Knitting Dolly, Knitting Mushroom, Knitting Spool, French Knitter, Spool Knitter …

My almost-four year old granddaughter F has long played beneath my loom and stood on the single treadle of my Schacht wheel and rocked … but today she started knitting.

I remember my first hands-on introduction was using a homemade knitting spool made of four finishing nails hammered into one of my grandmother’s wooden spools emptied of its sewing thread.  I made yards and yards of “rope” before moving to needles.  My daughter wasn’t interested in the knitting spools and started with needles.

Long planning to introduce F to knit, I thought about making her a wooden knitting spool.  Well, try to find sewing thread wound on a solid wooden spool nowadays!  So last year at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon, I bought three styles of knitting spools from various vendors.

On the left is the 4-pin “Knitting Dolly” from Lacis (Berkeley, California).  I thought it might be fun as it has a face painted onto it.

On the right is Susan Bates’s Crystalites 4-pin “Small French Knitter.”  I didn’t think F would like this one because it is plain.  I thought this might be better for my grandson as it is larger (he’s older than his sister) and looks more “manly” compared to the Knitting Dolly.  (At nearly 7, my grandson has begun to refuse certain things that he perceives as being “for girls.”)

The last knitting spool I bought was Clover’s Wonder Knitter” from Spin Blessing.  Now, nearly a year later, I decided to introduce the granddaughter to knitting using the Wonder Knitter.

So this morning F and I visited one of our local yarn stores and, after being shown many skeins of cotton, she selected Plymouth Yarn’s “Whitney” in variegated blues and pinks.  After lunch but before our nap (I like to nap when F’s with me!), she sat on my lap while together we knit on the Wonder Knitter.

There are several things about the Wonder Knitter I like.

  • It has two disks (very easy to remove and replace): one a 3 pin disk (pink) for thicker yarn and the other a 6 pin disk (yellow) for narrower yarn.
  • The Wonder Knitter was easy for F to hold, and she could take regular peeks through the clear acrylic body-tube to watch the rope get longer.
  • It has an arm – a “holder guide” – so she doesn’t have to worry about tension and wrapping the yarn around her finger.
  • The Wonder Knitter has a large plastic green and easy to hold “hook” (far different than the straight slippery aluminum needles my mother provided me or the blunt needles that accompany many knitting spools).
  • I don’t know if you can tell from the picture to the right, but each of the “pins” of the disks has a groove down its middles, allowing the knitter to use that as a guide when pulling the bottom loop over the top of the pin.

F was very excited to knit; we’re working on a birthday present for her mother.  If she ends up making yards and yards of rope, issue 104 (2011) of Knitter’s Magazine has several pages of creative ideas for turning knit rope (I-cords) into hats, scarves and necklaces!

Of course, I still miss the wooden knitting spools of my youth.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover a couple of different wooden knitting spools by Winter Wood Toys in Australia (pic at left from its website).

 

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About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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25 Responses to Knitting Dolly, Knitting Mushroom, Knitting Spool, French Knitter, Spool Knitter …

  1. Elaine Donaldson says:

    there are no instruction with the clover wonder knitter on how to cast on the 6 peg attachment. How do I do this????

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  2. So far she’s thrown it to the ground in frustration. 🙂 I want it to be fun so I am waiting until she turns 5, then we will go somewhere – just the two of us for a weekend – and do some knitting together. Hopefully! She is much different than her mother was who would want to sit on my lap and knit – starting first by simply resting her hands on my hands as I knit. 🙂

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  3. n1knit says:

    This has filled me with nostalgia – I learnt to knit like this and can still remember the satisfaction of creating something myself. I hope she continues to enjoy knitting and I look forward to reading more of your blog in the future. L @ n1knit

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  4. Thank you! I will certainly check out your friend’s blog!

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  5. catsmum says:

    but what a wonderful ‘blank canvas’ for the child to embellish

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  6. catsmum says:

    thanks for visiting my blog. After reading this post, I think that you might enjoy my friend Maz’s spoolknitting blog at http://spoolknitter.blogspot.com.au/

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  7. unfortunately no, we don’t have a local store, I have to find my yarn and supplies online. I really love spool knitting, didn’t think I would like it when my mother first mentioned it, she’s 91 and remembered doing it as a child. I may be teaching two ten year old kids how to do this over the holiday. Thanks

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  8. Do you have a LYS (local yarn store)? A few months ago a knitting magazine features several very interesting items that were made via spool knitting – some great scarves, I remember.

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  9. Never did spool knitting as a child but now that I am in my second childhood, or possibly my third I just started. I’ve never learned to knit or crochet. My mother always said I had to left hands, just can’t get the hang of either of them. I do a lot of plastic canvas things so I have tons of yarn and love spool knitting. Just found a book called Corking with things for kids to make so I plan on getting that. I have searched all over the internet for patterns for spool knitting but all I can find are coasters, flowers, hats and scarves. I would love to figure out how to make dolls or animals. I did find a few books that had dolls and animals but right now I can’t afford them. Hope your little granddaughter enjoys making things. I may just have to teach my great niece how to do it, she will be 4 in December.

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  10. I don’t remember buying the spools when I was young, in either Norway or the U.S., but I remember my mother and grandmother making them for me. Wow, you taught yourself how to knit left handed! My grandson is fascinated by my loom, my granddaughter less so. My granddaughter was not very excited about the knitting spool, but she was game to try it so we’re working on a project. Sometimes they pick it up seriously when they’re older. I taught my daughter to knit when she was a child but she didn’t become too interested in it until she was in college. I know what you mean about your granddaughter … my granddaughter was very upset she couldn’t play with the “banger” – translation: my grandson’s softball bat. 🙂

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  11. Hanne says:

    This opened up for a whole lot of childhood memories 🙂 I don’t know if you could actually buy the wooden spools when I grew up in Norway, but my grandfather made them for me using my grandmother’s empty spools and putting on those little metal hook things to hold the yarn. I remember making lots of long, long “hestetommer” which I have no idea what is called in English – it is the leather strap you hold on to while you are riding a horse (hest means horse) and for some reason that is what those long things you make on the spools are called in Norwegian. I can’t remember every making something out of them though, but at the time I got those spools, I was already knitting. My unbelievably patient grandmother taught me to both knit and crochet when I was 5. I have done it ever since. When my kids grew up in Norway they still taught knitting in school, to both boys and girls. Not sure if they still do, I haven’t lived there in 14 years, and my kids are now both around 30, but I do remember teaching my son to knit. He was about 8 I think, and he is left handed. I had to teach myself to knit left handed to teach him, because his teacher couldn’t figure it out 🙂 I bought one of those spools made out of plastic at WalMart a couple of years ago hoping my grandsons would want to learn. The youngest had no patience for that, the oldest just thought it was boring. I do think that the youngest one, he is almost 5, will be the knitter or crocheter here though. He loves colors and yarn. Still not patient enough to sit down and work on it, but he has a fantastic sense of color combinations, and quite frequently helps me picking out colors for what I make, and follow my work with great interest. There are several men out there doing fantastic work with yarn and hooks or needles, I would love to see at least one of my four grandkids follow the tradition, and learning to knit or crochet, or both, and I doubt it will be my only granddaughter, because she is the biggest boy of them all 🙂

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  12. I think if boys want to learn this too, they very well should. Besides, it is very good for honing small motor abilities, something boys often score low in. !!! They call always at least learn it in the privacy of their own homes. 🙂

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  13. Nathaly says:

    Wow. your granddaughter is a fast knitting learner. Are younger boys can do some knitting staff too?hahaha I’m a little hesitant to teach my son because of what other people may think abut him. But he really wants to knit too and he always keep on asking me about some knitting processes and designs. LOL

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  14. Take a peek at the Knitters Magazine issue I mentioned in the blog – I was really surprised to see what nice adult accessories could be made from them. (Too bad I didn’t realize that 50 years ago … would have made something other than potholders!) 🙂

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  15. Angela Hickman says:

    They are gorgeous. Makes me wonder what I could do with them now.

    I had a combination of plastic ones and wooden ones when I was a kid. My favourite (the one I used for the “rug”) was a wooden one like the doll-style example you show. I liked the thinner, four-pronged ones best because progress was so quick!

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  16. I made a lot of hot plates/potholders. :). I think the names given the knitting spools are very regional. I didn’t know all the names either! Aren’t the wooden ones from Australia beautiful? Probably not as interesting to children though. 😦

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  17. Angela Hickman says:

    I had no idea you could still buy these! I had a kit with three different sizes when I was a kid and I remember working very hard so I could have enough “rope” to wind into a rug for my Barbies.

    I didn’t know these were called knitting spools, though, although it makes sense. In Nova Scotia (or perhaps just in my family) it was called “corking.” I wonder where that term comes from. Anyway, thanks for the blast from the past, and I hope F has as much fun with her new craft as I did!

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  18. Curls & Q says:

    Please do! We will go in the fall when fares drop. 😎

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  19. I will think of you two today as F and I make mandelbread and work on her knitting. I hope you get to Hawaii soon!

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  20. minaandme says:

    I do. The largest one I have is almost a full 12 inches across and I use it for adult sized hats. That’s what I primarily use them for. The smallest one I have still has at least 10 pegs on it and it’s technically considered a flower loom, although I use it for small, tube-style scarves.

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  21. Curls & Q says:

    Yeah! 😎 There are some great things to do with that icord. Miss my granddaughter more than ever! 😎

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  22. Give it a try … Kids are so different. My granddaughter isn’t the most patient of children either so to keep it fun, first we do her favorite baking activity (she loves to bake mandelbread!) and while that bakes she sits on my lap and we “knit” together. 🙂

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  23. Oh, I think i know what you mean! I once saw a lady using one you describe! Do you use it for projects and, if so, what kinds?

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  24. minaandme says:

    After seeing the picture of the WIP of your granddaughter, I finally recognized what you were talking about! I’d never heard of a knitting spool or seen anything like the ones near the beginning of your post. It appears as though it’s just what is commonly sold over here as a knitting loom, only a knitting loom is just the disk. Mine resemble embroidery hoops with pegs on them and I have about 5 different sizes. I like the look of the wooden ones 🙂
    ~Lacey

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  25. streepie says:

    My daughter is also almost four, and has wanted to “knit” for some time already. So far, she has only unrolled balls of leftover yarn (and tried to roll them again), and more recently, has managed to produce a few rounds on a knitting doll, She is not the most patient of creatures, and maybe the wonder knitter would be more suitable for her than the knitting doll I have for her.

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