Lisa’s List: 10 Life-changing Truths About Arm-Knitting
Arm-knitting is the practice of using one’s forearms instead of knitting needles, using huge yarn.
Take a look at Vickie Howell arm-knitting in this clip from Knitting Daily TV and learn the basics.
Recently, a company called Ohhio popped up with Facebook videos of people arm-knitting and enjoying gigantic blankets in minimalist homes. One of those videos made it onto the wall of a non-knitter, and it became a PoRKSNAck*. The video went viral and arm-knitting surged in Google search. And when arm-knitting is hot, this is the conversation that inevitably happens, at the yarn shop or knit night or online in a forum—
“That’s not real knitting.”
“That yarn will not hold up; it’s not even spun and you’ll catch your toenails on it.”
“The yarn is so expensive! That’s an $800 blanket!”
“My kids and pets will RUIN THAT!”
“Who wants to be trapped under a 20 pound blanket?”
And we pat ourselves on the backs because we’re real knitters.
Well, I think there are some things we can all learn from arm-knitting. So this week’s list covers 10 things I learned while learning to arm-knit. Start your own journey with this quick how-to video, check out my list, and download the newest issue of knitscene to learn about Anne Weil of Flax & Twine, whom we’ve designated the Queen of Arm-knitting.
Life-changing Truths About Arm-Knitting
1. Your wrist diameter is way bigger than any knitting needle. THIS IS TRUE FOR ALL OF US, BIG AND SMALL AND MALE AND FEMALE. We are one in our massive millimeters.
A knitting needle is sized by its diameter. The most accurate and universal sizing system, the metric, uses millimeters. You measure the circumference of a needle in millimeters, then divide that number by pi (3.14) to get the diameter, and you have the needle size.
So measure your wrist in millimeters, divide by pi, and you have the metric needle size of your arm. Mine is a 47.7 mm. The biggest knitting needle is a 35 mm.
2. The gauge of your wrist is not only “big boned,” but big enough for Jumbo yarn, which is a BRAND NEW THING IN THE OLD CRAFT OF KNITTING.
Jumbo yarn is a recent development in knitting standards that was forced by the popularity of arm-knitting. The Craft Yarn Council sets standards for manufacturers and publishers in the knitting and crochet space, and in 2016 the Standards Committee added a 7th yarn weight category, the Jumbo.
3. Jumbo yarns are heavy, so they’re best when they contain a lightweight, lofty animal fiber. NATURE ALWAYS DOES IT BETTER.
What yarns are good for arm-knitting? Here are 5 options.
You can also use these yarns with giant needles, which are heavy and awkward. We’ve got tips to help you navigate the process.
4. Jumbo yarns are great for arm-knitting, but they’re not your only option. You just need to think about your stash differently…and maybe pull yourself out of a knitting rut, while you’re at it.
You can hold multiple strands of yarn together and arm-knit with them. Go stash diving, find some bulky yarns, hold them together, and try following Vickie Howell’s arm-knitting tutorial. You can make some wild, funky, chunky fabrics this way! If you always go for handpainted sock yarn and top-down shawls, break out of your rut and make a graffiti arm-knit cowl!
5. You’re not as graceful as you thought you were. And that’s awesome.
Arm-knitting is like hula-dancing at Burning Man. Imagine what that looks like, then add giant yarn to the limbs of the woman you’re imagining. Now imagine her getting tangled and starting and stopping erratically, and someone’s eating curry and there’s the distant sound of a didgeridoo, and you can imagine what I look like arm-knitting (and where I live, for that matter). You should totally join me in this awkward dance. Liberate your ego.
6. Giant stitches look like sculpture; sculpting is a fine art -> arm-knitting makes you an artist.
Now this is truly liberating—DON’T THINK ABOUT FUNCTIONALITY. Think about expression; about experimentation; about making a yarn portrait of your ex-husband. Sink into your own imagination and get all kinds of tangled and messy and maybe you’ll end up with a gallery opening and a studio in Williamsburg and you’ll forget you ever even hung out with real knitters. SMH.
7. It doesn’t end here—you can also arm crochet.
Anne Weil, the Queen of Arm Knitting, designed a giant arm-crocheted pouf for Crochetscene. You should check out the pattern and work up some rad home dec for your new Brooklyn studio. Somewhere for all those poets to sit when they come to your roll-your-own-sushi parties.
8. The structure of knitted fabric is AMAZING.
When viewed at arm-knitted scale, it is obvious how complex and strong this inter-looping structure is.
9. At this scale, “How do I weave in this end?” is a metaphor for life and the answer is, sometimes you just can’t.
Or, if you’re NOT OKAY with loose ends, you sew it to itself with a tapestry needle and finer yarn. Like calling your ex at 2 am and asking her what you did wrong. CUZ CLOSURE IS SO GREAT.
10. We are all real knitters. All knitting is real knitting. Get over yourself!
You know who’s not a real knitter? That lady on the subway staring at her smart phone. She could be knitting right now.
YAY FOR YARNS OF EVERY SIZE!
*Posts that Real Knitters Shall Not Acknowledge (PoRKSNAck’s) are any piece of online content that is somehow related to knitting or yarn and for whatever reason, interests and excites non-knitters. And those non-knitters are IMMEDIATELY COMPELLED to share the post with you, the one knitter they know. And then the thing goes viral, so multiply that one non-knitter’s share by all the people in the world that know you, and you get the same dang post with earnest intros from all these people because I DISCOVERED SOMETHING YOU WILL LOVE!!! CUZ LOOK!!! KNITTING!!! And you roll your eyes and ignore it, and someone in a finance meeting the next day says to you, “Hey Lisa, did you see that video of a knitted gnome knitting hearts? Omg, I thought of you right away!” and you crinkle your nose and shake your head and wonder why your feminist Estonian lace knitting blog in 2006 never took off like these silly posts.
Give arm-knitting a go!