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So sometimes? Sometimes I knit something just to see if I can, with absolutely no thought to whether I should. Luckily, I design knitting patterns (not, say, rockets or bridges or viruses), so the consequences of this rather haphazard approach are fairly low. But that's totally what happened here.
You see, I was having a little dalliance with sewing. And I was at that awkward stage of learning a new thing where you're sort of surrounded by tools and supplies and practice projects and everything feels more than a bit overwhelming. I needed to take a little break from being terrible at sewing and do something I actually knew how to do. But sewing was apparently still very much on my mind, and these where what happened when I switched to knitting needles instead of sewing needles!
Oddly enough, thanks to the inclusion of a few strategically placed magnets, the big ones actually make a really useful pin tray and pattern weight. So I did find a way to use them to do something more than just soothe my ego (those first few sewing projects are a humbling experience). And I have a feeling I'll use the tiny ones to show off my treasured collection of gorgeous silk embroidery thread.
But really, I suspect most of you are going to knit these just because you can!
This 20-page pattern is tremendously detailed and holds your hand every step of the way. There are pages and pages of step-by-step photos to show you exactly what to expect as you work. The pattern is full of helpful tips on everything from casting on, what to put inside your spool, blocking, turning your spool into a magnetic pin tray, and managing your ends.
It’s almost absurdly detailed, but it really does mean you can totally make these, even if you’ve never knit a project like this before!
Skills & scope
Each spool fits in the palm of your hand and takes only a few hours to knit. The knitting is surprisingly mellow, mostly stockinette in the round with a few increases and decreases here and there to give it shape. You'll wrap your spool with yarn (or embroidery floss or ribbon) at the end to make the 'thread' on the spool.
The pattern uses charts, so you will need to know how to follow a knitting chart.
Yarn, gauge & sizing
The finished size is adjustable (you start small and keep going until it's as big as you'd like). I made mine in fingering, sport, and dk-weight yarn, but you can make them in any weight of yarn. You don’t need to match any particular gauge, but you do need to knit tightly enough to make a firm fabric so the things inside your spool don't show through.
You can absolutely use scrap yarn for this.
The spools in the pictures took less than 75 yards of yarn. They are between 1 and 4 inches tall and between 1 and 4 inches across (though again, the finished size is adjustable).
Tools & supplies
You’ll need needles that let you work in the round (circulars or DPNs) in whatever size lets you get a firm fabric with your chosen yarn, plus the general knitting tools you need for most projects (scissors to cut your yarn, a darning needle to weave in ends, the occasional stitch marker or bit of scrap yarn to hold stitches).
You’ll also need something to fill the spools with. You’ll need two round, flat, waterproof things to use as the top and bottom of the spool, and something cylindrical and waterproof to use as the middle of the spool. (I used the lids from canning jars and the caps off shampoo bottles on the big ones, washers and the cap off a marker for the little ones, but there are lots of options. You’ve almost certainly got something in your kitchen, bathroom, or recycling bin that will work perfectly.) If you want your spool to be magnetic, you’ll also need some small, strong magnets, and you’ll want to be sure that the object you use for the top and bottom of the spool is something that magnets stick to (most jar lids work perfectly). I have a page here with information about the supplies I use in my projects.