Grandma and aunts wear arm-knit scarves knitted by Nicole (left) and Katie (right) on Christmas Eve 2014.
Arm knitting was a craze that swept the Pinterest crowd last winter. If you check out the examples, you will want to give it a try. The scarves are perfect to give as gifts next year—use these winter months to stock up for Christmas 2015.
In November 2014, I was trying to come up with a craft that would suit the discriminating teenage taste of my two nieces. Our tradition, ever since they were 5 and 7, has been to make a craft together that they can give to their aunts, teachers, and adult friends. I forget what most of these items are, but I went to my sister’s house after Christmas, and I saw evidence everywhere of the years of crafting—the holiday table runner, the dessert dish candle ornament, the teacup pin cushion, the hot chocolate Christmas ornament. It was deeply satisfying to see the fruits of our joint labors over the years, but as they are now much older and independent, I can’t dictate the craft like I used to.
Enter arm knitting. I saw a Michael’s video of arm knitting and casually suggested it to the girls. The YouTube video sparked their interest, and they agreed to try. Purchasing the yarn without them was a little more difficult. I went for oatmeal, gray, black, brown, and a blend of purple/black and gray/black—boring colors, for sure. Would they like these? I should have taken them on a shopping spree to choose for themselves, but I was swept up in the a Michael’s Black Friday 25% off sale, and couldn’t keep my wits about me. Ultimately, I did the math, and I paid about $7.00 per scarf. It’s our tradition to make 12 gifts (this covers all of the aunts and grandmothers on both sides and a few adult friends/teachers). That’s under $100.00, which is very reasonable.
Shirley, looking calm, after we master the arm-knitting tutorial.
To make sure I didn’t look really foolish in front of the girls, I demanded that Mom (Shirley) and I try it first. This afternoon of studying the YouTube video on the iPad and starting (and re-starting) our respective scarves resulted in two precious hours of giggling mother/daughter time. Each of us produced a scarf of ridiculous bulk and length. We decided to send one to Aunt Rosalie and one to a mutual teacher friend. I admit to chickening-out on the second gift because the scarf was so marginal in quality, I couldn’t even donate it.
If you have trouble with the speed of the Michael’s video, there are a wealth of step-by-step tutorials online. Flax and Twine offers a nice photo tutorial. The hardest part is casting on (much easier with practice). Don’t give up.
I cornered my nieces at a family gathering the first week of December. It wasn’t ideal timing—we holed up in a spare bedroom when we should have been politely socializing—but I was worried about their candid response. What if I just bought a suitcase full of yarn, and they didn’t like making the scarves?
Instead, they took to it much more quickly than my bumbling first attempts. In a matter of 30 minutes, Katie had created a beautiful scarf (the appropriate length), and Nicole was right behind her.
Instead of working side by side, I released my arm knitters to their own devices. This is the perfect example of the proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Our girls said, “Thanks for the yarn,” and I didn’t hear from them again.
Christmas Eve, they presented their aunts with the scarves, and we were thrilled.
Katie, whipping up her first arm-knit scarf.
I made some scarvesfor friends, too. I decided that I would re-invent the arm scarf into the “Friendship Scarf.” I gave a knitted scarf and put it in a gift bag with two skeins of yarn with the promise that I would teach the recipient to arm knit. She can “pass it on” to her friends!