The Art of French Knitting or Spool Knitting
Examples of Knitting Spools
A popular look for french knitters are these "knitting dolls."
Simple spool knitters such as these could easily have faces and other details painted onto them to turn them into "knitting dolls."
Another popular look for spool knitters is a mushroom, such as this one.
Because these are clear you can see the cord as it's being knitted inside the center of this french knitter.
What is Spool Knitting?
Some call it French knitting while others call it spool knitting. And the simple tool used has been called a French knitter, a knitting nancy, knitting spool, knitting knob, a corker and dozens of other names as well. In Germany it may be known as a strickliesel or as a tricotin in France. (A comprehensive list of names can be found at the Spool Knitter Blog...which is also probably the best resource on the Internet about spool knitting). But whatever you call it, this little device, used and played with by many generations in the past has made a comeback and children and adults are rediscovering its fun and practical uses.
You may be wondering, what is a french knitter or knitting spool or any of the other names I've listed? Well, a basic knitting spool consists of an object with a hole in the center and pegs placed around that center hole. For example, old wooden spools with nails placed around the center hole were once a commonly made into knitting spools. You can use a knitting spool to knit cords of yarn, by wrapping the pegs with yarn to form loops and using a tool to lift the loops on the bottom of the pegs over top loops. These cords (sometimes called i-cords) can then be used to make embellishments, ties, handles, and so forth for knitting projects. Or make small little toy animals, coasters, or even rugs. Modern spool knitters also use flexible wire and adding beads to create jewelry with knitting spools.
Knitting spools have similarities to a knitting loom, but are smaller and typically have only four pegs, although they may have a few more or even just two or three pegs.
Knitting spools also often come in many shapes and sizes. Including whimsical designs such as people, animals, mushrooms and more. The flickr group, Spool Knitting, has hundreds of examples of knitting spools.
Children enjoy spool knitting because of its simplicity. In fact, some children can spend hours on end making ropes of spool knit yarn. Spool knitting is a great way to introduce children to knitting looms or even regular knitting. Or simply a fun way to entertain them on a rainy afternoon.
To learn more about spool knitting check out the links below, which includes information on how to make knitting spools and how to use them.
How to Spool Knit Tutorials
- Loom Lore: Spool Knitting
Although this blog is mostly about knitting looms, there are some tutorials for using the Knifty Knitter spool knitter with five pegs. (This knitting spool actually is double ended with five pegs one end and eight on the other.)
- Spiral Coaster CARON Kids Project
This tutorial tells how to make spiral coasters with a knitting knobby. It includes the basics of using a knitting spool.
- Three Fun Spool-Knitting Crafts to Try - CraftStylish
Three, fun and quick, spool knitting projects. A flower pin/brooch, a bracelet and a pen cozy.
- Provo Craft: Cell Phone Purse Knitting Loom/Spool Knitter
A tutorial that is good example of combining a knitting loom to create a little "purse" for a cell phone and a knitting spool to create the strap or handle.
- Beading Daily: How to Wire Spool Knit in 7 Easy Steps
A tutorial showing how a knitting spool can be used to knit wire.
- Celtic Interlace Knot Medallion Necklace PDF
Clicking this link will open a PDF file for making a medallion style necklace out of cords made with a knitting spool. This pattern is for advanced users.
Making Spool Knitters
- CraftSanity: Spool Knitting For You And The Kids
This page has both a written tutorial and a video showing how a simple knitting spool can be made from a toilet paper tube and popsicle sticks. This is a great project to do with kids.
- Make Your Own Knitting Nancy from a Wooden Spool
Create your own repurposed Knitting Nancy from a wooden thread spool.
- Handmade Knitty Knobby | Rhythm of the Home
This knitting knobby is very rustic with a woodland feel as it is made from a small branch (or log as it says in the article) that is approximately two inches in diameter.
- Diy Strickliesel (Knitting Loom) | How To | Cut Out + Keep
This small strickliesel was made from a pen and some U staples.
- Spool Knitter: Making Spool Knitters
Although it does not provide specific directions, this provides inspiration and the general idea of how to make spool knitters out of wood salt and pepper shakers.
Books on Spool Knitting
A great book for kids (or other beginners) to corking (spool knitting).
Spool knitting doesn't have to be used only with yarn. This kit includes a book, a knitting spool and elasticized cord for making jewelry with that is great for tweens and teens.
Although the focus of this book is not on spool knitting, it does have a few projects that use a knitting spool, wire and beads to make beautiful knitted jewelry.
This book was first published back in 1909. It has many creative ideas and gives a nostalgic look at the history of spool knitting.
It's also available as a Kindle book.
Free versions of this book are also available on the Internet (see information about it below).
An Antique Book on Spool Knitting for Free
The book Spool Knitting by Mary A. McCormack was originally published in 1909 and is now in the public domain (meaning it has no copyright on it). Because of this it is available a few places online for free. The Gutenberg Project is one place you can get a copy of this Spool Knitting book. They have it in several formats including HTML (used for webpages) and even for Kindle.
Google books has a PDF version you can download of the Spool Knitting book.
(If you'd rather have a hard copy of this book, check out the links above for the book available for purchase at amazon.com. This book is also available for the Kindle at amazon.com.)