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How to french knit

How to french knit

Many of us will remember French Knitting (tubular knitting) from our childhood, using a wooden cotton reel as an introduction into knitting with two needles.

When manufacturers moved from wood to plastic cotton reels, craft stores like Hobbycraft began to offer a range of commercial French Knitting dolls.

Knitting Expert Freddie Patmore shows you how to do French Knitting with some fun ideas for what to do with your cords once you’ve made them.

How to french knit

Add some felt to a French Knitted cord for a cute face to make

Follow these simple steps to French Knitting:

1. Begin by threading the end of the yarn through the centre hole.

How to french knit

2. Holding the tail end at the bottom of the French Knitter taut, wind the the working yarn around each peg.

How to french knit

3. Take the yarn round the outside of the next peg, using the pick provided with your French Knitter lift up the loop on the peg up and over the yarn, creating a stitch. Continue making stitches in this way, until the cord starts to appear through the bottom of the Knitter.

How to french knit

Stage 3 (c) Rico Yarns

4. Work the cord to the required length.

5. To cast off, lift stitch off first peg and place on its neighbouring peg.Pull the neighbouring stitch through the past over stitch and take both stitches off the peg and place the just made stitch on the next peg.

Continue until one stitch remains. Cut the yarn, draw it through the last stitch and pull tight. Darn ends of knitting into the centre of the knitted cord.

How to french knit

Glue a length of french knitting around an old container for a colourful pen pot

Follow these simple steps to knit tubular knitting on two needles

1. Cast on 4 stitches and knit one row.

2. Do not turn your work.

3. Slip the four stitches on right needle back onto the left needle.

4. Take yarn across back of work to beginning of the four stitches and knit them again.

5. Continue in this way until desired length or required number of rows are worked.

French knitting is easy, cheap and fun, so it’s the perfect kids craft project. It’s also known as spool knitting or corking. Here’s how it’s done.

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How to french knit

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Published: July 26, 2021 at 6:50 am

Knitting is top of our list for soothing craft activities, but if you’re not sure you’re ready for knitting needles, French knitting (or “spool knitting”) is for you!

You don’t need many specialist tools to give it a go – just some yarn and a spool tool. French knitting dolls and tools are inexpensive to pick up in local craft stores or online (we’ll show you where below). Or if you prefer you can easily make your own tool from a toilet roll and some lolly pop sticks.

Shop-bought French knitting tools come in a range of designs – mostly cute, wooden, hollow tubes with 4 pins or wire loops around the top edge. In this post we’ll show you: By winding yarn around the pins in a certain way, you create long knitted strings that run down the middle of the tool, which can then be made into craft projects and gifts.

Whether you have fond memories of spool knitting as a child, you want to find out how to French knit from scratch or you’re already hooked and want to find french knitting patterns and projects, this complete guide is for you!

Scroll to the bottom of this post for our top 10 things to make with french knitting. We’ve also got a huge round-up of our favourite craft ideas for kids if this tutorial gives you and your mini makers a taste of the power of kids craft and you want to try more projects.

Or if you’re on the hunt for easy kids craft ideas with yarn, you might also like our guide for our how to do finger knitting article! If you’re ready to graduate to using knitting needles, we’ve got a handy guide to knitting for beginners to teach you the ropes.

In this guide to French knitting we’ll show you:

  • What is French knitting?
  • How too French knit – how to start French knitting
  • Step by step French knitting instructions
  • How to cast off French knitting
  • How to sew French knitting together
  • Gather up our favourite French knitting dolls, patterns and projects so show you fun things to make with french knitting.

How to french knit

What is French knitting?

French knitting (also known as Spool knitting or corking) is the making of long tubes of knitting by winding yarn around a spool. By winding the yarn repeatedly in circles around 4 pins at the top of the spool, a long thin knitted cord is created. It’s hugely soothing to do, kids love it and you don’t need to splash out on fancy supplies to give it a go.

You can pick up the spools inexpensively online (see our favourites below), or even make your own pretty simply by sticking 4 lolly pop sticks to the edges of a toilet roll. French knitting spools can also be called a French knitting tool, Knitting Nancy or knitting dolly. Apart from that you’ll just need some yarn and a pair of scissors to get going.

How to french knit

Lots of us will remember the art of French knitting (also sometimes known as spool knitting, or tomboy knitting) from our childhood. For many, it was the first introduction to knitting, with no sharp points to worry about. Plus, the wooden spool was far easier to grip than two fiddly needles!

So, here’s how to relive the days of French knitting, or help introduce your kids to this fun craft activity.

How to French knit

Step 1 – getting started

Thread the yarn through the wooden spool. This is most easily done by tying it to the wooden stick provided, and then passing the stick through the centre of the spool.

How to french knit

Leave about 4 inches of yarn at the bottom of the spool, so that you can hold onto it during the knitting process. The yarn at the top of the spool is called our ‘working yarn’.

How to french knit

Take the working yarn and wrap it around one of the pegs in a clockwise direction.

How to french knit

Top tip! Don’t pull the yarn too tightly, or it will be difficult to knit your first round.

Work your way round the spool in a counter clockwise direction, wrapping each peg once, and remembering to wrap each peg in a clockwise direction.

How to french knit

Repeat the above steps until you have wrapped each peg a second time, and created two layers of loops.

How to french knit

Now you’re ready to begin knitting!

Step 2 – creating your cord

Using the wooden stick, lift the bottom loop on each peg up and over the yarn wound around the outside of the peg. Move counter clockwise around the spool, repeating for each peg. This will create a row of stitches.

How to french knit

Repeat the process from Step 2, wrapping another round of loops around the pegs. Then repeat Step 3, lifting the bottom layer of loops again to make another row of stitches.

Pull the yarn from the bottom of the spool.

How to french knit

Continue repeating these steps, and you’ll start to see a four-sided knitted tube come out of the bottom of the spool. We will call this the ‘cord’.

How to french knit

Top tip! Remember to pull the cord down through the spool regularly and keep it as neat as possible.

Continue working in an anti-clockwise direction around the spool until your cord has reached the desired length.

Step 3 – casting off

To cast off, cut the working yarn and thread it through each loop, and then lift the loops off each peg.

How to french knit

Pull the cord through the spool. Then pull the cord and the end of the working yarn tightly to secure. Then simply trim away the excess working yarn to leave you with a complete cord.

How to french knit

Now it’s time to get creative! Popular ideas for French knitting include coasters, hanging decorations, and accessories. Take a peek at our Pinterest board for some fun inspiration.

French knitting (also called tomboy stitch or spool knitting) is a great craft for kids to make long snakes of knitted braid. The handheld tool used for french knitting is often called a ‘Knitting Nancy’, French knitting dolly or tomboy. The stitches are created by wrapping yarn around pegs and then lifting the stitches over the pegs. Here’s how to make a homemade French Knitting Nancy out of a toilet roll, lollipop sticks and washi tape.

How to french knit

You will need:

  • Toilet roll or thin tube
  • 4 lollipop sticks
  • Washi tape
  • Glue

How to make the French Knitting Nancy:

  • Decorate your toilet roll first if you like. You could colour it with pens, cover it with wrapping paper or some decorative sticky back plastic.
  • Glue the 4 lollipop sticks vertically around the toilet roll, leaving about 2cm of lolly stick sticking out above the toilet roll.
  • Wrap some decorative washi tape around the top and bottom of the roll to secure.

How to french knit

How to french knit

How to French Knit

To learn how to do French knitting using your toilet roll knitting nancy, click here to see our Red Kite Days French knitting photo tutorial.

French Knitting Fun Facts

The Guiness World Record for the longest French Knitting is 31.42 Km by Edward Hannaford in April 2016! It has taken him over 20 years to make and he’s still going!

If you like to watch someone doing a craft then take a look at the video after the step by step instructions.

You will need:

French Knitting Nancy (or doll)

Step 1: Form the first loop

Form a loop using a slip knot as if you were going to do ordinary knitting or crocheting.

How to french knit

Place the loop over one of your posts (or pins) on the Nancy. Let the tail end of the yarn fall down through the Nancy.

How to french knit

Step 2: Form the first row

Wrap the yarn around the next post (or pin) around the top of the Nancy in an anti-clockwise direction.

How to french knit

Repeat this process around the remaining two posts.

How to french knit

How to french knit

Step 3: Add a row of loops

Take the yarn and wrap it around the post containing that first loop that you made. Repeat all the way around the Nancy so that you have two loops on each post (pin).

How to french knit

Step 4: Form the knitting

On the post that you placed the first loop on (in my case the blue one) take the bottom loop and pull it up over the second loop and ‘drop it off’ into the tube. You have now made a stitch. You can do this with your fingers but if you have a small ‘doll’ you may need to use a crochet hook.

How to french knit

Repeat for the remaining 3 posts and you will have completed a round of knitting.

How to french knit

Step 5: Continuous knitting

Now wrap the yarn around all the posts again in turn and repeat the process in Step 4 until you have the required length of knitting.

How to french knit

Next week I will show you how to cast off your French Knitting ready to create your final product.

I hope that you are enjoying your French Knitting. I found it really relaxing to do in front of the television in an evening. This infinity scarf is what I made with mine! I just sewed the tubes of knitting together but more about that in the next post (How to cast off and Create Masterpieces).

How to french knit

Of course, it is also a great way for kids to produce a lot of knitting very quickly with minimal difficulty. A great school holiday rainy day activity.

Here are some more great craft tutorials for you to try:

Remember to pin this tutorial on Pinterest so that you can find it later.

Now we’ll learn how to French knit! This activity is a fun way to pass your time and can be learned very quickly either on your own or with aid from a helper. K nitting with this doll requires fine motor skill and enough dexterity to able to hold a knitting needle.

How to french knit

You will need:

  • Your knitting doll
  • Yarn
  • A pointed stick ( this could be a knitting needle or a cuticle pusher)

Pass the end of your yarn through the center of your tube.

How to french knit

Loop the yarn clockwise around the sticks, following the direction of the arrows. The yarn should always loop round each peg, starting from the left-hand side first.

How to french knit

Repeat this until all 4 sticks have a single loop around their base.

How to french knitHow to french knit

Wrap the loose yarn in front of the next stick in a clockwise direction. Using the pointed stick, pull the loop below up and over the stick and loop you just created, securing the new loop in place.

To make this process easier, be sure not to pull too tightly on the loose yarn as this will make the looping process harder later.

How to french knit How to french knit

Step 5

Every few loops pull the string down from the bottom end of the tube. After awhile, your work will start to appear out of the bottom end.

How to french knit

Continue this process of looping the bottom loop over the newly wrapped piece of yarn and pulling it down for as long as you like!

Once you are finished you will need to cast off your knitting.
To do this, follow the steps below.

Lift the stitch off of the first peg and loop over the neighboring peg moving counter-clockwise around the tube.

How to french knit

Pull the bottom loop over the new loop and peg and loop onto the next neighboring loop.

How to french knit

Continue around all the pegs until there is just one stitch left on the final peg.

How to french knit

Cut the yarn loose with about a palm size length left to spare. Tuck the loose end though the final loop and pull. The loop will pull off of the stick and will tie into a tight knot, securing your work.

How to french knitHow to french knit

Once your work is secure, tuck the ends inside of itself using a needle or your pointy stick.

How to french knit How to french knit

Watch this video for further tips on how to french knit.

Here are some ideas for what you can do with your work!

How to french knit How to french knitHow to french knit

However you decide to use your knitting , be sure to share photos of your creations with us on social media and tag:

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      • Home >
      • FREE TUTORIAL – Finger "French Knitting"

      FREE tutorial

      Finger “French Knitting”

      Finger “French knitting” is a new technique which allows you to knit an i-cord or a french knitted rope without any divice. only your fingers.

      – this is tubular knitting and your figer acts like pegs
      – here the keft hand acts like the “French Knitter” and carries the stitches
      – to knit your cord, you can go from left to right or right to left (fig. 13 to 17).
      – the cords you make can be hand crocheted, braided or sawn together to create scarves, stoles, carpets, belts, or straps and bag handles.

       MERCI DE RESPECTER LES DROITS D’AUTEUR. NE PAS COPIER.

      NOTIONS

      How to french knit

      LOVE the collection, Anne! I have some of those round looms and a straight one and was looking for more ideas 🙂 Pinning this !

      Wow! You found a lot!! Looks like a fun and easy way to get started.

      Some nice stuff there Ann…I did do a bit of that at school though but never did anything with it!

      Gosh there are some amazing things in there, I stopped encouraging french knitting because I couldn't work out what to do with it all. Looks like that problem is now solved, thanks for sharing

      I have not done french knitting since I was a kid! I used to do it all the time but I can not think of what we did with it except make dolls scarves LOL

      Some great ideas there Anne! I'm putting a sewing kit together for Olive this Xmas and planned to include a knitting doll. Especially love the headband idea!!
      Di x

      We used a cotton reel with nails, until someone gave us a fancy Knitting Nancy… used to love French knitting, but I'm not sure what we ever did with the very, very long chains we made. Love that octopus, even though it has far more than 8 legs.

      I never knew this was called French knitting, Anne! I've always called it spool knitting! Great round-up!

      This is so clever, my daughter has french knitting kit but I don't think she really knows what to do with it. I'll have to show her this post.

      Love the Christmas Tree idea. I love the way it comes our of the tube so even. My son brought one home from school and was really into it for a while.
      I will remember this for when my daughter does the same.
      Carolyn

      Am thinking of lots of ideas for xmas decorations not least as a braid to hang all the those felt hearts and red pompoms along that I have been making.

      Wow! I had never really thought you could do anything with it except for making the biggest ball of string ever! There are some ace ideas here and my 7 year olds just getting into it and loves the flowers and headband. Thanks for this!

      I just got a small knitting spool and want to see all that I can do with it. Glad to find this post!

      Have just stumbled on this post – it's great – as was just thinking about re-igniting this childhood delight – who knew you could do so much.

      Hi Crafters and Knitters
      Just wanted to say the chain or cord made on a French knitting doll aka knitting Nancy is called i-cord. The ‘i’ unflatteringly stands for idiot. If you search I cord projects you can find many more projects. The cord can be made on two double pointed needles if you want more range of cord sizes. You vary thickness by casting on more stitches up to six nd no fewer than three. I like making branches to apleque onto cushions blankets etc add knitted or fabric leaves to complete the effect.

      Thanks very much for the advice Simon. I appreciate it.

      I love French knitting. I have a spool but I did not know I had it. I have some done on it. I have to do a rug. There is to much done. Next time WIll make them smaller.
      Thank you
      Adrienne

      You’re very welcome Adrienne!

      I used to do French knitting or tomboy stitch with my Year 3 class every year. A good way to use the finished product …. I threaded a wooden coat hanger through the “tube” of wool and this became the Christmas present for parents each year. Some children could manage working with double wool and this gave a better coverage over the hanger. It was easier to get the hanger through if you put slicky tape on the end of the hanger to help it slip through. A very useful present for both Mum & Dad. Often kids chose to use the colours of their Father’s football team.

      Hi Nanette! Thanks so much for your comment. I love that idea of using it for coat hangers. I might get my daughter to make a few up for herself in her favourite colours. She’s right into crochet at the moment but still partial to French knitting. Thanks again!

      This great site, I’ve just bought a knitting Nancy as I remember doing it as a child on cold winter nights sat by the fire, but now I simply couldn’t remember how to start it off then there what do do with it when finished, now I know, what brilliant ideas, it would be lovely put in a book so I could buy it though because at 68 I have a head like a sieve. I can’t wait to see what I make now from your lovely ideas, thank you so much for sharing

      Oh, I’m so glad Val. I’m 52 and already have a head like a sieve so there’s no hope for me! lol Thanks for letting me know. Glad I could help.

      Bonjour .
      Merci pour votre accueil. Je fais beaucoup de choses aussi avec de la récupération, c’est génial on va pouvoir échanger nos idées. Merci beaucoup pour votre générosité. Valérie

      Bonjour! Merci beaucoup!

      Thank u madam for sharing with is all the thing we can do with French knitting. I never knew there where so much one can do. Will definately try it today. Thanks again.

      Pls madam I want to find out how you where able to knit on an hair band. Thank u

      Hi, thank you for getting in touch and thank you for your kind words. Sorry that the link to the hair band didn’t work. I did find this Youtube clip that shows you how to cover a hair band. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu4E6qPVfRI I hope it helps. Best of luck!

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      am reading this enormous informative piece of writing here at my residence.

      Every weekend i used to pay a quick visit this site,
      as i wish for enjoyment, as this this web site conations really pleasant funny information too.

      Download my FREE ebook: “How to Live a Royal Life on Very Little Income” CLICK HEREHow to french knit

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      How to french knit

      French knitting is a fun and thrifty way to make cool projects using colourful wool – and you can get started with only a handful of common craft supplies you’ve probably already got at home! Check out Momtaz Begum-Hossain’s step-by-step tutorial below and create your own DIY loom, then master the technique yourself to create bracelets, brooches, coasters and more!

      You Will Need:

      Step 1:

      How to french knit

      Measure your tube and mark off where 7 inches is. Cut off the rest so you end up with a tube that measures 7 inches across.

      Step 2:

      How to french knit

      Next, decorate it. You can either paint the tube to make it more colourful, or stick washi tape along the surface. Stick your lolly sticks inside the tube so they are all facing opposite each other; you can use glue or tape. Then stick a small button on the outside end of each stick; this will stop your knitting from falling off your loom.

      Step 3:

      How to french knit

      Take your yarn and drop the end through your tube, leaving a tail at the bottom that measures a few inches, hanging loose.

      Step 4:

      How to french knit

      Next, you need to cast on your stitches. Take the top end of your yarn that is attached to your ball of wool and wind it once around one of your lolly sticks. Move to the next stick and do the same, then do this again for the 3rd and 4th sticks.

      Step 5:

      How to french knit

      When you get back to that first stick, place your yarn above the line of yarn that is already wound around the stick. Take your wooden skewer and lift that bottom yarn over the top one then tug gently on the tail that is sticking out at the end.

      Step 6:

      How to french knit

      Now you need to keep going around and doing the same thing on every stick– this is your knitting technique. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll see the knitting start to gather inside the top of your cardboard roll while at the bottom, a line of knitting will come out.

      How to french knit

      You can change colour at any time by tying a new yarn onto the end, and cutting off the yarn you’re using.

      Step 7:

      How to french knit

      Once you’ve reached the length you’d like to make, cut off your yarn ball, leaving a few inches. Thread this end onto your needle. Go up through one of the stitches on a stick, lift it up and then bring your needle back through it – this is the casting off. Do the same on all four sticks, pulling gently to tighten it each time. Your knitting will now be off your loom and ready to use.

      How to french knit

      Five Things You Can Do With Your French Knitting:

      • Turn it into bracelets
      • Make a piece that’s long enough to become a necklace
      • Make a brooch – do this by winding your knitting up, gluing the end, stitching a brooch back on and sticking a button, badge, or other object in the centre
      • Make a coaster by winding a large piece together and gluing the end
      • Cover a jar with your knitting by winding it around and gluing it on to make a decorative pen pot!

      How to french knit

      What will you create with your new-found French knitting skills? Let us know in the comments! And if you’d like even more creative home craft ideas to keep you busy, dive into the rest of our projects and tutorials right here.