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French Knitting - DIY

French Knitting is known by a few different names. Bobbin knitting, corking, spool knitting, a knitting nancy, and french knitting are different names for the same thing. This is a form of knitting that uses a spool and a number of nails that produce a narrow tube of fabric. No matter what you call it, many different things can be made from the resulting tube. 

In researching for this post, I haven’t been able to find the history behind the name french knitting. However, I did find this interesting fact about knitting and France.

     Tricoteuse is French for “knitting woman.” During the French Revolution, a group of
     knitting women would sit beside the guillotine and knit through the executions. The         
     Commune of Paris organized and paid these women to attend beheadings and tribunals     
     “to greet death, to insult the victims, and to glut their eyes with blood.” They would jeer         
     and shriek and knit as the upper class was led to the guillotine.  

     Nargi, Lela. 2011. Knitting around the World: A Multistranded History of a Time-Honored         
     Tradition. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press        

There are a variety of different French Knitters. You can easily make your own. Traditionally a wooden thread spool would have four or so nails hammered into the top to make a french knitter. You can make one using pencils and a toilet paper tube. The design isn’t limited to these materials, many different things can be used in a variety of sizes as well. 



  • toilet paper rolls (2)
  • skewers (2 cut to 4 total pieces)
  • Duct tape
  • yarn

Total time to make the French Knitter might have been five minutes. It is very easy to make and use. And a great introduction to knitting for children. 



Place the four skewers equal distance from each other around the toilet paper tube.

Cover the exterior of the tube with the skewers in place with Duct tape.
This could be finished but I decided I wanted to make mine a bit more stable. I cut the second toilet paper tube along 
it's diagonal seam. 

The second tube will be placed INSIDE the French Knitter. 

I used more Duct tape to hold the interior tube in place. 

An example of the results using the French Knitter with cotton yarn.

To use a French Knitter, download this free PDF instruction sheet. [French knitting instruction sheet]

You can also buy a variety of different French Knitters. The example above is actually a machine that does the knitting for you as you turn the handle. It does take a bit to get it set up and started. The pink examples in the top photo were made with this machine. You can find the machine on Amazon. 

This post is a part of the Kids Crafts from Around the World Party in celebration of craft month.


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