I’ve never managed to get the hang of knitting. I remember my Mum trying to teach me as a kid and the result was always the same. I’d be able to do it for an hour or so before I got bored, then when I went back to it ages later I had forgotten how to do it again. French Knitting therefore was perfect for me.
I’m not sure quite what made it French, but it certainly was knitting of a sort. You were never going to be able to knit a jumper with French Knitting, but you could make an endless supply of bracelets, coasters and um, worms? The technique also goes by the names of Spool Knitting and Corking.
French Knitting involves using a (usually wooden) cylinder with four nails hammered into one end. It is often referred to as a French Knitting Doll, since the cylinder is quite often shaped and painted to look like a doll. You thread wool through the cylinder and then proceed to loop it in a special way (which I admit I’ve forgotten) around the nails. As you proceed you knit the wool together to form a long thin chain of circular knitting.
I first tried my hand at French Knitting after seeing instructions on how to make a French Knitting Doll in a Ladybird book full of arts and crafts. You could make one out of an old wooden cotton reel and four short nails. Of course, this option is not really practical now given that cotton reels are generally made of flimsy, mostly hollow plastic, but you can buy ready made ones from places such as Stocking Fillers.