Is arm knitting just a gimmick?

So, arm knitting, what’s it all about? Well, the gist of it is you ditch your needles, grab some chunky, chunky wool and once you’ve cast on you can’t answer any calls of nature until you’re done (yes, I have now learned that small projects are the best). I had never heard of arm knitting until I happened upon this tutorial by Vanessa, a.k.a. The Crafty Gemini, but with promises that one would be able to whip up a gorgeous cowl scarf up in about half and hour, I was sold!

The “pattern” I’m testing is the Quick Arm Knit Cowl and it’s freely available from the Lion Brand website, although I didn’t actually bother getting a copy of the pattern – Vanessa’s tutorial was so comprehensive that I just didn’t need it. What I was really testing was whether this ‘quick win’ method could actually win out against a carefully constructed needle-knit garment and produce something that (a) I would love and want to wear and (b) was robust enough to be worn.

I nailed (a), but the jury’s still out on (b), I’m afraid. In fairness to the pattern, I think I went for style over substance when it came to the yarn. I ordered some Sirdar Click Chunky knitting yarn in 199 Ginger Stick (lush!) over t’interweb, but herein lay my first mistake. Not being able to give the yarn a bit of a squeeze first meant I didn’t go high enough up the chunky scale – there’s plenty of scope for doubling the chunk factor with this scarf. With my wool lacking a bit of oomph, I found I couldn’t just cast on the 6 stitches recommended in the tutorial because the result was akin to a limp rag. In the end I doubled the stitches, knitted up the whole 2 skeins of yarn and…boom, 3 HOURS later I was looking at a pretty new scarf.

I really do love the finished product, but it does have to be treated as gently as a newborn kitten – no sudden movements, no objects that might snag it, and this is why I probably won’t be making another. The weave is so loose that when a loop catches on something, it pulls the piece of yarn in question in such a way that the rest of that row becomes distorted and you end up with a big, hanging loop. With some coaxing, these loops can be reintegrated into the scarf, but I suspect the lifespan of the cowl is limited. It feels like only a matter of time before a catastrophe befalls its woolly loveliness and no amount of tugging will right it…but until then, I intend to enjoy it while it lasts!

Scarf underway - 12 stitches on my arm.
Scarf underway – 12 stitches on my arm.
A look at the weave
A look at the weave
The whip stitched seam feels pretty robust.
The whip stitched seam feels pretty robust.
Left long
Left long
The short version.
The short version.
A fiver's worth of yarn made all of this. Bargain!
A fiver’s worth of yarn made all of this. Bargain!

If anyone else has had a bash at arm knitting I’d love to see. Do you think scarves are the limit of this technique, or might something more elaborate be whipped up with a bit of imagination? I can’t imagine trying to do any shaping using this method.


5 thoughts on “Is arm knitting just a gimmick?

  1. Tɦanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some
    reseafch about this. We got a grab a ook fгom our area library but I
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    wonderful information being shared freely out there.

    1. Lovely quote! Paul Klee has a special place in my life – 15 years ago, I copied a Paul Klee painting in miniature to impress a boy I was dating. That boy is now my husband.

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