Knitting Boards

A knitting board is two parallel rakes. One of the most common knitting boards in use is the Knifty Knitters long looms. These looms are dual purpose in that they can function as a round loom and can function as a knitting board. Other manufacturers sell adjustable looms (AJALs) that act in a similar fashion. Some manufacturers such as Authentic Knitting Boards specialize in making knitting boards. The gauge of a knitting board is determined by two factors:

  • The distance between the pegs
  • The distance between the two rakes
The greater the distance between either creates a larger gauge. Different gauges of knitting boards are available from large to extra fine. Some manufacturers give you the ability to adjust the gauge of the knitting board by changing the distance between the two pegs. Others, such as the Knifty Knitter long looms are only available in one gauge.

In addition, different size knitting boards are available for different sizes of hats, bags, scarves, socks, blankets, etc. It's not unusual to see an extra large knitting board in an S-shape to take up less room.

Types of Kntting

You have two options for the type of fabric you can produce with a knitting board:

  • Double-Knit: A thick, warm fabric that is created by wrapping and knitting off both pegs in each column across the rakes. Unlike round looms & rakes, you will wrap the entire board for a stitch pattern first and then knit off instead of working each stitch individually. Because of this, needle knitting patterns can be adapted with known stitch patterns. Conversions are possible too, they just take more time. See Knitting Board Considerations in Converting Patterns.
  • Single-Knit: A standard knit fabric that is created by knitting on only one rake (see Round Looms & Rakes) or by wrapping and knitting no more than one peg in each column across the rakes.
Numbering Pegs
How It Works

Numbering System on this Site

To understand how to wrap the pegs for a stitch pattern, you will need to know how the pegs are numbered on the knitting board. If you turn the knitting board on its side so it faces you, the bottom rake has odd numbers starting with 1 on the bottom left and the top rake has even numbers starting with 2 on the upper left. Some knitting boards have anchor pegs located on each side of the knitting board. These are not required for knitting but if yours does not and you like working with one, you can substitute a thumb tack.

Knitting board numbering system on this site

Please click the image to enlarge

Wrapping a board for double knit fabric for one row normally takes two passes: half of the pegs are wrapped working from left to right and then the other half are wrapped working from right to left. Wrapping is done by moving back and forth between the two rakes. There are a few wrapping methods that wrap all of the pegs going in one direction for one row and then wrap all of the pegs in the opposite direction for the next row. Directions for the wrapping patterns will note if you need two passes or only one.

Other Numbering Systems

There are two other numbering systems that you will see in patterns. This site uses the one above until standards have been developed. You should be aware of what the other numbering systems are, though, so you will know how to adapt the patterns that you purchase to whichever system you decide works best for you.

The first system numbers the top and bottom rake with the same numbers in ascending order except that the top rake uses "A" after the number and the bottom rake uses "B":

Knitting board alternative numbering system

Please click the image to enlarge

The second system numbers the top and bottom rake with the same numbers in ascending order when wrapping from left to right and then numbers then in descending order when wrapping from right to left:

Knitting board alternative numbering system, wrapping from left to right

Knitting board alternative numbering system, wrapping right to left

Please click the images to enlarge

There are different ways to look at how the knitting board works, one of which is presented here. It was chosen because it makes it easier to understand both creating double and single knit fabric across the two rakes of the knitting board.

The diagram below illustrates how the fabric is put together. Notice that the yarn that runs between the rakes is a slip stitch (wyib). The crossed slip stitch intertwines the two fabrics, allows the stitches in the back fabric to come forward when there is more than one slipped stitch, and creates a less dense fabric.

Knitting Board Stitch Example

Let's look at two different stitches: the stockinette stitch and the double rib stitch. There are two different wrapping methods for both, diagonal and box.

  • Stockinette
    • Diagonal: nice airy fabric, evenly spaced since there is a slip in between each stitch. If you gently pull apart the stitches, you will see the slipped stitch.
    • Box: densely knit fabric with a slip at every two stitches. The placement of the slip almost makes it look like a rib as it is coming down the knitting board but once it is off, the fabric lays as stockinette.
  • Double Rib (picture explanation coming soon)
    • Diagonal: Again, a nice airy fabric that is evenly spaced. The extra slip causes the purled stitches to peek through, making for a ribbed fabric. Notice that the two sides don't exactly match: one side is *k2, p2; rep from *, end k2 and the other side is k3, *p2, k2; rep from star, end k3. If you look at the spacing of the wrapping on each side, you will note that the upper rake skips two pegs starting and ending, causing it to start and end with k2 as opposed with k3 like the other side.
    • Box: As with the Stockinette, a more dense fabric due to two stitches being knit next to each other and then a slip. Here, the placement of the slip allows for the purl stitches to show through. Again, both sides do not match. One side is *k2, p2; rep from *, end k2 and the other side is k1, *p2, k2; rep from *, end k1.

Single Knit

So what about single knitting across the two rakes? There is only one fabric so there is a right and wrong side to it. Only one peg is knit off in a column across the rakes. Stitches worked on the bottom rake are knit stitches and stitches worked on the top are purl stitches. When you cross between the rakes, you create a slip stitch just like when you do it in double knitting.

Differences between Knitting Board Double Knitting
& Needle Knitting Double Knitting

As described above, double knitting on the knitting board is done with one strand of yarn and it creates a two interlocked fabrics by knitting, slipping wyib and then purling. Two parallel rows are wrapped and worked at one time. On needles, double knitted is done with two strands of yarn, often in contrasting colors. It can either create two interlocked fabrics like the knitting board or it can create two single-knit fabrics. In theory, you can create as many fabrics as you have strands of yarn with needles.

There are two methods for creating double knitted fabrics with needles. One of them is similar to the knitting board in that it uses slipped stitches. This methods takes longer than the other ones to work because you have to knit the row twice. The following describes this method and comes from the Wikipedia.

Double knitting with slipped stitches

Slip stitches may be used for an easier method of double knitting that requires only one yarn be handled at one time. As a concrete example, consider a two-color pattern with a multiple of four stitches (labeled ABCD) being knit on double-pointed circular needles. On the first row, using color 1, stitch A is knitted, stitch B is purled, stitch C is slipped wyib and stitch D is slipped wyif. The knitter then slides the stitches back to the beginning (recall that the needles are double-pointed). Then, using color 2, stitch A is slipped wyib, stitch B is slipped wyif, stitch C is knitted and stitch D is purled. The knitter then turns the work and repeats indefinitely. The knitted and slipped wyib stitches come forward, whereas the purled and wyif stitches recede, resulting in a (very warm!) double-knit scarf alternating in the two colors with beautiful drape. The knit and purl stitches produce the front and back fabrics, respectively, of the double-knitted fabric while the slipped stitches allow for the alternation of color.

An even simpler slip-stitch pattern generates two fabrics at once on the same needle. Consider the pattern: * knit 1, slip 1 wyif *. At the end of the row, turn the work. Then knit the stitches that were slipped and slip (again wyif) the stitches that were knitted. In the end, one should obtain a "pocket" that can be opened (be sure to use wyif slip-stitches during binding off as well!) The wyif slip stitch prevents the yarn from crossing over to the back fabric, so that only the front fabric is knitted in any row. This is probably the secret technique of Anna Makarovna from Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, who always knit two socks simultaneously

When the pair was finished, she made a solemn ceremony of pulling one stocking out of the other in the presence of the children.

(Wikipedia: Slip-stitch knitting, 2007)

In the other method, you work both the front and the back fabrics at the same time. gives an excellent explanation of the method plus it has a video to show you how it is worked. It is found on the page for Advanced Techniques. Scroll down towards the bottom of the page. Stitch Diva also gives a great explanation of this technique.