French knitting is great fun. It is how I started knitting as a kid. Children like it because they can learn this new skill quickly and will soon be able to produce friendship bracelets for each other.
How to make a knitting dolly
To get started you need some yarn and a knitting dolly or spool.
If you can’t find a knitting dolly of you just don’t want to buy one, you can make your own. It is very simple.
In my day, I used old wooden cotton reels with nails hammered into the top but that is showing my age and also probably not very safe for very young children!
Here are some ideas
- Take an empty toilet paper roll and 4 paddle pop sticks. Just glue and tape (for extra support) the paddle pop sticks evenly around the inside of the roll. There you have it!
- Take a Smartie tube and four paper clips. First of all eat the Smarties! Then stick the four paper clips onto one end, bending each one out slightly so that it will lean back when taped round the top edge of the Smartie tube. Now you are ready to start French knitting.
- If you are handy with wood, take some 1.5″ diameter dowl, cut it into 4″ length, drill a hole down the middle and then push in 4 long mapping pins with plastic heads into the top.
[Obviously, children always need to be supervised when using tools or creating the above and you are responsible for ensuring any homemade items are safe for use]
French knitting step by step
1. You begin by threading the end of the yarn down through the top of the dolly, so that approximately 10cm hangs out of the bottom.
2. Wind the yarn twice, anti-clockwise around one of the spikes. Remember not to pull the yarn too tight otherwise you won’t be able to knit.
3. Using a crochet hook or small cable needle, hook the bottom loop over the top loop and drop it over the spike into the center of the dolly.
4. Turn the french dolly anti-clockwise so that an empty spike is towards you. Then, wind the yarn twice around this spike anti-clockwise. (This sounds harder than it is – the picture below shows you what your work will look like after winding the yarn around once).
5. Using a crochet hook lift the bottom loop over the top loop, into the center of the dolly.
6. As with step 4, turn the french dolly anti-clockwise so that an empty spike is towards you. Then, wind the yarn twice around this spike anti-clockwise.
7. As in Step 5, using a crochet hook lift the bottom loop over the top loop, into the center of the dolly.
8. Then, turn the french dolly anti-clockwise so that the fourth and final empty spike is towards you.
9. Wind the yarn once only around the spike in an anti-clockwise direction.
10. Using the crochet hook lift the bottom loop over the top loop into the center of the dolly.
11. Pull the end of the yarn that hangs out of the bottom of the dolly to tighten your work
12. Repeat steps 9 and 10 until the knitting is the desired length.
Tip: When considering the length of the yarn don’t forget to take into account the length inside the dolly
It will take a little while for your knitting to appear out of the bottom of the dolly, but when it does it will look something like this:
When you are ready to cast off, cut the yarn leaving about 10cm to spare. Thread this end through the four loops and pull it tight to fasten off.
Now you have learnt the art of french knitting on a knitting dolly (otherwise called a Knitting Nancy, Bizzy Lizzy, knitting mushroom, knitting spool, french knitter, peg knitter, knitting noddy or knitting knobby!)
Find out more tips for teaching children to knit here.