There are all sorts of gadgets to create your own knitted chains or I-cords using a knitting mushroom, knitting tower, knitting spool/cork, knitting Nancy (or a knitting Ned) and so on that it makes your head spin! For my first grader’s beginning handcraft unit we began with braiding, knot-tying and finger knitting and worked our way towards using a Knitting Nancy. I realized the day before the lesson that I had neglected to purchase a Knitting Nancy ahead of time and it would be a week or longer before we would have one in our possession. Being a procrastinator and very impatient (a dreadful combination of traits to have), I decided to see if it would be possible to make my own.
A quick Google search brought up an easy one made from a toilet paper roll and four popsicle sticks or pencils. Knowing the kids in my house, that would last about two minutes, so I continued my search.
I was thrilled to stumble upon this version of the Knitting Nancy for many reasons:
:: It used resources we have readily available in our house.
:: It is easy to construct.
:: It is durable and long lasting.
:: It is an authentic Knitting Nancy, what was used once upon a time before people ran out to the stores to purchase every little item they needed around the house.
Sweet! I bustled around the house, gathered up the needed supplies and within 10 minutes, we were on our way to busily knitting lovely I-cords. Best of all, even my five-year-old who has little patience enjoyed helping make them and try them out.
A wooden spool (any size will do though I found the smaller ones split when nailed in to)
4 small nails of the same size (headless is nice but heads keep the yarn from slipping off when you travel)
Yarn (we use the Peaches ‘n Cream and Sugar ’n Cream cotton yarn but a nice wool or silk yarn would work great too)
A large needle
You can remove the remaining thread from the spool if you like but I didn’t find it necessary. Some people like to paint decorations on their wooden spools so removing the thread would be necessary in this instance. If you don’t have a wooden spool you can find them at craft stores in all different sizes.
Remove the paper from each end of the spool, exposing the holes. On one side nail the four nails like this:
I leave about 1/2” – 3/4” exposed.
To begin, poke the end of the thread down through the hole. Use the needle to make this easier or wrap some tape around the end of the yarn. Wrap the yarn around each nail, going inside to outside clockwise. Once you return to the first nail, wrap it once more.
Now lift the bottom loop over the top loop and the nail head of the first nail. Wrap the four nails again and lift the bottom loop of all four nails. Continue doing this, gently tugging on the yarn coming out of the hole about every other time around the nails. Keep your wraps loose or you will have trouble getting them over the nail head. You can also use the needle to help lift the stitches over.
Continue on until you have the length of chain you want.
To end the chain, take the last loop off the nail and loop it over the next nail. Take the bottom loop from that nail and let it slip off. Loop the top loop over the next nail and slip the bottom one off over that loop. Repeat until you get to the last loop, cut the string from the ball, take the loop off and slip the string through, pulling it tight.
Now that you have a chain, what can you do with it? They can be hair ties, belts, bracelets, jump ropes, play ropes (kids will come up with a thousand uses for them) or can be sewn together to make pot holders, trivets, hats, purses and more.
Kristine Brown is a stay-at-home mom of four children and two bonus (step) children, herbalist, homeschooler, homesteader and creator, writer and illustrator of the popular monthly ezine for children titled Herbal Roots zine. This month’s issue is all about Clove. You can read more about it and subscribe at Herbal Roots zine.