August 29, 2014 at 1:00 am

Handmade

Trendy yarn craft replaces knitting needles with arms

Lynette Halalay with her arm-knitted items. (Photos by David Coates / The Detroit News)

Lynette Halalay grew up spending summer months in St. Louis with her aunt, who taught her what she calls the “gentle arts” — sewing, embroidery, crocheting and knitting.

But earlier this year, Halalay reached beyond the art of hand-knitting when she embraced what’s probably the hottest trend among knitters today: arm-knitting, where you use your forearms in place of needles — something that totally amazes her aunt (as well as yours truly!). “She has seen some of my work, and it blows her away,” says the Grosse Pointe Park resident, who picked up the skill after watching a YouTube video.

“One of my girlfriends suggested I look at this technique and see if it’s something I could use to make my garments,” Halalay says. “So I taught myself. I picked it up on the second try. It took about a week to master, or about four hours a day of practice.”

“What’s the most difficult part of knitting with your arms?” I asked. “It’s keeping the tension of the yarn,” she says. “Sometimes the loops become too tight on my arms, and it becomes difficult to form the next stitch.”

Needless to say, that hasn’t stopped this cutting-edge fiber artist, who once worked as a professional model in Italy, from creating unique, fashion-forward knitwear that she sells at Eastern Market on Sundays, the Grosse Pointe Farmers Market on Saturdays and Salon Jacqueline & Spa in Southfield under the name “Knit Sew Fabulous by Lynette.” “Always looking for teaching opportunities,” Halalay does demonstrations while working her table at the Eastern Market.

“Living so close to the lake” inspires the stay-at-home mom to be the prolific arm-knitter that she is, creating original designs for shawls, infinity scarves, shrugs and an over-sized jacket that can be worn three ways, which is her biggest-selling item with a price tag of $120. She says, “It’s the fishing nets that I see on the boats, and the different ropes used to tie them, or to set sail. I’m just blown away at how thick the rope can be when they’re hoisting the anchor or tying the boat.”

Here, Halalay shares her pattern for an arm-knitted shawl made with a yarn consisting of cotton and polyester, which she purchased at the Wool & the Floss in Grosse Pointe Park. She says, “It’s been my summer weight, but normally, I use a soft macrame yarn because it’s more transeasonal.”

Arm-Knitted Shawl

Level: Beginner knitting skills

Estimated time: One hour

Tools: Your arms as needles, yarn needle, scissors

Supplies: 1 7-ounce skein of Katia Big Ribbon

Abbreviations: k knit, CO cast on, st(s) stitch(es), sl knot slip knot, rep repeat, BO bind off

Size: One size fits most

Finished measurements: Approx. 42 by 56 inches

Instructions

Loosely CO 15 sts onto left arm. Start with a sl knot, place k on arm, leaving tail hanging in front of work. Put hand through loop of sl knot and pull working yarn (yarn coming from skein) through loop and place new st over arm. Rep 14 times.

Row 1: Place working yarn in left hand between two fingers and pull hand holding yarn through first loop on arm and place new loop on right arm. Rep st until you get to end of row.

Row 2: (right arm to left): With all sts on right arm, working on Row 2 is same as Row 1, except you’re knitting in the opposite direction.

With fist closed, place working yarn on right hand. Then pick up yarn with two fingers of left hand and pull through first loop. Place new loop on left arm. Rep st to end of row.

Continue knitting from right to left arm, then left to right arm, leaving about a 2-yard tail. Now, BO and use yarn needle to work in loose ends.

Contact Knit Sew Fabulous by Lynette at (248) 877-5334 or facebook.com/knit.sew.fabulous

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com. For more news and giveaways, visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts.

Lynette Halalay says the hardest thing about arm-knitting is keeping the ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Knit this loose scarf with your arms. (David Coates / The Detroit News)