and loose to make it easier to move from one arm to the other, and try to keep each stitch even. To keep all stitches uniform, especially when creating a blanket, turn each loop in a clockwise position when transferring from one arm to the other. This small movement will make all stitches run in the same direction creating a lovely knitted pattern when finished.” -- Anna from Made Up Style
How much yarn do you need?
"Don’t worry, the math is simple. 1yd x 1yd = 1 square yard. And you need 4lb of yarn for each square yard. So just multiply length by width and times the result by 4 to get the number of pounds of yarn you need. For example, if you want to knit a blanket that's 1.2yd x 1.5yd you'll need 1.2 x 1.5 x 4 = 7.2lb of yarn. Simple as that!" -- Vicky from VS Arm Knitting
About the author, Laura Strutt
Laura loves to knit, crochet and sew, she believes her dog, Waffle, is the most handsome dog on Instagram and hopes to one day be in a Ukulele band with her husband.
If you're looking for more inspiration, Laura's written a book on Arm and Finger Knitting Arm Knitting, CICO Books