Posts Tagged ‘retro crafts’

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!

A mega quick offering this week I’m afraid, as things have got very busy again at Bully Bus HQ 😉

And this time I’m going to show you a quick way to make perfect pom poms with another gadget from my crafting arsenal. It beats cutting out little cardboard circles like folks used to do back in the Seventies and can also be very therapeutic!

First you’ll need a pom-pom maker and some wool.

My pom-pom makers come in two identical hinged pieces – one half with holes and the other with knobbly bits. Line them up as shown with opposite sides facing each other.

Start wrapping the wool round.

Keep going until both sides are well wrapped.

Trim the end of wool to leave a short tail. Close the hinged pieces together and use the little white clips to fasten everything in place.

There’s a little ‘channel’ running between each half of the pom pom makers – Use this as a guideline for cutting through the wrapped wool.

Work all the way round. Cut a length of yarn to secure everything in place – use the cutting channel as a guideline again for where to bind and tie this.

Release the little white clips and ease the pom pom out by opening each hinged piece and removing.

Give the pom pom a little shake to help fluff it up. You may find that there are a few uneven ends – You’ll need some sharp scissors to give it a little haircut and even it up if it needs it 😉

My pom pom still needs a bit of trimming to make it perfectly spherical – then I need to make a further eight exactly the same, plus one that’s slightly larger.

Why? You may ask. Well, this month’s theme is all about retro crafts and I did say at the beginning that I wanted to make something nice for my home and something equally stunning for my camper van. So…….. a crocheted loom flower throw for the bus (which I’m tackling as and when I get any spare time), and something stunning from my little ‘Bazaar Time’ booklet (circa 1960’s) for my home.

Something stunning with pom-poms? Take a closer look at the cover and you’ll see it 🙂


A pom-pom poodle toilet roll cover! The epitomy of retro style and taste; I’m going to have the best looking bathroom in the UK when it’s finished! Now it’s just a matter of finding the time to get it done as I’m currently busy crocheting chicken egg cozies and amigurumi bunnies for Easter. Maybe I should have plumped for the pom-pom chicken design that’s also featured in my ancient crafting booklet instead ……. a cool idea for something to do with the kids methinks. Oh well………Happy Crafting!