Introduction: Variable-sized Knitting Tube Using Zip Ties

When I was a young girl in the '70's, I had a Knitting Jenny and an accompanying Spool Knitter. The KJ was cool for knitting scarves and the SK, which was a stripped down version of the KJ with just 4 pegs atop a spool ... I don't remember making anything other than finger puppets. It was a plastic yellow tube, about 1" in diameter, 4" long and had 4 pegs at the top for wrapping yarn around. It would create a knitted tube rather quickly. I guess that you could coil it up and stitch a hat... I'll have to ask my mom to reach into the far recesses of her memory to see if she can remember what I/my sisters made from those miles of tubes.

CaitlinsDad created a cool scarf using a thermostat sensor to direct LED's to light up a certain amount upward, depending on the temperature. As soon as I saw that, and with my history of wearables, I knew this was an item I wanted to create. I made a few changes, and in so doing decided I needed a tube to insert my LED strip into. I had some nice chenille yarn and crocheted the Bulb for the bottom of the thermometer and thought about knitting-in-the-round to create a 20" tube to extend upward, but that sounded tedious and out of my comfort zone. It was then that I remembered that Spool Knitter from back when the Bee Gees were a thing, and decided to construct one from materials that I had lying around. The first one I made was using just nails and duct tape. That one was a little small in diameter and the head of the finishing nails was too small to not allow the top yarn loop to stay put. The second one I made was using 4 zip ties and just some duct tape. The chenille yarn is pretty bulky and produced a tube that was a little too small to accept the LED strip. I then stepped it up a bit and decided to sacrifice a spool of ugly gold elastic to use as a base for my Spool Knitter, which would be a bit larger than my previous effort, and adding an extra zip tie, for a total of 5 pegs. See how my experience as a youngster helped guide me toward a re-invention, yet also biased me in its design? Experimentation and Failure are awesome things!

Step 1: The Second Prototype

Duct tape and 4 zip ties. That's it.

There are lines on the duct tape to help space them out evenly, or use a ruler to be sure.

Once happy with spacing, fold over on itself.

Step 2: Roll

Create tube by rolling over onto the sticky part, paying attention so that beginning and end zip ties are the same distance as the others.

Roll a few layers for rigidity.

Cut extremities of zip tie tails.

Step 3: "knitting"

The way this Spool Knitter works is you feed the beginning of the yarn down through the tube and wrap around each of the pegs, then wrap around once more time, up toward the "head". This creates two layers of loops, of which the bottom one will wrap over the top one, hence creating a "knit". A small knitting needle makes quick work of this move.

Step 4: The Third Prototype: the One I Used for the Thermoscarf

After I knitted a few inches with the previous tube, I realized that I needed a larger diameter tube.

I looked around the studio and found a cardboard spool with some gold elastic that I will probably never need. The tube seemed to be about 25% bigger than my previous duct tape spool, so I decided to sacrifice it. It was entertaining watching an elasticized, heavy thread unwind itself downwards into the trash bin, so fast and unprovoked, it seemed like a force below was drawing it down.

I removed the four pegs from the second prototype and cut a fifth zip tie the same length.

I tightly wrapped a layer of duct tape around the cardboard tube, sticky side up, maybe overlapped an inch.

Step 5: Figure Your Spacing

You could eyeball the spacing of the zip ties, but five is more difficult than four, so just use a little math and then adjust after if your eyeballs tell you to.

The diameter is 28mm, so multiply by 3.14, which gives you about 88, which you then divide by 5(pegs).

That is your center point. Space zip ties accordingly, then adjust for perfection.

Wrap duct tape over that, sticky side down.

A few layers outta do it.

Step 6: Success

For what I was creating a tube for, this diameter worked perfectly.

I suppose if you need a larger diameter you could use a paper towel roll, cut to 3-4" long, which would make sense for about 7-9 pegs. You'd have to experiment with spacing and thickness of yarn, paracord or crochet thread that you'll be using.

Now, time to make some finger puppets...

Oh, and if you think this was a cool use for zip ties, I should be entered into the zip tie contest soon and would love a vote!

: )



agis68 (author)2016-01-27

nice but i have an improvment...instead using the tight side of the zip (is thick enaugh) try to use the other end. Just meld the plastick and try to make it like a ball or small better

ricmon56 (author)2016-01-24

This is very cool. I could see making a double knit sweater out of larger than paper towel rolls, and even switching the colors, crocheting them together and creating a sweater. Patience would be a virtue for the process of making the sweater, however, it would be some sweater nonetheless.

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