When it comes to knitting, Lydia Schoenbein thought she had seen it all. The 73-year-old retired nursing-home supervisor from Morton, Ill., learned to knit and crochet when she was growing up in Germany and can make everything from socks and shawls to cable-knit sweaters.
So when her 22-year-old granddaughter, Carly Hill, visited and showed off her own creation—a crude-looking, ropelike cream scarf—”I was flabbergasted, to tell you the truth,” recalls Ms. Schoenbein. The accessory hadn’t exactly been handmade. It was the product of a new cultural yarn: arm knitting.
An increasingly popular activity among younger do-it-yourself enthusiasts, arm knitting uses the forearms in lieu of knitting needles.
The resulting scarves and blankets feature rows of loops that are 2.5″ to 4″ wide, depending on the diameter of a given knitter’s arm. Owing to the large, holey rows, an entire project can be completed in less than 30 minutes—a fraction of the time needed to whip up a scarf using knitting needles.
Arm knitting combines several things that are appealing to millennials: crafts projects, chunky knitwear (featured on the fall 2013 runways), social media and instant gratification. It just so happens that a popular item to make is a so-called infinity scarf—a circular accessory that slips over the head.
Handily, the hobby doesn’t require a kindly elder to show novices the ropes. Unlike traditional knitting, which has been passed down from generation to generation, the arm knitting craze has spread via technology.