review: The Knook

You may remember my knooking experiment from last year. Knooking (or knitting with a crochet hook) is a clever way to form real knitted stitches, by passing the live stitches onto a cord at the ‘wrong’ end of the crochet hook and then working back into them. The finished fabric is indistinguishable from a knitted fabric.

The main obstacle to knooking was the lack of proper equipment available. I used a locker hook, which worked well enough, but is only available in one size (approx G equivalent). The only other alternatives were to buy an expensive circular crochet hook set, or to hack a crochet hook into a knook yourself.

The Knook kit from LeisureArts

Now, finally, LeisureArts have come to the rescue with their new knooking kit, called simply The Knook. I should mention that LeisureArts kindly sent me a kit to review, but I’m not being compensated for this review in any other way, and the following is based on my honest opinions!

If you’d like to buy one, The Knook is currently available from Walmart stores. If you’re looking for it, don’t assume, as I did from the pictures online, that this is a full-sized book: the knook hooks are the same length as a standard crochet hook (about 6″/15cm), and the booklet is the same height, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled to find the kit (it should be located with the other knitting and crochet tools), as it’s fairly small.

UPDATE 20 Sep 2011: Great news! The Knook kit is now available for pre-order on Amazon, and will be released on October 1st :)

UPDATE 6 January 2012: Even better news: LeisureArts have now released more knooking books! Here’s what’s currently available:

  • The Knook kit (that’s what I’ve reviewed here; includes 3 knook hooks and basic instructions)
  • Learn to Knook (includes instructions for decreases and increases, finishing seams, changing colors, making cables, knitting in the round, and more)
  • Several knooking pattern books for hats and other items (although you can use any knitting patterns once you’ve learnt how to make the knitted stitches with your knook!).

The Equipment

The kit comes with 3 knooks, in sizes G/4mm, H/5mm, and I/5.5mm, and three coloured cords (there’s no difference between the cords except the colours, btw). The knooks themselves are made from bamboo, so they are very light and look quite stylish. There’s a slight depression for the thumbrest, which makes it more pleasant to hold than the locker hook I used for my previous knooking attempt. The hook tapers towards the bottom, to allow the doubled cord to pass through your stitches more easily, and the cords are smooth and shiny, which should make them ideal to slide through your stitches.

The ends of the cords are melted (so they won’t fray), and that rigidity made it slightly tricky to thread through the eye of the knook, but I found that by gently twisting the cord as I pushed, it slid through the eye easily enough.

The Book

The provided booklet includes step by step instructions for casting on and off, knit and purl stitches, and includes both right-handed and left-handed photos for every step (I heartily approve!). At the end of the book are 4 patterns (a scarf, washcloth, and two blankets.)

The Knook kit from LeisureArts

When I learnt to knook previously, I had obviously misunderstood something, because knitters looked at my Shaun the Sheep case and told me that my stitches were twisted. (I don’t mind – it still looks good!) I haven’t touched a knook since then and really don’t remember how to do it, so I can test these instructions as a beginner, and hopefully learn the correct method in the process…

The Instructions

I only had internet on my phone when I was testing the instructions, so I couldn’t access the accompanying YouTube videos. If you’re learning to knook, I suggest you use the videos in addition to the booklet to help you learn.

The Knook kit from LeisureArts

To knit, “insert the Knook from right to left into the first stitch”. What?! This motion felt entirely alien to me: it’s like working backwards (I’m left-handed), and the photo didn’t help. After watching the video later, I see that they inserted the hook under the cord too (not shown in the book), which is far easier than the clumsy way I did it to try to match the book’s photo – I had to hold the cord vertically (as you would a knitting needle) to get my hook into the stitch. So, watch the video too if you’re going to learn using this booklet; it really helps. After trying the video method, my knooking speed is now much faster.

first steps in knooking
My first steps: stitches picked up along the chain; stitches slid onto the cord; working back into the stitches

After a few rows of awkwardness, I moved onto the purl instructions. This was much easier than the knit stitch for me and I conquered it in no time.

I did a few rows in stockinette and then checked my swatch, only to find that I was twisting the stitches of every other row. I checked back with the book and noticed a very important highlighted box right at the beginning of the instructions:

If you already know how to crochet, please study the photos closely. From this point on, you will NOT be using the same yarn over typically used in crochet.

Oops… I read the instructions again and realised I’d been twisting the knit stitches by yarning over in my usual crochet way. I re-learned the knit stitch properly, then finished my swatch using the supplied bind-off method (although I had to do it twice because it didn’t mention that you have to bind off loosely and so my stitches ended up being too tight on my first attempt).

Using the Knooks

With my stitches down, I was ready to put the knooks and cords through their paces with a test project. The patterns in the booklet were all too large for impatient me (except the washcloth, which I knew I’d never use) so I decided to improvise. I used the H hook and teal Bernat Satin yarn to knook up a mug cosy of my own improvised design.

One of my knook hooks was slightly rough around the notch cut to make the hook shape, but I polished the bamboo smooth by rubbing it against my jeans so it wouldn’t catch on the yarn. (If you had a very rough knook tip, I’d recommend sanding it with fine sandpaper first.)

After smoothing, the knooks themselves worked very well – the non-hook end was far easier to pull through completed rows than the bulkier locker hook had been, and the silky cords slid through my stitches easily too.

knooked mug cozy

I completed my mug cozy in the time it took to watch a Lord of the Rings movie (so, 3 hours or so), and I’m happy with the result. It’s all knooked apart from the cord over the top of the mug handle, which I foundation single crocheted (still using the knook hook though – you can crochet with a knook too, of course). I expect I could make another mug cozy in about half the time now I’ve seen the video and know to knit by inserting my hook under the cord – live and learn!

Verdict

I highly recommend this kit for the knook hooks and cords. If you want to knook, this is definitely a worthwhile purchase and very inexpensive (people have reported paying around $7 for one at Walmart – well worth it). The booklet is useful too, and the inclusion of left-handed instruction earns it bonus points from me, although I’d recommend that you use the videos too (also available for left-handers). I found that the book photos are very useful to keep on hand as an instant reference for the yarn over directions (I had to check a few times to make sure I hadn’t reverted back to my crochet-style yarn overs, but it worked: no more twisted knit stitches for me).

The Knook kit gets a definite thumbs up from me.

What Next?

knooked Sampler Scarf from LeisureArtsOnce you have the equipment, the world is your knooking oyster! If you have any questions about knooking, I always recommend the Knooking group on Ravelry, which is full of knooking experts and newcomers alike.

LeisureArts are publishing more knooking patterns on their website, but I understand you can also knook (almost?) any knitting pattern.

On the LeisureArts site, I’m most excited about the Sampler Scarf pattern pictured to the right note: it’s free, but you do have to register and provide a billing address in order to download it. It includes instructions for combining (knooked) knitted sections with crocheted stitches, which isn’t as easy at it sounds, because crochet stitches are wider than knit stitches. The pattern has sections worked in Knit Check, Knit Diagonal Rib, Knit Basketweave, and Knit Pennant, with instructions for each, so that’s another 4 knooked stitch patterns I’m looking forward to trying out.

I’ll definitely be knooking more often now that I have a set of proper knooks! What do you think: are you tempted to try knitting the crochet way?

52 Comments »

  1. kortney bewley said

    Thanks for this review! I had seen it at walmart and was going to buy it but couldn’t find the price of it lol! I think I will pick it up and give it a try. I went from being strictly a crocheter to now mostly a knitter with the exception of making amigurumis lol!

  2. Laurie said

    Never heard of knooking – I’ve GOT to try it now though. I’ve been a crocheter for years but have had trouble knitting for some strange reason.

    • Jessica said

      I have not tried this knooking yet, but I have been an avid crocheter for over 10 years. I am 22 years old and just started learning knitting a year ago..but for the life of me..i can’t do it! so hopefully this will make everyone think i can :)

  3. Susan said

    I think I will try it. Also a lefty, I consider myself an expert crocheter, but for some reason I cannot learn to knit. Some mental block I guess. I love the finer weave of knitted garments over crocheted garments.

    • Ginger said

      Hi June, for a left it is tricky to learn to knit. One trick is to do the entire row by starting at the end and work backwords. I wish I had you here to teach you, I watched my Mom teach my lefty aunt do it and its not so hard. If you would write to me at writingtigger1952@hotmail.com I try to help you get started. Also if you go to google.com and type in how to knit left handed you will get about a million ways to knit left handed. I wish you good luck and have a good New Years Eve. Ginger

  4. jamie said

    Thanks for the review! I had something like this in my mind, but I was calling it Cro-Knitting. I knew that I needed the tools provided in this set, but since I thought they didn’t exist I was wondering how I could gently drill a hole into wooden hooks (making a knitting point by shaving the end with a knife a la old-school pencil sharpening seemed easy compared to this). This saves me a world of DIY frustration!

  5. June said

    I’m a lefty too and when I read that left to right line I thought it was an error! I’ve been knooking since your first post about it and I do enjoy it! Unfortunately I have never been able to master the purl stitch! LOL

    I got the Denise Crochet hook set and I love it!

    I would love to get the Leasure Arts set with the book and DVD but it’s not available around here! I have downloaded the patterns, tutorials and videos from their site then! I am determined to get this purl thing into my pointed little head! LOL

    Thanx for the great review!

  6. Jana said

    I have SO many crochet projects I want to make that I don’t know if I will EVER get to knooking! Maybe one day, when I’m retired! :D

  7. We don’t have Walmart on this side of the Pacific yet so I had to find an alternative in order to try this. I found that the KnitPro hooks and cables work well although the hooks are quite blunt. I can knit but I’m not very quick and think that I can knit faster than I can knook so I might restrict my knooking to circular or mixed (knit and crochet) patterns.

    Thanks for the review anyway. If they ever become available around here I might try them myself.

    • Michelle Wood-Capolino said

      Richard, you can purchase the kit through Leisure Arts website too. Amazon has it listed, but not available yet. I found one on Etsy as well.

  8. OH this is perfect, maybe now I can do my knitted scarf in enough time for winter.

  9. Charlotte said

    I’ve been wanting to learn how to knook ever since I read your post with the Shaun the Sheep case. Unfortunately, no Wallmart around here :(. Do you think it will become available for purchase online?

    • June said

      Yes, good news, LeisureArts have confirmed that the exclusive Walmart rights are only until September 15th! After that time, the kit will be available online and at other craft stores :)

  10. Rachael said

    I am not ready to try that as I have recently learnt to crochet and would probably confuse myself!

  11. Sandy said

    Great review! I tried knooking awhile back with a cabled afghan hook and was amazed at the result. I am looking forward to trying out the kit..I got one today. :)

  12. Joyce C said

    IF this is as good a method to knit as it sounds (I’m a knitter and crocheter but do try different methods to save pain in my hands), I would hope that the manufacturer will make these needles in small sizes for baby things and socks, if you can knit in the round. Sounds exciting, will see if I can get to Wal-Mart and pick up a kit.

    Great review!!!!

    • June said

      My guess would be that, if the kit sells well, they may produce knooks in other sizes. I’d certainly be interested in buying a full range if they did!

  13. Simone said

    Thank you for this interesting review!
    It was news to me that it is possible to let crocheted work look like knitted. Well, frankly – I don’t see the point. For me, the crocheted work looks nicer than the knitted one. When I want to have straight rows, I’ll knit.

    Also, it could be “water on the mills” for those who look down upon crocheted work (look at this thread on Ravelry, where in some LYS, crocheters are dissed, e.g.: “you can’t make anything pretty with crocheting”.): http://bit.ly/pu9l3c

    So: I’ll stick to my hook! :D

    • June said

      Thanks for your input, Simone! There are huge benefits to knooking, for some people: for example, it’s great for those of us who find it difficult to master knitting with non-hooked needles, or for people who find it hard to knit due to arthritis, missing fingers, or other physical conditions.

      As I’m not a knitter, I like being able to have the ability to use a hook to produce a knitted fabric as well as a crocheted one, and it also makes it easier to combine knit and crochet in the same project (no need to switch tools or pick up stitches!).

      I don’t think anyone intends knooking to replace either knitting or crochet – it’s just an interesting alternative to be able to add to the mix of yarn crafts :)

      • Simone said

        Of course, you’re right – I didn’t think of these aspects. Thank you for pointing them out to me! :)

  14. Donna Burdick said

    I just learned about knook and can’t wait to try it I am having trouble findind the hooks to do this. I have crocheted for years and I am always looking for something new to try. Hopefully I find the tools soon.
    Donna

  15. Lana Kelsoe said

    all of the walmart stores near me do not have the knook kit> i have also checked on walmart.com numerous times but can’t find it.
    I really want this kit. Any suggestions?

    • June said

      Lana, the Knook kit is currently only available at Walmart, but it will also be available online and in other stores (not just Walmart) after September 15th, so if you can wait a few more weeks, you should be able to buy it elsewhere :)

      • Misty said

        Thank you for this insite. I have been going nuts to find this for the last 2 days. Walmart in my area also doesn’t carry it and I have been scouring the internet to find it. I just happened across this blog and saw your comment. Very much looking forward to Sept 15th :-)

  16. Sarah said

    Thank you so much for the review. I cannot wait to try it!

  17. Michelle Wood-Capolino said

    Do you know if they will have additional hooks available at a later date? Or now? Like larger ones or such. I found the kit at Walmart yesterday and bought it (they just got it in this week),

    • June said

      I haven’t heard of any plans for a set with more sizes, but it would make sense to make one – I’ve told LeisureArts that there’s definitely a market for one and they’re going to keep me posted with any developments… I’ll report back if I hear good news!

  18. Rebecca said

    Stumbled upon the Knook kit at my Wal-Mart and I am HOOKED! (Pun intended).
    My attempts at crochet always turned into an uneven mess, and I never mastered knitting. This is a wonderful alternative! I’m enjoying “knooking” so much!
    In reading many reviews, I think folks who crochet will enjoy it. But I’ve heard it can be confusing to those who knit regularly. Again, I don’t knit, so I don’t know for sure.
    Suffice it to say that it’s wonderful to have the choices of knitting, crocheting and now knooking!

  19. rae said

    I just stumbled upon the kit at Walmart while looking for the bambo handle crochet
    hooksand bought it I’ve never heard of this and googled it. Sounds neat. Thanks for the heads up on the instructions. Do you ever need a loonger cord I wonder. I like the small size it looks portable

  20. Katie said

    Thank you so much for your very informative review! I saw the knook in a knit & crochet newsletter and was fascinated with the idea. I keep wishing I could make knitted patterns, but every time I try to learn, I never can seem to get the hang of it. The last time, I remember thinking, “If I just had a hook on the end of this darn stick, I could do this.” So the knook was something of an answered prayer! Your notes about the actual size of the product and possible misinterpretations of instructions saved me a lot of time finding the kit and undoing stitches I naturally would have made wrongly! I’m thrilled with my new knooking skills and thankful I found your review before I began!

  21. Diana said

    Hi all, Is there anyone here who knits in the European style, with the yarn coming over your left finger (right for lefties), if so can you tell me if Knooking is similar, cause it sure seems to be from what I see/read here. Just curious, I am going to buy a kit anyway, I just wondered if anyone else got the same impression.

  22. Rhenn Rainbow said

    Thank you sooo much for the links!

    I just got this for Christmas and am sooo happy! I know for sure that mine came from Michaels art store, since that’s where I saw it. Go check your local one!

    I was delighted at how easy it was to learn, but was left really wishing there had been more instructions. I love making beanies and hats, so I was disappointed that there were no directions on how to increase or decrease. I’m currently searching to see if there are any more books, sets, or hooks to buy. I sure hope so. This is a really, really great alternative for those of us who can’t seem to make friends with knitting needles. I’m really, really hoping that this won’t be one of those things that disappears in a few years, never to see a trace of them again. This is such a wonderful product, I really hope enough people catch on to keep it around. :)

    • June said

      Rhenn, you’ll probably find the Learn to Knook book from LeisureArts useful – it includes instructions for decreases and increases, finishing seams, changing colors, making cables, knitting in the round, and more.. They have also produced more knooking pattern books for hats and other items (although you can use any knitting patterns once you’ve learnt how to make the knitted stitches with your knook!).

  23. Esther Paris said

    The Leisure Arts web site has video instructions for increases, decreases & working in the round for hats (beanies) etc.

  24. [...] used this crochet hook to make it! A while ago I had read about a technique called Knooking at PlanetJune  and had been considering experimenting with it. It uses a cord on the non-hook end of the crochet [...]

  25. Elena said

    for all those without access to a kit, Mary Maxim have them as well as several pattern books. In my family we seem to ‘choose’ whether we are knitters or crocheters – I am on the knitting side and have been for over 60 years and am afraid I have never found crocheting (either doing it or the result) to my personal taste – but, to each his own :) … I had not heard of knook and happened on this board in my search for “what is it” – It does sound interesting but I think I will stick with the knitting for which I find bamboo needles a great help for arthritic hands. Knook away ladies & enjoy :)

  26. Jennifer said

    I just bought the knook at my local Wal-Mart- it took me about an hour to get the hang of it (had to watch the utube videos to see what I was doing wrong with the stockinette stitch. It is slow to do, because I am used to crocheting, but at least I was able to figure it out. Can’t wait to start projects with it. I am a lefty also and the videos are a “great help”. If you haven’t gotten the hang of it yet-keep trying and you’ll get it!

  27. Khariana said

    I read your review on New Year’s Day and was so inspired, I went to Walmart the next day to purchase my Knook. I started with a basic (knit stitch) scarf and was HOOKED!!! I have successfully followed 3 knitting patterns since then and have made another scarf, a cowl, and a slouchy hat. I had to force myself to put my Knook away when I had a few crochet orders between all of that knooky. I just had to return to the place that started my addiction and formally say, “Thank You”!!!!!

  28. SaraD said

    I crocheted for several years when I was in middle school, and eventually abandoned it for embroidery. My one attempt at learning to knit literally ended in tears; my brain wouldn’t compute the hand motions for knitting with those for crocheting already in my head.

    I’ve recently picked up crocheting again, to make amigurumi, and realized I had forgotten how much fun it can be. So when I saw the Knook at WallyWorld last year, I was intrigued, and decided to pick one up this week finally. I can’t wait to get started with it. Maybe finally finish that scarf project from over a decade ago.

  29. [...] to wrangle the yarn without a handy hook with which to grab it. But, thanks to my practice with knooking, I now understand the shape of knitted (and purled) stitches, and how they fit together. I’ve [...]

  30. Michelle said

    I am also a crocheter who for the life of me cannot teach myself how to knit. I picked up the Knook kit a while back, and finally had a chance to try it out this weekend. It was super easy just follwoing the pictures in the book, and I was knooking in no time. I did catch myself twisting stitches a few times, out of habit, but I think when I actually try to do a project I cna work past that with repitition. I am also glad to hear there knook pattern books, because I will definately use the kit again.

  31. I enjoy knooking. It is compact for traveling, and the hook can’t fall out.

    The finished project has even tension, looks nice, and cables are easy without a holder.

    Also a good conversation starter. Carolyn

  32. vmf said

    Today I received an email ad for the Knook. I Googled it and landed at your website. My question when looking at the Knook was “why?” The question is pretty much answered by reading all the comments. It seems to be a wonderful way for those who crochet and don’t or can’t knit to produce knitted pieces. As a knitter I fail to see the attraction. I will keep knitting with needles, but in no way mean to knock the knook. I think it would be great for some folk. Thank you, June, for the review.

    • June said

      I agree, I don’t see any advantage in knooking for those who already knit (unless knitting causes them pain, in which case the different motion of the knook may help) – but it’s amazing for crocheters to be able to produce real knitted fabrics with a knook :)

  33. I thought your review of the Knook was spot on and very well written. Thank you so much for writting it. I linked to your review and website homepage from my website. :-)

  34. Cheryl Farris said

    You can also get a piece of cording from the fabric section at any craft store; the use the Denise Interchangeable Crochet hooks. Then you have a variety of sizes of hooks. As, well as the fact that you can make any size project by using a longer cord.

  35. bw kolk said

    I would like to have a knook after reading all here, but am not able to get to a store.
    And no financial stuff on PC, so that method is out.

    Have no offers to shop FOR me,,
    ;o[[
    bets

  36. Elaine Levine said

    Good Morning,
    I bought a Knook at Walmart yesterday and have been searching the web for free patterns. The question that I have is that all patterns have a small amount of stitches. Can this be used to make a pattern such as an afghan with a lot of stitches? Thank you.

    • June said

      Your row size is only limited by the length of your cord, so yes, if you have a long enough cord, you can knook an entire afghan in one piece :)

  37. Holly said

    I recently book the knook kit from Wal-Mart and have been trying to teach myself. I think I am guilty of twisting the stitches like in crochet….going to watch the videos and give it another try. When I go from knit to purl it looks the same but different than the sample in the book. It didn’t look too bad, just not like it should, lol. Thanks for the links to the video demos!

  38. carol Alvarez said

    Hello June,
    I saw slippers I wanted to crochet only thing the crochet hook would not help because the yarn kept falling off. I was getting frustrated I thought of putting elastic at the end of the crochet hook. Then one day my cousin wife was using this crochet hook doubled sided. I the only place I found this was at a Creative yarn store then I thought it was too small.
    So I went online and noticed the knook.
    You say it’s at Walmart. Can I buy this at Walmart in Canada

  39. Gigi Lee said

    Hi June, I am attempting to learn knocking and have to make a swatch for an audition and it us taking me forever. Plus, the swatch is mis-shapen I suppose due to tension. I saw a comment stating it takes time. I have the set you speak of but my sts seem so tiny it takes a long time picking up sts. I also am using the traditional yo. Do you have any more tips to help me get this swatch finished? Thank you so much!

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