Knitting Nancy Project

I have still been knitting on my “cattail” using my handmade knitting nancy spool.   It is a very easy, relaxing type of yarn craft that I will pick up for those times when I don’t want to have to concentrate to hard on a project or count stitches as I crochet. SONY DSC   You can check out my Knitting Nancy blog to see exactly how to make a spool and how to start your yarn to begin forming your tail!  As you can see by the picture, my “tail” is quite long, presently measuring 131 inches or a little over 3 1/2 yards long.  My goal is to roll my tail into a circle to make a nice trivet or mat for a hot bowl to protect the dining table top. SONY DSC   At present, it measures almost 8 inches in diameter and I think I will make it just a little wider but probably not more than 10 inches.  Of course, this will leave me with just enough yarn to make a small pom pom!!  Yarn scraps?? hmm – working on some ways to use them up because I just cannot bear to trash them or maybe I will find a local 4H group and donate all my tiny yarn balls to them.  Like that idea!! SONY DSC   Anyways I digress, my trivet will be sewn together with a nice quilting weight cotton thread.  Connecting Threads has some great collections of these threads in a wide variety of colors too, which are wonderful for machine or hand sewing projects. I think I started a new skein of yarn for this project, a category 4 yarn, worsted weight.  I just used a size 5 hook to lift my lower loop over the top loop to create the knit looking tail. SONY DSC When I am ready to bind off, I will do another blog with close up pictures so you can see the actual binding off process. Some fun ideas to use your “tail” for would be a set of coasters, cool bookmarks, glue some googlie eyes and make a snake for a little one, make three tails and sew together at one end and braid them for a bracelet or headband, placemats even a small rug. I’m looking forward to completing this one and having it ready for my kitchen table!!


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Ideas for Knitting Nancy “Tail”

I haven’t actually researched the correct terminology for the knitted cord that is created from completing your loops on a Knitting Nancy which really look similar to an I-cord; however, I still like to refer to it as my “cat’s tail”!! 🙂

SONY DSC Presently, my cat’s tail measures 76 inches or 193.04 cm and it is stirring all kinds of ideas as to what I want to create.  I can definitely curl itself around and make a super trivet to protect my table from a hot dish.  If I make the trivet, I could combine it with my hot pads and dish clothes for a cool, handmade hostess gift.  SONY DSC

Also, have given some thought to designing a unique wrapped necklace.  Leaving long loops and covering the joined area with a really one-of-a-kind tubular bead.  Hmm, maybe I will just have to keep the necklace for myself if I end up making that idea!!

I’ve been into yarn bowls too and I think I could take a ceramic bowl and wrap the tail around the outside of it for a size pattern, stitch together, and then maybe create a unique loop edge as a finishing touch.


I know whatever I design, my “cat’s tail” still needs to be longer, I am planning to have a finished length of 160 inches or 406.4 cm.  So when I really need some down time that doesn’t require any counting of stitches or decreases/increases or watching my gauge, I just sit with my favorite cup of tea and go round and round with my spool knitting.  Only having to untwist my tail periodically to keep it smooth.  It makes for a very relaxing time for me. 🙂


  • Tip:  I will use a coordinating DMC floss (2-3 strands) as my sewing thread when I begin to stitch my cord together.  Will probably have to do some pinning also to hold my coils in place.
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Yarning with a “Knitting Nancy” spool

Using a knitting nancy or spool knitting is a great tool/technique to introduce a youngster to the wonders of yarn.   It is a very easy yarn method to create a nice knitted or braided cord that could be designed for bracelets, trivets, coasters, etc.  It is really an awesome technique that anyone would find fun to do!! SONY DSC

I have actually recycled a thick cardboard thread spool that formally held 1200 yards of mercerized cotton thread for machine quilting by Coats and Clark.  The spool is 1″ in diameter with the opening being 1/2″ in diameter.  The length of the spool is 2  3/4″ long.  I like this size because it fits a child’s small hand really well.  You can purchase knitting spools too.

I hammered in four brads using ones that had a large flat head to them.  It helps to keep the yarn from sliding off the brad when making your loops.  Once you have your spool ready, select your yarn.  I would recommend using a 4 ply worsted weight yarn and a metal crochet hook size 5 (1.90mm).


To begin, take your yarn and drop it through the hole and let it hang out about 2 or 3 inches from the bottom.  Now to “cast” on your loops, you will be turning the spool in a clockwise direction but going around each brad in a counter-clockwise direction one at a time.



After you have made your loop on each brad, you take your yarn and place it right above the first loop made and with your crochet hook, lift the bottom loop up and over the yarn and brad.  Leaving one loop on the brad.  Spin your spool in your hand slightly and do that same thing again on the next brad.  Keep turning the spool in your hand, make another yarn wrap and continue lifting the bottom loop up and over the top yarn on each brad.  Before you know it, you will have a great icord, braided loop or “cattail” coming out of your spool at the bottom.








Now just keep making your loops until you have your “tail” as long as you want it to be.  Once you have reached the desired length, you will need to bind off your work from the knitting spool.

When you are ready to “cast off” don’t make a yarn wrap, just grab the loop of the last stitch made and lift it onto the brad to its immediate left.  Lift the bottom loop over that loop, now grab the remaining loop left on that brad and lift it onto the brad to its immediate left.  Continue doing this until you only have one loop left on the last brad.  Cut your yarn and carefully lift the last loop off the brad and place your cut yarn through the last loop and pull snuggly securing all your stitches.  Now you have a wonderful knitted tube that can be used for a wide variety of creative projects!!

I have discussed this technique before but have updated my pictures to help you see the process better!! 🙂


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