Knitting Spool Basics

We currently sell two knitting spools on our tools page. These are the 3 and the 5 pin spools. The table below compares the two:
3 Pin Spool5 Pin Spool
9mm bored hole15mm bored hole
The final knitted tube has a smaller circumferenceThe final knitted tube has a larger circumference
best wire gauge: 28AWG (0.30mm)best wire gauge: 28AWG (0.30mm) or 30 AWG (0.25mm)
Also try: S-lon beading cordAlso try: 2mm rattail

Different stringing materials, whether it be wire, beading cord, wool or ribbon, will produce different results. The beauty of the knitting spool is that it is very easy to use, so enjoy experimenting with it and send us some pictures of the finished results for our Gallery Page.

Casting on

Many different stringing materials / threads can be used with the knitting spool. The instructions show casting on with wire on the 5-pin spool – casting on is the same for the 3-pin spool and for any stringing material used.

If you plan to knit with beads, add plenty of beads before you begin knitting.

Drop your wire down the centre of your knitting spool, leaving a 15cm tail. Wrap the wire clockwise around the first pin. Move anti-clockwise to the second pin and wrap the wire clockwise around this pin. Continue until you have wrapped the wire around all five pins. As you work you will always be moving the spool in a clockwise direction so that the pin you are working on is facing you. (If you are left-handed the clockwise and anti-clockwise directions can be reversed).
Place the wire on the outside of the first pin above the starter loop. With the knitting spool tool, lift the bottom loop over the wire and the top of the pin. You have made your first stitch. Make four more stitches – you have now completed the first row. After every few stitches, give the wire a gentle tug to keep the stitch tension even. Be careful not to tug too hard as this thin wire can easily break.
When the end of your knitted tube appears at the bottom of the spool, gently pull the bottom of the knitted tube rather than the fine wire tail.

Continue knitting until your knitted tube is the required length.


Adding Beads

Knitting with beads already strung onto your thread material can produce many different results. There are no hard and fast rules on what beads you can use, although anything larger than 4mm may make it difficult to knit and affect the tension. Too many 4mm beads, especially on the 3-pin spool, may look too chunky and cluttered. As with the thread – experiment!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

click for a bigger picture For this bracelet, we used a mix of size 8 seed beads and a mix of focal beads (4mm round glass beads and 4mm fire polished beads). The beads were threaded in a specific order of three seed beads, one focal bead, three seed beads, one focal bead, and so on, to give a random effect. Knitted on a 5-pin spool with 0.25mm gold plated wire.
click for a bigger picture Knitted on the 3-pin spool using 0.3mm (28AWG) wire and 3mm glass pearls.

When knitting with beads you could also knit a few stitches, add a bead into your knitting, knit a few more stitches, add the next bead and so on.

The most important rule when adding beads is to make sure you thread enough beads (plus extra) onto your stringing material BEFORE you begin knitting. You CANNOT add beads after you have started knitting.

The following instructions show a seed bead being added using wire as the stringing thread. The method is the same for adding any bead into your knitting and when using any stringing material.

Cast on and knit 2 rows. For Casting On, see above.
Position one threaded seed bead in between the last pin knitted and the next pin to be knitted. Place the wire against the pin and lift the bottom loop over the wire and the top of the pin as before. The seed bead now sits between the two pins. Continue knitting with seed beads until your knitted piece is the required length.

Encasing Beads

Encasing beads within your knitted tube is easy to do. The size of the bead used down the centre of your tube is limited by the bored hole of your knitting spool. Our 5-pin knitting spool has a hole size of 15mm whilst the 3-pin knitting spool has a hole size of 9mm. If you are also knitting with beads on the stringing material, the size of the encased bead will need to be smaller so that the encased beads and the knitted beads fit down the bored hole of the knitting spool.

click for a bigger picture clck for a bigger picture
Both these bracelets are knitted on the 5-pin spool using 0.25mm wire, size 8 seed beads and 8mm glass pearls in the centre.

click for a bigger picture This bracelet was knitted on the 5-pin spool with 0.25mm wire and three strands of 4mm glass beads.

To Encase Beads, you will need a length of 0.6mm wire. The beads being encased will be threaded onto this wire. The wire will keep the beads in place so that the holes will not be seen. If you are knitting with a softer stringing material such as S-lon and do not want the stiffness that wire will give, try using S-lon threaded through a needle. The instructions below use wire but the technique is the same whichever stringing material you use.

Knit about 9 rows. Drop the 0.6mm wire down the centre of the spool until it has the same tail length as the knitted wire. Make sure that your wire goes through one of the first row’s stitches. This is to stop your centre beads dropping straight through the spool.

Thread one bead onto the 0.6mm wire. Continue knitting and adding beads every few rows. Make sure that you gently push the beads down into your knitted tube so that there are no gaps between them.

When your knitted tube is the required length and the last bead you have added is level with the top of the knitting spool hole, knit 4 more rows before finishing off.

Adding Beads onto the Tube

I saw a picture of a knitted bracelet with large beads placed at intervals along the knitted tube. It took me a while to think of how this was done and I finally had a ‘Eureka!’ moment in the bath. The method is a bit ‘trial and error’ but worth the effort for the final effect that you can achieve. As this is a slightly more advanced technique, I would not attempt this until you have knitted a few simpler pieces first.

click for a bigger picture Knitted on a 3-pin spool using size 8 seed beads threaded on 0.3mm (28AWG) wire. The beads added to the tube are 9mm Czech glass pony beads (3mm hole).

You will need beads with a large hole of at least 3mm for the 3-pin spool for all the stitches to be able to fit through. I have not tried this method with the 5-pin spool yet so am not sure what minimum hole size is needed – the hole size will need to be larger than 3mm as 5 stitches need to fit through the bead hole as opposed to three stitches. The instructions below uses wire as a stringing material, but the technique is the same whichever stringing material you use.

  1. Before you begin knitting, thread the beads that you wish to add to your knitted tube onto your wire. If you are also knitting beads into your tube, thread those onto the wire as well.
  2. To space the beads evenly, you will need to count the rows that you knit in between the added beads.
  3. Cast on and knit a few rows. You will now add your bead, but first you must knit some extra rows, which will go through the centre of the added large bead. The 9mm Czech glass pony bead needs 2 rows. If you are knitting with seed beads or other beads into your tube as well, knit these rows without any beads.
  4. Carefully remove the stitches from the knitting spool pins, catching each stitch onto a spare piece of wire. Twist the wire to keep it in place whilst you add the large bead. Squeeze the last two rows together gently and thread your large bead. Reattach your stitches to your knitting spool pins and continue knitting and adding your large beads until you have reached the required length.

Finishing Off

Cut your wire so that you have a finishing off length of about 10cm. Thread the end through the stitch on the next pin and lift it off the pin. Continue around the pins until all the stitches have been lifted off the spool. Gently pull the wire to draw the stitches together and remove the knitting spool. Thread the fine wire through the last stitches 2 or 3 more times.

Wrap the fine 0.30mm wire around the end of the bracelet to neaten and strengthen the end. Make sure that the wrapped end is no longer than 5mm and not too bulky for your cone to cover.

Slip one cone onto the 0.6mm wire and position it at the end of your bracelet. Make a wrapped loop but before you wrap the loop, thread your lobster clasp onto the loop. Do the same to the other end of your bracelet and thread on your split ring before wrapping the loop.

TIP: It is difficult to assess whether your bracelet is long enough when it is on the knitting spool. Also, as the bracelet is a large tube the inside diameter will be much smaller than the outside. If you should make the bracelet too small, you can always add a few beads after the cone.