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Tin-Can Knitting | Sewing Crafts

Tin-Can Knitting

Total Time Needed: 2-3 Hours

Recommended by FamilyFun contributing crafter Nicole Blum and daughter, Ava, age 10

Working with bright, fuzzy yarn is the perfect antidote to gray, blustery weather, as Ava and I found out when we delved into the world of tin can knitting one stay-inside morning. First, we assembled simple, homemade versions of the Knitting Nancy, or spool knitter, I'd used as a kid, then we put them to use with some pretty yarn, looping the strands around the nails.

Tin-Can Knitting Mouse

Ava enjoyed experimenting with different techniques. At first, she completed each knit stitch by easing the finished loop off of the nail using a bamboo skewer, but then she decided to try using her fingers instead. When we'd knitted tubes that were about 6 or 8 inches long, we started dreaming up things to make with them. Wrist warmers, cat toys, doll hats... we came up with a long list of warm and woolly possibilities to keep us knitting all winter long. Click here to see how to make sweet little mice.

Our Tips

You can use a tin can of just about any size (a larger can produces a wider tube and looser stitches), but make sure it has identical top and bottom lips - the type that can be cut smoothly with a can opener.

Try using bulky-weight yarn, which is easier and quicker for kids to work with. When Ava knitted with a fairly thin yarn, her progress was a bit slow.

When we used very fuzzy yarn, a few strands sometimes lingered on the nail after the yarn was looped over. I just snipped these stragglers with a pair of scissors, no harm done.


  • Can opener
  • Clean 15-ounce can
  • Duct tape
  • 12 (8d 2 1/2-inch) finish nails
  • Permanent marker


  1. Use the can opener to remove the can's top and bottom.
  2. With a strip of duct tape, secure a nail to the outside of the can so that its head is 1 1/2 inches above the top rim. Tape a second nail directly opposite the first, then evenly space ten more nails around the rim.
  3. Apply small strips of tape between each nail to cover the top rim, then fold a strip over the bottom rim.
  4. With permanent marker, number the nails 1 to 12.