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"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery"
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Names for Spool Knitters Webpage

Many of these names were found on an excellent spool knitting blog: Spoolknitter: Hoping to discover the origins and history of the spool knitter!

Sadly the author of the blog passed away in October 2020 and I'm not sure now long the blog will be around, so I'm including her list of names here, with the few names I had found.

I also include the text of Spoolknitter: Hoping to discover the origins and history of the spool knitter!

Monday, February 2, 2009 post. Titled Names and Fame!

Why do these little objects have so many different names?

Knitting Nancy is a brand name for the Spear's Gamesknitting toy. First produced in 1926 in Germany, when the company split and a branch opened in England it was named the "Knitting Nancy". Spear's Games exported to the US and Australia among others (English speaking countries) and it seems that any knitting doll became known as a Knitting Nancy.

The German branch named it "Strickliesel" and so a knitting doll in Germany became commonly known as a strickliesel. But of course other toy companies couldn't actually use that name for the knitting doll that they produced. So we have the Dolly Bobbin, Knitting Knobby, Spool Knitter, and Knitting Dolly among others.

But we could go back even further to the time when in France shortly after the First World War, where the wool companies planned a large promotional scheme (probably the first of its kind - but I could be wrong) by giving away knitting dolls known as a Tricotin to school children. This was to encourage the public to buy more wool and get the industry back on its feet.

...... Added later .......

the La Redoute wool company in Roubaix France is said to be responsible for this scheme at the time. La Redoute is now a mail order company. Roubaix has been the centre of wool refining since the Middle Ages ........

These Tricotins were produced in a cottage industry and had very colourful bodies with naive painted faces. Those that have stood the test of time and still retain their rusty nails have become extremely collectible!

So this is quite possibly where the common term of french knitting could have originated. It does seem that this knitting rope occupation was most popular in Germany and France. Many vintage knitting dolls are found in abundance from these two countries that are very colourful, and are even famous characters modeled after movie stars, and well-known advertising and book characters.

There were patterns produced at the time for the use of the knitting dolls. It had been a common past-time for many years and only now the rest of the world is realizing there is more to this than just a toy.

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