Spool Knitting! Why do I love it so?

28 Feb 2007

I've been a little obsessed with the idea of spool knitting lately, having first seen it in action in the wonderful 200 Braids book. This type of knitting, sometimes called corking, is familiar to Girl Scouts and schoolkids the world over, and yields thin, hollow tubes of knitting. They can be used for trim, of course, but I’m convinced there's more uses lurking in the back of my brain. The simplicity of the whole thing is just so cool to me.

I scored a big bag of wooden spools on eBay, and then not two days later, I had the good fortune to meet Mariko and visit Superbuzzy World Headquarters. There, on a worktable, were rows and rows of the most beautiful, big wooden spools ever. (They originally had lovely ribbons and trims wound on them.) And Mariko was kind enough to let me take some home. (Thank you!!)

So now, I was ready! Mom and I convened recently to tackle the mystery of spool-knitting.

Here's how it's done:

First, you drive 4 or 5 nails into the top of your spool, fairly equidistant from each other. And then you feed some yarn down through the center hole of the spool. Leave a good 10" tail hanging out of the bottom. (I'm using perle cotton embroidery thread here, but you can also use sport weight yarn, crochet cotton, or even narrow ribbon!)

Next, you wind the leading edge of the yarn around each nail. Actually, you twirl the spool in your hand as you guide the yarn into place. Wrap two rows like this.

 

The next bit is tricky. Take that 10" tail of yarn from before, and stick it back up through the center hole of the spool -- but place your little finger through it, so it won't feed all the way through. (I found my 4.5mm crochet hook invaluable for feeding yarn through the center of the spool - just hook it and pull it.)


Okay, then you take that tail end, and wrap it around the yarn that's looped onto the nails. And then, you send that tail back down through the center hole again. That seems weird, but you do it so that you can pull your knitted tube down through the spool as you knit.

You just pull on the loop and loose end together as you work.

 

For the knitting part, I liked using a 1.7mm crochet hook (Thanks, Mom!). The process is so simple -- you just hook the bottom loop, and then pull it up over the top loop, and off the nail completely. Do that with each nail until they all have only one loop wrapped on them. Then, loop another row of yarn onto the nails, and repeat.

Do this over and over, pulling your work through the spool as you go, and eventually, your knitted tube will emerge through the bottom of the spool.

 

When you're ready to bind off, just cut the yarn and thread the end on a needle. Run it through the loop on each nail, and then pull them all off. Draw the end of the yarn tight, and you have a fray-free end.

Hmmm... if I'd made more cord, I could sew this into a flower! In fact, look at this tutorial.

Now, indulge me a bit more geekery:

Mom was much more interested in spool knitting with 28 gauge wire than with yarn. Here's a chain she knitted - cool, huh? She pulled it through a tiny circle template in order to stretch it to a narrower width. Jewelry possibilities abound! (But I will say: I found working with the wire to be fairly challenging - I don't have Mom's wire skillz.)

Now, this method of spool knitting is only one of many, apparently. Look at this variation.

I was also very intrigued by this poly clay spool knitter. I could make those! And I love the idea of being able to place as many or as few nails in them as I like.

. . . The mania has not left me yet. Next, I'll be playing with threading two colors of thin floss together through this gizmo, and making color-flecked trim.

Comments

*sigh* I am a happy girl these days, somehow only having recently discovered the great, big world of crafting on the internet.

I LOVE your podcast and your website with all the great ideas, links, etc.

My girls (ages 10 & 7) have gotten to more independent ages that this mom has reclaimed and unleashed her crafty self with a vengence! :) Okay, well, maybe it's not that dramatic, but it FEELS dramatic inside.

Thanks again for all your great work!

~ Nicole


Oops. Forgot to link to my blog if you have time to say hello:

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/MrsPivec


It's easy to get obsessed with I-cord, isn't it? I made myself a woven rug with spool-knit i-cord as the weft a while ago. You can see it here. I-cord, along with a set of large needles, is also great for doing knitting demonstrations to large groups.


Of course if you really get into using the i-cord results you can go with the knitting machine (called "Cool Corder" now, was once the MagiCord machine) or the Wyr Knittr (http://www.bond-america.com/products/wyrknittr.html)...lots faster, but to me it kinda takes the fun out of the handmade portion... And I totally suggest using some sort of weight on the end of the cord as you work... helps to keep it nice and straight. I use a few large metal washers as a weight when I'm doing cord knitting. Now that I look at that WyrKnittr though...that one might be worth a second look!


ah yes, the iCord. A longtime love of mine as well. I even visited my son's kindergarten class to show them how to knit with the Embellish Knit crank style corder. I ended up creating a "human knitting spool" using the kids and the fattest yarn I could find. Four kids played the role of "pegs" and stood in a small circle facing each other. Four more kids stood behind each "peg" and played the role of "knitter". (one knitter per peg) I wrapped the peg and the knitter would lift the first loop over the peg's head into the center of the circle...can you imagine it? It was a blast and it worked!


Very nice tutorial. Being an amateur woodturner I've made knitting spools in a woodturning demonstration session; the ones on my blog are copied from old models from beginning of last century: boisetcopeaux.blogspot.com


Thank you for the step by step instructions. I bought a cute I-cord knitter from Lion Brand but the instructions were kind of sketchy so into the yarn basket it went. I appreciate the pictures, that helps tremendously!


my daughter and I discovered this last Christmas and have since made more "corkers" using larger soup cans ( which made a pair of child slippers) and a lagre coffee can ( a hat). Taping the edges with masking tape, they work great and give a child quick sucess as well.


Knitting Spool from Office Supplies...

I’ve been longing for a knitting spool (tricotin in French?), also called knitting nancy, or some knitting looms for a long time, but I could not persuade myself to buy one. My dad, who has much more clever fingers than I do, used to promise me ...


A friend I have has done the most wonderful rug using this type of knitting. She made yards of the coils and as she went she stuffed the hollow with fleece (or in Australia washed dags ).
When she had enough she sewed the stuffed coils into a coiled rug. It is bouncy because of the stuffing and in soft colors it looks beautiful. I hope this triggers off some ideas for you.


This is truely helpful!
I used to be able to do this as a child according to my Mother but as I grew older aslass, I forgot. Then recently I bought myself a kit of craft things and have the knitting bee.
Now I can finally used him! And knit a scarf for my cat ^^
Thanks so much. I'll let you know how I do.


Nice! Beatutiful photos, and well presented.

If you want to go full blown geek neepery, check out Ashley's Book of Knots. It's a book about, well, knots (around 3000 of them), but there's an entire chapter devoted to this type of knitting. Although I think he defines it as a type of plaiting.


...when I was very young (at the most eight yrs old)...my babysitter made these spools for me & my siblings. We would "spool" forever & then she would roll them into a design that she would use for small rugs and even placemats. (She must have sewn them together)...I was thinking of this & searched the internet & found your info)...THANKS...I am going to attempt this DECADES later!?!??!!


You explain it so clearly; I might give it a shot; like the idea of the jewelry. Thanks!


Thank you! I promise, it gets super easy very quickly. And it's the kind of thing you can do with a nice movie and some tea. Hope you have fun!


*sigh* I am a happy girl these days, somehow only having recently discovered the great, big world of crafting on the internet.

I LOVE your podcast and your website with all the great ideas, links, etc.

My girls (ages 10 & 7) have gotten to more independent ages that this mom has reclaimed and unleashed her crafty self with a vengence! :) Okay, well, maybe it's not that dramatic, but it FEELS dramatic inside.

Thanks again for all your great work!

~ Nicole


Oops. Forgot to link to my blog if you have time to say hello:

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/MrsPivec


It's easy to get obsessed with I-cord, isn't it? I made myself a woven rug with spool-knit i-cord as the weft a while ago. You can see it here. I-cord, along with a set of large needles, is also great for doing knitting demonstrations to large groups.


Of course if you really get into using the i-cord results you can go with the knitting machine (called "Cool Corder" now, was once the MagiCord machine) or the Wyr Knittr (http://www.bond-america.com/products/wyrknittr.html)...lots faster, but to me it kinda takes the fun out of the handmade portion... And I totally suggest using some sort of weight on the end of the cord as you work... helps to keep it nice and straight. I use a few large metal washers as a weight when I'm doing cord knitting. Now that I look at that WyrKnittr though...that one might be worth a second look!


ah yes, the iCord. A longtime love of mine as well. I even visited my son's kindergarten class to show them how to knit with the Embellish Knit crank style corder. I ended up creating a "human knitting spool" using the kids and the fattest yarn I could find. Four kids played the role of "pegs" and stood in a small circle facing each other. Four more kids stood behind each "peg" and played the role of "knitter". (one knitter per peg) I wrapped the peg and the knitter would lift the first loop over the peg's head into the center of the circle...can you imagine it? It was a blast and it worked!


Thank you for the step by step instructions. I bought a cute I-cord knitter from Lion Brand but the instructions were kind of sketchy so into the yarn basket it went. I appreciate the pictures, that helps tremendously!


Very nice tutorial. Being an amateur woodturner I've made knitting spools in a woodturning demonstration session; the ones on my blog are copied from old models from beginning of last century: boisetcopeaux.blogspot.com


my daughter and I discovered this last Christmas and have since made more "corkers" using larger soup cans ( which made a pair of child slippers) and a lagre coffee can ( a hat). Taping the edges with masking tape, they work great and give a child quick sucess as well.


A friend I have has done the most wonderful rug using this type of knitting. She made yards of the coils and as she went she stuffed the hollow with fleece (or in Australia washed dags ).
When she had enough she sewed the stuffed coils into a coiled rug. It is bouncy because of the stuffing and in soft colors it looks beautiful. I hope this triggers off some ideas for you.


This is truely helpful!
I used to be able to do this as a child according to my Mother but as I grew older aslass, I forgot. Then recently I bought myself a kit of craft things and have the knitting bee.
Now I can finally used him! And knit a scarf for my cat ^^
Thanks so much. I'll let you know how I do.


Nice! Beatutiful photos, and well presented.

If you want to go full blown geek neepery, check out Ashley's Book of Knots. It's a book about, well, knots (around 3000 of them), but there's an entire chapter devoted to this type of knitting. Although I think he defines it as a type of plaiting.


...when I was very young (at the most eight yrs old)...my babysitter made these spools for me & my siblings. We would "spool" forever & then she would roll them into a design that she would use for small rugs and even placemats. (She must have sewn them together)...I was thinking of this & searched the internet & found your info)...THANKS...I am going to attempt this DECADES later!?!??!!


We had these in the '50's, called Knitting Susans. They might come in a package with spools of crochet cotton and a pointed stick for looping the yarn up. .


We had these in the '50's, called Knitting Susans. They might come in a package with spools of crochet cotton and a pointed stick for looping the yarn up. .


Okay, I'm obsessed with spool knitting too. But I have a simpler version. Check out http://www.klutz.com/crafts/kids/Spool-Knit-Jewelry for a book where I learned how. I'm actually so obsessed, I just started my own spool knitting company. Ahem, I'm 11 by the way. 


I have been looking for this spool crochet for years and today I finally find it. Back in the 70's there was this style of beading that fun and had so many different designs. You pick out some heavy duty carpet thread or beading thread. string your beads according to the pattern. Yes they had patterens and I do not know who the company was that published it. Now it took a while to string the beads, but once you started your tube it went fast. Everytime you pulled the loop over the nail you pushed a bead up to the nail then pull the thread over the nail and continue until you reach your length. I think we used 5 mails and small pearl like beads. Today you can use anything you want. Ok, any more ideas please send them to me. Thanks
Barbara Menke


I would like a spool machine for wool, or cotton similar to the iron machine