Posts Tagged ‘french knitting’

French Knitting - I forgot how much fun it actually is to sit down and do!

Don’t ask! Ive never heard it called that before but it made me giggle when I saw it; This week I’m rounding off a month of ‘Retro Crafts’ with the humble Knitting Nancy – and I forgot just what fun it could be!

Let’s do the history bit first shall we?

Knitting spools, Nancies or Knobbies, pretty much date back to Viking times with a little gadget called a ‘lucet’.

A modern day Lucet - Reminds me a bit of a chip fork 😉

Examples of these, carved from the nasal bones of cows, have been found at various archaeological dig sites in nearby York (Jorvik).

A classic wooden Knitting Nancy

The four pronged knitting spool that I refer to as a ‘Knitting Nancy’ is pretty much ‘the next generation’ of these little gizmos and is used, just like the lucet, to produce a knitted cord. But for a very comprehensive commentary on all of this I would suggest that you visit this link: as it’s jam packed with interesting info that’s punctuated with plenty of pictures and instructions for how to make and use them.

To be honest, if it was me that had to sit down and make one I’d probably do what a lot of us did at school and use an old wooden cotton reel and some nails.

I've a sneaky suspicion that there are a lot of people that were first introduced to Knitting Nancies in this way - It's a real blast from the past.

Over the last few years I’ve gathered  together a small collection of commercially produced examples in various sizes and numbers of pins – including the ‘Magi-cord’ that spits work out at a about a metre a minute at the turn of a handle. In fairness, I tend to only really use these for the occasional bit of edging or cord ties and fastenings. In the past I’ve made a few knitted and stuffed bangles and very simple knotted bracelets but that’s about as creative as I’ve ever been!

So this week I started producing a steadily growing length of knitted cord with the intention of making a nice little pot holder like this one here:

Instructions for how to make this are available here:

But then thought that maybe it would be a better idea to search out some retro inspiration:

Well I wouldn't wear it myself......

Vintage instructions for a retro pot holder.

At the moment I’ve just got a huge pile of I-cord that I can’t decide what to do with!  But I think the potholder is still pretty much on the cards due to various time constraints.

Thankfully there are much more inspiring examples of ways in which I-cord and knitting nancies have been used to create gorgeous works of art and functional fashion items if you search hard enough on the internet.

Here’s a couple of examples of what I’ve managed to find so far:

I love this! I spotted it on a great blog that you can visit from here. And the good news is that the instructions for how to make it are available to download from Ravelry –

But for the best example of the innovative use of knitting nancies to create stunning works of art you’ll need to take a look at John Binet-Fauvel’s Etsy shop and his recycled electrical wire sculptures here:

Based in Cardiff, John uses wire that he’s salvaged from scrapped electrical goods such as TV’s, old slot machines etc and then builds his own dollies to create the sizes and shapes needed to create his breathtaking knitted sculptures. Many of his creations are inspired by the sea; And they’re all amazing!

Brilliant aren’t they?

And I’m still sat here with my pile of knitted cord feeling slightly inadequate and dwarfed by the astounding talent that’s out there in the world, yet very glad to have discovered some of it to share with you 😉

Next week see’s the start of a new month and another theme – This time it’s all about the home. Until then, Happy Crafting!