Sunday, September 30, 2007


This is a vintage pattern that
I found in a 1930's needlework book.
With the popularity of spool-knitted jewellery at the
moment - it shouldn't take much to transform this
pattern into something extra-special.
So talented spool knitters, here it is - just add your magic
touch - beads, glitter, and glitz!
And don't you love the look of this glamorous lady!

(click on picture for larger image)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I am always happy to receive another spool knitter or two!
These are the latest arrivals and another piece of the puzzle......

After my post in August, I was lucky to find this Dutch Knitting Spools set by Samuel Gabriel Sons and Company from the USA.
Above - the side of the box

These are of the same style as the "Little Orphan Annie" and "Little Bo Peep". At first I thought that the "series" was children's book characters, but this find has changed that. I am even more curious as to what else may come to light regarding these types of spool knitters. Can I safely assume that they (this type) are all Made in USA by Samuel Gabriel Sons & Company?

The two spool knitters close-up, a dutch boy and girl.

These last two photos (below) are of the spool knitters (tricotins)
from France -
two cheeky characters and a mushroom.

This soldier is in its original box - Mon Tricotin in France.
(Just a pity there is no other information on the box.)
But it is always a plus to find them in their own boxes!

Friday, September 21, 2007


I am very happy to be able to add more information regarding the Spear's Games Knitting Nancy and Kwiknit too!
I was fortunate (and thrilled) to hear from Francis Spear, a family member of the Spear's Games empire who was able to shed a little light on the Knitting Nancy and its knitting partner - the Kwiknit.
Thankyou so much Francis!

"... regards the history of Knitting Nancy. This method of knitting is of course very old and was not introduced by Spear's. I believe people made their own from cotton bobbins and four nails. I believe however that Spear's were the first to use staples, which are said to make it easier to slide the wool off, but I have not documentary evidence of this. The name "Knitting Nancy" was a Spear's trademark. Similar devices were sold by other manufacturers under other names."

"I expect you know that Spear's also produced "Kwiknit" which worked on the same principle but produced material up to 16 inches wide, wide enough to make simple articles of clothing. These were advertised to mothers as a way to save money. ...... Knitting Nancy (Strick Liesel in German) was introduced in 1926."

Below are some of the Spear's Games products - Kwiknits, and Junior Handicraft Outfit.

On the cover - "Spear's Improved Adjustable Knitting Apparatus"
registered in SPEARS GAMES Great Britain and Canada
Manufactured at the Spear Works Bavaria - designed in England Copyright
(no date)

Above - the open Kwiknit box showing the metal knitting device and the staples. It also includes instructions and patterns.

Above - the knitting device here is plastic. (no date)

The Kwiknit box opened - showing the green plastic device, a homemade knitting device and tool, plus two pattern books - in English and French.

Junior Handicraft Outfit - Weaving, Knitting and Embroidering
(no date)
On the cover - Made in England
Embroidery Hoop Empire Made
Reg.d Trade Mark
Made by J. W. Spear & Sons Ltd., Enfield, Middx, England

Added Sept 26th - showing the inside of the Junior Handicraft Outfit.
I have said this before but it is great to find more than one spool knitter in a box. The small spool and the yellow hat fellow were obviously added some time later. And note that the "knitting Nancy" is different to the one on the cover!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Here is a fascinating look at how a tricotin (French spool knitter) is made. I am delighted to present these pictures to you with the kind permission of woodworker, Francois!

These tricotins are made of ash wood. Their aspect varies a bit depending on the part of the tree the wood is coming from and so the veneer would differ.

1. Blanks

2. Roughing

3. Drilling

4. Initial shaping

5. Detailing

6. Shaping finished

7. Sanding

8. Polishing with shavings

9. Turning finished

10. New tricotins!

Ready to be painted! Aren't they fabulous!
Thankyou so much, Francois!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Being the crazy collector that I am, I have to have a regular fix of spoolies, so, what better way than to make your own!

I have a large collection of sewing bits and pieces, so it wasn't hard to find empty wooden cotton reels/spools.

Here are a selection of spools, although they are a little small, but I continued on regardless and asked Chris (dear husband) to cut and nail some parts for me. I have decided to leave the labels on.

After sorting and glueing together, we now have the above line-up.

And here are three so far - I will add the next three as soon as they are completed.
Fiddly work with the smallest - pirate, being just 2 inches (5cms) tall, the granny about the same size, and the gentleman, at 3 inches (7cms). .....stay tuned!

..and here they are... these are smaller than 2 inches and I am not too happy with how they look ..... patchwork girl, young knave, and king. If there is a next time, I will be looking for larger samples.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

la vie du Collectionneur!

Here are pages from the French collector's newspaper - la vie du Collectionneur dated - 30 mai 1997.

(click on picture for larger image)
............"Copyrighted by La Redoute in 1924, the word "tricotin" has become a common noun. This simple object has been in production by different companies for the past 50 years. The origin of the tricotin coincides with the transformation of La Redoute into a catalog company, when, just after World War 1, the big yarn factories of Roubaix were looking for a way of unloading their surplus. The tricotins were sold for 6 francs (old) or else given away to schools, in order to incite a need for yarn. This idea was copied by other factories, department stores, and toy companies. The tail of yarn made by the tricotin was called a chainette. (The lanyards of the 1960s were obviously inspired by the tricotin.)
The form of the tricotin was often human, but sometimes animal, as in the case of the Pingouin yarn company penguin. They were most often made of hand-painted wood, but also came in plaster, pressed board, paper mache, porcelain, terracotta, and plastic. Not coincidentally, when the figures represented by the tricotins were anonymous, they were simple people: the model housewife, the country girl, the spinster, the courageous soldier back from the war. When they weren't anonymous they were still basic popular icons: Guignol (French character puppet from the early 1800s), Pierrot (clown), Charlot (Charlie Chaplin), Becassine (popular French character from children's books) - stereotypes were never far off, with the Black one looking exactly like the Black Banania (image/advertisement on containers of a popular French chocolate and banana flavoured drink), and the Chinese one looking exactly like the Chinese people in the Tintin series of comics by Herge. But, in spite of everything about the tricotin and its origins being simple, common, basic, and stock, what today's collector has to survey is a huge variety of forms, subjects, materials, and styles."..........
Thanks so much to Abby for your help in the translation!

Portrait of a Collector
................."Pierre Christin, a famous painter in Paris, looks for tricotins in the St Ouen flea market with his wife Nicole. He will only pay a few cents for one. 20 years ago he got attracted by the simplicity of them. We used his collection to illustrate our article. For Pierre, an old Hippie, these are Outsider Art (folk art?) because of their interesting simplicity, their naivety, and their diverse expressions revealing a lot about the person who painted them - just like in real art"................

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Looking for books (in english) that are totally about spool knitting is not easy, but I have found the two below on eBay.

The first book "Corking" was published in 1998 by Judy Ann Sadler.
This book has patterns for toys, puppets, dolls' clothes, clothing, hair accessories, etc.

Below is the book - "Knitting Knobby Hobby" a publication by C J Bates & Son in 1978.
This book has patterns for toys, belts, coasters, napkin holder, xmas tree ornaments, hats, jewelry (jewellery), slippers, pin cushions, etc.

If you are a doll lover/collector, below we have the book "Spool Knitting Treasures: Small Dolls & Pocket Pals" by Noreen Crone-Findlay c2002. This book is available directly from

Above and below - these two pages are taken from a craft magazine, I have included them for more ideas - the cushions at the girls feet, and the toys.

You can follow specific patterns or you can get a lot of ideas from patterns, and take those further.
For knitters, these cords would make great trims for your caps, tops, bags, and cardigans, etc., and don't forget that you can use wools or cottons. A growing fashion at present is making your own jewellery with a spool knitter and you can include beads, sequins and other embellishments.
Have fun with your spooling!