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10 Homemade Knitting Nancys

Updated on December 30, 2014
My first homemade french knitter on which I made a very fun infinity scarf.
My first homemade french knitter on which I made a very fun infinity scarf. | Source

French Knitting for Young and Old Alike

French knitting is growing in popularity again as it has over the decades. There are plenty of spool knitters out there to be purchased, but have you ever thought about making your own out of materials you have lying around the house? You can do just that.

To get your creative juices flowing, I've compiled tutorials for homemade french knitters in a variety of sizes and styles to make a variety of knitted items. There are a lot of different ways to assemble them too.

Whether you call it a Knitting Nancy (or Ned), Knitting Nobby (or Knobby or Noddy), Knitting Mushroom, French Knitter (or french knitting loom), Tricotin (or Tricotosa), Bizzy Lizzy, Knitting Dolly, or a Knitting Castle... check out the links below and use them as inspiration to create your own knitting noddy with items you have on hand.

Speedy Spool Knitting

Caron 20293 Embellish-Knit! Machine Kit
Caron 20293 Embellish-Knit! Machine Kit
I love the feel of hand-knitting! It's slow and therapeutic, taking very little thought. However, sometimes I need to (literally) crank out a lot of i-cord fast. I use my Knit! Machine Kit. It's quick and easy to use and has a smooth hand-crank action! It's a relatively flexible tool for a variety of yarns.
Homemade Knitting Nancy
Homemade Knitting Nancy

My Homemade Spool Knitter

I used inspiration from a couple of the pages linked below. I have created a number of different knitters for different types of projects using everything from PVC pipe or toilet paper tubes to poster tubes and buckets.

When I thought about pegs, I considered nails, but the nail heads I had were too big. I wanted to try the popsicle sticks, but I didn't have any. I even thought about taping spoons to the base (handle ends up), but decided against them because they were too bulky. Then, inspiration struck...

I have a worn out bamboo shade waiting to be taken apart and used for craft projects. I pulled out one of the bamboo slats and cut it into the right size pieces. Then I filed the ends a bit to make sure they wouldn't snag. I taped them into place, and voila... quick and easy spool knitter!

I was knitting in no time!

Make Your Own Spool Knitter Instructions


Spool Knitter #1

Wooden Chair Foot with Nails

If you have wooden thread spools laying around the house (I inherited some from an elderly aunt who kept everything), they make the perfect small spool knitters. Or you can get creative like Happy Whimsical Hearts and use a wooden chair foot. I love her use of a wood burner and milk paint to personalize it!

A few nails... and presto! You have a knitting nancy made to order - perfect for narrow i-cord.

Click here for instructions.

Books and Resources for French Knitting

Loom Knitting Primer: A Beginner's Guide to Knitting on a Loom, with Over 30 Fun Projects (No-Needle Knits)
Loom Knitting Primer: A Beginner's Guide to Knitting on a Loom, with Over 30 Fun Projects (No-Needle Knits)
Every crafter has to start somewhere. This book has loads of tips and strategies to get loom knitters (really just spool knitting in different shapes and sizes) started on the right foot)
Knitting Loom
Knitting Loom | Source

Spool Knitter #2

PVC Pipe & Hardwood Dowels

I think this is the sturdiest design I've seen and can be easily altered by size of PVC pipe and the number of dowels. So why stop with just one knitting loom? Make a bunch to use for a wide variety of projects. A few simple tools and you are on your way.

Click here for instructions.

Spool Knitter #3

I Can't Believe I'm Loom Knitting-18 Projects to Make Hats, Scarves, Afghans and More, all Without Knitting Needles
I Can't Believe I'm Loom Knitting-18 Projects to Make Hats, Scarves, Afghans and More, all Without Knitting Needles
After you've got your start, take your loom knitting to the next level with this Leisure Arts book. Learn how to make more projects with your loom knitter(s) and find out how to make them special with new stitches and tricks of the trade. This is a great book with tons of beautiful and creative projects!
Spool Knitter
Spool Knitter | Source

Spool Knitter #4

A French Knitter from Nature

A section of tree limb or trunk becomes a french knitter in this tutorial. You'll need the right tools to drill the holes, but this design is worth it... especially if you love the rustic look.

If I were using this design, I would definitely make sure to choose a well-dried piece of wood without sap (especially avoid pine). I would also add a clear coat of lacquer to give it finish and make sure all the edges are smooth for projects.

Click here for instructions.

Spool Knitter #5

Corking (Kids Can Do It)
Corking (Kids Can Do It)
Kids can have a great time with spool knitting, creating animals shapes, and any creation they can dream up. Instructions and inspiration can be found inside!
French Knitter
French Knitter | Source

Spool Knitter #6

Toilet Paper Tube & Popsicle Sticks

This is the perfect page for helping young people create their first knitting nancy. This is actually the design I used for my Infinity Scarf Tutorial because I had the materials (more or less) and wanted to get right to the knitting. In other words, the knitter is quick and easy to make and even quicker and easier to use. I didn't bother to pretty mine up, but the children I know would want it pretty - whether it be with pretty paper or their own coloring and decorations.

Click here for instructions.

Making Jewelry with a French Knitter: The Easy Way to Make Beautiful Beaded Accessories (Design Originals)
Making Jewelry with a French Knitter: The Easy Way to Make Beautiful Beaded Accessories (Design Originals)
The fun of spool knitting taken to a whole new plane! Turn your simple to do projects into complicated-looking and beautiful jewelry and other accessories.
Knitting Loom
Knitting Loom | Source

Spool Knitter #7

Tin Can & Cotter Pins

This is one of the more unique design I've seen. I like the reuse of the tin can and the cotter pins seem like a smoother alternative to nails. The cotter pin heads widen nicely, but still allow the loops to slide off easily.

But where could you get this many cotter pins (if you are like me and don't have a bucket full laying around the house)? I'm thinking hardware stores and surplus stores and I doubt they're very expensive.

Want to learn how to make this knitting loom? Click here for instructions.

Note:On the tutorial page, there's a picture at the top and then some funny stuff that had me thinking there weren't any instructions. Keep scrolling down the page to get to the tutorial.

Knitting Loom
Knitting Loom | Source

Spool Knitter #8

Plastic Drink Mix Container

For a one piece model, with no assembly needed - just some measuring and cutting - this is a great design. It reuses one of any variety of plastic drink containers. The page gives a number of examples, so you can use what you have on hand. In my home, it would be a V-8 Fusion plastic bottle.

Click here for instructions.

Note: This page also has instructions for a spool knitter with popsicle sticks and toilet paper roles similar to the one above. Scroll past that one to get to the plastic bottle tutorial.

Aspirin Bottle
Aspirin Bottle | Source

Spool Knitter #9

Aspirin Bottle

One thing I really like about this design is that it's all one piece. I wouldn't have to worry about the pegs coming loose or shifting if I pulled too hard. (Also, it makes me smile because it reminds me so much of the talking electrical plug from the old electrical safety promos, but that's neither here nor there.)

When I look at this design (and the juice jug up above), it makes me think, "I could do this with almost anything to get any size cord I want!" It's so freeing and so simple to do!

What would you turn into a spool knitter? If you like the pill bottle version, click here for instructions.

Will you be making a French Knitter?

Will you be making a French Knitter?

See results
Bucket knitting loom on which I created a cozy cowl scarf.
Bucket knitting loom on which I created a cozy cowl scarf. | Source

Spool Knitter #10

Don't Feel Limited by Size or Shape

I created this knitting loom - really just a version of a spool knitter with more pegs and a larger diameter - to knit a cowl scarf. I wanted to share it here so you would also know that it's possible to create spool knitters in a variety of shapes and sizes with wide ranging numbers of pegs for different knitting effects.

Click here to see more about how I used this 5-gallon bucket to knit a beautiful cowl scarf

Link Party Connections

Here are parties and blog hops this page is linked to. Click on any of them to find hundreds more ideas, recipes, crafts, and much more!

© 2013 Monica Lobenstein

Let me know what you think of these homemade spool knitting options. - Thanks for visiting!

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    • AcornOakForest profile imageAUTHOR

      Monica Lobenstein 

      6 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      @Cheryl, Be careful! It's addictive. :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This looks like such a neat idea. I may give it a try some day.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Enjoyed this article very much. Thanks for the memories, used to do french knitting all the time as a child on wooden cotton reels. Made teapot stands by sewing the (rats tail) together in a circle. I think I will go and make a spool and try it again, plenty of spare wool around.

    • hazeltos profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      7 years ago from Summerfield, Florida

      I like the homemade spools. Great directions and selections. I've been crocheting afghans for a 6 week long Christmas Holiday craft show and I have to say I agree with greytdogz that the spooled edge sounds like a terrific idea.

    • AcornOakForest profile imageAUTHOR

      Monica Lobenstein 

      7 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      @greytdogz: That's a great idea!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I recently got back into crocheting. I'm almost finished my second afghan and thinking that a spooled edging might look fantastic on the blanket.

    • jlshernandez profile image


      7 years ago

      Homemade stuff works and nobody would even know how your craft was made.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I had a knitting nancy when I was young and loved knitting with it. Might have a go at making one, it sounds easy and cheap. Thanks for the ideas!

    • profile image

      sarasentor lm 

      7 years ago

      I love this homemade stuff.

    • hovirag profile image


      7 years ago

      I like knitting but not spool knitting

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      7 years ago

      When I woke up today I had no idea what a knitting nancy was. Now I know. I am still not convinced to take up knitting, but maybe someday. Pinned to my crafts board for the crafty people.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These spool knitters are sooooo interesting really!!!! There is something soo cool about them! I have never tried knitting with one before! :)

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 

      7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      When I was a kid I had one made with the wooden spool and nails. It wasn't until much later that I got a plastic store bought one. I definitely found the newer one easier to use. I got very nostalgic looking at all the different homemade options. Where there is a will there is a way if you want to knit!

    • profile image

      Deadicated LM 

      7 years ago

      Great Lens and ideas, and thank you for Blessing my Zeppole Lens, I really appreciate that and love reading your Lenses very well done with useful information and instructions.

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 

      7 years ago

      I had a plastic one of these when I was a kid :) Haven't thought about them in years!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I just startes pool knitting, but it's becoming addicting, very funny.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the spool knitter.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the spool knitter.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great idea. I've never considered making my own spool knitter!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I enjoyed your lens, but I do not know how to knit. Thanks

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I like your style


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