Being loathe to abandon knitting completely I have researched alternatives and discovered knitting looms. They come in different shapes and sizes. Not wanting to spend too much initially, I bought a set of four plastic circular looms and an explanatory book.
The way the book taught the use of the circular loom was fine for a hat but did not suit me for making anything more ambitious. The finished work was to open-weaved for my taste. The method illustrated twisted the stitch, or you had to do a double stitch to get a better effect. Having experimented and found my own way of using the looms, I can now produce what I would call ‘normal’ knitting, but can only achieve a reasonably firm finish using DK double, because the gauge of the looms is rather large. I now know how to do Fair Isle, and knit and purl stitch. Increasing and decreasing can become a bit complicated, but I can do that too. I think having previously used a flat bed mechanical knitting machine has been helpful, as the process is pretty much the same. I did not particularly enjoy using this knitting machine however—it is still stored somewhere in the loft—so I will not go back to that. You cannot sit on the sofa by the fire watching a film while you knit using a knitting machine – but you can with a knitting loom.
You can also buy finer gauge circular knitting looms that are semi-automatic with just a handle to turn, but I wonder whether this would have similar complications and frustrations to a flat bed knitting machine.
I am now attempting my first real garment on the largest of the looms. I am using up odd balls of yarn, starting with a random colour mix yarn and then gradually introducing new colours. This is the second panel. If it is successful, I will post a picture of the finished garment later on.
Now that I have proof of concept I feel that I could probably do anything on a knitting loom that I could do on knitting needles, but I will eventually need to buy a more sophisticated loom of a finer gauge. I have my eye on an adjustable one made of wood that can provide more than twice the number of stitches of the largest of my current plastic circular looms, or few enough stitches for knitting socks. The gauge will be much finer too.
My hand is a lot better at the moment, but knitting with needles has been a cause of it flaring up for quite a while, so I may not go back to straight needles anyway.