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.
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.
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.
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?
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.