I learned to knit in 6th grade. I suspect I could have learned much younger, as quickly as I picked it up. That was the year my parents fired the Portland Public School District, and knitting was my "home ec class" for the last few months of the school year. I made a scarf -- there were some loose stitches in the first few rows as I got the hang of managing tension, but not to where it was unusable.
For my "final exam," my mom told me to knit a sample of 10 stitches by 10 rows. I would have thought a usable project would be a better thing to examine than a little chunk of material too small for even a gauge swatch. But I always thought that the point of crafts was to be able to make something you could use.
When my sister was about six, someone showed her "finger knitting." I don't recall the details; the thing that stands out in my mind is that she would wrap string around her fingers, pull loops off a few times, and then after doing what couldn't have been more than a row or two, she took the loops off her fingers, saying (and I assume thinking) that she had "done knitting." Sometimes she waved it around until it unraveled. It just looked like a messy loose knot to me and I think I made fun of her for it but in retrospect it wasn't her fault: young kids learn what they're taught and not much more. If all the person showed them was how to make loops on their fingers and pull the loops off, of course that's all the kids would think to do, not continue to make a length of material that something could be done with. And of course there was no motivation to improve, when the project couldn't be seen as having value.
Considering crafts by usefulness isn't something I've always absolutely done; I went through an embroidery phase, in which I worked designs with no real idea of what would be done with them afterward. I wonder if that's why I seem to remember abandoning more projects than usual, during this phase. But my orientation toward crafts now is that purpose is key -- decorative purposes are fine, gauge swatches so something comes out the right size are fine, even samplers are fine if they're actually done as samplers (i.e. to try out or catalogue what can be done), but anything done without a purpose is just busywork; if you're going to invest time making something, it should be because the thing is wanted.
With this in mind, you might not be surprised to hear that, when Walmart put craft sections back in and brought spool knitting to my attention, my first question was what it was good for. However, you might be surprised that Google, which knows all, let me down. That is, when I Googled spool knitting, I found out that it was a "children's craft" that develops coordination, teaches the process of knitting, etc. Based on this I was ready to classify spool knitting with the project kits with glue on eyeballs, as busywork. You could maybe make glove fingers with it, but they wouldn't go right with the rest of the gloves unless you could make them on a bigger spool and I still couldn't imagine what to do about the thumb since it has to be shaped, so I couldn't think of any way to avoid considering it little more than a timewaster.
And yet, in the back of my mind, I wondered.
And then, slightly after the beginning of the semester, it popped into my head: you could coil up and sew together the long skinny tube, braided rug style, to make...well, a rug. Or depending on how you coiled it, maybe also a basket or a bag or...
Having had the idea, I had to try it out, so now, for when I have a minute, I carry around a knitting spool, a skein of yarn, and the spool's previous output. I'm about to use the last of the first skein, and I've sewed up the tube into what should eventually be a rug for my sewing room (it seems unsuitable for rooms with cats). At some point I'll have to stop carrying around the sewed up part since it'll get too big, but I've got the method worked out, and I've convinced myself that this is an easy way of using scraps of time to make something useful.