Tag Archives: handcarved

Episode 2: A New Hope…


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.

Hour 5:

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.

Hour 6:
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.

Stay tuned for the solution.



Filed under Crochet Hooks

Sometimes You Work Hard And You Fail…

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.

Grandmother Tree

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.

Hour 1:

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.

Hour 2:

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.

Hour 3:

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.

Hour 4:

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.


Maybe there’s hope yet.


Filed under crochet, Crochet Hooks, handmade