Going into the whole “teaching kids to knit” thing, I would have looked down my nose at the Knifty Knitter and other knitting looms.
In fact, when my boss gave me the tub of knitting supplies for the class, I shuddered at the presence of the Knifty Knitters, and the bag of Fun Fur (did you know that Fun Fur survived the last decade?). I always thought they were dumb, useless tools for people who didn’t have the attention span to learn how to knit properly. But, being a dutiful employee (and one paid by the hour), I sat down to try making a project on the loom.
I looked at the instructions, and realized that the Knifty Knitters are basically gigantic versions of those old-fashioned spool knitting mushrooms. You wrap your yarn around each peg twice, then slip the bottom loop around the top loop. Then you wrap and slip again (and again and again).
Quickly enough, a decent little hat grew off the bottom of my loom. I still thought it was a clunky way of knitting. Unlike needles, the loom takes up quite a bit of space. And, the stockinette stitch it produces is oddly gappy, with every stitch twisted, giving the stretched fabric a strange vertically-striped look. Also, there is really no way to easily increase or decrease from the set number of stitches, or change the gauge. I’ve since poked around on Ravelry, and it looks like some people have found ways to get around this aspect of the looms, but it seems like too much work, when using needles is so simple.
But, the best part of the Knifty Knitter appeared when I brought the looms out for the girls in my class. About half the class was doing fairly well with their needles, but the other half was seriously struggling. Once everyone had given their needles a fair try, I broke out the Knifty Knitters for those who wanted to use them. Girls who had been unable to make a single stitch before were suddenly flying around the looms making hats, purses, cowls, and stuffed animals.
Knitted Hat by Provo Craft
I’m not saying that I would recommend the Knifty Knitter as a substitute for knitting needles. And, I will probably never use one again. But, as a supplementary tool for young kids who are unable to wrangle needles and yarn, or people with issues that prevent them from knitting the “normal” way, these tools get my enthusiastic thumbs up.