Above you can see the product of this week’s Unplugged Project theme of metal: a knitted hamster.
I know what you’re thinking: “Wait a minute, the theme was metal, why is she showing us a knitted hamster?” Well, my point here is to prove just how flexible the Unplugged Project can be.
This is not just any old knitted hamster, it is a hamster that was knitted on a homemade tin can knitter. A tin can is made of metal. Voilà! There is the connection! Our finished product was made of yarn, but it was made by using something metal, so it “counts.”
This type of knitting apparatus is known as a French Knitter, a Corker, a Spool Knitter, a Mushroom Knitter, a Knitting Nancy, a Knitting Knobby, and a few other names too I believe. My daughter has a commercially produced wooden one like this with four prongs that produces long, narrow, “snakes.” But you can easily make these knitters yourself (see links at the end of this post).
For even more fun, you can make big ones with various sizes of tin can which will produce different sizes of knitted tube. Ours is made from a 15 ounce can.
Here is how we made it:
You will need a clean tin can, some finishing nails (small heads) that are about 1.5″ long, and some sturdy tape. Small nail heads are important because the knitting process involves slipping loops of yarn up over the top of the nails, so you don’t want the yarn to get stuck on the nail heads. The book calls for cloth tape, but all I could find was colorful duct tape and that worked fine despite being a bit annoying to cut (I recommend slicing it with a box cutter instead of using scissors, which tend to stick):
First we removed the bottom of the can. You can usually do it with a can opener, but sometimes the bottom edge is rounded and must be removed with a dremel tool, or small saw. My advice: make sure you use a can whose bottom rim is narrow enough to be removed with a can opener.
Beware of sharp edges. I had a sharp shard that was sticking out on my can, so I squashed it down with some pliers, and then wrapped both raw edges with the tape.
Next apply a strip of tape just under the lip of the can sticky side out. Stick a pair of nails side by side (they should be touching) to the tape. Make sure to have about half an inch of the nail sticking up above the can edge and the other inch below. In order to knit, the nails must be stable so you’ll want a lot of the nail to be attached to the can:
Put another pair of nails on opposite the first. Continue putting on sets of nails around the can. It doesn’t have to be scientifically precise, but try and space them about 5/8th” (1.5cm) apart. After all the nails are stuck to the can, wrap a few strips of tape all the way around the diameter of the can to hold the nails in place.
Press the tape down between each pair of nails. Next cut short strips of tape and apply them to the can between the pairs of nails like this:
Wrap more tape around the diameter of the can. I did two layers of tape, and finished off with more little strips between the nails for added stability and to cover up any raw sticky edges. You can either leave your can like that, or decorate it with glued on paper, fabric , or ribbon. We glued some fabric on and this is what we ended up with:
You can experiment with different sized cans which will produce different sized knitted tubes. If you use a jumbo, restaurant-sized can, you can even make an infant hat!
This was so much fun that after my daughter finishes her own hamster (which is well underway), I think I will steal the knitter back and make some nice, cozy socks for my two year-old. The tube that comes off this sized can looks to be just about the right size for her feet!
So that is it for the metal part of our post. If you want to know how to make the hamster, then you should buy Corking, or borrow it from the library.
Spool Knitting (instructions on how to make a knitter, and how to knit)
What did your family make for the theme metal? If you did a metal Unplugged Project this week, then please leave your link in Mr. Linky (and a comment in case Mr. Linky malfunctions and I have to remove him).
If you didn’t join us, then feel free to explore everyone’s projects to get inspired, and please consider joining us next week. You don’t have to do anything fancy or complicated! For more information on the Unplugged Project as well as instructions about how to participate even if you don’t have a blog, read more here.
Next week’s Unplugged Project theme will be:
So far we’ve done quite a few Unplugged Projects that used paint, but I don’t think that it has ever been the theme before. Hope to see you here next week!