If you’ve been waiting for my thoughts on the Leisure Arts “Knook”, which I got to try thanks to a Christmas gift, then your wait has finally paid off! We’re going to look at the basics of how the Knook works, and then we’re going to talk about what “knooking” really is and why you might want to do it.
I can tell you right away what the Knook is NOT. I haven’t tried it before, even though it’s been out for at least a couple of years, because I made the mistake of thinking Leisure Arts was just kind of redesigning and rebranding Tunisian crochet. I wasn’t exactly alone in making that mistake, so I want to be clear on that from the start. This is NOT the same as Tunisian crochet!
You can get a Knook set for kids, which has two large plastic hooks, or the regular set with three smaller bamboo hooks.
The knitted dishcloth? That’s the traditional Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth, which I got the pattern for from Artful Homemaking.
You thread one of the cords that comes in the set through the hole at the end of one of the hooks. The set comes with a book to teach you the basics and give you a few beginner patterns to start with. Honestly, the biggest difference here in sets really is going to be the hooks. I have both sets so I have more hook sizes. The books aren’t identical, but they aren’t different enough to make any significant difference. Leisure Arts doesn’t offer much of a range of hook sizes (the hooks in the kits are it, as far as I know), but there are people making Knook Hooks and selling them on Etsy.
The books will teach you to cast on by crocheting a chain, then going back and pulling up a loop in each stitch of the chain. I have, however, seen someone cast on for using their Knook by using a casting on method for traditional knitting needles. Whichever you are more comfortable with is the way that’s right for you. At the end of every row, you’ll slide your loops off of your hook and onto the cord. The cord will hold your loops as you work along the next row. The book isn’t very clear about whether you should insert your hook above or below the cord in each stitch. I’ve found it doesn’t affect the work at all, and it’s more comfortable for me to insert my hook below the cord.
You are doing actual knitting with this hook! It is not crochet that looks like knitting. You do not need patterns that are written for this method. I’ve seen a review that said patterns require modification, but that’s not true. What you do need to learn is how to make a knit stitch, how to make a purl stitch, how to do a yarn over increase, etc. Once you’ve learned the technique, though, you can use a pattern written for traditional knitting.
This is my finished knitted washcloth. I’ve found the soft cotton and the gentle “scrubby” texture of garter stitch are very gentle on my skin. This is really important if you have sensitive skin or psoriasis. I’ve been enjoying using the dishcloth pattern to knit some washcloths for myself.
But why not “just learn to knit”? Wow. I do not have a short answer for that.
Here’s the thing… this IS knitting. Leisure Arts didn’t invent this. They gave it a portmanteau name (knitting + hook = Knook) that they could copyright. In fact, you don’t need to buy the Leisure Arts set at all. As I mentioned, there are people making and selling the hooks for it on Etsy. There are also blogs and YouTube videos that will teach you how to make stiches, as well as how to take a crochet hook you already have and modify it for this. There’s a Ravelry group devoted to this method.
“Knooking” is actually the ipponbari knitting method. It was developed by an occupational therapist so patients with mobility issues in their hands could knit. The tool for it was introduced as the Super Miracle Needle, and I suspect it was developed from the locker hook. You are not crocheting when you do this. You are knitting.
I know crocheters. I know knitters. I know a handful of people who can both crochet and knit. Each side says their craft is easy to learn, easy to do. There are folks who kind of act as recruiters, telling people who are looking to learn one craft that they should learn the other instead, or at least in addition. There are also tons of people who can do one craft but just can’t get the hang of the other one, or who can’t get the hang of either. They are often scoffed at and told, “It’s easy! I don’t know why you can’t do it.”
“Easy” is a subjective thing. It is defined as, “requiring no great labor or effort” and “free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care”. What is easy for one person is not necessarily easy for another person. That’s okay. We’re focusing this year on Crafting Without Shame, and there’s something I want to tell you if crocheting, knitting, or both are really difficult for you.
It’s okay if it’s difficult for you. It doesn’t matter how many people insist to you that it’s “easy”, all that means is that it was easy for them and they have trouble imagining any experience other than their own. It took me a long time to learn that. It took me a long time to learn I’m not the only person who has tried hard to learn knitting with needles and just can’t make their hands do it. I’m not the only person who is comfortable with hand stitching but finds sewing machines intimidating and confusing. I am not broken because some of these things are difficult for me, and you aren’t either. You do not have to feel shame over not picking up on what others say is “easy”.
This hook might make knitting easier for you, though. You see, I get how to knit in my head. I understand what I’m supposed to do. My problem is forcing my hands to actually do it. Being told over and over how “easy” knitting is and watching myself completely fail at it over and over, even with help from knitters, made it emotionally painful for me. I thought I was too stupid to knit and couldn’t understand why. The truth is, it’s not about being stupid at all. It’s about my hands not being able to adjust to how you have to hold knitting when it’s done with needles.
With this method, I can knit while having the safety of a hooked end to help me pull my stitches through. I hold my working yarn the way I do for crochet, and the tension is much more like it is in crochet. I am not making crochet stitches. I am not producing crocheted cloth. I am knitting.
You can knit in the round with this method. You can also cable knit without an additional needle. The cord can be pulled on to hold the stitches for you while cable knitting. You can also combine crochet and knit stitches in a single piece to create fabric that would not be possible with traditional methods. Some Japanese knitters specialize in the ipponbari method for that reason. You don’t need a longer hook for larger projects, you just need a longer cord.
I’m happy with learning a knitting method that allows me to be both and knitter and crocheter. There have been many times I’ve seen a pattern for something I’d like to make and gone, “Oh. But it’s knitting.” Knitting isn’t better than crochet, and crochet isn’t better than knitting. They produce different fabrics, and sometimes one or the other is better for a specific project. I can now do both, as well as maybe looking into some of the things made by combining the two once I get really comfortable with it.
I’m not particulary pleased with how Leisure Arts marketed it, or how I’ve seen it recieved in some corners of the crafting community. I can understand some of the possible reasons for marketing it as they did. As I said before, they can’t claim the method… just the name “Knook”. Sure, they could have told us what it really is and not called it “knitting with a crochet hook”, but then we would have known we didn’t need to buy their product in order to learn how to do it. I’ve never been happy with how there’s a “knitting vs crochet” mindset that rivals the great “dwarves vs elves” feud. (Team Dwarf, for the record.) It’s really disappointing that some people learn how the Knook works and still see it as “not real knitting”. I made myself define it that way at first, before I learned about it being the ipponbari method, out of fear that knitters wouldn’t like it if I acted like this was legitimate knitting. That’s what I saw in several reviews and on blogs. But our friend Chelsea from Crafteroni & Cheese – who is an amazing traditional knitter and shares David’s love of double-pointed needles – told me it IS knitting, just a different method. It’s people like her I should surround myself with… the ones who just love creating, not marking their yarn territory.
Should you learn how to knit with this method? That depends. Do you find handling traditional knitting needles to be too difficult, but are at ease with how crochet work handles? Do you think your problems with knitting are more in the hands than in the head and are fine with learning new ways to make stitches? Do you think this looks interesting and would be interested in learning it so you can move on to the advanced work of combining knit and crochet? Do you think it would be really hilarious to learn how to knit with a hook after all the times you’ve heard non-crocheters say “crochet needle”?
If you answered “yes”, I think there’s a real possibility this might be well-suited to you. Giving it a try just because you want to is also perfectly valid. Your creative work does not have to be controlled by other people. Learn the methods that work for you. Knit with needles. Knit with a hook. Knit without shame.