Loom Review – KB Loom Knitting Basics Kit

KB-Loom_Knitting_Basics-Kit

About a month ago, I bought the Knitting Board Loom Knitting Basics Kit. I got it on a whim at JoAnn when I bought my KB Super Afghan Loom. I’ve fallen in love with this little loom!

The kit is designed for beginners. Inside the kit, you will get:

  • 32-peg small gauge knitting loom
  • Loom Knitting Basics booklet
  • Knitting hook / knitting tool
  • 5mm crochet hook
  • Small stitch markers
  • Tape measure

The booklet covers single knitting and double-knitting basics. You’ll learn e-wrap, u-wrap, flat knit stitch, and purl stitch and a few double-knitting stitches: stockinette (knit), rib, and figure 8. You’ll also learn casting on and binding off methods, including the chain cast on and the crochet bind off (which both use the crochet needle).

The book also includes a few other techniques, such as closing off/binding hats, increasing and decreasing stitches, cable knitting, seaming (sewing pieces together), knitting sock heels and toes, and instructions for how to do the kitchener stitch with double-pointed knitting needles. Note: the kit does not include knitting needles.

To get an idea for what the instructions in the book look like, you can see some examples here on the Knitting Board website. Many of the written tutorials on their website are also in the booklet.

I found the knitting instructions to be helpful with learning to double-knit and decrease stitches.

The loom is well-made and has a wooden base with plastic pegs. I believe they are nylon, but I’m not sure. You can see a close-up of the loom below. This loom seems durable and made of quality materials. Which is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from KB. You might spend a bit more on these looms than say buying a set of Boye or Loops & Threads looms, but the quality is superior.

So, what can you make on this loom?

Scarves, hats, amigurumi (little knitted animals), washcloths, cords, water-bottle holders, headbands, baby booties, and blankets if you knit in panels or do the 10-stitch blanket.

The book cover says it has 4 patterns: a hat, scarf, baby blanket, and a washcloth. Only 3 patterns have actual written instructions. I didn’t see the hat pattern in my book, though it does tell you how to bind off a hat. You might be able to find the hat pattern online somewhere if you want to make that exact one. I did not see it on the KB website.

I think this is a great kit for anyone who is a beginner/intermediate loom knitter or who wants a small, portable loom to take while traveling. It has pretty much everything you need except the yarn!

I made my first double-knit stockinette scarf on this loom and I have to say that it was so easy and I am ready to tackle more double-knit projects!

You can find this kit via the Knitting Board Website, JoAnn, Amazon or eBay. I’ve heard some JoAnn stores are putting KB looms on clearance right now, so if you’re planning to buy it there, get it quickly while supplies last. It is still regular price on http://www.joann.com but I’m not sure if they are discontinuing the KB line at JoAnn or if certain stores are downsizing their loom knitting products.

For those who just want the loom itself: Knitting Board does sell a somewhat similar 32-peg loom on their website for $10.99. The 10″ loom is a little longer than the one in the kit and it has spacers that can be adjusted. The Loom Knitting Basics loom is not adjustable at all.

I’d give this loom kit 4.75 stars out of 5.** The only reason I’m knocking it down is that you cannot make an adult-sized hat on this loom without seaming panels together, so the picture on the cover is a little deceiving. And the pattern for this hat is not even in the book!

If you want to make hats on this loom, keep in mind that if you are knitting in the round, you’ll be making an infant-sized hat.

I checked the KB website, and if you look at this hat project for the 10″ loom, it says that the hat has to be done in two pieces; you need the 54-peg loom in order to knit in one piece.

Apart from the issue of making hats, this is a great loom and I think it is useful for times when you want to knit away from home and you don’t want to lug around a big loom. This is small enough you could fit it into a medium/large purse. I would also recommend it for teens and older children.

The double-knit scarf I made came out so neat and pretty. I look forward to making more with this loom. The double-knit scarf is a thinner scarf. If you want a wide scarf, knit in single-panel.

Hope you like this loom as much as I do!

Do you have the 32-peg loom or the tadpole loom? If so, how do you like it?

**Edited 12/23/18: I am changing the review rating from 4.5 to 4.75 because after using it for several months, it is one of my favorite looms. I would give the loom by itself a 5 out of 5. I would give the kit itself a 4.5 only because the hat pattern was not included and you cannot knit a hat in the round on this loom.

 

*Disclosure: I purchased this loom and did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions are my own. This post does include affiliate/advertising links.

10 Tips for Beginners

I’ve been loom knitting for approximately four months. It’s been a wonderful experience, and so far, I’ve knitted close to 20 projects (I have a couple that are still in-progress).

Today, I thought I’d share a few general tips for those who are just starting out with loom knitting or who are thinking about learning to loom knit.

Tip #1 : If you don’t own a loom yet, either buy a set of looms or think about what you want to make first and then pick out a loom. If you have no idea what you want to make, that’s fine, but if you already have a knitting project in mind, it’s helpful to know what you want to make and then buy the loom, so that you can make sure that you have the right size loom for your project.

For example, if I’m making adult hats, I’m going to want a 36-peg, 40-peg, or 41-peg loom. If I buy a loom with less pegs, then chances are the hat is going to fit a child, but not an adult.

If I wanted to make a scarf, though, I could pick almost any loom. The main difference would be whether I want to double-knit or single knit. If I want double-knit, I will need a long loom (basically, a rectangular loom). If I am single-knitting, I can use round looms or long looms. Personally, I find round looms to be more comfortable if I’m knitting in bed or somewhere where I don’t have a table or desk in front of me.

If you’ve already picked out a loom knitting a pattern, many times the designer will tell you what size loom you need to complete the project.

Tip #2: Youtube is your friend! If you don’t like reading patterns or if you have a hard time understanding how a certain stitch or pattern works, there are TONS of tutorials on Youtube for loom knitting. Loomahat makes a lot of easy-to-follow beginner videos. Goodnight Kisses also makes various tutorial and product review videos. I’d also recommend the Knitting Board website and Isela Phelps’ blog as they have patterns and tutorials as well (Isela often designs patterns for KB). And there are many more tutorials out there!

If there is something you’d like to learn to make, just go to Youtube, type in the type of project (hat, scarf, cable, double-knit, etc.) and “loom knitting” and you’ll find a lot of videos available.

Tip #4: Learn a basic pattern that uses both knit and purl stitches. Some people just start out with a basic knit hat only using knit (stockinette) and that’s totally fine. But I’d personally recommend learning the rib stitch or the garter stitch as one of your first 5 projects because these involve alternating knit and purl stitches. These two basic techniques are the building blocks on which all other patterns and stitches are based.

Tip #5: Learn the different ways of making the knit stitch. A lot of looms come with a booklet that will show you what is called the e-wrap stitch. You basically wrap all your pegs then wrap them a second time and knit off/yarn over. This is the most basic way to loom knit a knit stitch. However, it makes your cast-on row and your stitches very loose.

There are alternate ways of doing the knit stitch: the u-wrap (my personal favorite), the flat stitch, the true-knit stitch and the double-knit stockinette. Each have their pros and cons. Some patterns will tell you specifically which style of knit stitch to use to make your project look closest to the picture of the finished item. If a pattern does not say, then you can use your favorite version of the knit stitch.

I find the u-wrap knit stitch to be a happy medium between e-wrap and the flat-stitch. It creates a tighter knit, but it is not as challenging to work with as a flat stitch and I just haven’t gotten the hang of the true-knit stitch yet.

Here is a good tutorial from Loomahat explaining the different types of knit stitches and how to do them. There is also a video.

The double-knit stockinette really only applies to double-knitting. Double-knitting is it’s own animal, but it can create beautiful, thick knitted projects where the front and back of the piece look exactly the same. Normally, if you e-wrap or u-wrap a scarf, the front of it will be knit, but the back will look different.

Tip #6 Sometimes you have to frog it and that’s okay. I’ve heard knitters affectionately use the term “frogging”, which basically means unraveling a project. Maybe you’re learning a new stitch pattern and you skip a stitch somewhere or you lost track and knitted where you were supposed to purl and your pattern looks wonky.

Or maybe the project you’re making is just not coming out the way you want and it’s driving you crazy. It’s totally normal to have to unravel a few rows (or sometimes a whole project). It happens to everyone, especially in the beginning as you’re learning new stitches and techniques. Again, it happens to everyone and it’s part of the process, so don’t beat yourself up if you have to start over or re-do half of your project.

Tip #7 Different looms have different gauges, so some looms require you to use a single strand of yarn, whereas other looms require you to knit two strands as one. Most round loom sets come with wide-gauge looms and if you’re using a #4 worsted weight yarn, you’ll need two strands. For example, if you have a Loops & Threads, Knifty Knitter, Darice or Boye loom, then you have a wide-gauge loom and you’ll need two or three strands of thin yarns or your project will have a loose weave. However, if you have a bulky yarn, you only need one strand of yarn.

If you are using a Knitting Board (KB) loom, CinDWood, or a loom that lets you add pegs to make the gauge smaller, then you can use a single strand of medium-weight yarn. If you have a very thin yarn, you might still need to double-up, but most yarns you’ll see at a general craft store like Michaels and JoAnn are going to be a #4 or #5 yarn. They do carry other yarns, but a lot of the yarns they carry are in this weight range.

Tip #9 You can make blankets on small looms or large looms. There are looms specifically-designed for making blankets, which are usually called S-looms, infinity looms, or afghan looms. They look like a gigantic figure 8 and have two rows of pegs that curve around the loom. I own the Knitting Board Super Afghan Loom which you can find at JoAnn and Amazon, but there are other brands like Darice, Loops & Threads, CinDWood, and Knifty Knitter that make them as well.

You can also use long looms or round looms to make blankets. Depending on the size of your loom, you might be able to make a baby blanket or lap blanket or you can make a blanket in panels. One blanket that can be made on almost any loom is the 10 stitch blanket.

If you have a long loom set, the largest loom (around 2 feet long) can make a lap-sized blanket/throw blanket.

Tip #10 Buying looms can become addictive! A couple months ago, I polled an online loom knitting group and asked how many looms everyone owned. Most people owned about 10-25 looms, some owned as many as 40-60 looms! There was even one person who had around 100!!

You can make wonderful projects with just one or two looms. It is totally doable to start out small or to just buy a round loom set or long loom set of 4 looms and make many, many projects with them. But I have to admit there is something about having different gauges of looms and different sizes for different projects. And then there are small flower looms and spool/French knitter looms that you can use for embellishments or for making knit toys for children.

Go at whatever pace is comfortable for you. Also, think about what you most want to make and use that to determine whether you want one or two looms to get started or if you need multiple looms.

You can also opt for an adjustable loom that allows you to do a lot of different projects. The three that I can think of off the top of my head are the Knitting Board All-in-One, the KB Adjustable Hat Loom, and the Martha Stewart Crafts Knit and Weave Loom Kit.

The All-in-One is a wooden loom that has different spacers that allow you to change the size of the project you want to make. Goodnight Kisses did a nice review of this loom. The KB Adjustable Hat Loom and the Martha Stewart Loom Kit have interlocking pieces that you’ll use to make your loom large or small. Please note, some users have complained about the pegs falling out of the Martha Stewart kit, so if you buy this one, you might need to glue your pegs in to make sure they don’t come out.

Bonus Tip – You can get good deals on looms if you are a bargain shopper. If you plan ahead and use coupons (and rebates where appropriate), you can often get looms at a large discount.

For my U.S. readers: JoAnn regularly offers 40% and 50% off coupons, which you can use on Knitting Board or Boye looms. You can also get really good cash-back rebates for Joann via iBotta. Michaels carries their own Loops & Threads brand and if you use a coupon, you can usually get 40% off. Amazon carries most loom knitting brands, though the best deal on Amazon right now is for the Darice round loom set, which you can often find for $10-$13.

I’ve also heard of people scoring deals on looms and yarn at the thrift store, but that is a bit hit or miss.

For my UK readers: I’ve heard that Aldi has very good prices on knitting looms (I see a round loom set for £7 on their website). eBay also has inexpensive looms, though some are directly from China, so you might save money, but have to deal with longer wait times. On Amazon UK, they have H&S looms and Tmade looms for about £14-£16. Note: I’ve never used these brands, but the H&S might be worth checking out as it has 4.7 stars on Amazon.

Bonus Tip #2 – Keeping a log of your projects is a nice way to see what you’ve done and which stitches you’ve practiced. I keep a running list of my projects in Evernote and periodically update it here on my blog. I find it helpful to remind me of what I’ve accomplished in the last four months and it’s also really useful when I’ve set aside a project for a few weeks and I need to remember which stitch pattern I was working on. I can go back on my list and see I was making a hat with the seed stitch or a scarf with a figure 8 stitch.

Sometimes I also note what yarn I used. Over time, you might not remember what stitch and yarn you used for a certain gift or project and the list is a handy way to remember what you did last time, in case you want to make that item again, or if you didn’t like the way something came out, you’ll know what not to do.

I hope these were helpful! If you have a tip for newbies, feel free to post it in the comments below! Happy looming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knitting hooks & Tapestry Needles – For Beginners

Today, I’m going to talk about knitting hooks (sometimes called knitting tools) and tapestry needles. These are the essential tools you need to loom knit, apart from the loom itself. Most looms you buy will come with a knitting hook and a tapestry needle.

The best way to start, is by using whatever came in your kit, but as you begin adding more looms, you start to become discerning about which hooks and needles are going to be the most useful and which to give away or use as a backup in your tool box.

I have over 15 looms at this point, so I have a variety of knitting hooks and needles. At first glance, the knitting hooks look the same, but there are definitely differences in the size and angle of the needles across different brands. I’ll post a few here so you can see some of the differences and why I have certain tools that I prefer.

Knitting Hooks

This picture gives a good comparison of the knitting hooks, though it doesn’t include my favorite hook, which I’ll post about below.

One thing to notice is that the Boye knitting hook and the Loops & Threads hooks are much duller than the wooden KB knitting hook. Generally speaking, I find Knitting Board brand hooks to be sharper than other brands. It may be because they use narrow gauge looms and the sharper hook makes it easier to catch the yarn and pull it over the rounded peg heads.

The advantage of the duller knitting hook is that it is less likely to damage your loom over time. I’ve seen pictures of looms that have been heavily used where the plastic grooves on the pegs are frayed and scraped from long-term use. (Though I have to say that the quality and workmanship of the KB looms is far superior to the cheaper looms out there, so their nylon/plastic pegs are probably more durable).

I can’t remember for sure if the blue knitting hook was a KB hook or a second Loops and Threads hook, but I believe that was a KB hook.

Here is a close-up picture of the red Boye hook.

My first loom (the Boye medium round loom) came with a red hook that had a flattened center, which is for your thumb to rest while you’re using the knitting tool. Overall, I like this concept, and for a while, I really enjoyed using this hook. My hands weren’t overly stressed and I could loom knit for hours, unlike crochet (when I crochet, I have to use ergonomic needles and wrist braces or I’m in a lot of pain).

The only drawback for me with the Boye knitting hook is that it is short. I didn’t notice this at all when I started using it, but compared to the one I use now, there is a noticeable difference.

My second loom was the Knitting Board Adjustable hat loom, which came with the wooden knitting hook (you can see it in the image above). I also purchased the KB Ergonomic Knitting Tool, which is the one I use the most. I’m not a big fan of the wooden KB hook because it’s not comfortable for me to hold. The pros of the wooden one are that it is lightweight and has a long, sharp hook which can be helpful for picking up the yarn. Thus far, I’ve only seen the wooden hook in kits like the KB Adjustable Hat Loom and the Knitting Basics Kit, not with the stand-alone looms.

The Loops & Threads green hook worked pretty well. It wasn’t uncomfortable to hold and it is something in between the dull tip of the Boye style and the pointy tip of the KB hooks. I would definitely use this if I needed a backup or if I was traveling and didn’t want to risk security throwing away my favorite hook because of the sharp tip.

My favorite though is the KB Ergonomic Knitting tool! It’s larger, has a rubberized handle, and the pick is sharp and angled to make it easier to pull the yarn over the loop. It’s very well made and you can get it fairly inexpensively at JoAnn, especially if you have a coupon.

The Ergonomic tool makes it easy to knit for hours and puts less strain on your hands and wrists. It does what it says. If you have severe pain when knitting, you may also want compression gloves or wrist braces, but this tool definitely does help with minimizing carpel tunnel/tendonitis pain.

If you do not like the knitting hooks that come with your loom, another alternative, aside from the KB Ergonomic Knitting Tool, is buying a hook and pick set (the kind you’d find at a hardware store or automotive shop). Here’s an example. I know some knitters like using these. They are inexpensive and there are many brands that make them. I’ve seen them anywhere from $4-$25.

Tapestry / Darning Needles

Another essential tool for loom knitting is a tapestry needle (or a darning needle). Generally, looms come with little plastic needles which you’ll use to close the top of a hat or to sew panels together.

Here is an example of the tapestry needles used for looming.

I mostly use the Super Jumbo Clover Tapestry Needles. There’s an obvious reason why. If you look at the size of the eye of the various tapestry needles, the Clover brand needle is 2-3x bigger than the other ones. This is very helpful when you are knitting something that requires a bulky yarn. It is much easier to get the yarn through the larger eye. The crooked tip of the needle also works well when you’re making hats and you want to angle the needle up the groove of the pegs.

I bought the Susan Bates needles because I’d seen a LoomAHat video recommending them. I think they are a good alternative if your loom comes with a flimsy needle and they definitely have a longer eye than the Boye ones, but they aren’t as large for bulky yarns.

I don’t remember for sure, but I believe the purple needle at the bottom was from one of my KB looms. It does have a nice-sized eye, so I’d probably use that as a backup for my Super Jumbo Clover Tapestry Needle. Clover also has a different “jumbo tapestry needle” which is yellow or gold but I haven’t tried it yet, so I’m not sure of the size difference between the jumbo and the super jumbo size.

I also have metal tapestry and darning needles, but I bought these more for attaching embellishments or for embroidering onto the projects as the eyes are pretty small for using yarn and the tips might scratch up my loom pegs.

Another tool/accessory that many loom knitters use is a crochet hook. They are handy for finishing touches, working in the tail end of a yarn, fixing mistakes in your knitting, and for making decorative edges around a piece. You can also use them to do a chain cast on or a crochet cast on (two slightly different techniques using a crochet hook).

There are various other accessories you can get, like stitch markers, but the knitting hook and the tapestry needle are the two most important tools you’ll need – aside from the loom itself.

 

 

Ways to save at JoAnn & Michaels (and other stores)

For my U.S. Loom knitters, two popular craft stores to buy yarn, looms, and accessories are JoAnn and Michaels. But did you know that you can get big discounts at these stores?

If you’re a regular shopper, than you probably know that both stores offer coupons on their website, usually for 40-50% off one item or 20-30% off of your purchase. If you haven’t been checking for coupons when you shop, now is the time to start! 🙂

Both stores also have member rewards coupons when you sign up for their newsletter. At JoAnn, you can also get additional coupons which are not in the emails or on the website by downloading their app on your phone. What some people might not realize is that you can combine email and app coupons or website and app coupons if you are buying multiple items. You can also sign up for coupons by text message! JoAnn actively encourages coupon shopping and their staff will often help you to get the best deals because they want you to come back.

But that is not the only way to save at JoAnn. JoAnn regularly offers rebates for in-store shoppers through iBotta. IBotta is a popular phone app that lets you take a picture of your receipt and get money back for grocery, drugstore, and other purchases. JoAnn periodically has REALLY good rebates (this week, I can get 15% cash back by shopping in-store). Yes, that is fifteen percent, not 1.5% like most rebate offers. The trick is that you have to turn in your receipt within 7 days or you won’t get the rebate. Sign up here using my link (or type in the referral code jnblwkn) and we’ll both get a bonus when you claim your first rebates. You can also use iBotta for online shopping, too.

Ebates is a similar app, and you can use it to get rebates when you shop online at Michaels. It’s not as good of a deal as the in-store rebates that JoAnn offers, but if you are planning to shop online anyway, you will get 1-5% cash back on your purchase. You will also see coupons for Michaels in the app and sometimes sale items. The rate of the cash back varies. Ebates also has cashback for JoAnn.com, but if I’m shopping at JoAnn, I prefer using iBotta for in-store purchases to get the better deal, if I can get to the store.

Another way to save at Michaels is by looking for their clearance aisles. I usually find good yarn there, and recently, I scored some deals on the Loops and Threads Barcelona yarn, which is being discontinued. They were about 65% off the regular price. If your Michaels store is anything like mine, the clearance aisle is hidden away and you wouldn’t find it unless you ask – or you browse through every aisle. It is worth looking for the clearance rack!

Side tip: I’ve been told by several loom knitters that you can get good yarn at the Dollar Tree. I’ve seen people post about scoring Bernat blanket yarn there. I’ve never spotted any at mine, but I don’t know if they stock it in the big metro areas like Los Angeles and New York. It’s worth taking a look if you have one near you.

Once in a while, you can score yarn deals at Amazon, but I typically find better savings going to Michaels and JoAnn in person. One deal at Amazon I do recommend is their Darice Looms. You can get a good round loom set for $10-12 and I have seen them offer the really small flower looms for very cheap as well and they carry a set of Darice long looms, too. These looms are a great deal if you want to get started loom knitting and have a limited budget. You can make scarves, hats, and even blankets on them.

Where do you like to bargain shop? Do you have any tips for scoring deals at the major craft stores?

Fun with double knits

Photo by Venus – Adventures in Loom Knitting

Last weekend, I decided to try my first double-knit project. It is a double stockinette stitch (where both sides of the panel are knit (rather than having a knit on the front side and a purl on the back). The double stockinette looks like a zig-zag pattern on the loom where you zig-zag across in one direction and then zig-zag back in the other direction.

I used the anchor yarn cast on. I’ll have to neaten up the edge at the end.

Here is a link to the instructions for knitting the double stockinette on the Knitting Board website. I followed the stitch pattern from the book that came with my KB Loom Knitting Basics Kit. You can purchase this kit at Joann, Amazon, or the Knitting Board website. Or, if you’re an intermediate knitter and don’t need the book or accessories, you can purchase the 32-peg loom by itself from KB.

I’m nearly done with my scarf and so far, I really love double-knitting. The project comes out so clean and pretty and the stitches have a smooth, finished edge and seem to be very uniform.

Photo by Venus – Adventures in Loom Knitting

The scarf is made with one strand of Red Heart Super Saver Ombre (in Purple). I’d originally single-knitted a few rows with 2 strands of ombre yarn, but since the two skeins were starting with different shades of purple, I didn’t like the mixed color effect. Sometimes I love that, but for the scarf I was making, I really didn’t want it to have that speckled look that you get when you use two different colored strands as one.

I found the double-knit stockinette stitch to be very easy to do and I plan to make more projects with it. I also love my new KB 32-peg loom. It’s easy to hold in your hand and it’s small, so it’s a loom you can take with you anywhere. You can also make hats on it, but I haven’t tried that yet.

The scarf will probably be roughly 5 ft long when finished. I only have about a foot left to go!

Do you like double-knitting or single-knitting? Or does it depend on the project?