From the Archives : Handmade Knitty Knobby by Hannah Robinson

March 29, 2011

We will be sharing one or two pieces from the archives each week through the Spring leading up to the launch of the Summer Issue of Rhythm of the Home on June 1st.

Today we have a post from the archives of our Spring 2010 edition of Rhythm of the Home.   Hannah Robinson shares her wonderful project and how-to for making and using a Knitty Knobby.


Handmade Knitty Knobby

January 183

My Grandfather has big, strong, beautiful hands. Hands that have created in order to beautify and improve his home. A carpenter by trade and by heart he has instilled a love of wood, in all its possibilities and beauties, in his children and grandchildren. Perhaps the best legacy passed down, however, is the time taken to make little things with those big powerful hands to please his children. Throughout my mothers childhood he made Knitting Knobbys for her out of the emptied wooden spools from my Nana’s sewing supplies. They were special to her and were used constantly to make miles and miles and miles of cord. So simple and easy for him, but such a lasting joy created because of it.

These Knitting Knobbys are inspired by the ones my Grandfather made for my mother, and she made for me. Wooden thread spools are a thing of the past unfortunately, but a slice of natural wood is always available…and so good to hold!


Log ~2” in diameter
4 finishing nails (1” +)
1 large finishing nail (2 ½” +)
Worsted weight yarn
3/8” drill bit

Step 1: Cut a length from the log that is approximately 2” tall.

January 108

Step 2: Clamp the length into a vice or onto a table. It is very important to clamp the wood securely for your safety during the next steps.

January 156

Step 3: Insert the 3/8” drill bit securely into your drill.

Step 4: Mark the center of your wood.

Step 5: Holding the drill carefully with both hands drill straight through to the other side. (DO NOT hold the wood with one hand and drill with the other…please don’t!)

January 157

Step 6: Wrap sandpaper tightly around your pencil. Insert through the drilled hole and twist to sand the hole lightly.

January 159

January 161

Step 7: Nail four nails evenly around the hole. ~ ¼” from the hole. Leave ~ ½” nail exposed. Take care to choose nails that do not have any jags on the head as they will snag the yarn.

Step 8: With your yarn and large nail (or small crochet hook) in hand you are ready to wind your yarn and begin knitting.

Knitting with your Knitting Knobby

(*This sounds much harder than it is…go with it…you will get the rhythm very quickly!)

1.Begin by threading the end of the yarn down through the top of the dolly, so that approximately 4 inches hands out the bottom.

January 174

2. Wind the yarn twice, counter-clockwise around one of the spikes. Remember not to pull the yarn too tight otherwise it will be very difficult to knit.

January 175

January 176

3. Using your nail (or small crochet hook) hook the bottom loop over the top loop and drop it over the nail into the center of the Knitting Knobby.

4. Turn the Knitting Knobby counter-clockwise so that an empty nail is towards you. Wind the yarn twice around this nail.

January 178

5. Using your nail lift the bottom loop over the top loop, into the center of the Knobby.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until each nail has been used.

7. Wind the yarn once around each nail counter-clockwise in sucession moving in the same order around the Knobby.

January 181

8. Lift the bottom loop over the top loop on each nail moving around the Knobby in a counter-clockwise direction.

9. Pull the end of the yarn that hangs out of the bottom of the dolly to tighten your work.

10. Repeat steps 7-9, winding and lifting the loops over, again and again, around and around!!!

Have fun!!!

hannah thumbHannah Robinson is the mother of two very spirited children, and the wife of a very sensible man, living a very simple life in Western NY.  She has a degree in art education and uses it daily as the artist in residence, and personal tutor for her kidlings.  She is the author of the popular blog A Handmade Childhood where she chronicles the adventures of a family life centered on a quest for homemade, creative, tied-to-the earth goodness.

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Crystal@Green Mittens March 29, 2011 at 7:37 am

We were talking about these at my last knit-night gathering, and a woman there said her father made her one when she was small! I have never used one, but I would love to try this… thanks for showing us how!

Rachael March 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

So, I’ve never seen on before, nor do I know what it is used for. What is it? Why do you use it? What is it making?

I think I’ll google it and see what I come up with.

R March 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I am with Rachel…what is this used to make?


Rachael March 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm

So, I did a bit of research (google images, 2 minutes). Its for making cord! I went back and had to reread the instructions, and I saw that I missed the lifting off the nail bit in step 5 and 8, but now it makes sense. I just had to see one with a lot more cord extending out the bottom of the stub of branch. What would one use such cords for? With yarn, its seems it would be too flimsy for most things I might use cord for, but maybe its stronger than I imagine?


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