How to Wire Spool Knit in 7 Easy Steps

How to Wire Spool Knit in 7 Easy Steps

One of my favorite toys as a kid was a red spinning wheel. Once the ends of my yarn were attached to pegs on a spindle, I turned the wheel and flipped loops of yarn over the yarn already on each peg.  Around and around went my wheel, and out came a long rope, which I coiled and stitched into hats, potholders and more potholders. I had no idea at the time it was spool knitting! I totally forgot about that toy spinning wheel until I was introduced to wire spool knitting. What fun to rediscover the same technique with wire! I have modified a tutorial with photos from Jean Campbell, to show you basic spool knitting, and included my tips and method for how to add beads as you work.

Basic wire spool knitting tips
Keep your loops as consistent as you can in size. Be careful when you pull the wire loops over the pegs, as thinner gauges of wire can easily break. Wire knit ropes will stretch and thin out a bit. You do not need a long length for a nice bracelet, especially if adding accent beads.

Step One
>Step 1
  Step Two
Step 2
1: Wrap thin wire (28-gauge) around the first peg, leaving a long enough tail to poke down through the spool. You use this tail as you work to gently tug your knitted rope through the spool. 2: Wrap the wire around all the subsequent pegs, making sure all the wraps wind around in the same direction. Go around again so there are two wraps on every peg.
Step Three-1
Step 3
Step Three-2
3: Use the pointed tool to grab the bottom wrap. Pull it over the top wrap and up and over the peg. Repeat around for each peg. Do not to pull too hard with the tool to force the wire over the pegs, as thin gauge wire can easily break.
Step Four
Step 4
Step Five
Step 5
4: Wrap the pegs again and repeat Step 3 for the desired length. Once you have a few rounds finished, tug gently on the tail to pull some of the rope into the spool. 5: Remove the knitting by using the pointed tool to gently pull the wire off the pegs. Use the remaining knitting wire at the ends to weave through the end loops so the knitting doesn’t come undone. Keep this finishing part small and tight. Most people pull the tied-off ends into an end cone, so your twists will be nicely hidden.
Step SixStep 6 Step Seven
Step 7
6: There are several things you can do with your knitted tube. One is to pull it through a wooden draw plate, creating a crushed chain. Rolling it on a table with your hands will also lengthen and slim the rope. 7: Jean’s favorite technique is to simply pop a bead inside the tube and squeeze the wire at the top and bottom of the bead to secure it in place.
Spool knitting with beads and wire
I love spool knitting wire with beads. Pre-string beads on your wire before starting, leaving the wire on the spool. Better to string more than you think you’ll need than too few. Beads must be small enough to fit inside the knitter spool as you work.
Make loops around each peg as usual, simply bringing up a bead between each peg before making the next wrapped loop. I found the best way to fit beads inside the spool was to knit alternating rounds: a round with beads, a round of just wire, a round with beads, and so on.

After the rope is finished, adding end cones and accent beads is really fun.

A drawing overlays over this photo, showing a wire loop capturing the knitted rope inside the cone, coming through the cone and accents, culminating in the final wrapped loop.

Two of my finished spool knitted bracelets.


Finish the bracelet with end cones and accents
Tie-off and secure the rope the same as in Step 5. You only need a short rope for a cool bracelet–the really fun part is choosing great end cones and accent beads. My ropes are only about 4-5″ long, so I have room to add cones, beads and the clasp. Remember the knitting will stretch a bit, too. You can always add beads to make the bracelet longer.

Use wire-wrapped loops to attach the cones and clasp

To attach through an end cone and add a clasp, use about 5 inches of a slightly heavier gauge wire (24 or 20 is good) to make a tiny, simple, wire-wrapped loop secured to your rope end. On the long straight part of this wire you can now string your bead cone, pushing it down to obscure the end of the knit rope. String  a focal bead or two. Push all the beads and cone as snug as possible to the rope, making sure the rope end is really inside the cone. Make another wire-wrapped loop holding those beads snug to the rope, onto which you can attach your clasp.

Step-by-step photos like these are valuable teaching aids, but isn’t it even better to watch a technique in action? Of course!  So be sure to check out our video projects, especially instant-access lessons such as the Ionic Column Earrings downloadable class from Beaducation!

And when you try spool knitting, keep us in the loop on Beading Daily.

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About Leslie

Leslie Rogalski, born and bred in Philadelphia, holds a degree in illustration and design from the University of the Arts, and has been “making stuff” since childhood. She was editor in chief of Step by Step Beads before becoming editor of Beading Daily in 2009, and is currently busy making her own designs, teaching, making videos, and writing. She's contributed original designs to Step by Step Beads, Beadwork, Creative Jewelry, and many Interweave books including 101 Wire Earrings and Chain Style. A teacher at many Bead Fest shows, she's a featured presenter on the PBS TV series Beads, Baubles and Jewels. Her lessons, called DoodleBeads©, were first created as videos for Beading Daily, and are a method of drawing thread paths that makes learning beadstitching easy. DoodleBeads is available on DVD. Leslie is known for playing with different materials, though seed beads remain top of her list. Prior to all this Leslie was a freelance writer, illustrator, and sold her original art clothing at national craft shows. She loves all things beady, making iMovies, tap dancing, her wonderful husband, illustrator, book designer, and owner of Eyewash Design, Mike Rogalski, and especiallybeing a stage mother to her Broadway-bound daughter.

32 thoughts on “How to Wire Spool Knit in 7 Easy Steps

  1. Glenda, I do not believe that spool knitting and viking knit are the same. Two different techniques. Similar results though.

    Where would one find this wooden tool to do spool knitting???


  2. You say to put the tail down inside the spool so you can use it to pull the work down as you go, yet steps 2 & 3 clearly show both ends of the wire on the outside. Very confusing to beginners. I’d like to know where to buy the spool, too.

  3. First–the tail questions:
    I should have clarified. You can keep the tail outside and tuck it in later, but make sure it is long enough to reach through the spool. I start with the tail in and should have noted that. Whatever works for you.

    Where to find:
    Check with your favorite LBS, (local bead shop, for newbies) who can order for you if they do not carry. Or, go online to your favorite supplier. They’re not expensive.

    Has anyone tried using the plastic spool knitters with wire? They’re in yarn shops, and even toy stores.

    Spool knit vs viking knit:
    Different– Viking is worked a bit like crochet around a wooden dowel, can tolerate slightly heavier gauge wire, and is ultimately pulled through a draw plate. It makes a denser, leaner rope than spool knit.

    There is a great Viking Knit Bead Fest Workshop DVD (with Denise Peck, editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry) in our store, as well as an earring project and a necklace rope project.

    There’s also a fine spool kit necklace project, Caged Luster.

    Hope this helps!

    editor Beading Daily

  4. Spool knitting has a big advantage over viking knit, even if the result is quite similar: you work of the spool and thus don’t have to assemble ends as you have to do in viking knit. On the other hand, you won’t have the risk of breaking wire in viking knit and can use thinner wire.
    Thanks for this tutorial Leslie!

  5. it is very easy to make your own spool knitter. My husband made me one with nails and a tin can – he first softented the edges of the can with electrical tape, and the nails were wedged between tape, the can, and layers of more tape. It is very sturdy. The only problem I’ve had with it is he was overly ambitious for me and put about 25 pegs on it, so it can be sometimes a little awkward keeping up with so much. I need one with just 4 pegs!

  6. Leslie, I have just learned the viking knit ,but this tool looks very handy. I have not been able to find how you add the end caps. Is that technique in the learning section? Thanks for all your hints.

  7. My eyes lit up when you mentioned the Little red spinning wheel! I begged for that toy one christmas. It’s ironic to me that the first “adult ” toy I bought for myself when I graduated from college, was a real Ashford Spinnig wheel! In fact, I got into beading because the yarn shop was next to the bead shop! I’m glad to know that someone else remembers that toy as lovingly as I do!- Shelley Lindsey

  8. First off, learn from my mistake: molded plastic knitting spools can’t be used for wire knitting. I tried it and of course the spokes began to break off in short order. I know–duh!, right? I was pleased to discover that the chain craft stores have begun to carry the wooden spools with painted faces (and metal spokes) I remember fondly from childhood.

    If you want to get into serious wire knitting and crank out long lengths of knitted metal, Bond America makes a crank-operated knitting spool made specifically for this activity, called the Wyr Knitter. (Bond does make a lighter duty crank-operated spool knitter, so be sure not to get confused.)

    Hope this helps! As both a knitter & beader, the idea of wire knitting has always intrigued me, but I haven’t completed any wire knitted jewelry yet. I find wire knitting to be rather hard on my arthritic hands.

  9. I searched all my regular websites for the spool and draw plate and came up blank – THEN, I googled and found them on a website for Beadecked and Beaddicted. I purchased the 5-pin w/a wooden drawplate and a “how-to CD”. They listed several spools with various pin counts.

    Good luck all!

  10. I hope this message doesn’t show up twice. I finally located a 5-pin spool, wooden drawplate, and a “how-to” CD on a website for Beadecked and Beaddicted. They listed spools with various pin counts. Hope this helps!


  11. Hi Leslie,
    i have a 4 spool knitter reel , i used many years ago , teaching th e kids & grandkids with wool . would it do the same job.? hope u can help. i am still trying my hand at circular brick stitch. love your free leasons , as a grand mother raising to boys for the past 8 years i don’t get to got to many craft places. so thanks keep the online free patterns coming to Cheers Lorraine.

  12. Where to find spool knitters—
    Lots of you are asking about where to find this cool tool. Please do a search for “spool knitters for wire” and you can choose from several places. I’m afraid I am not at liberty to directly send you to any specific supplier.
    Have fun!

  13. I ordered my spool knitting device (which looks exactly like the one the photos of this article I might add!) for 18.95 from Wigjig in San Antonia, TX. Website: Hope this helps those out that are unable to locate one in your area!!! Happy knitting!!!

    Sheila R

  14. For those who remember the good-ol’ days… Use a wooden thread spool. If the hole in the spool is too small, place the spool in a vice and drill out the hole using a hole-saw for the size hole you want. Or, if you don’t have various size hole-saws, gradually use bigger drill bits. Make sure to sand the inside of the hole when you are done to make it easier to handle without splinters. Then, while the spool is still in the vice, hammer your pin nails into the spool; this way you can use as many pin nails you want to make your wire what size you want for adding different size beads. if you have a few wood spools, you can have different sizes for different gauge wired. For what you spend in shipping and handling you could make my own and have a few. Hope it helps!

  15. We use to call it corking, my dad made mine when I was a kid. I have seen them in several places, any of the big boxed craft stores, in most toy stores too. Most of my customers like using the corker/spool instead of the complicated nature of the viking knitting. In the end the looks are the same and easier.

  16. Thanks Leslie for showing others this great tool. I have been spool knitting for years and have been using it to make wire knitted jewelery with beads for ages too. It is so much fun, my hubby made me a whole stack of different sized knitters, but still one of the best I found is a plastic one that has an interchangeable head. In Australia it is sold by Birch and called a Wonder Knitter – totally recommend this one. Also – just a hint, don’t go any thinner than a 28g wire until you are used to your tension. The thinner the wire the easier it will break. For those of you having trouble with locating the knitters, they come under many names depending on the country you live in – try Spool Knitters, Knitting Nancy, Knitting Jenny, Knitting Nobby, Corking. Enjoy. Christina

  17. Hello my beading friends.
    In Scotland, we call this tool a Knitting Nancy and indeed my Nancy is painted like a little person with the pegs on her hat. My mother used these to make cords using wool for her children’s mittens or ties for their bonnets during the cold winters. I also used it for making
    I use mine now, like yourself, to make jewelery and also do the Viking knitting using a dowel.
    I would love to find out more about the American Wyr Knitter to increase my range.
    Joyce McI.

  18. In Scotland we used to call this a ‘Knitting Nancy’ when my mum knitted us little mittens and woolen hats with knitting needles and then using the Nancy for making the cords with matching wool for ties. My ‘Knitting Nancy’ is wooden and painted like a little doll with the pegs on top of her hat. I make jewelery with mine and also make the Viking Jewelery with a wooden dowel. I am interested in the Wry Knitter cranking tool mentioned by JayeIF if anyone could get back to me with more information.
    Joyce McI

  19. Absolutely love this!! thank you so much for always teaching us new (to us) ideas!! I would think you could use an old wooden sewing thread spool to make one of these. Luckily, I have a couple of my moms. :o)

  20. Hello, I have been teaching my grandchildren what we call ‘French Knitting’. Using a wooden cotton reel with 4 nails in the top of reel. The ‘tool’ to lift the thread over the nails is a Hair Pin we call Bobby Pins. Bend it open so you can hold one side and use the other side as the lifter. The bobby pin should have the small soft ends (to be soft on your scalp). With these ends the thread will not split and the wire, in this project, will go over the nail easily. It is correct to put the thread down the center of the reel to hang on to. As you progress with the ‘French Knitting’ you give the tail a little pull each round to keep the work moving down evenly so not to bunch up. When I crotchet or knit with wire or thread I put more beads on than I could possibly use. Then if I wander off in another direction if an idea comes to me I always have enough beads. That is the attraction with craft, thinking ‘ What if ‘. There are some safety rules in what we do depending on our tools and project. But I say ‘GO FOR IT’ who knows if ‘IT’ did not work out. Put ‘IT’ in the ‘IT’ box. Amazingly, you will use a few so I call it forward thinking not just using up the ‘ITS’. Some of the comments show how we worry if we can not get what we need.
    But a wooden cotton reel, 4 nails and a bobby pin I had a great laugh………that’s what we Australians do best….. laugh at ourselves. strawb

  21. I just ordered the new spool knitter with awl from Softflex. The link is in a comment added by “The Softflex Guy”. However, I, too have been using a plain woodedn thread spool which my Grandmother gave me as a young girl. Grampa hammered 5 small headed nails (eavenly spaced) around the spool center hole. Leslie is correct to leave a long enough tail dropped down into the center hole. This will be tugged on to keep the work pulled down into the hole. The one thing I like best about spools knitting as opposed to the Daisy Knitter is that you leave the wire on it’s original spool, never having to add extra wire. Michaels Craft Stores carry large wooden spools that you can hammer the nails (brads) into. There you have it , you have made your own spool knitte, very inexpensive. To add one last thing, I use a small steel crotchet hook intead of an awl to pull the bottom loop up and over the top loop. I am now a 62 year old grandmother teaching this techique to my teen grandchildren, yes, even the boys. They love to make these as bracelets and sell them to their friends at school. Love it!!

  22. I have a wooden one and a one with soft coverage (like on beading pliers). Wooden one with 5 prongs, and another with 6.. I don’t remember exactly where I bought a wooden one, but I think I bought it from Beadholique (about $15 to $17 a price). Look at a Tool section – something about wire tools. Another one I like very much is from Lima beads and it was somewhere $3.99 or so. Both came as a set with the awl to work with, and both have metallic prongs. I hope it helps. Though I made a purchase a while ago. I hope they still sell them there.

  23. By the way, I started to look for those knitting spools after Kelly Dale (Offthebeadedpath) uploaded her detailed video tutorial where she has shown how to make a crystal necklace with the 5 prongs wooden knitting spool a few years ago . I really loved the tutorial – so made an extensive research, and found them! However they are still in their packages – I did not have time to use them yet – maybe now I will 🙂