I’ve heard mention of knooking several times over the years, but I got into it accidentally. One day last year, I was putting in an order from an online yarn shop and was a couple of pounds short of the threshold for free delivery. I poked around in the Needles section and ran across a KnitPro 4mm Knooking Needle that cost just enough. I bought it and when it arrived I was pretty bewildered.
I could not for the life of me see how this was going to produce knit fabric! After some research, a lot of it on this site, it turned out that the eye is to attach a cord and the stitches are worked on the cord. OK then. So I attached some acrylic DK yarn to act as a cord and then tried to work using more acrylic DK yarn. Because I’m a bit daft, I forgot that acrylic sticks to itself, so not only was the cord too thick, the live stitches were sticking to the cord. Disaster! Tossing the needle into the bottom of my knitting basket, I sat down and had a good hard sulk.
Fast forward to this week and I found my knooking needle whilst looking for a stray stitch marker. I gave knooking another shot – and this time I nailed it.
Firstly, I swapped the cord. This cord is made of two strands of 1mm Hemp Twine – the same stuff I used for the Crochet Hook Wrist Strap. I went for two because one strand felt a little slim, but if there were two and the work got stuck I could pull them out one at a time. Other options included household string or 4-Ply yarn. I wound up with this, although I have to admit that the knots gave me some trouble.
The cast on that is seems to be recommended for knooking is the crochet cast on. Makes sense, given that there’s a hook right there! However, I found that the thumb method was much, much easier to work with. Once the stitches are cast on, you slide them on to the cord and work them in a similar way to crochet slip stitch, if you’re knitting. For purl, you insert the hook from back to front in a technique that I struggled to get the hang of, but it just needs some practise. Once you’ve worked all the stitches in a row, you yank the cord out, then slide the stitches back onto the cord to work the next row. The picture below shows what knooking looks like after completing a row, before the cord is yanked. This is right side lace row, so the slanted stitches are yarn overs.
I made mini swatches of what I think are the basics of knitting – garter, stockinette, cable and lace for comparison. I didn’t touch circular knitting because I was fed up once I had made these swatches! The swatches are worked over 15 stitches, except the cable which is worked over 14. Let’s take a look!
It doesn’t get much simpler than this! Cast on, knit every row, then cast off. I found that once I had the technique for the knooking knit stitch, this one was pretty easy, although pulling the cord out after every row got old fast. Also, with knooking you have to have quite a light touch. If your tension is too tight you’ll struggle to get the stitches over the eye and onto the cord. Even if you manage that, creating the knit stitch needs a loose tension in order to insert the hook. As I knit/crochet like I’m defusing a bomb, this took some practise.
Next, onto stockinette. This drove me all sorts of crazy because the movement required for purl just felt awkward to me. However, once I had got the hang of it, I could work at a reasonable pace. I’m amazed how much this looks like knitting!
I didn’t look up any instructions for this one – instead I just fiddled about until I could C2B. Whilst cabling with a knooking needle is certainly possible, the knitter in me was screaming blue murder about how annoying it was. Getting the first two stitches across was easy, but digging up the ones at the back was rage inducing. Maintaining an even tension was another problem – these cables are nowhere near as crisp as my normal cables, with or without a cable needle. There are videos and tutorials on the subject, but unless you’re a die hard knooker (knookist?) I would avoid cables like the plague.
In stark contrast to cabling, I found lace to be pleasantly simple. Again, I just fiddled about until I got it, rather than looking for a tutorial (what can I say, I was watching the Equestrian events at the Olympics!). I concocted a very simple lace pattern ([K2, (YO, K2TOG twice) K3 (K2TOG, YO twice) K2] on the right side, P across all on the wrong side) for this swatch. The cord is helpful for containing the yarn overs and makes it easy to see where you are in the pattern. Knitting two together was easy enough, and SKPO should also be pretty easy, though I’m not sure how SSK would work. Maintaining proper tension also seemed to be straightforward whilst working lace.
In Conclusion… Am I Going to Keep On Knooking?
The short answer is no. I’ve heard it said that knooking is faster than knitting, but I found the opposite. I don’t hate knooking (well, except for cables), but it’s not as fast as knitting and the relatively limited sizes of needles available is also a turn off. If you want to make anything bigger than a place mat, I would say to knit it, because it’s faster and there are loads of patterns available. If I needed a tiny piece of knitting, then I may well break out the knooking needle, but frankly I just couldn’t see any advantages to this technique. Even if you crochet, I would suggest learning to knit instead of knooking because there are less restrictions and more options when it comes to needles and patterns. But, most of all, I can’t help but think that knitting with a crochet hook might just be heresy.
Have you ever knooked? Are you a die hard knooking addict? Or did you come away pretty neutral as I did? Let me know in the comments!