Friday, April 03, 2009

Loom Knitting

It started innocently enough with a friendly conversation on Twitter. Two of my many crafty twitter friends were having a light hearted talk about a craft I knew nothing about: Loom knitting. I wedged myself into their banter and sought some guidance.

If you played with a small red Knitting Dobbie as a child, using 4 hooks on a small hand-held plastic base, you have loom knit. Today's looms are different sized and shapes to allow the knitter to make -@sorka and @purlingsprite assured me -almost anything you can knit with needles.

Turns out I could not have asked two more knowledgeable people. @Sorka is looming knitting author/blogger Denise Layman, who writes at Knitting Without Needles. PurlingSprite is Isela Phelps, blogger/author at the same named site.

The two teased and suggested and sent me off to my local big box craft stores in search or some simple supplies. While it might not be everybody's first project, I decided that a feltable bag would give me something useful to work on and the felting would hide any obvious mistakes I might make along the way. So I picked up a 22" plastic loom and several balls of a feltable wool. With spring and summer coming, neutral linen shades were speaking to me.

These got packed up for a weekend at the ocean with my sewing/knitting buddies and I was on my way. After a nice long walk along the beach, I settled myself in to (gasp) read the directions and get started working on my project. I had picked up Isola's book Loom Knitting Primer and followed the directions for the felted bag inside. Like any yarn project I've ever tried, the first two rows seem a challenge until things get rolling along, but now I'm looping and knitting confidently, wathcing my bag appear from inside the loom.

The only problem I have? Like anyone knew to a technique, my tension is not fabulous. In this case, it's much too tight, but I'm working on loosening it up. So far I like loom knitting. It seems to put less strain on my aging eyes, so it might allow me to keep doing yarn crafts after I've been forced to give others up. It's fast and not too demanding at the moment, which means it will be the perfect "baseball" knitting activity at home. At games, I will still carry my current sock project; it's just a bit more portable.

Loom knitting seems a great new activity to learn, appropriate for anyone over the age of 6. So definitely consider this for a Easter Break crafting activity.

Want to learn before you take the plunge:

Sister Diane interviewed Denise and Isela for CraftPod.
In this show:
- All about knitting on a loom, with the editors of the Loom Knitters Circle.
- Where loom knitting comes from, and where it’s headed.
- Get all your burning technical questions about loom knitting answered!
- Learn why you should not mess with loom knitters.

Isela wrote an detailed introduction to loom knitting, How to Knit Needle-Free, for Knitty:
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.
Isela goes on to discuss the different loom shapes, and to demonstrate the basic stitches of loom knitting.

While checking out Denise's blog I found a wonderfully helpful article on how to reclaim yarn from thrifted or old sweaters. Even if you do needle knitting or crochet, this is a great idea to keep in mind if you are of a thrifty nature. Recognizing the perfect sweater to buy and recycle? Priceless.

If you're a visual learning, Isela has a numer of great video to learn loom knitting on the Purling Sprite site.

Angie from Many Little Blessings started looming weaving this week.
Having never done any knitting (or a loom or otherwise), I was thrilled to put in only a couple of hours, and to end up with a cutie hat that Molly was thrilled with. I also realized that this would be a great activity for older kids, who could easily master the basic loom use after being shown how to do it.

I still definitely want to learn to knit with needles at some point (maybe during the summer when we have more free time), but for now, I'm thrilled to be able to do some loom knitting until then. I have to admit, the whole time I was making the hat, I kept smiling as I watched the hat grow.
When I finish my little bag, I'll felt it up and post the photo on my FlickrStream. But in the meanwhile, here's my suggestion. Loom Knitting: Try It! You'll Like IT! What do you think?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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