MKG Cable Gram - Volume 18, Number 3
My 93-year-old grandmother is my handcraft hero, so it is fitting that I found this little book at an antique shop visit made during the trek along the St. Croix Valley, from her home to mine. It is a slim red hardcover volume (only 68 pages), perfect in condition, originally owned by Ester Nyström At $12 it seemed a bit expensive, but I could not resist this gem with its extensive directions for constructing and using spool knitters, many little patterns, and charming old photographs.
In case you are not familiar, a spool knitter is a short wooden cylinder (think sewing thread spool) with nails or posts driven in one end around the center hole. Yarn or string is wrapped around the posts, and a nail is used to bring thread up and over the nails in turn, forming a knit cord. All the patterns in Spool Knitting require a two-nail spool. This surprised me, as every modern spool knitter I have seen has four nails. Directions are given for making both flat and cylindrical cord.
The joy of Spool Knitting is its patterns. Clearly intended for children, the projects range from the ubiquitous coiled mat to a doll muff, a doll's carriage blanket, to a complete "Little Boy Blue" outfit for dolly. My favorite pattern is for the knit horse reins - these must have been quite useful for torture of younger siblings. A few of the patterns are actually wearable - a child's wool helmet, slippers, and muffler.
The book is dated and you will likely never find another copy. But it is a charming piece of American craft history. And as my book collection is overflowing, it may appear one day at the Textile Center library.
Sources for Knitting Spools
Most yarn shops stock or can order spool knitters of various sizes. Make your own from an empty thread spool or cylindrical piece of wood with one-half inch hold bored through center.
Pins, staples, or nails are used as posts, driven into the wood around the center hole and curved a little outwards at the top with pliers to prevent work from slipping off. One, two, three or four posts may be used.