Different Abilities--How to knit when both of your arms don't work

I have a friend who has a student who wants to learn how to knit. The challenge is this young woman only has one full arm. Her non-primary arm ends near her elbow. She may have some mildly functional “fingers” on her stump. If any group of people can offer great advice, guidance and cheerleading, this is it!

I have heard of people- who knit with a belt holding the second needle. Some people knit with needle tucked under their arm. I would search you tube for these things. Let us know!


This question intrigued me and made me think of “lever knitting,” where you tuck one needle under one arm, and the knitting belt. Then I looked on Youtube and there are indeed quite a few videos of different ways and assistive devices. Good luck to your friend and her student!


I had a stoke 7 years ago that disabled my right arm. I have re-learned to knit very well with one arm. If she is using straight needles, she can hold one needle between her legs and knit with the other hand. You can get a jig to hold double pointed needles – my occupational therapist’s husband made one for me. Circular needles are a bit harder … my hand started to ‘wake up’ making it possible to grasp the needle, and I can knit with circular needles now. She can see my Ravelry page (my username is BethCollins) and read my blog (www.yarndemon.com). I’d be happy to help her with any questions she may have. I used to teach knitting before my stroke.


You can definitely help make this happen! I taught myself to knit with one hand for fun a few years ago (yarn dork, party of one) and it isn’t as hard as I thought. Your friend is also probably used to inventing personalized ways of doing traditionally two-handed activities, so I would focus on the concept of each step of making a knit stitch (this needle goes in this way, the yarn goes around that way, etc.) not demonstrating specific movements. I’ve actually had more success teaching knitting this way with traditionally abled adults and kids. What a cool thing you are doing together! Have fun, take breaks, bring visual aids. Sometimes people think they learn well from another human but actually need pictures, drawings, or videos.


This is so thought-provoking, kittenknits. I teach people how to knit pretty rarely, and always notice that they get bogged down in executing the motions and don’t really seem to notice what is happening, where the yarn goes, and how the stitch is formed. It took me years of knitting by rote to actually have curiosity about what is happening, why increases lean left or right, etc. Your way of teaching is so enlightened.


It’s so valuable to hear your perspective from experience, yarndemon.

Wow @yarndemon and @kittenknits you are moth blowing my mind! This (and some offline help) has been so helpful. I will keep you all posted on how this is going and will keep looking for more ideas. We can accomplish anything!!!


Oh, the belt is a great idea! Like the Shetland knitters.