After much online research about spool knitting (DIY versus buying a kit) and very little in the way of step-by-step graphics, I decided to attempt my first Instructable to show you how to MacGyver your way into the knitting world.
1. Find a fairly large wooden spool, and choose the number of finishing nails to tap into one end. Depending on your fiber, more nails mean a tighter, sometimes wider, weave. I used 6 nails so that I could pick and choose how many to use for a project. Hammer in your nails halfway between the outer edge and inner hole, evenly spaced. Nail them in at an angle so that when you're winding your fiber, it doesn't slip off easily.
2. Make a knitting tool using a sawed-off segment of a 3/8-inch dowel (whatever is comfortable for you to hold); lightly sand the ends. Using a Dremel and a 3/64" drill bit to make a shallow hole in one end of the dowel to insert a section of a paperclip. Straighten a paperclip, and snip about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the metal. Apply a small dab of E-6000 glue to the drilled end of your dowel and insert the paperclip piece. Bend the tip at a 90-degree angle as in the picture. Wait for it to dry.
3/4. Holding your yarn, twine, jute, or other fiber (be creative!), make a loop and tie it; make sure there is a good three inches of fiber on the short end of your tie so that when you hook your loop over one nail, you can run this piece down through the center of the spool and hang onto it from below.
5/6. Wind your fiber whichever direction is comfortable, but you'll have to be consistent. I am left-handed, so I was more comfortable working in a clockwise direction. Wind from the inside to the outside. Stop winding when you double-up on the nail where you placed your loop. This is where you'll start knitting.
7/8. Using the hooked end of your tool (a small crochet hook will also work for this), draw the bottom loop up over the top loop from the outside. Your knitted project will build up from the inside of your spool, so when you've made several rounds, you can pull your finished work up from the center (carefully so as not to unravel the loops that are on the nails) to keep the finished portion away from the round that you're working on.
9. Depending on your project (I am currently just learning to make a long tube!), when you have reached completion and are ready to remove your project from the spool, loosen the loop you last made to keep it from falling out and unraveling your project. Snip your fiber a couple/few inches from your work, and pull the yarn through the same direction you went to make the loop. If you pull it through the wrong way, you'll unravel your project.
10. Carefully remove your project by lifting it from the nails. You may need to use your tool to help this process along.
11. This is what the knitting resembles when knitted in a round. It's about fingertip width. You can also use the spool to knit a panel (rather than a tube) by starting at one nail, going around to the nail right next to the one you started on, then working your way backward. In this scenario, you will just move clockwise and counter-clockwise around the spool until you reach the length you need. If you're an experienced knitter, you'll know how to knit panels together and even come up with some creative projects for your knitting spool.