Knitting afghans on long looms is a simple enjoyable task that results in a comfy wrap for fall and winter evenings in front of the fire. They can be knitted in one operation on a longer loom or in panels or squares on shorter looms, and can be double or single-knit depending on the thickness you desire.
Afghan’s come in various sizes, so you will want to choose one before you begin knitting on the long loom. Lap blankets, good for keeping your legs warm on a chilly evening while reading a book in your recliner, are typically 36 by 48 inches. A couch afghan or blanket for a child is 48 by 60 inches, and one long enough to cover a twin bed is 48 by 78 inches. There are also smaller and larger size afghans, made to bundle up everything from an infant or a pet, to two adults on a king-sized bed.
About “Long Looms” and “Knitting Boards”
Some knitters have come to associate the term “long loom” with certain popular brands, but long looms and knitting boards are terms used interchangeably by knitters to refer to the same knitting tool. They are constructed of either plastic or wood, and on some models you can adjust the gauge -- the distance between the pegs -- resulting in a finer gauge fabric. For models that can’t be adjusted, knitters often use two strands of yarn or textured yarns to fill up the spaces between the stitches.
Double-knit vs. Single-Knit Afghans
You can create an extra-thick afghan by double-knitting; wrapping and knitting off the pegs of both rows simultaneously. Or you can create a single-knit, standard fabric by knitting only on one side of the loom. By mixing and matching yarns you can vary the thickness, color and texture of the finished product.
Knitting a Gauge Sample
The gauge of a piece of knitting is measured by the number of stitches needed for one inch of fabric. Many factors affect the gauge, including yarn thickness, how tightly or loosely you tend to knit and the distance between the pegs. Knit a gauge sample of twenty pegs across and knit rows until the fabric is approximately square. Take the fabric off the loom and lay it flat on a table. To get the gauge for the width, measure a section 4 inches across and count the total number of stitches. Divide this number by four to find out how many pegs you need to knit across for each inch of the width. Repeat the same process down the length of the sample to find how many rows you need to knit for each inch. Don’t skip this step or your afghan will be larger or smaller than planned.
Knitting in Panels or Squares
Long looms or knitting boards come in many sizes. With a 28-inch knitting board you can create an afghan in one operation by casting on all 84 stitches and knitting approximately 200 rows or until you get the length you desire. You can knit two or more panels with shorter looms, or a series of same-size squares in different colors and patterns. Connect panels or squares with yarn stitching or crochet to construct the afghan. Remember to knit a gauge sample before you begin. (See References 5, Resources 1.)
Many stitch patterns have been adapted from needle knitting techniques to loom knitting, including the popcorn, eyelet, lace, shell, diagonal and garter stitches. If you make an afghan out of blocks, you can make each block using a different color yarn and knitting a different stitch for an interesting patchwork effect. You can make a more professional edge around your afghan and prevent the edges from curling by knitting a garter-stitch edging around all four sides of the afghan. Learning how to vary the texture of your loom knitting with a variety of stitches is a skill worth pursuing.
Lorena Cassady has written professionally since 1982. She was an instructor and mentor teacher for a Bachelor of Arts in management program and has administered a home-health agency. She has been published in "Traveler's Tales" and holds a Master of Arts in English and creative writing from San Francisco State University. Cassady is bilingual.