Knitted Needle Caps

PieceWork magazine is always full of so many unique stories and items to make.

Case in point, these colorful needle protectors, named Punchinello. They first appeared in Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 11, which was originally published in the 1800s!

They’re made up of two tiny pom-pom caps that are knitted with fingering-weight wool and connected with a braided cord.

The caps fit snugly over corks, which keep the sharp points of slender needles from poking through the fabric between knitting sessions. Punchinello is the British name for Pulcinella, a clown character in Italy’s seventeenth-century commedia dell’arte and still a favorite in puppet shows throughout the world.

I thought you’d enjoy the pattern, which Ann Budd adapted for PieceWork, so here it is!


Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, 100% Shetland wool yarn, fingering weight, 115 yards (105.2 m)/25 g (0.9 oz) ball, small amount of #425 Mustard (yellow), #187
Sunrise (red), and #147 Moss (green)
Needles, set of 4 double pointed, size 0000 (1.25 mm)
Tapestry needle
Wine-bottle cork, cut in half

Note: Each cap begins at the top and is worked downward.

Cap (make 2)
With red (green for second cap), CO 2 sts each on 3 needles—6 sts total.
Rnds 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15: K.
Rnd 2: *K1f&b, k1; rep from * 2 more times—9 sts.
Rnd 4: *K1f&b, k2; rep from * 2 more times—12 sts.
Rnd 6: *K1f&b, k3; rep from * 2 more times—15 sts.
Rnd 8: *K1f&b, k4; rep from * 2 more times—18 sts.
Rnd 10: *K1f&b, k5; rep from * 2 more times—21 sts.
Rnd 12: *K1f&b, k6; rep from * 2 more times—24 sts.
Rnd 14: *K1f&b, k7; rep from * 2 more times—27 sts.
Rnd 16: *K1f&b, k8; rep from * 2 more times—30 sts.
Rnd 17: K.
Change to yellow (red for second cap).
Rnd 18: K.
Rnds 19-21: P.
Change to green (yellow for second cap).
Rnds 22 and 23: K.
Rnds 24-30: *K3, p2; rep from *.
Change to yellow (red for second cap).
Rnd 31: K.
Rnds 32 and 33: P.
BO all sts. Weave in loose ends.

Pom-pom (make 2)
Hold the ends of each ball of yarn together and wind the triple strand around two fingers twelve times to make a tiny skein. Tie this tiny skein securely in the middle, use the ends of the tie to sew it to the tip of a cap, cut the loops at each end of the skein, fluff the ends into a round pompom, and trim neatly. Repeat for second cap.

Braided Cord
Cut three 15-inch (38.1-cm) pieces each of each color and using three pieces of the same color for each strand, work a three-strand braid. Knot each end of the cord, and sew one end to the inside of each cap.

Place one-half of the cork in each cap, adding a bit of yarn to fill the pointed top. If necessary, gather in the bind-off edge of knitting to prevent the corks from escaping.

Have fun making these darling needle caps, and don’t forget to subscribe to PieceWork so you don’t miss any of the fun!


Featured Image: Ann Budd’s adaptation of “Punchinello Caps for Knitting Needles” from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 11. Photo by Joe Coca.

Updated June 5, 2018.

Discover more knitting projects from Weldon‘s!

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