Arm Knitting How-To Photo Tutorial // Part 2: Knitting

I take it as a great sign that you’re here! You’ve made it through casting on and you’re ready to knit! This is where it really starts to get fun!  I’ve provided lots of detailed photographs to make it super easy to follow and learn. You’ll be arm knitting before you know it!

You’ve reached Part 2: Knitting of a four part arm knitting tutorial.

If you are just beginning your arm knitting adventure, start at:
Part 1:     Casting On Arm Knitting.

Or, you may be ready for these parts:
Part 3:      Binding Off Arm Knitting
Part 4:      Finishing Arm Knitting
If you want to have a portable copy, you can purchase the instant download PDF of complete instructions here. Or, if you just want to buy a gorgeous arm knit cowl, check out my shop!!

In arm knitting, you knit all the stitches from your right arm onto your left, and then from your left arm back to your right.  Each time you move the stitches from one arm to another, knitting as you go, you make a new row.

Let’s dive in:
You need to have cast on stitches on to your right arm. See here for how. Then, you start with Row 1, 1st stitch.

 Row 1, 1st stitch:

// Pick up the working yarn (remember the working yarn goes to your skeins of yarn) and place it over your thumb on your right hand. (You won’t be using the tail, or cut end, any more.)
// Close your fist over the working yarn.
// Holding on to the working yarn in your fist, pull the first stitch from your right arm over your fist.

// You are effectively pulling the working yarn through the old stitch  to make a new stitch to place on your left arm.
// After the old stitch is over your fist, drop it. Take the new stitch in your right fist,  turn the loop a 1/2 turn and place it on your left hand/arm.
// You want the part of the loop that is in front of your hand (this is called the front leg of the stitch) to be the part that goes to the working yarn.

Row 1, 2nd stitch: this stitch is no different, but sometimes it helps to see it 2x.

// Repeat stitch process until you get to the end of the row, as in the far right photo above.

Row 2, from the left arm to the right:

Once all the stitches are on your left arm, working on row 2 is no different than row 1, you are just knitting in the other direction, from your left arm to your right.
// Place working yarn over thumb on left hand, close your fist.
// With right hand, pull first stitch from left arm up and over left fist.
// Drop the stitch in your right hand, keeping hold of the loop in your left hand.

// Turn stitch so working yarn is towards you.

// Put loop on right hand.
// You’re ready for the next stitch.

Here is the second stitch going from the left to the right, same as the first:

// Repeat the stitch process until you get to the end of the row.
// Continue knitting from your right arm to your left, and then from your left arm to your right, until you get to desired length.
 // End with all of the stitches on your left arm. Make sure you leave enough yarn (at least 4 yards  for the cowl) to bind off and complete any necessary seaming.


Yay!! Congratulations. You’re thorough the bulk of it, literally! You’re almost to this cowl below!  Next,
Part 3:  Binding Off
Part 4:  Finishing

Just imagine the lovely cozy warmth of this as you trot around town! Okay, usually I schlump and schlep around town, but you know what I mean! It’s like a soft, fluffy hug all day long!

  1. rose

    Hi, love your tutorial , best one ive found for detail, im having trouble keeping the stitches neaat on my left arm say, I cant see to tighten them up, any ideas? Imade a lovely attempt yesterday, didnt know how to bind off, pulled wrong yarn and now I have a hole for my head :) hence why im pleased to have found your site. Thanks

    • Hi Rose,
      Yay! I’m so glad that you are getting a lot out of it. First, I think the best way to keep it tight is to make sure you are grabbing the working yarn close to your arm to begin with. This will instill the practice of keeping it on the tighter side. additionally, after each stitch on to your left arm, you can manually tighten the stitches against your arm. You can do this starting back at the beginning of the row and moving toward the working yarn from the left to the right. Some of this will naturally tighten up as you can used to the movements. Good luck and have fun!
      Anne

  2. Ashlyn

    This is an amazing tutorial, I love the clear, detailed pictures – they really helped a lot!

  3. Laura

    Geniaaaaaaaaaaaal !!! estupenda bufanda!
    Gracias por enseñarme!!!

  4. Julie

    Help! Hi Anne, I agree with one of the comments I read that you have by far the best tutorial on the ‘net that I have seen. Everything I am doing looks like the picture except I must be doing one thing majorerlly wrong, because with every stitch I transfer to the left arm I am somehow gaining more and more lose yarn between my arms! The stitches I am “dropping” look right, I can see the scarf forming, and at first my arms were pretty close together. The stitches were getting too tight, so I unraveled it all and started over with a little looser stitches. But now with every stitch, the gap between my arms (and the yarn hanging between my arms) is getting bigger/longer. I don’t have a clue what I am doing wrong or what I changed from my first attempt to now! Please help! Thanks much, Juls

    • Hi Julie!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to write a comment. I’ll try to help, though it’s difficult to see exactly what’s happening without being there. My guess is that you are either 1) you are continually pulling your arms far enough apart that the working yarn is drooping from stitch to stitch. The fix for this is to make sure you are grabbing the working yarn close to the stitch you just made and not making your next stitch use too much yarn. 2) You many have dropped a stitch, in which case the yarn between stitches will get really, really droopy from loosing an entire stitch. You can fix a dropped stitch, but sometimes it’s just easier and faster to start again. Does this make sense? Write back again if you have any questions.
      Thanks!Anne

      • Julie

        Hi Anne,
        Thank you for getting back to me. I did unravel it again to start over. I think what you said makes sense. I primarily do loom knitting, but was intrigued by the arm knitting when I first heard about it a year ago…your tutorial brought me so much closer than any of the videos or instructions I tried before! Unfortunately I have since caught a cold with sneezing so have to wait before my next attempt! :) I will try grabbing the working yarn closer. Thanks again for your help! Julie

    • Allie

      Yep, I’m having the same problem. The pattern I’m using calls for 12 stitches cast on. By the time I finish the row I have almost 3′ of yarn between my left and right hands! In addition to several knots because this droop keeps getting caught. I’m grabbing the working yarn as closely as I can to the wrist with the stitches, however I cannot tighten the stitch by pulling the working yarn, the only way that the stitches will tighten is if I pull the wrist with the stitches on, which is where the gap is coming from. I’ve read this over and over and over and over and no matter what I try to change – looping a different direction, holding the working yarn differently – no dice. I’ve been working at this for 4 hours to make an infinity scarf that’s supposed to be COMPLETED in 30 minutes and I haven’t even completed one single row. I’m sure this would be easier to fix if I knew how to knit regularly and I could just copy that technique to my arms, but I was terrible at that too. After 2 years of “learning” I couldn’t get more than 1 or 2 rows. Arm knitting LOOKS easier, but no dice for me even though this is head and shoulders above any other tutorial I’ve seen I’m just not getting it.

      • oh dear, Allie. I am so sorry to hear your frustration. The biggest piece of advice I would give you then is to not pull your hands apart. As you knit, in addition to grabbing the yarn close to your hand, don’t let your hands move apart much. Additionally, continue to tighten the stitches by pulling them as they come from the back of your arm. Move the loose parts into your working yarn length. I hope this helps! Don’t give up!!

        • Allie

          It helps a little, the part that I had trouble with was HAVING to move my arms apart. I tried to tighten from the working yarn end and it wouldn’t budge. The only way to tighten the stitch is to pull the part between my hands. I think I’m just going to have to keep working at it. At least I started early for Christmas – it might take me that long to get this down pat!

          • Allie,
            I’m so glad you’re continuing to try! I love folks with such determination. Keep going. you can’t just pull the working yarn as that will tighten only the last stitch. If you want to tighten all the stitches, work from the last stitch away from your hand and work moving the loose yarn towards your hand and towards the working yarn. If you pull the part between your hands, that will tighten or loosen the row below the one you are working on (if I’m imagining what you are saying correctly.). If you want, you can send me a photo of your arm knitting on your arms and I’ll try to give you pointers based on what I see. You can send that to flaxandtwine at gmail. Thanks for your patience!

  5. kelly

    Hi Anne,
    Thanks for the great tutorial, but I have to admit I’m stumped…3rd night in a row Ive attempted this, and third failure. Not sure where my problem is, but I have zero knitting experience and the switch to the left is a complete mess for me. I don’t understand: “// After the old stitch is over your fist, drop it. Take the new stitch in your right fist, turn the loop a 1/2 turn and place it on your left hand/arm.
    // You want the part of the loop that is in front of your hand (this is called the front leg of the stitch) to be the part that goes to the working yarn.”
    Im not sure where I’m putting the 1/2 turn or which direction, and the last sentence doesn’t make any sense to me either.
    Any help is appreciated.
    Kelly

    • Hi Kelly, You can get it! I love your perseverance!! Are you casting on okay? if you are already to the 1st row, you’re through the hardest part! when you pull that first stitch over your fist, let go of it. Now, you should just have the working yarn in your fist. Forget about the half turn. Keep that working yarn in your fist and try to just sneak your left hand underneath your thumb and through the loop that your fist is holding. Once it is on your left hand, let go of the working yarn with your right. You should have a full stitch on your left hand now. Then you repeat! IF this is still a problem, feel free to send me a photo of where you’re getting stuck and I should be able to help. flaxandtwine at gmail. Lots of love from me!!
      Anne

  6. Nicole

    This tutorial is awesome and has been so helpful. After a couple failed attempts I finally got the hang of it, but once I was finished I noticed that the sides of each row had bigger stitches/loops. I tried to pull every stitch equally tight and the middle ones all look normal/the same but the sides look more scraggly. I don’t totally know how to describe what I mean, but if you understand and have any tips, I would appreciate it! Thanks!

    • Hi Nicole, I’m so glad you like it so much! You’ll see that your piece will get neater each subsequent time. It is normal for the edges to have one row of tight stitches and one row of looser stitches. This results from not turning the knit fabric- you can’t when its on your arms! If these edge stitches are really loose for you, pay attention at the edges when you are knitting and go back the other way that you are keeping your stitches snug at that turn. Also, you can adjust the stitches by hand, but at the edges, sometimes your adjustments can go the opposite direction from what you think. As you practice, you can move this larger stitch length into the smaller stitch length and even out the edges if desired. I hope this helps! I’ll try to do a tutorial on this soon!

  7. Deborah Stockwell

    How many skeins of yarn would you suggest for arm knitting a blanket? I have size six (super bulky) yarn. Thanks! :)

    • What’s the yardage Deborah. The last throw I did used 720 yards total, holding three strands at a time. . . . So excited for your blanket!

      • Deborah

        The yardage is 106 per skein. Is there a way to add skeins in if I want to make it longer?

        • Hi Deborah! yes, you can add another set of skeins by ending at the end of a row and starting the next row with a new set of skeins. Then knot those two ends for now. At the end of the project, go back and weave the ends in. Alternatively, you can do a sliding knot to join individual strands to the next skein as you come to the end. Then trim the ends of the knot. You will have three small knots at various places in your blanket, but they will be fairly hidden and you won’t have the bulk of weaving in a bunch of ends. You can see how to do a sliding knot (good way to join two lengths of yarn of the same size) at the end of this tutorial of mine: http://www.flaxandtwine.com/2012/06/diy-gold-ring-necklace-a-year-of-handmade-gift/

  8. Abigail

    Hey, this is probably a stupid question, but as I knit, I end up with a whole lot more stitches than I want. I started with eight, and as I type this with stitches on my arm, I have twenty two.. am I doing something wrong, or is this supposed to happen? Thanks~!

    • Hi Abby, Hmmm. you definitely should not be growing the number of stitches. My guess is that you are somehow bringing the working yarn over your arm to do the stitch, thereby adding an additional stitch every time you do a regular stitch. Or, you are putting both the old stitch and the new stitch on to your arm each time. When you make a stitch, make sure you drop the loop that used to be on your arm and only put the new loop you’ve made with the working yarn on to your arm where the new stitches are ending up. If you continue to have problems, try looking at my video on Creative Bug or try sending me a photo at flaxandtwine at gmail . . .good luck! Keep at it!!

      • Abigail

        Ah, I figured out what I did! When you make a stitch, it makes the loop on your arm, yes? Where the thread(s) doubled up? I was separating the threads instead of taking the single stitch I was supposed to.

        • Yes! That’s it. That makes so much sense. I’m so glad you took the time to write back with what was going on. This is so helpful to me to know. Yes, if you are knitting with three strands, then you need to treat each set of three strands as one stitch! good work!

  9. Daisy

    Whenever I do this (I’ve done it like 5 times), I cannot seem to get the yarn to stay tight. I gave up fighting it and now make really awesome loose scarfs. But this time about halfway through, I accidentally somehow dropped one of the loops and went from 10 rows to nine. It all worked out though :)

    • Hi Daisy! Thanks so much for your comment. A lot of making the yarn tight is practice over time. But, I’m so glad you’ve embraced what you’ve been making! If you drop a stitch, it will definitely make everything a lot looser! Happy arm knitting!

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