Well, it’s the time of year that I itch most to be crafting somehow. Normally I’d be doing shows. However, I have been too busy this year to be able to consider shows.
You might be wondering why. After all, shows make money, right? But the truth is, there can be a lot of moving parts at times. You need sales inventory, materials, time to make your inventory, time to price, setup and sell, time to pack up and go home. Not to mention wrangling scheduling conflicts with your growing kids’ responsibilities and last-minute school demands. And not to mention that most of the [good] winter shows require applications mid-summer.
There are a lot of moving parts to doing shows, even when they are lucrative.
And it’s best when you have a lot of sales inventory to sell. With an art like crochet, the last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by a machine, two hands will only make so much, so fast. Usually I’m banking my creations all year for the holiday season. Meaning I have to have time to sit and make throughout the year, not at the last minute. And sometimes shows are simply a bust. You never know. So you need to be ready for multiple shows to do OK.
This past year, it’s just been best to hock my digital skills and not worry about regular making sessions. Just sell my articles, sell my graphic knowledge, sell my social media and ad-copy skills. There’s no overhead in any of that. No displays to figure out. No truck to pack. No tables to haul, or inventory to keep. Just my mad brainy skills. Even less waiting for payment in some cases. Although sometimes there’s more drama. Let’s face it, a pair of mittens don’t often talk back to you. There’s a method to my madness this year, but more on that later.
The fact is, I love to make things. And I can’t do brainy stuff non-stop without going crazy. I need my creative outlets to stay sane.
And while I have a couple of ideas I’m dying to try soon on some real hooks, I’m also planning to do some crochet hook hair sticks. Like these. Because they’re handy and fun. I’m always using them to get my hair out of my face.
Before you think, “Oh – you mean use crochet hooks as hair sticks!” – I actually don’t.
Some of these hook shapes will be nice and light-weight and excellent as hair sticks. But they will not be strong enough to actually hook a real project. The hair sticks I make from bamboo are particularly not hook-worthy. They’re only pretty. And they are hard to get a hook shape out of in the first place.
Quality crochet hooks have to be more carefully engineered than hair sticks.
It’s just a fact. They have to be more carefully engineered than knitting needles too. Really good crochet hooks require way more time and way more attention to detail. Because you have to be able to hook something with them. Again and again and again.
For. Like. Ever.
See the little hair stick? That’s made of bamboo. It’ll hold hair great. Super light weight. But it would quickly snap if you tried to hook with it. I even had to alter the head a bit just to keep it as strong as it is. No longer an ideal crochet hook head shape.
You must use good materials that are capable of forming a strong hook head, with a proper shape. A hook at the end of a stick is not enough to make a good crochet hook. If the wood does not allow you to shape the head properly, then you won’t have a good hook. Period. And your end product needs to be able to withstand the torque necessary for the act of regular crocheting. Otherwise a few stitches in, and that hook head or lip will snap or sheer or chip right off.
And everyone wants their crochet hooks to last longer than that.
But hair sticks do not require the same amount of strength. They just need to hold hair and look pretty. Hence the difference between real crochet hooks, and hair-stick wannabees.
Could you crochet with my crochet hook shaped hair sticks?
Some of them, yes they’ll hold up for awhile. Others, perhaps and maybe not.
Btw, that’s paint in mah hair.
Here’s the deal.
I won’t call something I’ve made a “crochet hook,” unless I stand behind the quality put into it as a tool – to be able to do the job of crochet. With the right shape and the right strength.
And if I call it a “hair stick,” even if it is crochet hook shaped, it means I’m not comfortable with its strength enough to call it a crochet tool. And I doubt it’ll stand up to my durability standards for regular hooking use.
Back at the beginning of the summer, I let you guys know that my crochet hook experiment was going to be at Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire (just outside Austin). And then soon after MMF, I raced off for my summer road trip across country with the kids to go visit Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front (and a few places in between). But with breaking my ankle at the end, and the long recovery from surgery, I never did give you guys a recap of how Mini-Maker Faire went! So here it is! Let me go back in time and fill you in. 😉
As you know, I’ve participated in the only two large Maker Faires hosted in Austin, back in 2007 & 2008. And I absolutely loved it! The experience was beyond my expectations and for once in my life, I really felt like I’d found more than just a handful of “my people.” It was like finding your roots in a tribe. Unfortunately though, Maker Faire was not able to come back to Austin in 2009, which was a huge disappointment to me.
Then sometime last year, thanks to the work of Austin Tinkering School, a 2012 Mini-Maker Faire in Austin was born. However, the timing of it crashed into the same time we were putting our house on the market. So I didn’t even get to attend, much less present.
Thankfully, TechShop rolled into town. They are a very cool community workshop place that I want to buy into. I learned about them through the KidBot work my kids and I were doing with The Robot Group during the summer of 2012. Interestingly enough, TechShop’s concept was inspired by Maker Faire out in CA. So it was super cool that they decided to host a Mini-Maker Faire here in Round Rock less than a year after they opened. As soon as I learned about it, of course I jumped at the chance to participate!
The Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire was crazy and awesome. And though I thought I had a plan, yeah – that went out the window. None of the site setup or traffic flow was according to plan either. And I did not get any photos as planned either. But it all worked out fine. Some other folks took pictures and told me they would contact me later to share them, but I haven’t ever heard from them. It’s somewhat disappointing to have poured so much into doing the event for free, only to have no photos or visual record that we were there or even a part of it. But that’s what happens when you are too busy to be able to take photos. However, TechShop did put together this little video and you can catch a tiny glimpse of my booth at about 11 seconds into the video! So there you go, flash proof that crochet was represented! 😉
Because I chose not to do a for-profit booth (I really did not have time to get merchandise together) I was set up in the big main room not far from the entrance. I was also right next to a working Tardis Console display, complete with buttons to push and sound effects, which you will also notice in the video. It was awesome! Though pretty loud in the echoing room. We had to do a lot of shouting to communicate while all the kids went crazy for it. And of course, I loved that all these kids are so educated in the ways of Doctor Who today.
Tom Baker as Doctor Who, with the amazing long scarf!
See, I grew up watching Tom Baker as the 13th Doctor way back in the 80’s in OK, where no one else I knew ever did. I was such a geek even then. Seeing all these excited kids was just…. sweet. In fact, one of the reasons I really stuck with crochet was due to my fascination with Tom Baker’s scarf! Which I have yet to replicate, btw. But I’ve made many, many long scarfs just because of him. Anyway, so I guess we can all lay some blame on Tom Baker and his writers for at least a little of my extreme fascination with crochet. Even though yes – I know his scarf in the show was knitted! Hey, I was a kid – the modality doesn’t matter. Simply the long scarf. That is all. That and the awesomeness that is Doctor Who. And Tom Baker.
(Speaking of, I finally got to watch the 50th anniversary Doctor Who Special tonight, and I loved it. Last cameo scene brought me to joyful tears. Tom Baker, I still love you!)
Back to Mini-Maker Faire! One of the fun things TecShop did was create an allocated chalk-board wall for everyone to write their answer to fill in the blank of one simple question: “If I could make anything in the world, I would make ____________.” The answers were quite fun! Here are just a few photos we caught. Notice how many Doctor Who references there are!
Finger-knitting was insanely popular at my booth at this Maker Faire – again. I have taught this to kids in the Austin area for over a decade. Usually, I tell every kid I teach – OK here’s the catch – you have to go teach others. Go infect your friend with yarn love. I do this in crochet too, but little kids love finger knitting and all that requires is yarn to keep them busy. I used to work in special education in college and we used activities like finger knitting with children of all types and abilities. It’s amazing how even a child with ADhD can calm and focus during this activity. And even the parents seem more peaceful. I used to tuck an extra ball of yarn in the hands of mothers and say – here, keep this in your purse for the next time you’re at the store with the kids. 😉
My daughter designed and made this giant wooden sword, with a little help from her dad on some of the cutting.
Anyway, this year my daughter Jessica taught the kids finger-knitting while I taught crochet and talked about hooks. She also brought her giant wooden sword she made for Halloween last year, which gained loads of attention. At one point, we were working at separate tables when I turned around and realized cameras were on my daughter and she was being interviewed for some sci-fi crafty internet show thing. I still don’t know how I feel about it. I quelled the urge to run over and ruin everything by asking – don’t you think you should ask her mother for permission before you film my child? Hopefully they were responsible interviewers, etc.. Supposedly they were going to contact us if they used the footage, but we have not heard anything about it. (If anyone out there sees footage of Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire 2013 out there somewhere, please tell me??)
I didn’t have time to finish all the hooks for the experiment as planned, so I also brought my own personal collection and let people play with it. One lady crocheted a swatch using every (smaller) single hook in my collection. Awesome. A lady from Brazil came by and chatted a while. She talked about crochet yarn as fat as your thumb and as tiny as a silk sewing thread and how crochet is something *everyone* does in Brazil. She also talked about a street in Brazil paved in yarn and fiber classes. It sounded amazing. She said fiber crafts for them there is like car lots are for us here. Tons of them line the streets. Which was kind of a weird/sad thought. I must go see this someday. I wish I remembered what town she said she was from.
People who were interested in knowing more about how to read patterns came by, including some who were talking about wishing they could get more Japanese patterns in the US with symbol crochet maps. I concurred.
There was one main thing that helped me out with the giant crowds of people that I’m really happy I did. I decided to make a “science fair” type presentation board with photos and reports on it about Jimbo’s and my crochet hook experiment, plus diagrams and photos of various hook shapes and extra information. A lot of photos were taken of my board and lots of people came by to talk to me because they read my board. Very cool. However – I forgot to put Aberrant Crochet or Jimbo’s or my name on that board anywhere. It was on the report sitting in front of the board, but no where else. (sigh) Well, what can you do.
I ran out of business cards and fliers though, so here’s hoping that somehow, somewhere out there these people will get in touch or something. Who knows? But then again – how may people do you get in touch with yourself after taking a business card? Yeah. So you know what I mean.
Still, all in all it was a fascinating day of people who were fans of crochet, or fans of yarn or who were just fascinated by my experiment. I really enjoyed it and I was hoarse by the end of the day. Much of the content that I spoke about is what you see printed in my articles in the 2013 Fall and Winter Interweave Crochet magazines. (Speaking of which, the winter issue should be available in a couple weeks!)
So there you go, a Mini-Maker Faire Recap, albeit a late one! I’ll try to catch you guys up on my road trip here soon. 🙂
But I’ve never traveled before. Wanna help? Do read on.
Anyone who’s ever met me, or even simply read my post Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet, can tell how passionate I am about the art of crochet. Even when you don’t crochet and never thought you’d like it, hang out with me sometime and let me share. It’s a transformative experience. By the end I’ll have you seeing magic and fireflies and wondering if you should look in the backyard of your own craft for them too. 😉
But it’s not just the art of making crochet fabric that I find exhilarating. It’s the crochet hooks and hands holding them. I love to sit down over coffee, tea and hooks with crocheters anywhere I travel. We chat, I ask questions and I study their methods, hands and hooks and stories. Why? Because each of these facets are unique.
A crochet hook in it’s most simplistic state is simply a stick with a crook on the end. And yet, the shapes vary so widely across the world.
I’ve heard that there are crochet hooks made out of bicycle spokes in Peru, that are crochet hooks on one end and knitting needles on the other. And the artists who use them will actually flip their tools back and forth between crochet and knit – all within the same project!
Fascinating! I want to see this!
There’s an entirely different kind of crochet hook used in a Scandinavian country I can’t remember the name of. It’s only a couple inches long, made from a long piece of hammered coiled metal that forms a thumb pad for holding, while the hook part itself looks somewhat like a fishing hook, except it’s not sharp. And they make socks with it!
I have to see this!
I want to sit down and crochet with these artisans and study how they use these widely different tools! How do they hold their hooks and yarn and position their hands? And what is their muscle memory background? How does this muscle history affect the technique and look that they achieve in their crochet?
Crochet is one of those arts that is present in some form on every continent and in every culture in the world. And yet, we have barely scratched the surface in comparing notes. And why is that? I mean, Japan has some crazy beautiful techniques. And there’s Croatia, which is equally graceful and entirely different! Not to mention South America!
There’s something here.
The shapes of our hooks are part of what dictates what we are actually able to do in crochet. I talk about hook shapes a lot, because for some reason, we don’t enough. And yet, obviously we need to. Once given voice, we crocheters hunger to. Once given permission to explore the possibilities, we can’t wait to hear how someone else works with a hook and learn from that.
My phone was literally blowing up from the activity! I decided to write a blog post about the Twitter chat so my other peeps (who are not on Twitter) could also chime in and be heard. Later that post was featured on BlogHer’s front page and people commented on how fascinating the discussion was, even though they themselves didn’t crochet.
My yarny-crafting brethren – there’s a story in here somewhere! And I want to make it happen.
I’m the little girl from Oklahoma, who made it to Texas, but has never left the contiguous United States.
Well, OK there was that customs place on the Canadian border in MN, but that doesn’t count. (Though when I was a kid, candy bars written in French and English seemed very cool.)
So here’s the deal guys.
I’ve been talking about this forever. And you’ve been encouraging me to do it forever. And an opportunity to cut my teeth on world travel fell into my lap. It’s my daughter’s high school trip to Spain. And the last stop is Barcelona – not only known for art, but it’s fiber art! 😀
Granted, it’s just an educational tour for my daughter’s AP Spanish class, but it’s for 10 days and the structure and the group will be a great way for me to get my feet wet as a world travel nOOb. Plus I’ll have the benefit of going with three very well traveled teachers I trust. I’ve volunteered to help as an extra chaperone and we’ve been raising money and getting ready all year. We leave in just a few months. I even hope to arrange a meetup with Ravelry friends whom I’ve never seen while I’m there. It’s be great! Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Instead of buying me coffee or sharing a ball of yarn, would you contribute to my travel campaign and help me get to Spain instead? After falling down the stairs this summer and breaking my ankle, my initial plans were set back a bit. I’m doing better now and I’m going to make it, but would love your help to secure my spot on the tour.
What am I going to do with this experience? Well, I’m going to study and write and learn of course. I’m going to take pictures and talk crochet with anyone who will let me. I’m going to be awakened, even if only a little, in the way that only travel can do. And I’m going to try to keep up with the AP students who speak more Spanish than I ever could!
But more than anything, this is me literally putting my money where my mouth is. I’m making a commitment towards what I’ve been talking about for years. I’m traveling the world for crochet. I’m going to find that story. And I’m bringing it home. Help me do it?
If you’ve known me awhile, then you know how passionate I am about crochet and especially crochet hooks. To me, we don’t pay enough attention to our tools! Even though our tools make up such a huge part of the equation when it comes to the outcome of our crochet designs!Not to mention our crochet comfort, control and frustration levels. So I was really excited at the opportunity to “preach the gospel,” so to speak!
This Interweave Crochet hook article combo is one of the largest freelance writing endeavors I’ve ever worked on. And of course after pouring so much crochet heart into them, I can’t help but be excited that I get to share it with Interweave Crochet and their readers!
So please watch for the issues, check out the articles and feel free to ask questions and give feedback! I’m confident these articles will be unlike anything you’ve ever read in a publication about hooks before. And I’m so excited that the world of hooks, hands and their variations is getting more attention! 😀 I mean, just how many articles have you seen dedicated to crochet tools and the hands that hold them!
Yay! Hookey goodness! 😀
So… you gotta go check it out! The first article on hook shapes will be in your next Fall 2013 Issue of Interweave Crochet. The second article will show up in the Winter 2013 issue. Some Interweave subscribers already have the first (I know because you emailed me – thanks for letting me know!), so if you subscribe and haven’t received your magazine yet – you will soon! I haven’t received mine yet either, so I’m waiting too! And if you like the efforts Interweave Crochet is making in advancing crochet knowledge, please let them know! 🙂
For those of you who buy your magazines off the stand, you’ll likely have to wait until September 16th. The summer issue will be on display until then, at least in the U.S..
So there you go! There’s the big news I’ve hung on to!
But stay tuned, because that’s not the only bit of juicy news I have to share! Next up, I have to tell you about my summer trip with my kids across the country, our visit with Laurie Wheeler from The Crochet Liberation Front and her family, a sweet yarn shop in Denver, and more!
Not to mention, we have a lot of catching up to do! Catch you on the flip side!
Well guys, I don’t know how it happened, but my video post a couple of days ago for crochet hook holding positions posted the wrong video! It posted the discussion on hook ergonomics instead!
Eek! Sorry! I’m not sure how I did that, but since there are already some comments on the earlier posts, and I don’t want to confuse anyone, I’m just going to completely re-post with the correct video with the correct title today. 🙂
So what follows is a video demonstration of several hand positions people use when crocheting and advantages/disadvantages to each. Hope you find it helpful! And please share!
Yep, working on some surprises for ya! Oh, I haven’t forgotten our series of crochet hook design discussions, it’s just taking longer than I’d like. It’s taken me a few days to complete this one, but here it is. Let’s just say my new camera birthday present hasn’t been as user friendly as I would like.
Anyway, check out the video, let me know what you think, add to the discussion and stay tuned for supplemental articles later this week. 🙂
So it’s been a busy week, but check it out! My Crochet Hook Challenge was featured on The Moogly Bog! Thanks much to Tamara for the feature of my video on Engineering a Crochet Hook. Check out her great article on Making Your Own Crochet Hooks! Jimbo and I are both mentioned. The Moogly Blog features a lot of patterns and wonderful articles for both knitting and crochet.
Also thanks to Kathryn Vercillo for featuring my Crochet Rumination article about “The Shape Of Crochet Hooks” in her most recent edition of Crochet Link Love on Crochet Concupiscence. Kathryn writes extensively about the latest happenings in crochet. So if you consider yourself a serious fan of crochet and you’re not yet on her subscribers list, or following her on Twitter, well then you should be. She will get you in touch with more crocheters and crochet related news than any other one stop shop outside The Crochet Liberation Front. And y’all know my love for the CLF, so check Kathryn’s blog out!
Mrs. Maplesworth Is Done!
And it’s time to share details and put her up for bid. Bidding begins at $5 with free shipping! You have nothing to lose, so thanks for your bid! (See bidding details below.)
To recap, here’s the first video introducing Mrs. Maplesworth’s design:
Here are some closeups of this particular design. Note the angle of the throat to where it drops back for the bowl.
This hook is hand sanded to be consistently a size “J” all the way through from head to tail. This photo was taken near the middle stages of making it.
Here’s a closeup of the shape of the lip. Note that the head is minimally messed with so it remains the same size as the throat and shaft for consistent work.
Here you see the throat angle back into the bowl, just slightly. This is a helpful design when pulling a loop through several other loops.
Mrs. Maplesworth is made of maple and is about 5 3/8″ long.
And here is the latest video showing off her polish! That shine comes from an hour and a half’s work just polishing alone. This hooks is unfinished, as I did not seal it with anything, but it is super slick, and super highly polished by hand, which imparts its own kind of protection.
Silent Auction Bidding – How This Works:
If you’re new here, please read the previous posts about my crochet hook challenge and subscribe to my blog. It’ll be a lot easier to stay on top of things that way!
Please email your bids ($5 increments) to Worx@PixieWorx.net with “crochet hook auction” in the subject line. The auction will run from now until Thursday November 1st, ending at 11:59 pm Central Time. This will allow me a chance to get your hook in the mail before the end of the week. Any tied bids will be settled in favor of the earlier entry. I am including free shipping for this auction within the US. If you are international, I’ll pay what it would have been for shipping in the US if you’ll pay the difference. Payment accepted by Paypal. Let me know if you have any questions!
I’ve been working on a new hook this week to be released for next, but I haven’t had a lot of time to take photos and blog about it. I’ve found myself calling her “Mrs. Mapleworths.” 🙂 I’ll let you guess on the reason. Stay tuned for her story coming soon!
But since we’ve talked a bit about crochet shape and anatomy, I thought I’d show you a video I made about one of the features I like to engineer into my hooks sometimes. It’s a smooth slanted end that makes a great tool for picking out stitches that I want to work with. Sometimes I find that the actual hook of a crochet tool is itself not always conducive to isolating a part of a completed crochet stitch I want to put another stitch into. Hooks are great for creating stitches, but not always the best tool for isolating loops after the stitch/fabric has been created. Sometimes I don’t want to use a whole “bar” to put a stitch into, I want to use only part of that bar. (It does create a different look.) For that reason, I sometimes use this slanted end feature to help isolate a loop I want to use without distorting the rest of the crochet fabric around it. It’s an easier way to do what I want, without disturbing the structure I’ve already created.
So check it out and see what you think! If you find it interesting – please share!
Are you aware of other discussions about crochet hook engineering or do you personally have comments on designs you wish you had in a tool? Please let me know!
Well, here we are – it’s time for the silent auction! And those of you who are night-owls and international readers, you will get the one up on everyone else for the bidding! Thanks for being true! Read on for the details about this hook and how this silent auction bidding will work.
UPDATE: Just letting you know that bidding began at midnight on Thursday morning, October 11! Read below for more details about this hook and to see all the illustrations and photos about this hook’s design (you’ll even learn a bit more about crochet hook anatomy). But I will update the silent bidding right here. To bid, email your bids ($5 increments) to Worx@PixieWorx.net with “crochet hook auction” in the subject line. The auction will run for the rest of this week, ending at 11:59 pm Central Time on Sunday October 14th. Any tied bids will be settled in favor of the earlier entry. This is just a brief bit on instructions, read below for all the details and check out the hook. My intention is to use this series to help educate as well, so please do share my posts with others! Thank you!
BIDS: Kay opens the bid at $25!
Doug bumps it up to $45
Final Notes On The Making:
The Grandmother Tree hook has been polished and done for a week now. However, I’ve been out of pocket working for a tech convention in town last week and this weekend/week I’ve been kicked out of my house a few times for the sake of a potential buyer for our home. Hence, there just hasn’t been any way for me to sit at a computer to write about this hook! Both the buyer for our home and working at the convention were good things of course, but certainly they also became hurdles for me in my quest to blog about and carve a hook every week. The carving has continued, but I have to catch up on the blogging. So here I am, covered in saw dust and all. Uh, maybe I better brush off before I ruin my laptop. Hold on.
OK, here she is – Grandmother Tree’s crochet hook!
Meet Grandmother Tree’s Crochet Hook!
My darling daughter helped pose with the hook right-handed so I could take specific photos for you. After all, this particular hook has a curve that makes it more perfect for a right-handed crocheter than a left-handed crocheter. I illustrate it best in the photos, but it’s something essential to know and see before you bid. (That is, if you want to be happy using the hook.) The branch that I carved this hook from curves and twists slightly to the right. Because of this, I wouldn’t expect this hook to fit very nicely in a left hand, since it would curve away from it instead of into it like it does with the right.
Details about this hook:
This hook is hand-carved from a tree branch off a 500-600 year old live oak tree in my back yard. It took over 9 hours to make and it is “al natural” with no stains or sealants used on it. Just highly polished wood.
From head to tail, the hook is about 6 inches long, give or take when you consider the curve. And the size of the hook’s work space is M or 9mm, up to the handle.
This hook is best suited for an overhand crocheter. Also, I would recommend this hook for straight forward and standard crochet stitches, but not bullion or other stitches that require a lot of loops on the hook at one time.
Grandmother Tree’s crochet hook has qualities that are like an inline hook, however I don’t consider that it technically qualifies. (See photo.)
I pulled out my 100 year old antique bowler hat to lay the crochet hook on and give it some contrast in the photos for you. The hat is not as old as the tree, but I think they are both aged enough to have a mutual respect for each other. 😉 (Hat is not for sale, nor part of the silent auction, btw.) I want you to be able to see the hook’s shine! But also notice the optical illusion created by laying the hook on the hat! The curved hook looks straight while laying on the rounded top of the bowler hat. But as you can clearly see in the other photos, this hook is not straight at all! It does however curve nicely in the right hand.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me on the journey of making this hook and for my Crochet Hook Challenge! And please share my work with others if you think they would find it interesting. I’d really like to get the word out not only about my Crochet Hook Challenge and silent auctions, but also about hook anatomy and shape in general. Let the crochet infection continue!
Silent Auction Bidding – How This Works:
If you’re new here, please read the previous posts about my crochet hook challenge and subscribe to my blog. It’ll be a whole lot easier to stay on top of things that way! 🙂
Please email your bids ($5 increments) toWorx@PixieWorx.net with “crochet hook auction” in the subject line. The auction will run for the rest of this week, ending at 11:59 pm Central Time on Sunday October 14th. Any tied bids will be settled in favor of the earlier entry. Like Jimbo, I’m not at the computer all the time, but will try to post bids as soon as they come in. I am including free shipping for this auction within the US. If you are international, I’ll pay what it would have been for shipping in the US if you’ll pay the difference. Payment accepted by Paypal. Let me know if you have any questions!
Thanks again to all who have shared my writing and work and of course those who’ve entered the bidding! As well, our family thanks you! Our son’s vision therapy is underway, but we definitely need help to finish out the year. Gratitude and thanks from all our hearts.
Stay tuned for pics of the hook I’ve been working on this week. I’ve been calling her Mrs. Mapleworths.
Well friends, my world is full of exciting news. We had an offer on our historical home this weekend! So now we are officially on the road to becoming first-time home sellers. I’m not sure what kind of kink this may put into my blogging and hook carving schedule, but my goals remain the same. I am still carving and blogging about a new hook every week and I am still participating in the November NaBloPoMo. I’m doing it. Hell yeah I’m doing it!
Eeek! Please do cheer me on! (And wish us a smooth and successful house selling and buying process! The houses we were previously interested in have since sold, so now we have to find somewhere to buy!)
There should be consistency enough along the throat and/or shaft of the hook to at least keep all loops on the hook the exact same size.
So I left off yesterday with the photos demonstrating what a wedge shape design in a crochet hook will do to your stitches. In this case, Grandmother Tree’s hook was technically two different sizes in the throat. If I left the hook this way, the top and bottom loops of any given stitch made with the hook would be inconsistent in size.
However, due to the curvature and angle of the hook, I needed to not only come up with a way to create consistency in size, but also while striving not to sacrifice the strength or length of the hook. Or for that matter, sacrifice usability. We still need a comfortable hook. Doesn’t matter how precise the top is if it’s too uncomfortable and not shaped well enough to hold.
It’s somewhat difficult to photograph, but there is a slight twist to this wood with the hook’s curvature. After all it is carved from a small live oak tree branch and we all know they do not grow in a straight line in any direction. We still need a comfortable handle, and we need adequate room on the hook that remains consistent in size so our loops remain the same size as we work.
So here’s the design I came up with. Check it out.
By creating an impression in the throat at the top of the handle, and then narrowing the back and sides, I was able to create a consistent size all the way up to the handle slope and reduce stress on the top loop.
It’s a short hook, so there wasn’t a lot of room to work with, but I succeeded in my goals. Not only does the hook pass the sizing test up to the handle, but as you can see here, the loops on the hook are the same size – no stretching! There’s adequate room to work for most stitches that most crocheters will use. (For instance, I would not recommend this hook to make my Giant Halloween Spider Web, as there’s not enough room on the hook to make the special stitches.)
Now it’s starting to shine.
Now that the design issue is solved, it’s time for the finishing touches. I need to refine all the edges, double check the handle shape so it’s comfortable in the hand and put a buttery smooth finish on the hook. I use several different grades of sandpaper and diamond tip tools to do this. And though I do use some steel wool on occasion, I honestly far prefer not to use it. There’s some expensive stuff that I like much better instead and to me it’s worth it. The slick finish it creates for me is amazing and it doesn’t leave metal splinters in my hands. And since I intend not to use sealant on this hook and to leave it “al natural,” I really want the best buff I can get. Towards the end of this process, I start using a piece of soft felt to hold the hook as I polish. And it’s about time for me to find a nice piece of cloth to wrap the final product in.
Stay tuned! Final photos and the silent auction is next!
After breaking the end off the hook I was carving last Tuesday, I closed the night with my notes for a possible save.
My Wednesday morning started with preparing lunch for hubby and the kids. Thermos full of soup, tangelos and bell peppers for the kids. A salad with fajita chicken and turkey bacon for John. It all needed to be cooked up fresh as we are out of leftovers to send. It’s both good and bad. I like “planned-overs.” Makes lunch easier.
I was dead tired and grumpy once everyone was out the door, as I found myself gazing at dishes in the sink and only one cup of coffee left in the maker. grr… So I poured the last of the life blood, turned on a lecture, loaded the dishwasher and started some bacon for my breakfast. We’ve been 9 weeks on a gluten-free, 80/20 paleo/primal diet. And I never thought I’d say this, but I don’t miss gluten a bit.
It’s not exactly convenient, but I prefer a life cooking more from scratch than not. Being in control of my food, my diet, my own creations. It may not be as fast, but it sure tastes better and I feel better. And besides, the bacon gods smiled upon me (turkey-wise that is). Monday night I found buy-one-get-one on bacon! So there is plenty.
Hand carving hooks is much the same to me as cooking from scratch. The special romance between man and wood is not too unlike the one between stomach and skillet. Especially for this project, which is far from standard and holds a lot of memories from The Grandmother Tree. Quietly and carefully with control is all that will do.
I cut the end off the broken crochet hook and worked with it to round the end. At this part of the stick shape, there’s a slight bend, so the new rounded end was a bit stubborn against losing its boxiness. I also needed to be careful, because that slight bend was essential to helping me salvage a new crochet hook shape out of the broken stick. The envisioned lip lay just in the crook of that slope and I wanted to get it just right. Mess with it too much, and the shape would be sacrificed. I work with it for some time and finally manage to eek out the shape I want. The top of the hook curves back and the curve assists the formation of the lip of the crochet hook. I want the bowl to be as generous as I can make it, without sacrificing the strength of the hook. And following the grain is the only way to do it with this piece.
Consistency Is My Biggest Pet Peeve
Only the front half of the throat is size M. The rest is size N.
Wednesday is JT’s day at vision therapy. The office is situated by a creek, so it’s easy to sit on the side of the property and work. However, I was unable to spend time working on hooks this time and had to wait until I got home.
I polished on the shape some more and got a better hook head. However, in testing Grandmother Tree’s hook, I found that the slope of the curve was still inconsistent in the hook’s size as it shapes to the handle. This inconsistency is unfortunately not uncommon in wood hooks offered everywhere, handmade or otherwise. Right about here is where so many hook designs just stop and go to market. They have a hook shape, but they don’t have good hook design. And this inconsistency of sizing up the throat of the hook – at minimum – is one of my biggest pet peeves in hook design.
A hook that flares out from the head is only correct in size just at the head, not through the throat of the hook too. This inconsistency in the sizing leads to differences in your crochet’s appearance, because the top loop of any given stitch will always get stretched larger than it should be compared to the lower loops.
See what happens when a hook is not true to size from the head through the throat?
See what happens when a hook is not true to size from the head through the throat? The top loop (the one on the right will end up on top when the stitch is complete) is larger than it should be. This will change the look of the fabric this hook will create in its current condition. There should be consistency enough along the throat and/or shaft of the hook to at least keep all loops on the hook at the same size.
Grandmother Tree’s hook is currently two different sizes. The front half of the throat is size M and the 2nd half is size N.
This is not desirable – at all. And with the wood’s natural curve, I’ll need to get creative to get the precision I want without sacrificing strength. I have to consider the shorter length of the hook altogether and further the limitations that the curvature places on the length of the throat at all.
In order for this hook to function as a precise tool, yet preserve it’s shape, length and current strength, I will need an unusual design approach.
So it’s on for the Fall to Christmas crochet hook carving challenge.
The weather was not as nice as it was last week, but I still enjoyed the windows open, the birds at the feeder and the fresh air for a while this morning. Between chores, some training, a meeting at school and several back to back calls and other meetings, I managed to spend some time perfecting the crochet hook I started this weekend.
There’s a pile of wood pieces I’ve saved. Pieces gifted to me by my mentor Jimbo while at Cama last year, pieces from my Grandpa Jack’s tree, pieces my brother dug out of his stash of project scraps, dowels, chopsticks and knitting needles I have worked on and pieces from my giant old trees in the back yard.
While sorting through my choices in deciding what I would work with for the first hook of my Fall challenge, my eyes kept settling on an interesting curved shape I’d already pulled from the yard and stripped in preparation for work.
A piece from our 500-600 year old live oak tree.
This is the tree my children love, the tree they have climbed, swing from and the tree that has shaded them all their lives. This is the tree that will be so hard to leave when we move. The one thing that stands out and my children will want to see again someday when they are older and they need to reconnect with their roots. The Grandmother Tree.
Comparing sticks, I think I’ll start with the curved.
I picked the piece up and immediately remembered why I added it to my project box. I’m not an overhand crocheter, but this piece of wood curves perfectly in the hand, knife style. There’s even a natural depression right around the thumb area. I’m not personally a huge fan of thumb rests as a chop-stick style crocheter, but they are very helpful to nearly anyone using an overhand style. The size and shape kind of reminded me of a trigger style hook.
So began the work to prepare the shape for the hook captured inside.
The process for me in creating a hook is very precise as I am quite particular about shape and purpose of my tools. Though I have created hooks specifically for certain people, my focus is generally on creating hooks that I would use. I’m not interested in creating just any shape that happens to seem hook-like in nature. I am actually quite obsessed with the shape and quality of my tools. And I’ve seen many a badly shaped hook. Sometimes your frustrations have nothing to do with crochet, your yarn or your skills, but everything to do with your tool.
I enjoyed the fresh air in the garage while carving the tip into a rounded point. Two ladies drove up and one jumped out to get a sales flier for our house from our box. I hope it leads to a contact. But I also hope it’s not today. Or tomorrow for that matter.
I had a meeting to get to, so I stashed the rounded shaft and headed out the door.
The shape of any natural stick is inconsistent and presents variations in any carving endeavor. However this stick is curved and unusual with its knotting, so to get the shape I want in the end, and keep it comfortable in the hand, I have to sculpt it carefully. I need both an excellent hook shape for work, but also a comfortable handle with no uncomfortable anomalies.
Getting there! Lot’s more to go on the head though.
Smoother and the shape is more refined.
Michelangelo was known to say that in his work, the sculpture was always locked inside and he simply removed what what not the sculpture. I’m not a genius artist like he was, but I do completely understand this concept as it’s very logical and exactly how I see making hooks. I stare at the wood and a shape emerges. And then it’s revealed how that shape can become a useful shape for my purposes.
The art of crochet involves torque. It’s one of those things that makes it very different in skill than knitting because the needs to leverage your tool to work with yarn are different. There’s all sorts of manipulation involved that depends on a strong and properly shaped hook in crochet. Hence the strength of our hooks are vital, more vital than the strength of a knitting needle. Because it must be able to take the pressure we exert by way of the yarn wrapped through it. It’s especially important for the bowl of the hook’s mouth to be incredibly smooth.
(sigh) broken. I accidentally took the lip right off.
And to craft that hook just right in wood, with the right amount of slope, a generous bowl and long enough lip takes careful work with the right tools.
But sometimes even then, even after hours of collective work, you fail.
And in working on the bowl tonight, after hours of work, I accidentally took the lip completely off. And that’s that. Or is it?
It’s a nice curved handle, so I spent some time looking at it some more.
Maybe there’s still some hope to save Grandmother Tree’s hook. It would be shorter than I have planned, but in studying the curves, my hand and what’s left at the front, I begin to see another crochet hook.
It’s getting late though and I do not want to continue to work with sharp objects when I’m tired, nor do I want to lose my “place” and the vision in my head. So to be sure of my thoughts, I sketch, make notes, and draw some marks for her new face. Clarifying in my mind whether I really think the new shape could work. Or perhaps in the morning, maybe I should just start over.
This is absolutely my favorite time of year. My favorite season, my favorite three months out of the year. Some would say it’s because my birthday is next month. And they might be right, but I don’t think so. I think it’s more likely because down here in Central Texas, the summers are brutal. And as my husband said the other day when the weather was finally nice enough to throw the windows open: “This. This is why we live here. This is why we put up with the heat of summer. For this.”
Here, fall is a sign of relief, holidays and family gatherings around the corner and in many ways, to me a new beginning. But then, I guess October is my New Year.
In celebration of my favorite season, and in leaving the safety of 40, I have agreed to take on a challenge handed to me by friends. Can I do it?
I have pledged to hand-carve and blog about at least one new special crochet hook per week from now until Christmas.
And I better get cracking. These special hooks will be offered up for sale each week here on my blog. And through the process, I hope you may learn a bit more about hook anatomy and why the design of your crochet hook is so important.
I have decided to handle the blog sales the same way my carving mentor, Jimbo Price, does with his own hooks – by silent auction. Opening bids for each hook will begin at $10 ($5 increments there-after), with the respective blog post updated as bids are emailed in (to firstname.lastname@example.org). Bids will run for the week and then end.
Funds from these sales are primarily to benefit our son’s vision. After writing my previous post about our son’s rare vision issues and the need to be able to finish his treatment, we found out he will need more than we expected. About twice what we expected and at a cost of $3000 more. Already, one of my customers has made a generous monetary donation on our son’s behalf that has helped us get started. You know who you are and from the bottoms of our hearts – again thank you.
When it comes to the challenge itself, I’m not quite sure what will evolve out of it. But I know it will be intriguing to me. It takes me 3-5 hours to carve one of my hooks, depending on exactly what shape I am aiming for and the wood I’m working with. I will have to treat this “hook a week” challenge much the way I have to treat NaBloPoMo coming up in November – with discipline and innovation. There are plenty of events and life activities to get in the way, but you just do it and stick to it somehow. And when you think you’re out of ideas, you ask for input, turn yourself upside down and you think of something differently. (You don’t think I’m going to make the exact same hook each week, do you?) To make it fair, part of the caveat (straight from the NaBloPoMo playbook) is that even if I make more than one hook in a week, I still can’t work ahead and skip a week. I have to carve and blog about at least one hook a week. That’s the challenge. To have that discipline.
The goal in part is for me to see if I can do it. Just like the goal in NaBloPoMo is to blog every single day, without fail, through the month of November. Only this is carving a hook a week for an entire season plus a week. It sounds easier than it is. But in the long run the badge of accomplishment is worth it.
So be watching for an intro into hook anatomy and the first hook offering! 🙂 See you on the flip side.
I'm a writer, crochet designer, crochet hook expert and a serial social media consultant. I like useful but not too serious. This theme is reflected in my life, my crochet and my writing. Life's too interesting and short to be uptight. Carpe Equito!
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