Introduction: The Knitting Pipe (now With 3D Printing!)

Picture of The Knitting Pipe (now With 3D Printing!)

Another step in the irregular quest for a French knitting tool that does not look über-girlie, this project shows how to make "French knitting" with a scrap of plastic tubing. 

Making and using the tube makes a creative activity for the weekend - in an hour's work, you could make enough knitting pipes to keep your kids, and all their friends, constructively occupied for ages.

I used power tools and a blowtorch, but you could also use hand tools and sandpaper.

As a bonus, I'll also explain how to use the pipe. Even better, there is now a 3D printed upgrade to the idea (see step 7)!  

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

I made my knitting pipe from a short section of 15mm PVC overflow pipe. 

You could use any tube you like, as long as you have the tools to deal with it.

Step 2: Drill

Picture of Drill

About 2cm from the end of the tube, I drilled four holes, spread equidistantly around tube.

I used a 3mm twist bit, which cut through the tube quite easily, but did slip a little on the smooth PVC. If you have a wood bit, with the small spike at the tip, it won't slide around as much.

To drill the pipe, I clamped it gently in my vice. If you are not using a drill-press, do not be tempted to drill right through the pipe, because the tip of the drill bit will wave around once it pierces the pipe wall, and hit the wrong spot on the other side.

Step 3: Snip

Picture of Snip

I used a pair of wire cutters to cut from the end of the pipe to the drilled holes, making four tabs at the end of the pipe.

I used the same snips to roughly round off the corners of the tabs.

Step 4: Drill Again

Picture of Drill Again

This step isn't vital if you have good, sharp fingernails, but it provides a space for you to grasp the wool with blunt nails, or hook it with a crochet hook.

At the base of each tab, I drilled a row of holes, this time with a 2mm bit.

The three holes proved surprisingly tricky to turn into a slot. I used the wire cutters, scissors and a sharp knife, but eventually ended up wriggling the drill bit back and forth to turn the three holed into a slot.

Step 5: Fire!

Picture of Fire!

If you have access to a blowtorch, it is very good for smoothing edges. 

Don't get carried away, just give the tube a few "licks" with the flame. Rough edges should melt more quickly than the rest of the plastic, leaving them smooth. I also gave a blast down inside the tube to smooth off the inside of the pipe and stop the yarn catching.

You may also want to soften the tabs and curve them slightly outwards, to help the yarn stay in place, but that's a matter of personal choice.

To stop burning my fingers, I clamped the pipe in my vice. Unfortunately, when it softened, it was marked by the vice. Not shown here, a light scraping with a sharp knife took off the texture, and some of the discoloration caused by the blowtorch.


If you don't have a blowtorch, use small files and sandpaper to smooth off the jagged edges.

Step 6: Knit!

Picture of Knit!

This is how we "French knit", but there are other methods.

Take your yarn, and tie a small loop a few centimetres from the end. Drop the loose end down the tube (it should hang out of the end of the tube a little), and hang the loop over one of the tabs.

Wind the wool around all the tabs in turn, looping around the inside. To start off, go around the tabs twice (that is, right around twice, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, not 1-1-2-2-3-3-4-4). The second loop around should be above the first.

With your fingernails, a crochet hook or similar, lift the first, lower, loops over the top of the tabs, so that they trap the second, upper loops in place. Give the end of the wool a gentle tug to slide the loops to the bottom of the tabs.

Wrap the yarn around the tabs again, above the previous loops. Repeat the loop-lift-tug sequence until the cord you make is as long as you want.

To finish off (cast off), slide your tube down the cord, gently lifting your last four loops off the tabs. Trim the yarn if you need to, then thread the loose end through the last four loops, and pull tight.

You now have a knitted cord, to do with as you will.

If you get bored easily, or are short of time, then knit short cords and make bracelets or necklaces. If you are more patient, or have more time, you can make longer cords to use more creatively. 

(See also)

Step 7: The Third Dimension

Picture of The Third Dimension

I you don't want to spend time cutting pipe, member Carnright was inspired, and created a 3D model of the knitting pipe.

Available on Thingiverse, it comes out at around 20 cents in plastic.

Go, see.


AlyssaF8 (author)2016-02-02


Kiteman (author)AlyssaF82016-02-02


Stan1y (author)2014-04-14

could you feed a bundle of wires down the middle and knit around them to tidy cables or contain a wiring loom?

spark master (author)Stan1y2016-01-21

or black powder,,,,,if the wires overheat the powder will alert you!

Kiteman (author)Stan1y2014-04-14

That sounds like a good idea!

dcada (author)2013-10-20

this is awsome will try

Kiteman (author)dcada2013-10-20

Cool. Post pictures when you do!

kyluddy (author)2013-10-19


Kiteman (author)kyluddy2013-10-20

Thank you!

blueangelical (author)2013-10-12

Cheers, viewed your lads one too. That video link made it a bit clearer.

Made one myself similar to your lads only putting different spaced loops on the bottom too so I can make 2 sizes in one thing. Cheers.

blueangelical (author)2013-10-11

I've made the thing, but I just can't get my head round the actual doing the knitting bit. Any chance you could do a video of you knitting it from the start very slowly ..? Took me ages to make the thing too :-(

Kiteman (author)blueangelical2013-10-11

Try this video:

That's not my video, but she uses a similar technique to me.

biskies (author)2013-09-04

This is really cool. While I'm busy biting my nails, waiting for the winners to be announced (hopefully soon), I think I'm going to make one of these. Your ibles are snazzy, Mr. Kiteman.

Kiteman (author)biskies2013-09-04

Why, thank you, Miss Biskies!

biskies (author)Kiteman2013-09-04

You're quite welcome. I've looked through a lot of your projects and they're all really quite incredible.

Kiteman (author)biskies2013-09-04


poofrabbit (author)2013-08-31

Hey congratulations on being a finalist in the weekend projects contest! Always love seeing your posts Kiteman!

Kiteman (author)poofrabbit2013-08-31

Thank you!

(It's always exciting to get to the final.)

TREX ZoaR0K (author)2013-08-20

what diameter should the pvc be

Kiteman (author)TREX ZoaR0K2013-08-31

I used 15mm.

The wider the pipe, the looser the knit will be.

carnright (author)2013-08-11

Thanks! :-D

carnright (author)2013-08-11

The cost in plastic was ~20 cents (~5 grams at ~4 cents per gram)

Cheers :-)

Kiteman (author)carnright2013-08-11

(See step 7)

Kiteman (author)carnright2013-08-11

Wow, that's cool!

Chrystalkay (author)2013-08-11

Nice 'ible!!
This is much lighter and less complicated than the one I made for myself. I used a wooden knob and had the devils own time getting a drill big enough to make the center hole! I used cotter pins instead of nails. I have some pieces of tube I can use and a small wire saw that I hope will work.
These do make nice small tubes. A spool of leathere cord is enough to make a nice lanyard for a knife or camers. The different colors of wire they have today make interesting jewelry, using this method. Use different funky yarns and weave then into designs to glue on pins, barrettes, purses, Add beads to them and tie them onto pony tails, bicycle handles, Use thin nylon cord and make tethers or leashes for dogs. Coil them and sew then together to make a small fanciful vase. Use plarn (plastic yarn from bags) and make outside mats for pets. Get your kids to make a ton of these and macramé something for the wall for the family room. Endless possibilities!

Kiteman (author)Chrystalkay2013-08-11

Glad you like it!

AndyGadget (author)2013-08-05

This brings back (vague) memories.
My mother taught me how to do French knitting when I was but a little nippper, rather a long time ago.  I used a wooden cotton reel with four small brass nails on top around the hole.    I remember knitting many woollen 'worms' but never actually making them into anything.

wobbler (author)AndyGadget2013-08-05

You beat me to exactly the same memory and I never found a use for them either! You're not me in some alternative universe are you?

AndyGadget (author)wobbler2013-08-11

You can never discount those alternative universes.
(I was using anti-wool. If our strands ever touch . . . #;¬)

Kiteman (author)wobbler2013-08-05

Haha, I was one step ahead as a child - we used to coil them into flat spirals to make mats or coasters.

DarkOwlProductions (author)2013-08-02

I've never heard of French Knitting, but I love activities with repetitive motions; I find them very relaxing. It seems that this is a nice cost efficient way to get into this hobby.

Cool job, Kiteman, and you're definitely one of my favorite iblers; even more so after I heard your story. It made my day and beyond.

try carving. One lady watched me at a park and asked if my therapist suggested it as therapy. When I assured her I wasn't see a therapist she apologized and said, but you seem sooo very peaceful when you carve. Your face kinda melts and relaxes. I think of it as manual chanting......and outcome is prettier then my sing voice, so every one is happy.

I don't think carving is my thing, buy I guess I could try it. :P

I tell kids at scouts the following, "when I was kid I hated art, could not draw a straight line with a ruler nor a perfect circle with a compass". I dreaded reports since the Nuns made us do art covers. Bad enough I had to have darn near perfect handwriting (not even close actually), but then had to draw pictures ..... ggrrr

When I was a teen I learned to make chains in what ever wood the gods sent me, which in Queens NYC, was English Plain Tree limbs.

My boredom led me to make a little Easter Island like man for my daughter, (she asked , "dad, can you make anything with that knife besides pointy sticks?" ), and my son said "where's mine?

You can join a local club, read books, look on you tube. There are groups galore, including a stick group on Yahoo groups.

Don't be put off by the amazing stuff people do, you must learn at your own pace! I am good at it, but to some I am a master craftsman of biblical proportions.

All you need are simple tools/knives, wood needs to be 9 months dry. If we take it off list (private message) I will suggest more.


Ah, ok. :P it seems like you had a tough upbringing. That kind of stinks. I see that you already sent the message about carving. Thanks! I will have to check that out and get into it.

We are what we were. It was better then public school, more discipline allows for less random stupidity. I didn't have a creative spark "on demand" as is required for school projects. I did enjoy plain jane artsy craft stuff. Later in life I found the discipline to be advantageous.

Chip carving is repetitive and can yield astoundingly complex cool designs. Again simple tools, (I humbly suggest Warren cutlery )

check out

I do not do that , except for the house number I did in Cedar, (can be horrid to carve).


It ripped out the urls I put in links to cool pics

warren cutlery

https: //warrencutlery. com/store/index.php

chip carving

http ://2 good2lose. com/chipcarvehob by.shtml

Sorry, but the second link isn't working. :I (I copied and pasted into the search bar and my computer says it doesn't exist.)

The first link was pretty cool, though; all the wood carving tools. :P

capture the entire link in a cut/copy then pop into whatever word processor you have. Then where I broke up the url will be apparent, you may be missing a break point. Mind you the picture is a very very well made ornate box.

feel free to write off list, I don't wish to detract from Kiteman's offering here.

I loved the extra set of slots so using your crochet hook actually is better/easier. That is what killed it as a kid. If you do one long enough you can make a rug, which is what we wanted to do...

Thanks again

Random Stupidity: sums my life up perfectly. :P As to my creativity, I feel like I may have it, to a degree, on demand, which is awesome.

I hope to do some research on wood carving and get into it, and Warren Cutlery will be the first thing I check out.

Time to see more of those pictures. (I shall do that now.)

(Oh, and I also love the fact that we've pushed Kiteman's 'Thank you!' all the way down here when the comment he was thanking me for is way up there. Strange feeling of random satisfaction at long conversations!)

Kiteman (author)spark master2013-08-06

Dude, you should post some of your work, even if it's just a slide show of finished works.

Thank you!

You're welcome.

Let no one take away your power tools and happiness! :D

mcshawnboy (author)2013-08-03

I like learning new jewelry methods & this seems similar to Viking Knit where very thin wire is formed into an larger spiral then pulled through progressively smaller holes like a wire rope or chain. It may be a fun project if you've got the time.

gloflyer (author)mcshawnboy2013-08-04

Try this with 5 points and 26g wire. It is ssssssssssssssso much easier than viking knit. 5 looks better than 4 in wire. More round. I really like this, because I want to put some beads into this as I make it, and that did not fit down the center of spool. This is more open. Gotta try this instead.

Kiteman (author)gloflyer2013-08-05

You could use wider pipe as well, inch or inch and a quarter.

gloflyer (author)Kiteman2013-08-05

It is a trade off between the diameter of the circle formed by the pegs, nails, etc. and the size of the hole. (Also the size of the beads.) Spread too far apart, and the loops do not form a pleasing pattern. I usually use 5 pegs, but with a larger one 6 or even 7 might work well. This opens a whole new world of exploration.

Great 'ible.

mcshawnboy (author)gloflyer2013-08-06

RE: Gloflyer, any chance you've got pictures? Can I wok w/ small hanks of wire? I help recycling PC & there's lots of small gauge copper wire inside that I've not figured anything else cool to do with, but most are 10-20' maximum. Thanks! I like UR work too Kiteman! Especially helping us to understand our difference even though we speak the same language. If not for Instructables I'd think A10 is an warplane or maybe an Audi, or mains heavily traveled roads! Watching one of Gordon Ramsey's rescue show I was really confused as he made a salad he spoke of rocket? I had no idea! Being an auto buff I love boot & bonnet, but I've got a new channel on DirecTV, Velocity that carries a show love called "Wheeler Dealer" keep us post sir!

gloflyer (author)mcshawnboy2013-08-06

Your 10'=20' pieces should work well for this. I used to figure 30' for a necklace. Yours could easily be a bracelet. You could also think of two pieces for a necklace connected in the middle with some sort of focal or link. You may need to anneal your wire to get it flexible enough, or it might work just as you have it. I get recycled wire and weave it into bracelets, using a flat weave. I don't have any pictures right now, but how to do this stuff in wire is almost a whole other 'ible.

Kiteman (author)gloflyer2013-08-05

I've seen mechanised versions, with dozens of loops, used to knit socks and scarves.

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
More by Kiteman:Fallen Astronaut 2Custom laser cut metal business cardsDashboard Phone Stand
Add instructable to: