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Knooking

  • Knook

    Kid_Knook_pkg__58583_zoom

    This week I learned how to use a Knook. I used the Knook for Kids kit by Leisure Arts and followed the instructions. I have to admit that I turned my nose up at learning how to Knook. I have knitted for almost 20 years and crocheted for about 5 years. Why do I need to learn how to Knook? I asked myself. Because you like to learn new things and challenge yourself is what I thought. So I gave it a go and I found that I liked using a Knook. I found the instructions to be very easy to follow. I even watched a video from the website that the book has - to make sure I had a full understanding.

    To practice my new Knooking skills, I Knooked three swatches: a garter stitch swatch which is just a knit stitch; a stockinette stitch swatch which is knit a row, purl a row; and, a rib stitch swatch which is knit two, purl two. The three swatches will make perfect coasters. I always need something to set my drinks on; my poor coffee table has several rings on it. They also make great little gifts that don’t take very long to knit up. Challenge yourself and learn something new this week.

    left garter stitch, middle stockinette stitch, and right rib stitch left garter stitch, middle stockinette stitch, and right rib stitch
  • I Still Dream of Garter Stitch. Sweet, Simple Garter Stitch.

    I'm still knitting squares for a blanket from a modified pattern from Baby Blankets Made with the Knook.  Lots and lots of squares.

    You know how it is.  I'm just a few squares away from having enough, and now I'm slowing down a bit.  I guess I feel comfortable that I'm going to finish this, and so now I'm not rushing.  I'm just knitting my way through this Knook pattern and enjoying the simple pattern.  By the way, if you're new to Knooking I think this would be a wonderful starter project!

    I'm starting to play around with my color combinations in earnest.  I still think that 6 rows of 7 blocks a piece should still make a nice little blanket for my toddler.  I'm going to make a few more squares with some light brown yarn, and that's going to be the yarn I use for piecing the squares together.  I had thought about doing a simple single crochet stitch border, but I think I'll leave the edges bare in case I want to add more squares in a few more years.

    I love the idea of this blanket growing with my little girl, and I love the colors together.  Using up some of my scraps simplified the process for me.  How many squares should be yellow?  Well, I have enough yarn for 5 squares.  So that's how many I should have.  I used full skeins of the blue and red yarn, and nearly a full skein of the off-white yarn.  The dark green makes me think of quilts and afghans I see in the backgrounds of WWII movie sets.  It's homey and scrappy and kind of earnest-looking. 

    That seems like a nice gift for a mom to make for her daughter right before a third birthday.  She already knows that knitting takes time, and she knows that handmade things are important.  I love every one of these little mitered squares, and I already love the idea of wrapping up my daughter in this blanket. 

    I'm enjoying myself very much as I work on this project, and I hope you're having a great time with your WIPs this Wednesday as well.

  • WIP Wednesday

    I thought it would be fun to have a WIP (work-in-progress) Wednesday post.  Why?  Because I adore alliteration adamantly.
    And because I think it's fun.  Setting out all of my WIPs either inspires me to finish them up, or forces me to decide if I want to keep going.  I think most people have some kind of process for figuring out how they feel about their projects, and this is mine. 
    First up is the Honey Cowl by Madelinetosh (this links to the Ravelry pattern page, so you'll need a Ravelry account to view it.  Please tell me you have a Ravelry account!).  Half the Internet seems to be working on this, so I thought I'd join in on the fun.  I'm knitting the smaller size and using Size 6 knitting needles.
    And some alpaca yarn that I've never used before, and seem to be having an allergic reaction to.  I tried to write it off as dry winter skin, but when the red splotches were even on the finger I use to keep my tension even, I knew it was time to set this project aside.  I don't know if I'll take another chance on this, but it's going to sit in its corner a little while longer because ALPACA.  Something could change.  You just never know.

    This is the Cable Headwrap from  Knit Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps.  I'm using some medium weight acrylic and Size 6 knitting needles.  I cast it on to try out the double increase stitch and I really like this.  The main part of the knitting is a four-row repeat, and I think it's really pretty.

    I don't know what button I'll add to this when I'm finished, but the friend I'm making it for isn't having a birthday for another month.  Which is good, because I'm making a slightly altered version for a friend having a birthday next week.

    Like I said, slightly altered.  I'm going through a weird phase right now.  Actually, I'm going through a lot of yarncrafting phrases right now.  One is the nagging feeling that I should be starting every project I see.  Another is that I keep seeing things and wondering how they would look as a cowl.  The stitch pattern in a hat.  Lots of scarf patterns.  And when I saw the Headwrap Pattern, I thought it would like nice as a cowl.  I pulled out some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick and some Size 15 needles and tried to find out if I was right.

    I think I was! 

    I'm not sure how I feel about this work in progress, though.

    The pattern is the Mitered Eyelet Blanket from Baby Blankets Made with the Knook, and the yarn is some lightweight cotton I got from a friend last fall.  I like the yarn and I like the pattern, but I'm not sure that I like them together. I may finish the square first, though.  Just in case.

    And because I firmly believe that sometimes you need to crochet something, I'm using up scrap yarns from my Knooked dishcloths on this Rainbow Dishcloth from Dishcloths (#5951).  And besides, I can never turn away from a good granny square project.  This colorful little square is making me happy.

    Like I said, most people have some sort of method for figuring out what to do with their WIPs.  Do you complain about them to friends until one of them says "Just rip it and get it over with!" like you were hoping they would?  Do you check your project pages on Ravelry?  Do you post your own WIP Wednesday posts on your blog?  Let me know in the comments!

  • Knooked Dishcloths

    It's been a while since I talked about my seemingly endless quest to make every dishcloth in the book Dishcloths Made with the Knook.  When I started the project, I had just learned to use a Knook and I thought working on a smaller project like a dishcloth would help me learn how to Knook different stitches and get a few gifts in the process.

    I was right.

    I'm a little more than halfway through the book's ten dishcloths, and dishcloth #6 was the Mini Blocks pattern.

    I used the H/8 Knook and 2/3ds of skein of Sugarn' Cream in the Red colorway.  Yes, just red.  It was part of a set of three for a little stocking stuffer gift for my mom so the color wound up being very festive.  I also made these two dishcloths.

    The Textured pattern.  I should have used a solid color.

    See? Texture!

    The Sunny pattern.

    I folded up the three Christmasy-colored dishcloths, stacked them, and tied them up with a ribbon.  My mom was enthusiastically thrilled with them, and I rested on my laurels for a while and took a week-long break from any kind of gift knitting.  I don't think I have any dishcloth gift events or holidays coming up any time soon, but I'd like to have a stash set aside.  I'm not sure which pattern I'm going to pick, but I do have the yarn ready.  See?

    Back to the Mini Blocks dishcloth. 

    I liked this pattern a lot, and now that all of the Knook tutorial video posts are up on the blog, I thought it would be nice to link you to the posts addressing the stitches you would use if you were Knooking the dishcloth.

    If you bought the book.  Which I think you should, especially if you want to practice lots of stitches on the Knook.  Which I think you should.

    Okay!

    The techniques in the Mini Blocks dishcloth pattern:
    Foundation rows
    Knit stitch
    Purl stitch

    The left-handed techniques in the Mini Blocks dishcloth pattern:
    Foundation rows
    Knit stitch
    Purl stitch

    Six down.

    And four to go!

  • Learn to Knook: Knook in the Round Left-Handed

    I finished up a hat this weekend, and it got me thinking about all of the reasons why I look working in the round.

    For starters, I save a lot of time by not turning.  It seems like a silly thing to say, but once I'm good in settled in a seat with a cup of coffee and some yarn I don't like interruptions.  I'm not as likely to get my yarn tangled around my project, or accidentally pull stitches off the needle by moving a certain way.  The work stays firmly in my hands and just moving smoothly around and around to make something is pretty fun.

    Also, there's no 'wrong' side.  I get nervous about doing anything on the wrong side.  I also get weird about words, but you've probably already figured that out.  I read somewhere that a more accurate way to describe a project is to refer to the outside of a garment and the inside of the garment.  But most people say 'wrong side' and so I always think that purl rows are ugly and wrong and that's where your loose strands of yarn are hiding.  Working in the round lets me pretend that none of that is happening.

    Ahem.

    Lastly, no seams.  Hooray!  I understand seaming together sweater pieces or afghan blocks, but whenever I see a pattern for a hat that's knitted or crocheted flat and then stitched up I just back away slowly.  If I wanted to sew, I'd sew.  Like I said, I don't like interruptions.  (And like I also said, I get weird.)

    Interested in Knooking in the round?  Well, lucky you.  Here's your left-handed Knooking video:

    I really think I may try to make mittens with a Knook.  It's such a small project and I'd only have one needle and no double pointed needles!  They stress me out.  There's just so many of them and I worry about dropping them.  Plus, I'm pretty excited about the idea of decrease rounds with a hook because I won't have to worry about the work getting stretched.  (Sometimes that happens before I move my knitting from the circular needles to the DPNs.)  Since I never have to worry about that when I'm crocheting, I think the Knook would be pretty great at easing the nervousness I already have about mittens.

    I like that about the Knook.  It takes things that might feel scary (even if they're really not) and makes them feel a little safer.  You've got your hook and your trusty line of security and happiness and that makes a lovely safety net.  Which then frees you up to try new techniques and make new lovely things.

    And that is a lovely thing, indeed.

  • Tips for a Better Holiday Knitting Experience

    (Disclaimer: whenever I write "knitting" I mean "knitting or crocheting or Knooking."  But knitting is my main craft and so that's what I usually type out by default.  But if you want to read the word "knitting" and replace it with "weaving" or "making those giant wire mesh wreaths" or "baking and painstakingly decorating 250 Christmas cookies," that's fine.)

    I've already talked about how taking some names off your holiday knitting list makes things a bit easier, but even if you halved your list of recipients you'll still have a bit of work ahead of you.  So here are some thoughts on how to make your holiday knitting a little more pleasant and efficient.  Pick and choose (or ignore!) as you see fit:

    Be realistic.  Now is not the time for afghans.  You could probably whip out a shawl or two if you have magical powers but you'd still lose a lot of sleep, which is going to make your breakdown all the more painful when you realize you misread the chart in a sleep-deprived stupor--20 rows back.  Not that I'm speaking from experience.  Look at your life, look at your choices.  Try to figure out how much time per day you can spend on knitting and try to plan your projects accordingly.

    Stick with what you know.  Most of us have some favorite patterns, or go-to items for making a quick and simple gift.  Mine is an old-fashioned toboggan pattern that I've made at least 10 hats from in the past 2 years, and I have plans to make 2 or 3 more before the month is over.  Haul out your favorite books or pamphlets!  Enjoy those familiar patterns and save yourself some confusion and frustration.

    Check your stash.  No, really check it.  Take a good hard look at what you have before you get started on a project.  Do you think you have 3 skeins of that yarn you need, or are you just mostly sure you saw it around somewhere?  I was convinced I had two skeins of red yarn, but didn't.  I forgot to update my stash page on Ravelry, and I saw it so many times on my page that I thought I'd seen it somewhere in my home.  But it was already crocheted up into a little sweater for my baby.  Oops.  There are few things worse than interrupting your precious knitting time to run out and buy yarn.  Unless we're talking about buying yarn from a different dye lot, or that the store may not carry anymore.  During Christmas.  I went to my local Michael's last weekend.  I'm not going back (for a while).  Dig in.  Dump out.  Burrow.

    Ravelry.  Ravelry is my solution to just about everything.  It's just awesome.  If you do knit something new because someone asked for something specific, use the advanced pattern search to narrow down your options.  And always click the "Has photo" box.  There's no way you can try to knit your friend that hat she saw in the ad if you can't see a picture of it online.

    This is one of my favorite parts about the pattern search options on Ravelry.  You can check a box for how much or how little yarn a pattern requires, and see the little arrow?  That's where you can select patterns that use yarn you have in your stash (assuming you keep your stash more current than mine).  It takes a lot of guesswork out of things when you're searching through patterns and trying to figure out if you can wiggle around the gauge guidelines by using what you already have.

    Check your other stash.  My stash is just a small collection of baby hats and a couple of scarves, but maybe you have a little more foresight than me.  You probably do.  Is there something you made for someone who is no longer on your list?  Assign it to someone who is.  What about something you've had just hanging around?  This morning I made a cowl from......a disaster.  I knitted a short scarf a couple of years ago out of some beautiful multicolored mohair yarn.  I can't unravel it and re-work it, though, because after a natural disaster damaged some of my things my parents washed some of my wool items.....and then dried them. (I might have told them it was okay to do so. I was pretty distracted at the time.) My dad even mentioned ironing some things.  So I took this very dense and very clean little scarf, sewed the ends together, and bundled it up for a friend's birthday.  It's not the best thing ever, but I'd tried and failed 4 times to make this person a cowl and it just wasn't working and was really setting me back on my knitting schedule.  Try re-working what you have into a gift or two.

    WIP it.  WIP it good. I'm really sorry about that pun.  Wait, no.  I'm not sorry at all.  What do you have on your needles that you could finish up for someone?  Was there a scarf you started for yourself and then ignored because it just wasn't your style?  Would your sister like it instead?  Then pick up that work in progress!

    Gift cards.  I know, I know.  This is about holiday knitting.  But if you're taking care of a baby who won't sleep, a spouse or parent who's sick, or your own injuries or illness,  then just tuck some money into a thoughtful card and start planning your birthday knitting.  You may as well enjoy the season, and I hope that you do! 

    Happy crafting!

  • Learn to Knook: Rib Stitch Right-Handed

    Last year I knitted this little Santa hat for my baby.  There's no pattern, or maybe I cobbled together 2 or 3 patterns and mangled them into something else--there was a lot of sleep deprivation going on at the time, so I don't remember very well.  But I thought I'd show you this  because that is one cute baby, and because, like most hats, it has ribbing and that's what I'm talking about today.

    Ribbing helps the hat sit snugly on your head when the crown may be a bit large, or it can let the hat stretch--but not to the point of stretching out the hat--if the crown is a bit too small.  Ribbing is stretchy and forgiving and I like the way it makes nice, orderly rows.  Ribbing holds things in place (think gloves, socks, and hats) and makes a knitted fabric lay flat (think sweaters).  My hat is knitted, but since you can use a Knook to do any knitting stitch you can totally learn the ribbed stitch with the Knook:

    Video can also be found here.

    If you already know how to knit and purl with your Knook, then you'll have no problem working the rib stitch.  The most difficult thing for me is setting up the knitting after casting on or picking up my stitches.  It helps to say "knit" or "purl" out loud as I'm getting started.  After that, you just follow the pattern the stitches have practically set up for you.  Score!

    Ribbing is typically used as the edging for garmets, but I must say that one of my favorite pair of booties from my Mamaw is just ribbed tubes that she knitted flat with doubled yarn and then stitched up.  I know that's not a real pattern, but I think it's a great way to learn this stitch while keeping someone warm.  I'm also hoping that if I make a pair for my husband for Christmas this year, he'll stop dropping unhelpful hints about how much he would love some socks.*   I'm a bit of a chicken about socks.  But not about ribbing!  I love ribbing.  I hope you do, too.  Happy Knooking!

    * I love my husband, but I don't think we're at a point in our relationship where I love him enough to learn to knit socks and then make one for his Size 13W feet--and then do it all over again for his other foot.  Maybe for our silver anniversary.  We can re-name the twenty-fifth year as the wool anniversary.  Which would be fine by me.

  • Learn to Knook: Left-Handed Purl Stitch

    Here's the video for learning to purl left-handed on the Knook:

    There's a longer video here that has a lot of extra information on the properties of stitches and shows you how to bind off in the purl stitch.   I highly recommend clicking that link.

    Is that all I've got to say today?  No.  It's time for a knitting confession.

    I knit wrong.  I've known this for a while.  Whenever I watched videos demonstrating techniques like knitting two stitches together or slip-slip-knit--they're NOT the same thing--I would notice that I didn't knit the way the person in the video did.  But I assumed that it was because the person in the video was a 'thrower' (English knitters move the yarn over the needle with their free hand) and I am a 'picker' (Continental knitters sort of pull the yarn through the loop with their needle).  My Mamaw told me once I knitted "funny," but I had mostly forgotten that.

    What I didn't realize, even though it's painfully obvious, was that I also purl wrong. Mamaw taught me to knit (after my Grandmother refused to teach me to knit because she said she knitted wrong and didn't want me to learn her way.  Well.) and then released me back into the wild and I went on my merry way of knitting however I wanted and never thought about consulting books or videos to make sure I was still doing things right after so many years.

    Even when I started to learn techniques beyond the basic knit and purl stitches, it never occurred to me to make sure I was knitting or purling correctly.  I mean, sure, I'd watched that Elizabeth Zimmerman video (mostly just for entertainment) and I knew I didn't knit quite like her, but I figured everyone has their own little quirks and knits in a slightly different way from everyone else, right?  Right?

    Um, not quite to this extent.

    I didn't even get it when I started going to a knitting group on Saturday nights and noticed that most of the people there seemed to knit like each other!  Oh, such ignorance and naivete!

    There were other signs--the biggest one being that I'd follow a pattern as closely as possible as many times as I could stand it and then still have it turn out wrong.  (I know.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.)

    Finally, I watched the DVD Knit Stitches in Motion.  I was just about to start blogging over here and I wanted to familiarize myself with more Leisure Arts patterns and instructional materials.  And then it happened.

    Oh. my. goodness.  I was purling wrong.  So very wrong.

    I am not even exaggerating when I tell you that all the blood drained from my face and I nearly fell off the couch to find the remote so that I could re-watch the purling section again.  Again.  And again.  Then I shouted in my husband's face, "I've been purling wrong for close to 20 years!"  He replied, "I guess....ah, that's bad?"  Yes, it's bad!  I was seriously freaking out!  How am I supposed to talk about yarn crafting when I'm such a fraud?!  How am I supposed to function like a knitter knowing this about myself?!  And what is wrong with me?  Could it be fixed?

    Not really.

    At this point in the game, muscle memory tries to convince my hands that I'm doing something ridiculous and wrong every time I try to purl correctly.  After a month or so of my private shame, I went ahead and told the other knitters in my group about my horrible affliction.  They watched me knit and purl a few stitches, and then someone explained that I twist the stitches when I purl.  Then I untwist them when I work the knit row.

    Side note: This explains why I tried and failed six times to knit a hat with a twisted rib pattern.  It just looked ribbed.  Duh.

    It's not like anyone made fun of me, but I did get some odd looks when the other knitters tried to figure out how or why I wound up doing that--and then did it for so long.  "I mean, I guess if it works for you....." one of them offered.  Ugh.  So now I get to go through life reminding myself "No, you have to purl like a real person for this pattern.  Wait, no, now you have to knit correctly too!"

    So why am I embarrassing myself on the Internet and taking up a lot of your time?  So you will learn from my mistakes.  This is my desperate attempt to convince you that you must absolutely watch videos for seemingly simple techniques.  Unless, of course, you're a left-handed person and you're probably already watching these.  Hi!

    That's why watching the left-handed videos has been so helpful for me.  Seeing another side--literally--of the knitting helps me at least understand how a stitch is supposed to work.  I don't always do that stitch because I've caught myself Knooking wrong, though.  Of course.

    Watch the video.  Save yourselves from my fate.

    Here's another washrag I made from the Dishcloths Made with the Knook ebook.

    "Lace" pattern with the H/8 Knook and the Lily Sugarn' Cream cotton yarn in the Hot Blue colorway.  I think I have enough yarn left for another dishcloth.  Score!

    I thought this was pretty fancy as far as cleaning supplies go.

    So far my goal of Knooking each of the ten patterns is going pretty well.  I'm learning different stitches techniques on the Knook, and making a nice little pile of gifts in the process.  I've made two, and have two more on the needle. 

    AND: for the record, I've been trying to Knook the purl stitch correctly as much as I can stand to.  My rehabilitation may never be complete.  But I'm hopeful.

  • Learn to Knook: Left-Handed Knit Stitch

    It's left-handed Knooking time!

    Like I said before, I like watching the left-handed videos just to get a perspective on how the process works that I wouldn't have if I only watched the right-handed ones.  These left-handed videos can be super handy for everyone!

     And I know they can be a bit small, but if you look in the bottom right-hand corner you'll see a little square that you can click on to bring the video to full screen mode. 

    And, of course, if you want to view it at the Leisure Arts website, your link is here.  It's the very same video, but if you need that extra bit of clarity then they have it for you.  I hope you're enjoying these videos.  I know a left-handed knitter who's a visual learner.  She finally learned to knit after watching a right-handed knitter knit, and then she would try to follow the mirror image in a backwards sort of way.   So she can knit just fine now, but only after a lot of extra hard work.  

    I believe in challenging myself to learn new things, but I don't like when a hobby feels like hard work.  Which is probably why I love video tutorials and why I already think I've Knooked enough on my knit/garter stitch swatch (just a reminder: if you knit on both sides of your project, then you're knitting the project in garter stitch) to have the hang of things.  I re-watched the bind off instructions, bound off my swatch, and now I feel good about my Knook knit stitch abilities.  It's like passing through the levels of a video game, or finishing up a chapter in a fun book!

    This is apparently my idea of a good time.

    So far, I'm really enjoying this Knooking endeavor.  Yesterday I learned the purl stitch so that I could try it out.  I think washrags are good swatch projects for trying out different stitches, and I want to give some to my sister next week as a hostess gift for having Thanksgiving at her house.

    This is the Rib and Garter pattern from Dishcloths Made with the Knook.  It's just knit and purl stitches.

    I'm already figuring out my Knook gauge stitch is about the same as my knitting gauge--crazy big.  I'll probably move down a size for my next washrag (this is with the H/8 Knook), but I don't what pattern I'll pick next.  Exciting stuff up ahead!

  • Learn to Knook: Right-Handed Knit Stitch

    Hey there!  I tried to think of a craft-related pun greeting, but came up with nothing.  Maybe next time.  Regardless, here's the video for Knooking the knit stitch for right-handed crafters:

    I watched the video through a couple of times and this is what I have:

    For some reason, I feel obligated to offer up proof that I'm working along with the tutorials.

     I'm using some Vanna's Choice with the H hook/Size 8 needle from the Beginner Set.  Things are going much better this time around, and I really like this.  It's weird and fun, and when I accidentally knocked the whole thing off the windowsill, everything stayed the string and my day wasn't ruined!

    Here a few tips I thought of while I was working with it this morning, and thought might be useful:

    -Remember to turn your work, pull your excess thread through, and THEN pull the work off the needle.  I don't know why, but following that order exactly kept me from getting mixed up on my steps.
    -The loops really aren't getting that tight on the thread.  They may look that way, just as they can with a circular knitting needle.  But it's just the weight of the knitted fabric pulling them down.  You should still be able to wiggle your Knook in there to bring the loop to its rightful size.
    -Don't hold the Knook like you're crocheting!  It's pretty instinctive to do so if you're already a crocheter, but remember to hold it with the hook side facing downward.  It really made a difference for me, and also made it a little easier to remember to pull the yarn through the loop over the Knook tail.

    If you're already a more seasoned Knook user, please feel free to throw out some suggestions in the comments!  I'd love to hear from you, and I'm sure other people would too.

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