Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spool Knitting

I'm joining Vintage Thingies Thursday over at Coloradolady this week with a blast from my past.

I made my first spool knitter as a Brownie from some nails and an empty large wooden
thread spool.  The shape of a wooden thread spool isn't always the best for little hands
and makes the craft a little more difficult to execute.  When I was about 8 years old, Santa
brought me a spool knitter that fit my hand perfectly, used cotter pins instead of nails and
she still works just as well 60 years later.

Spool knitters have been known by various names over the years, knitting nellies,
knitting nancys, knitting knobbies/noddies, and knitting spools. Today's spool knitting
looms are often referred to as round looms.  This type of knitting goes all the way back
to the time of the Vikings when a bone or piece of wood with two pegs was known as a 
lancet and was used to make strong cording.  In later times this type of cording was used to
make horse reins from leather strips.

The resurgence in crafting projects in recent years has brought renewed interest
in spool knitters and many new versions in different gauges are available.
Here's one that is semi-automated and has two different sizes of spools included,
plus a handy hook.  The size of the knitted "tube' is dependent on the diameter
of the "spool" and where the "nails" are positioned. With the advent of some
of the new knitters, many patterns beyond the basic stitch I learned are available.

And here is my spool knitter from all those years ago ..... all the knit doll clothes and blankets and chair pads for my dolls have disappeared, but the knitter is still here.  Somewhere around here is my square loom for making "potholders".  My mother's kitchen drawers were always well stocked with potholders made on those simple looms and they lasted forever.

She was made in Germany by Strick and each of the different designs
had a different girl's name (usually, although there were some male characters).

My 5 yo granddaughter was completely perplexed that I didn't know what
my knitting was "going to be".  The concept of just knitting a long tube
was something she was having a hard time grasping. :-)

Thanks for stopping by again this week for Vintage Thingies Thursday.


  1. I love your little girl! How lucky to have it after all thses years. What a wonderful craft.

  2. I never had a knitting spool - but I sure do remember them! I did have a "Kenners Automatic Knitting Machine"! My mother tried in vain to teach me to knit. I always got the yarn so tight my needles were frozen!

  3. What a wonderful vintage memory for me. I never had one of these little kits but saw them in my young days.

  4. Candy....Your little knitter is to-die-for. Being a spinner and knitter I can really appreciate it. The colors are still so vivid. Thanks for sharing it with us

    Genie @ buttonsforbaga

  5. WOW what a fabulous post! oh i ssoo want your darling little knitting nancy, she's ssoo adorable and looks as good as new! :)

  6. What a sweet little find. Great post~

  7. Oh I remember them! I haven't seen one in many moons. Love it!

  8. I have never seen any of these...what a sweet post and I wish I had one, maybe then, I'd learn to knit! Charming post from start to finish. Have a great VTT!

  9. I love this post. Thank you so much for the memories. I didn't have this, mine was one of the plastic hand cranked ones, and a little bit bigger. I remember making my Barbie a tube dress with it. Great post!! And yours is adorable, I love that illustration.

  10. Your knitting spool looks very much like the one I had as a little girl, and mine could very well have been German as well. Thank you for all the information, I never knew the technique was so old.

  11. I've never seen one, but it's so interesting. I love your vintage images. She is lovely.

  12. I remember spool knitting when I was 9 or 10 years old. I made a long, long piece from yellow yarn. I don't know what happened to it. Today I have several commercial "spool" knitting tools like the ones you've shown. I like the Clover one a lot. It's still fun to spool knit! I like using funky yarns to make necklaces.

  13. Love that sweet spool knitter ~ it's just precious!!

    Susan and Bentley

  14. What a fabulous post!! I love your little knitty-nelly. Too cute :)


  15. I remember doing that spool knitting when I was a kid! But your little dolly is so much more fun!!

  16. I never see one of this! Fantastic!
    Un tejedor maravilloso!

  17. Have never done any knitting of any kind but I love your little spool girl. Debbie

  18. I'm so glad this brought back memories for some of you and introduced this old craft to others. The wonderful thing about this "knitting" is that it is no fail for young kids. Nothing fancy about it, just hook the yarn, loop up and over the nail, around and around and around and the tube gets longer and longer.

    It is kind of like riding a bike too .... I hadn't seen my little spool knitter girl for many years, but recently found her when I unpacked my doll collection. There she was! I grabbed some yarn and threaded her up ...voila ... it is that easy! I would think probably an 8 year old would have the dexterity to do this, but I wonder how many kids would be enthralled with it in this age of handheld electronics, etc.


  19. I learned to spool knit as a Brownie too! I made several little rugs for dolls and seem to remember a determination to make a big one for my mum....but that plan came to naught!

  20. Oh my gosh.... Cute, Cute!
    Thank you for sharing!

  21. Thanks for coming by to check out my little spool knitter! Hope to see you again soon.


  22. Hi! Just found your blog - somewhat late - and enjoyed your post on Spool Knitting, I have a collection of these wonderful small characters. You can see them on my blog totally dedicated to spool knitters - vintage, new and handmade - - also manage Flick Spool Knitter and a worldwide Yahoo Group also called Spoolknitter. I hope you don't mind me saying but that Viking tool is called a Lucet not a Lancet. I love to read all the comments too! ... best wishes, Maz in Australia


Thank you for your lovely comments.

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