My son came home from school last week and announced that he could knit. His teacher had taught her first grade class spool knitting, which they can do while they listen to her read stories. It’s a brilliant idea, not only does it give the kids something to do with their hands, which cuts down the fidget factor, it also helps each kid to be self contained and not flicking the back of his friend’s head. In short, it aids concentration for individuals and improves the atmosphere in the classroom.
Of course, they are not knitting with needles, no-one should arm a group of seven year olds with pointy sticks. Instead, they are learning spool knitting, otherwise known as bobbin knitting, corking or french knitting. Spool knitting uses a spool and a number of nails or tines to produce a narrow tube of fabric, similar to i-cord.
My son wanted to make a spool knitting bobbin at home, so we did. Here’s what it looks like:
You Will Need
a toilet paper tube
a strip of lightweight card, the same height as the tube
4-8 popsicle sticks (or in our case a wooden dowel cut into 8 pieces of 4″ long)
1. Roll up the card and put it inside the tube. Fix it in place with tape at both ends, the tape should overlap from the inside to the outside of the tube. This will strengthen the tube.
2. Arrange the popsicle sticks (or dowels) evenly around the outside of the tube with one end of the stick overlapping the top of the tube by about 1″. Secure the sticks in place with the tape at the top and bottom of the tube.
Now you’re ready to cast on and start knitting.
How to Spool Knit
1. Make a slip knot and secure it over one of the popsicle sticks. Put the short end of the yarn into the tube.
2. Take the long end of the yarn to the next popsicle stick to the right. Loop the yarn behind and around that stick. Do the same thing all the way around the popsicle sticks until you are back to your original knot.
3. Loop the yarn behind and around that stick as before. Hold it firmly in place.
4. Lift the bottom loop on the popsicle stick over the top loop you just made. You have knitted a stitch.
5. Keep knitting, the tube of knitted fabric will form inside the toilet paper tube.
6. When your knitting is the correct length, cast off by moving the bottom loop one popsicle stitch to the right and using that as the top loop to make a stitch. When you get to the last loop, cut the yarn, feed it through the final loop and pull it tight.
Some other spool knitting tips:
Use bulky weight yarn, bigger stitches are easier to make.
Popsicle sticks, make a good big stitch but we didn’t have any. We used a length of dowel instead and I wouldn’t recommend that as it makes smaller and more fiddly stitches, although it doesn’t seem to be a problem for my son.
Most kids prefer to use their fingers to make the stitches, but they could also use a crochet hook.
When it’s time to put the spool knitting away, my son’s teacher puts a thick rubber band over the top of their popsicle sticks to stop the stitches falling off.
For more information about knitting in schools, please see this well researched curriculum guide by the knitting pattern designer Cat Bordhi (I love her sock patterns).