The knitting's going OK. I've picked it up often enough, and managed to knit fast enough, that I get a sense I'm making progress. Let's be clear about this: My criterion for adequate progress is to be in with a chance of getting a small, simple baby blanket finished before the baby is born in April. I try to set acheivable goals.
So, it's going OK, but it still feels clumsy and awkward. Although I've now finished the pink wool and have four pieces of knitting - I won't call them squares because they're a range of shapes, though all vaguely rectangular - I haven't yet got the knack of knitting fluently. I start to wonder whether I might prefer crochet instead, but having started a knitted blanket I intended to finish it as such.
In my wanders around cyberspace I came across the very readable blog of the Gingerbread Lady and was delighted to learn that I was not alone in my childhood hang-ups about knitting. In fact, there seem to be quite a lot of us who've been convinced that we're doing it wrong and consequently rather gone off the whole business. Why does it have to get so emotional? It's just wool, after all.
One of the comments on Gingerbread Lady's post said,
"As for the knitting, have you heard of knooking? It's a way to actually make a knit fabric (not a knit look-alike) using a modified crochet hook."
Aha! Knitting with a crochet hook? That has to be worth a little investigation.
One google search led me to an entire blog dedicated to introducing the technique. The tool used is a crochet hook with a cord attached to the end, either threaded through a needle eye or attached in some other way. Knooking is quite new, so these corded hooks are not widely available, but commenters on the blog mentioned making their own using tape, or in one case modifying a wooden crochet hook using needle files and a small drill bit.
Making my own knooking hook would have the advantages of being able to try the technique without spending any money, and being able to get started straight away. I went to the cupboard where odds and sods live (as if I keeep all my random crap in one place!) in search of shoelaces, and found some very fine washing line, which I thought might be even better, being a little rigid and smooth like a knitting needle. I taped this to the end of a crochet hook and had a go at some garter stitch.
The washing line contraption was fine, but rather slippery. The stitches tended to slide along it, spreading out and shrinking as they went. After half a dozen rows or so, I reverted to Plan A and tried the shoelace instead. This was better; the greater friction was definitely an improvement. Though this was only a cobbled together contraption, I managed to get almost to the end of a knitted square before the tape tore, leaving me with several dropped stitches in the middle of the last row - not catastrophic as the hook alone would be fine for finishing off the piece.
The temporary hook had lasted long enough for me to try out the new technique and you know what? I enjoyed it much more than knitting. Part of the reason is simple; it's much harder to drop stitches when knooking. There's only one working needle and it has a hook on the end of it, so stitches are much less inclined to slide off. Even if a stitch is dropped (and I am capable of this) or a mistake is made, the previous row is kept on the cord even after the current row is knitted (knooked?) so backtracking a few stitches is a simple matter and there's no danger of laddering (I should say little danger - it is possible if a dropped stitch goes unnoticed for a couple of rows).
There's more to it than this, though. I'm not sure why, but I find I enjoy the process more. It's hard to explain, because I'm no more fluent, but the action is more pleasing to me. Maybe I'm just naturally suited to the crochet hook and not the knitting needle. Who knows. Whatever the reason, it's knooking from here on!
About this blog
- Wales, United Kingdom
- In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.