Tools: 10" Mini-Knitting Board
Maple and metal
Knitting boards—also called knitting looms and knitting rakes—have been around for centuries. They consist of two opposing boards, each with evenly spaced pegs facing one another.
The boards are attached with a small gap between them. You zigzag your yarn between the opposing pegs until each peg has two loops, then lift the bottom loop over the top and off the needle, leapfrog style. Gradually, a piece of double-sided fabric emerges through the gap between the two boards and into your lap. (More detailed instructions here.)
Knitting boards could be considered early precursors to the knitting machine. Once the machine was invented, these more manual knitting boards fell by the wayside.
Since I failed to conquer the knitting machine, so I never paid much attention to knitting boards until I heard from Kim Novak. She and her daughter co-own KnittingBoard.com, and they wondered if I'd be interested in reviewing their new knitting scarf kit.
It features a 10" maple knitting board, a knitting hook, a hank of alpaca yarn, a scarf pattern, instructions, and a how-to DVD. I said yes, they sent me a kit, and within 10 minutes of opening it, I had cast on and was knitting a plush double-sided stockinette fabric.
A Speed Saver?
On average, I clocked my speed at a little over 2 1/4 minutes per 44-stitch row. The fairly loose, double-knit fabric I was producing does take more time than simple stockinette would on the needles, but they're still pretty close. You still have to make each stitch by hand—you're just doing it differently.
And finally, you can also try making one of these yourself using Dick Robinson's excellent online instructions.
Of course this assumes you can knit by hand. And knitting board manufacturers and fans often ask the reverse question, why bother with all those confusing needles when you can just use a simple board instead. It's all in your perspective.
But as a semi-experienced handknitter, I came up with two answers.
First, this is a fun gadget, and I love gadgets. As I gained speed and confidence, I found myself being mesmerized by the slow and steady repetitive process of lifting loops over the pegs and tugging fresh new knitted fabric out the bottom. (My cat—who never even raises his head when I knit—was also mesmerized by this tool. I suspect it was the metal nail-like pegs that got him going.)
When I began this review, I figured I'd just cast on using a scrap yarn to see how the board worked, never fully intending to make the scarf from the kit. After knitting about six inches of fabric, I was so intrigued by the process and the resulting fabric that I cast off the swatch and began making the scarf.
I know I'll keep this in my arsenal and whip it out when I need creative refreshment.
The second reason why I'd use this board for certain projects is because it creates a super-thick, double-knit fabric I'd never have the patience to knit by hand. Such fabric is perfect for wintertime scarves and hats, two items I frequently make.
Great Gifts for the Intimidated
KnittingBoard.com also makes a kids knitting board that would be a brilliant gift for any yarn-intrigued youngsters. It has smooth hardwood pegs for needles, instead of the sharper metal nail-style pegs on the adult boards, and comes with a colorful cotton quilted bag.
For the knitters among us, if you love new gadgets that enhance your knitting experience, you may want to pick up one of these. The 10" mini-board is relatively inexpensive ($27) and sufficiently sized to get you started on smaller projects. While the wider boards are most appropriate for making full-sized sweater pieces, the mini-board has just enough pins to keep it fun.
Boards come in lengths of 10", 15", 18", and 28". For this review, I used the 10" mini-board.
Average retail price
$27 to $50 depending on size. All come with knitting hook, complete instructions, and one pattern to get you started.
Where to Buy Online:
KnittingBoard.com or call 888-720-2322
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