My Material Life

Toilet Paper Roll Knitting Idea #9: Stars & Stripes Belt


Who would’ve thought you could create something like this from a cardboard tube, some craft sticks, tape and yarn? I’m beginning to think that the wonders of the toilet paper roll knitter may never cease to amaze me.

When I pointed out to Samantha that she really needed a belt for her new denim shorts (she has grown beyond the sizes that include those internal adjustable elastic bands), she told me she would need one so she could wear them on the 4th. So I asked her to bring me a piece of paper and some colored pencils and I got to work. It didn’t take me long to realize that I could create the effects I wanted with just my knitter and three colors of yarn.

If you are going to experiment with some color work using a spool knitter, I recommend you knit in complete circles, rather than knitting each stick individually. What I mean by that is rather than creating a new loop on a stick and immediately proceeding to knit it by taking the loop beneath the loop you just created and bringing it up, over, and dropping it off the stick, you wrap loops on a complete round of sticks before you proceed to knit them. Otherwise, you’ll get confused with where you are. It helps to make a mark on your knitter (or use the seam of your tape that holds your sticks to the cardboard), so you’ll know where you start and end your rounds.

To make the belt I inserted both my white and blue yarns into the knitter. Then I wrapped a round of blue loops on my sticks and for the next round alternated between blue and white loops (to create the stars). I followed this round with one of blue loops only and alternated rounds of blue and white and blue only until my knitted tube measured 3″. This is the end I would attach to my D-rings to create a belt (seen on left of D-rings in photo at top). I finished with a round of blue loops and then cut my blue yarn, leaving about a 6″ tail. Then I inserted my red yarn to begin a long section of red and white stripes. Keeping the white in line with the sticks I had previously knit with white stars, I created the stripes by knitting one stick red, one stick white, next stick red, next stick white, etc. round after round. When I got the length I needed for that section, I finished with another section of stars on a blue field and a final section of red and white stripes (both of these sections are seen on the right of the D-rings in the photo above).

I used a 10-stick knitter and 3 balls of cotton yarn – two balls of Lily Sugar ‘n Cream and one of an old Brazilian cotton yarn I had. I’m not completely happy with the material I used. When you mix colors, you create more bulk in your tube with the yarn where it floats from one stitch to the next. I’d like to try this again with a yarn or some other material that is narrower and/or flatter and a bit more slick. You might be wondering what I did with my tails. I am not sorry to tell you that I knotted them and then simply used a yarn needle to pull them back within the tube and hide them there. These stitches are really too big for successful weaving in of the ends.

Say, speaking of stars and stripes I have a book recommendation for you, Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla Miller. I got it from the library and though I never did finish it, what I did get through was very interesting. For one thing, if you sew, you will love reading about her upholstery shop work and the array of things they were creating then using the finest materials from Europe. The other thing is it really gave me a feel for what it might have been like to live through that period in time, something beyond the image of Paul Revere charging through the streets on his horse yelling “the British are coming, the British are coming!” And what was really something is that about the same time I picked up a book on the invention of the sewing machine and was reminded that all the work I read about in the Ross book was done by hand because the sewing machine hadn’t even been invented yet. It’s staggering to think how recent an invention the sewing machine really is and of all the handwork that’s gone on through history.

For additional knitting nancy posts and projects, please click here.





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