About this blog

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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.

Monday, 7 February 2011

A Knooking Hook

Having established that I like knooking with sticky tape and an old shoelace, I needed to get myself a proper knooking hook. I was impressed with Loonie's DIY efforts, drilling an eye into a wooden crochet hook, and thought I'd have a go at doing the same myself. I did need to buy a wooden crochet hook first, though.

Then I thought about it a bit more, and thought that if I could tackle the fiddly job of drilling an eye in something so small as a crochet hook, surely I could also manage the task of forming the hook at the other end. In that case, what I needed was not a new wooden crochet hook, but a nice straight bit of stick.

I remembered that the holly sprigs I cut for Christmas decorations had some long straight twigs, and I quite fancied the idea of a holly wood knooking hook. I went out and cut myself a likely looking holly twig, and also a straight piece of unidentified shrub that was growing near the door.

A couple of likely looking twigs

I tried the holly first, starting by removing the leaves and peeling the bark off, as we used to do when we were kids, to leave a nice, smooth, white twig. It was straight, a little thinner than I was aiming for, and slightly tapered. With a craft knife, I shaved off the small bumps left by the leaf stems and cut a hook into the thicker end. I then cut a longish eye in the narrow end. This left very little wood either side of it, and was rather flexible, so I wasn't very confident it would last, but still, it was enough to thread a cord through.

For my test with the sticky tape, I'd attached the shoelace end-to-end with the crochet hook, with the result that there was no 'lump' for the knitted loops to go over as they slid from hook to cord. With an eyed hook, the loops must go over the folded end of the cord plus the thickness of the hook, which would make a big lump to get over if I used shoelace again. Besides, I'm not sure I could even get the lace through the eye.

Thinner 'cords' were sought. I tried ribbon, but this was very difficult to work with, so I switched to wool. This worked quite well. It was soft and thin enough to present little obstacle to sliding the work from hook to cord, and had the high friction that proved useful with the shoelace. Being wool, it does have many fine fibres, which tend to combine with the fine fibres of the wool I'm working, so it can be difficult not to knit the cord as well. There's room for improvement, but the wool 'cord' will do for now.

Hook made from holly twig, with actual knitting!

So how did the home made hook fare? Well, I started using it as soon as I'd finished carving it, which was probably a mistake as it was still a little sticky with sap. Also, the hook end tended to fray a bit as it was pushed against the wool. I trimmed it with the knife a couple of times, then it stopped fraying. As it dried, the hook became smoother as well, and quite easy to use. The eye broke, as expected, so I trimmed the end and cut another, which is holding up well so far.

As for the craft of knooking, I had progressed to a stocking stitch square, which meant that I was learning a new stitch (purl is more difficult than the knit stitch in knooking, unlike knitting) with a new hook and new cord – not the best combination. It was very difficult to start with, but as the hook dried out and I learnt to make the stitches looser, it got easier.

After a few rows, I got the knack of holding the wool so that all the movement is done with the hook (as opposed to pushing the hook through then moving the wool around it) for the knit rows. Towards the end of the piece, I learnt to do the same for the purl rows (more difficult as the wool then obscures the working hook, so I can't see what I'm doing). This makes the action less clumsy and more fluent, and altogether more pleasing. In time, I'm sure it will enable me to speed up as well.

All in all, a very successful experiment. I'm enjoying knooking and have completed a square of stocking stitch, which is not bad for a bit of twig from the garden.


  1. Hello Rachel!
    I was really interested in the knooking concept as well and now that I see your hook - woweee, aren't you CLEVER? - I am absolutely dying to try it. I'm going to bookmark your site and come back to check out your progress :-) I'm just going to ignore the gardening bits of your blog, though, because my guilty conscience is almost overwhelming (sob)
    Best wishes from Germany and thank you for visiting my blog,
    The Gingerbread Lady

  2. Hello Gingerbread Lady!
    Thanks for dropping by and commenting :-)
    Don't feel guilty about your garden - I did far less gardening and almost no crafty things when I had a full time job.


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