Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas is almost here!

Here is my dear husband's (Chris)
first attempt at woodturning -
just playing a little and using whatever wood he
had on hand. Well, I had to make something of it
seeing that he had tried very hard.
So it became an old world Santa!

Concerning the other spoolknitters that I
have to paint, there has been little time to
complete them, so they will now have
to wait until January.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I received an interesting book today from Francis Spear.
Called "Games We Play", it tells of the history of J. W. Spear
& Sons - the Spear's Games Empire, and most importantly
to me, the makers of the fabulous Spear's Knitting Nancy.

Above, is the cover of the book and below, is part of the
marvellous artwork on the cover showing the Knitting Nancy.

I made a fabulous discovery too - what I have been referring to as
"Knitting Neville" (my nickname), is in fact a "Peter" or Strick-Peter
(Knitting Peter). I put to Francis Spear the query that perhaps the
"Peter" was designed to encourage boys to take up the craft, and
Francis agreed.

The Knitting Nancy is just a very small part of the story.

If you would like to know more, click here for the website and
you can also order a book for yourself. Don't delay as supplies
are limited.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Here is the second newly painted cat spool knitter.
Work is still continuing.
Check back again, soon!!

Friday, December 7, 2007


After a few days of hot weather which is not ideal
conditions for painting, for me at least, today was cooler.
So, work on the spoolknitters has begun.
Here is the first, a cat.
It is my design and somewhat of an
experiment as to whether it would work. I didn't
want a cute cat, but a little more realistic.
I really concentrated on the face.

Well, I think I achieved the look I wanted.

Work is continuing weather permitting!

Thursday, December 6, 2007


These are recently found new spool knitters.
Cat, monkey, mouse, duck, zebra, and elephant.
Don't they look like a fun group - all with
their skinny body handles!

I thought you might enjoy seeing these while I am busy
painting more spool knitters.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Ready to Paint!

Francois is amazing!
He can take my very rough drawing
and turn it into a spool knitter. His work is so beautifully done!
Here are four of the new spoolknitters ready for me
to paint. The one on the left is taken from a vintage spoolknitter,
and the three on the right are entirely my design.
I wonder if you can guess what they will be!

Below - the one in the middle you will probably recognise. I
am going to paint it like the vintage tricotins instead of a "knitting
Nancy" as previously done. (See post Knitting Nancy in October).
The two either side are an experiment and nothing more to
say there for now - you will just have to wait and see what
they will become.

Below - no guesses here - I think they will speak for

I am so thrilled to be able to paint these as the "Spears"
vintage Knitting Nancy(s).

Thankyou so much, Francois!

Check back soon for the results!


Thursday, November 29, 2007


I recently found this fabulous children's book called Spoolcraft
by Arden Newsome.
Published in 1974, a hard cover book with 156 pages,
it is full of very interesting projects.

........Spool People......
...Dolls and Dolls Furniture...
.....Spool Toys.....
...Knitting and Printing with Spools...
.....Spool Games.....
.....Indian Novelties.....
...Gifts, Gadgets and Decorations...

Among these headings are of course - how to spool
knit, a spool knitter to make in the
simple form of a "giraffe", and a spool knitted Santa project.
As well as a rocking horse, spool handle jump rope,
clown puppet, bowling set, totem pole, jingle bell pin,
pincushion lady, Nativity, and many, many more projects.

In seeking out books with spool knitting, it is really worthwhile
taking a look at children's books.


In the course of looking at these projects, it came to mind
as to what other items could possibly be made into
spoolknitters apart from cotton reels/spools?

Skipping rope handles,
door handles,
plastic tubes,
cardboard cylinders,
wooden ornaments,
table legs,
and large beads are
just some that I came up with.

Can you think of any others?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Back to Nancy!

As I keep saying, there are so many questions
regarding vintage spool knitters.
If you find them without a box, how are you to
know who, where and when the
spool knitter was made?
The spool knitters themselves give you very little
answers as to their maker or origin.
The knitting Nancies of Spears Games' are perhaps the
most recognisable spool knitters.
Then when you come across what look like later versions
of the "Nancy in the skirt", there are more
questions that arise.
Are they simply copying the style? Are they authorised
makes? Where were they made? And so it goes on......
If anyone has any of these later versions in their
original boxes, I would dearly love to hear from you.
If anyone has any definite information at all about these,
could you please let me know?

Above is a vintage Knitting Spool Outfit. We have a lot of
information here on the box BUT there is no date.
We can only take an estimated guess here and the
only thing to go by is the style of the illustration on
the top of the box.
The knitting "looms" to create the flat
"play-horse" reins are very simply made. Nothing to
suggest great style here. Sadly there are no
instructions with the box, so nothing there to give
you any clues. I would guess at 1920's for the approx.
date for this set according to the style of the children's clothes.
But it is hard to say if this illustration was following the fashion
of the day or if it was just a "comical decoration" (for want
of a better description), for the box.

I am open to suggestions here, any information, any
one willing to discuss this further. Hopefully, we can
learn something.

Below is the lid close -up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007



A line-up of spool knitting Soldiers.

These are popular French (tricotins) spool knitting Soldiers.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Made in Germany?

These two spool knitters, I have been told,
were Made in Erzgebirge, Germany.
I would appreciate any information on these
spool knitters and if they originally
came in a box.
There are no markings on the bottom
of the spool knitter.

Side view

Back view

Thursday, November 1, 2007


It is amazing that even in the spool knitting collecting world there
are so many questions as to why things are the way
they are. The more you get into it (collecting), the more there
are puzzling finds.

Below are two vintage Knitting Nancy boxes. Have you ever
wondered why the Knitting Nancy illustration is shown knitting
on four double pointers?

The first box shows a different "Nancy" (note the missing staples/nails)
on the lid compared to the second "Nancy" box.

Written on the lid is - Registered Spear's Games in Great Britain. Made at the Spear Works Bavaria. Designed in England Copyright.
I would take a guess and say that this one is the older of the two boxes.

Funnily enough, this was the "Nancy" found in this box.

This box has - Trademark Reg. Spear's Games Great Britain and Canada.
Made at the Spear Works Bavaria. Boxed in England. British Wool.
Also - "With improved Staples"

And again, this "Nancy" was found in the second box.

Above are the two "Knitting Nancies" shown together.
(Yes, they are more like "Nevilles").

And now we have a box dated 2003 from Rocket Toys & Games
with an address in England, an email address, and a website.
The Knitting Nancy found in this box is the same as
the later Knitting Nancy from Spears Games from
the 1990's before it (Spears Games) was sold
to Mattel. Even though the lid of this set shows
yet a different "Knitting Nancy",
the picture on the instructions found inside
show that this IS the original to this set.
See below........And now for a complete surprise ....... is this French Knitting Set
by Airlite Regd. - Product of G. Lawrence (Art Needlework) Ltd.
Petts Wood. Kent. - note how many nails? Three, and no,
there isn't one missing. This is the first VINTAGE spool knitter
I have found with just three nails. Take a look at the
picture on the box - three nails. There is no date or instructions
with the box.
I know that spool knitting is possible with different numbers of
nails - I have new spool knitters with two or more nails.
But this is the first VINTAGE product found with three nails.
I would guess it is possibly from around 1950's to 60's.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Finally, I have finished painting the next two
tricotins/spool knitters
cleverly turned for me by my
very generous friend.

The larger of the two, I have painted as a Spanish Rose.
She wears a lacy top and also has gold earrings.
I felt that this tricotin/spool knitter was able to be painted differently
rather than traditionally seeing that it
was unusually bigger than its original. (see post "New Tricotins")

The second one is somewhat of a mixture of
ideas. Not too sure about what I wanted, but I didn't
want the traditional style who all seem to be a
cheeky looking masculine figure.
I would have liked perhaps a Victorian style figure
but as the skirt would need to be longer, that would
have looked a little silly.
So I ended up trying a different colour combination,
making it a female, with a lacy skirt.
Quite a mixture, but I suppose it all adds
to her character!

Sorry about the glare!
So what do you think?
Please click on pictures to enlarge them, you can see
the detail of the flowery lace!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Spear's Games Vintage Knitting Nancy

Francis Spear, a family member of the Spear's Games empire, and myself have been corresponding over the past few months.
Francis has been wonderful in assisting me with my enquiries regarding how the Knitting Nancy came to be.
I was in particular, interested to find out about the painting of the Knitting Nancy.
The following is what Francis has told me, ... quote ...
"J. W. Spear & Sons was originally a German company and all items were manufactured in Nuremberg. In 1932, a factory was established in England which made and assembled English language boxes but obtained most of the components from Germany.
After the war, both branches were independent as far as product selection and design was concerned, but did not compete in each other's territory."
"... the English branch in particular sometimes took liberties with the designs, the important thing being - in the case of a handicraft item - that it worked, had good instructions, and was easy for the child to do.
As a secondary consideration, production cost was also important and often designs were changed to reduce this. Knitting Nancy figures were an example.
Originally, they were mostly hand-painted but some time in the 1970's or 80's, the process was mechanised, the solid colours being applied by dipping and for the face and hair, we used a special printing machine."
Thanks so much again Francis, your friendship is invaluable!

Because I love the Spear's vintage Knitting Nancy so much, I decided to paint my third blank spool knitter as a "Knitting Nancy", (see previous post), even though it is a little larger and slightly different in shape, I am rather pleased with the results. I would really love to find more (blanks) so that I can paint them in other colours, too! Do you like it?

Here it is with a vintage "Knitting Nancy" for comparison.

And here are the group of the rest of the "Knitting Nancies". The first one is
a very much loved Knitting Nancy!

For further reading about Spear's Games Knitting Nancy please see my other posts
on August 6, 2007 - Spool Knitter Evolution!
and September 21, 2007 - A Little More About Spear's Games Knitting Nancy ..........


Monday, October 15, 2007


Recently, a very generous friend made me some fabulous tricotins
(french spool knitters), based on the ones from the pages of
Marie Claire Idees No. 62 Septembre 2006.

Due to a very busy schedule I have just managed
to paint two so far.

Here is one original (below) between the newly turned tricotins.

I chose these two to paint first. They are rare tricotins
especially here in Australia, and so because of that
I decided to keep the traditional look of these
just as they are found in the magazine.

I have been very lucky to find one original and here it
is again with the two newly painted tricotins.

Here are some tricotins featured in the magazine - Marie
Claire Idees.
The next three tricotins will be posted as soon as they are finished.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Due to a very busy schedule this week,
this is a very short post.
Just a little something for the eye!
These are spool knitters from France where they are called
tricotins. The faces are somewhat childish
which leads me to believe that they were produced
in a cottage industry, where everyone painted them
professional or not.
Do you see a pattern here?
The three on the left I would believe to be painted by one worker.
The three in the middle I believe to be painted by another worker.
The green (white apron) and the red (yellow apron) another worker.
And the fellow on the end, another worker.
Would you agree with me?

I am currently involved in much crafting and painting, so I hope to have
something special to show you within the week!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Please, KNOW what you are buying,
gather any information you can,
seek out all pictures- vintage and new.
Not all sellers are experts.

Recently, there was a sale on the internet of a penguin spool knitter
which was being sold as a rare Laine du Pingouin tricotin (French spool knitter).
Needless to say it sold for a considerable sum of money
but it wasn't authentic! I felt that I should show the differences
between these spool knitters for future reference.

I have two "Laine du Pingouins" - one of which is in its original box.
Below are the two originals - the one on the right came with the box
and is the earlier model of the two.
(Note the orange bases and the large, very long beaks.)

Below are two penguin spool knitters that I recently purchased from England.
They are new
(and fabulous), and cost me around AU$9.00 each.
This is the penguin spool knitter
that was mistaken for the "Laine du Pingouin".
They are not fakes, and they were not intended to be a
reproduction of
the "Laine" pingouin.
Below - a close up of the "Laine Du Pingouins".
Below - a close up of the new penguins with their gold
coloured nails. Their paint finish is glossier although it is hard
to see it in these photos,
Group photo with the "Laine du Pingouin" in the middle.
Below are the bases for comparison.
Left - is the "Laine du Pingouin" and
stamped FRANCE on the bottom and is bigger
in diameter.
Right - the new Penguin spool knitter from England.
Here is the sheet of instructions included with the
"Laine du Pingouin" knitting kit .I know that there is very little written about spool knitters,
but for collectors, don't pay any more for a spool knitter than what
it is worth - and I repeat, KNOW what you are buying.

I don't call myself an expert and I welcome all
comments, opinions, criticisms, all in
an effort to learn more about spool knitters.
Please share what you know,
I would love to hear from you!