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Knitting looms are the answer to knitters who lack the ability to handle two needles. Despite the cherished All-American icon of an old woman sitting in her rocking chair knitting scarves and sweaters for her loved ones.
In reality traditional knitting is a rather painstaking process that involves twisting together yarn on different sized wooden, metal or plastic "needles" and requires a fair amount of hand dexterity and a good eye.
Knitting, the age old practice of creating fabric by interlacing yarn in a series of connected loops, was once reserved for the nimble fingered and visually blessed. However, all that changed with the introduction of small, hand-held knitting devices called knitting looms.
Similar to the traditional looms used for weaving fabric, knitting looms come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and material. They can be used to make everything from socks to hats, scarves, mittens, and throws.
Made from wood, metal or plastic, these fun little devices consist of a "frame" shaped either in a circle or a rectangle, and "pegs" around which the knitter wraps her choice of yarn, then, using a special tool created for the task, pulls and twists two or more rows together to form a stitch.
My Po' Folks Loom This is a homemade knitting loom.
Many patterns for creating with looms, boards or rakes can be completed on a round loom, just as long as you have the proper amount of pegs.
When using a round one in place of a board or rake, you do not connect when making a flat item. Instead you will reverse your direction of knitting at the end of the row. Than continue with your pattern.
Circular looms create “tubes” of fabric, while rectangles yield flat pieces that are finished on one or both sides. The distance between pegs determines the gauge of the loom, the tightness of the weave and often the type of garment that each loom is best suited to create.
For example, a large gauge loom (such as the infinity loom) will have a distance between pegs of about 3/4” and will create a knit with a density of about 1.5-2 stitches per inch–perfect for an afghan or blanket.
The large round loom is great for winter sweater, scarf or hat. On the other hand, the pegs on an extra fine gauge loom are spaced a mere 3/16” apart and will yield about 7-8 stitches per inch, fabric more suitable for socks, a light weight decorative scarf or even a pair of gloves.
Today most knitting looms are available as kits that contain a number of different sizes, gauges, and shapes of looms as well as the necessary tools to work successfully with yarn on the pegs.
Some kits will also include one or more patterns, yarn and all of the basic items needed to successfully complete one or more projects as well as an instructional booklet or DVD with explicit, step-by-step instructions on how to use the equipment.
However, in the absence of a pre-assembled kit, it is quite simple and inexpensive to create a “knitter’s toolbox” by assembling–in addition to the looms themselves–some of these easy to find items:
• A knitting tool or pick – used to pick up the yarn and lift it over the peg to form a stitch, these come in a number of different shapes and sizes for use with different gauges of yarn and different sized pegs
• A yarn guide – used to thread the yarn around the pegs and maintain even tension while doing so. In a pinch, a guide can be fashioned from a hollowed out “BIC” pen, minus the ink.
• A stitch guide – an “L” shaped ruler, of sorts, with a small window in the center that allows the knitter to count the number of stitches per inch in her work-an essential component of following a pattern or assuring the correct size of garment.
• Row counter – these come in a number of shapes and sizes, all of which accomplish the same task – helping the knitter to keep track of rows as she works.
• Crochet hooks – while not strictly necessary, these little hooks come in handy for picking up dropped stitches or handling unruly pieces of yarn.
• Sharp scissors – while some yarn is easy to break, synthetics like nylon and rayon are very strong; sharp scissors can come in quite handy.