Tag Archives: crochet

Sorry I fell off the planet… but Happy New Year and check out some news!


Four weeks.

It’s been four weeks since my last post.  Like that yellow bird, I fell right off the NaBloPoMo wagon face first into the dirt.  And it’s a wonder, because I really enjoy writing here more than I enjoy all my other work.  You’d think I’d be playing hookey all the time just to be here.  But no, I get side-tracked with the serious and the mundane things in life.  Why do I have to pay taxes and mop…

So… actually…
I owe you guys some serious crochet news! 

News I’ve been aware of for a few weeks, but have been remiss in passing on.  Did you get the winter Interweave Crochet issue and wonder where the 2nd article is?  Well, that 2nd article on crochet hand holds has been moved to the Spring 2014 issue!  Just about in time for me to go to Spain!  So hang on another season and look for it then.  :)

My latest projects

I stayed busy in December with a couple shows and madly crocheting for Christmas gifts.  These are just a few of my projects that actually ended up in pictures.

red_textured_diagonal_cowl

I’ve been working on this new stitch idea. I have no idea what to call it, but it involves making some stitches in a diagonal pattern and stretching them kind of in the same way you stretch the loops in a Solomon’s Knot when you make it.  It requires some definite discipline and consistency to get the stitch to come out evenly for the entire project.  I had to practice it a bit, because during my first run, after putting the project down for a couple of days, my continuation turned out completely different in gauge than my beginning.  This project, while considered advanced in skill, is fairly consistent once you get the hang of it, because the entire piece is this one stitch.

purple_textured_diagonal_cowlMy sister-in-law saw me working on this and really fell in love with the texture, so she asked if I could replicate this pattern for her in purple.  Remember my quest for a very specific yarn?  Well, thanks to T-Rex from Ravelry who was kind enough to sell me her Taki Savoy, I was able to create this for her.  The way it’s photographed here, it might look like some sort of ladder stitch, but it isn’t.  It’s exactly the same stitch as you see in the red, just redone in this lovely eggplant yarn.

You might also notice the necklace she’s wearing.  That was another crochet project that I finished for her.

Backstory

The pendant is a large piece of charoite that I found on a trip to Arizona a year and a half ago.  There’s this sweet little town called Jerome, about halfway between Prescott and Flaggstaff.  Getting there is a nightmare for anyone with vertigo of any kind as the roads to get there are not only winding through the mountains, but there are steep drop offs just off the edge of the roads with no shoulders.  Jerome itself is an old copper mining town that’s built right into the sides of the mountain cliffs there.  And it’s aptly called “America’s most vertical city.”

Today, the town is very artistic and full of interesting shops and yummy little places to eat.  Walking around the town didn’t bother me a bit, but driving the roads – well… let’s just say that I had no idea I had a problem with heights and steep drop-offs until we took this trip.  Of course, why would I think otherwise.  I grew up in the Great Plains where the only mountains nearby are amongst the oldest and most worn down on planet Earth.  I’ve never been faced with roads the likes of these before.  And I didn’t like it.

knit1_bead2_jerome_AZAnyway, back to the great parts about Jerome.  While we were there, my dear hubby noticed a yarn shop, up on the second story cliff above us (seriously, it’s an oddly built town).  “I’m probably going to regret this, but let this be proof I truly love you.  Dear, there’s a yarn store up there – do you want to check it out?”  My hubby is so awesome!  “Yay! Of course I do!”  The name of the shop is Knit 1 Bead 2, and not only did they have a variety of specialty high-end yarns there, they also had some amazing beads!

charoite crochet necklaceThat’s where I found this sweet little (ok, not little at all) pendant.  And what I decided to do was instead of simply putting the pendant on a leather thong or a silver snake chain, as would seem more typical, was to instead crochet several separate strands of cotton thread to put together to create the necklace for the pendant instead.  These photos don’t do it justice, but I like the texture they create and of course I like the comfort and lack of metal reaction that crochet jewelry can offer.  My sister-in-law is much like me, allergic to many metals.  That said, I did still use sterling silver findings for the clasp in the back (not pictured).  Believe it or not, this took many hours to make.

I had some fun getting things together for a couple of small shows.  I didn’t get into any big shows this year thanks to breaking my ankle and surgery at the end of summer.  (I guess I haven’t really told you that story. Sigh, OK, it’s on my list.)  Anyway, thankfully(?) the deadlines for all the big shows are in the summer.  And well, I knew I couldn’t handle my usual crazy hauling and churning out product this year.  So I didn’t.  I focused on walking again.  However, I did have an opportunity to sell a bit of my stuff off in December, including some old inventory.

Every year I add new inventory and every year some of it doesn’t sell.  It’s part of doing business.  However, I have come to realize that holy cow! Between moving last year, packing the winter before that and breaking my ankle this year, I still have inventory from  – get this – 2009!

I do not like to carry inventory very long.  After too long, it feels like stagnant energy itching to find a different home.  So it’s past time for me to clear it out.  Which is also a cue to watch out for some sales, because this is one time I completely advocate slashing your prices and I will be doing it.  And every penny will be going toward Spain.

testing_the_length_with_some_helpAmongst new things I added to inventory this year are my ruffled gothic muffs and a few more eared hats.  Here you can see just how much my kids love me, as I test out a hat to make sure I didn’t make it too long. I would almost say my life is like a musical, but that would really be a little too normal.  Although, seriously… we’re all musical and we all do sing.  Perhaps a better description is that my life is a comedy, but I think it would only appeal to a small few as most of the laughs are inside jokes and there seems to be an awful lot of work. So I guess really, it’s a surreal sort of thing.  Oh and that shirt I’m wearing, is indeed a Doctor Who spoof on Michelangelo’s cherubs smashed up with the Weeping Angels.  I love it, though I try to remember not to wear it around little kids.

gothic_ruffled_mittsAnyway, so in this other photo you’ll see not only the pair of my ruffled gothic muffs, but a copy of Hyperbole And A Half that my kids’ English teacher snatched up for Christmas.  I didn’t know she was a fan, but I’m not surprised and even pleasantly pleased!  (I know some of you are HAAH fans!)  The book was just released a couple of months ago and it has both new and classic favorites!  Btw, if you have not heard of Hyperbole And A Half, and if your humor is remotely like mine (and you can tolerate some coarse language), then seriously check out Alie Brosh’s blog and book. And let me tell you, the book does not disappoint.  It’s super thick and full of full color pages of Allie’s artwork and stories.  I’m so glad they didn’t try to edit it down for space and fewer pages!  The God Of Cake is one of my favorite stories.  Go check it out. You are welcome.

As far as the ruffled muffs, I didn’t realize that’s the only photo I have of them! So I guess I will have to figure out making another pair.  Besides the fact I have yet to write that design idea down either. Hmph…

And so, there it is I guess. 

The weekend between Christmas and New Year’s is here and I am catching up.  Lot’s of work to do and Spain is only a couple of months away.  And I am working on details there!  Turns out there might be a yarn store close to us in Barcelona!  I am totally stoked and will fill you in as I set things in stone, or at least have a clearer idea of what I hope to pull off.  Btw, if you’d like to help me out with a few dollars towards my trip, you can find the secure link here.  I just discovered I will have to buy new suitcases for us.

Ah well, I guess it’s about time.

In the mean time, stay tuned for more world of handmade talk.  I have some nuggets of support for you that I think you’ll like.


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

The Story Of The Face-Planting Yellow Bird
Juicy Crochet News: Catch Me In Print!
I Want To Travel The World And Meet Other Women Through Crochet!
Help Me Find Some Yarn? Pleeeeeaaaassseee?
Help Me Find Some Yarn? Part 2…
When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?”
Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?
Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

Display And Pricing Your Art And Handmade Items At Shows

6 Comments

Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Crochet Community, Crochet News

I Want To Travel The World And Meet Other Women Through Crochet!


OK, that’s not a pick up line.

Really.  I’m serious.

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.

Just take a look at the Twitter discussion we had around the world on the matter just a month ago today.  You can read about that here: Did You Miss Out On This #Crochet Goodness?

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.

It’s why I wrote the articles for Interweave Crochet magazine.

It’s why I make videos and want to run experiments with crochet hooks.  And I want to take those crochet hook experiments abroad.  I say we all have a madness, and this just happens to be one of mine.

And yet…

I’m the little girl from Oklahoma, who made it to Texas, but has never left the contiguous United States.

Ever.

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!  :D

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!

Wanna help me out and join me for my maiden journey?

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?

Stay tuned!


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Ergonomics In Crochet Hook Design And The Hands That Use Them

My Crochet Hook Experiment Will Be At Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire! Tomorrow!

What Gripes Me (Crochet Hook Shapes) – Crochet Ruminations

Crochet Hook Engineering – Types of Tools – Crochet Hook Challenge

Crochet Holding Positions For Hooks – A Tutorial

Did You Miss Out On This #Crochet Goodness?

Juicy Crochet News: Catch Me In Print!


35 Comments

Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Crochet Community, Crochet Hooks

Weekend Fun – Top Search Terms Of All Time on Aberrant Crochet


These are the top search terms that have hit my blog in all its years of existence!
(There are more, I just cut it off at sharing this much.)

crochet
crochet spider web pattern
tapestry crochet
crochet spider web
crochet jewelry
spider web crochet pattern
crochet jellyfish
crochet boot toppers
spiderweb crochet pattern
homemade cereal bars
crochet blogs
nellie oleson
crochet jellyfish pattern
eye ring
crochet blog
crochet hats for cancer patients
crochet necklace
jellyfish crochet pattern
antique crochet hooks
spider web costume
crochet spiderweb pattern
crochet frog
spider web pattern
flylady cult
how to crochet a spider web
crochet choker
crochet for preemies
spider web
how to get your point across to a man
crochet original
hand carved crochet hooks
crochet spider
crochet hat embellishments
ninja whipped cream
crochet umbrella pattern
spider web cape
crocheted jewelry
choker
amigurumi paradise
free crochet spider web pattern
crocheted spider web
spider web crochet
aberrant crochet
crochet tapestry
tapestry crochet patterns
crochet spider pattern
amigurumi jellyfish
easy homemade cereal bars
jellyfish amigurumi
what does frogging mean
hat embellishments
crochet hats for chemo patients
crochet choker pattern
hourglass necklace
crochet star
giant crochet
crochet halloween
polynesian art
what is frogging in crochet
crochet preemie hats
boot toppers crochet pattern
amigurumi jellyfish pattern
pinterest crochet
spider web umbrella
crocheted spider web pattern
olgemini crochet
glass eye ring
fairy skirt
crochet boot toppers pattern
european crochet terms
european crochet
crochet umbrella
crochet spider web patterns
crochet potholder patterns
spiderweb crochet
what does frogged mean in knitting
frog amigurumi
spider web patterns
crochet pattern spider web
frog crochet
jellyfish crochet
crochet web pattern
crochet for cancer patients
crochet hats for preemies
spider web crochet patterns
what does frogging mean in knitting
crochet jewelry patterns
antique crochet hook
crochet caps for cancer patients
gothic crochet
free spider web crochet pattern
crochet chemo hats
flower choker
crochet frogging
steampunk utility belt
crochet stitches
crocheted hats for chemo patients
crochet spiderweb
crochet preemie hat
what does frogged mean
steam punk corset
tapestry crochet pattern
european crochet stitches
crochet miniature
home made cereal bars
crochet beret pattern
вязание крючком
crochet boot toppers patterns
what does getting frogged mean
crochet a spider web
crochet spider webs
spider crochet
whipped cream in ninja
spider web crochet stitch
crochet patterns for preemies
how to get a point across to your man
aberrantcrochet.wordpress.com
attitudes in communication
crochet teddy bear hat
miniature crochet
crochet frog pattern
make whipped cream ninja blender
crochet jelly fish
hand carved crochet hook

Leave a comment

Filed under Artist Information & Notes, NaBloPoMo

The Spider Invasion Has Begun!


Part 1:  Or…  “My Supplication To The Gods Of Seasons,”  As It Were….  Is that a change in the air…?

We had our first actual taste of fall weather here in Austin the day before the fall equinox.  And I do mean taste.

Not just that metaphorical brief fleeting experience of an amazing flavor. But that thing you experience: when the air you breathe outside has more than just essence, but a distinctively fresh flavor to it. And it’s a breathful taste that I find invigorating.

Yep, the web is that big.

Yep, the web is that big. And he’s 5’10″.
Want one? Click the picture.

For here in Central Texas, we don’t often finally get to taste fall until later in the year. You know… closer to winter.

We’re always behind the rest of the world in our spring and fall seasons.  And when the seasons do arrive here, they are generally more like speed bumps in the switch between two main seasons of hot and cold.  A veritable two-week tribute to spring or fall, but so rarely a full court press of the real thing.

Never the case with summer though.  Never with summer at all. Do you miss summer where you are?  Come visit us in July and get your fill.  You’ll never miss it (or us) ever again.

So to have that first taste of fall arrive here on the actual equinox is like some sort of amazing blessing. Nay.  It’s more than that. It’s a sign.  A bright sparkly one.  The seasonal gods have smiled upon us this year.

Miniature snowman scraped together off the truck.

Miniature snowman scraped
together off the truck long ago.

Dear seasonal gods:  While we have your attention, could we maybe have a snow day this winter?? With real snow to play with and not just wet ice?  I mean, if you don’t mind and all. After all, it’s been years.  The kids are teens now. And well, we want to make snowmen together again, even if only miniature ones. Oh! And snow ice cream too.  …oh please, please, please…

But please also make sure no one has to get out and drive in it though. No one here knows how.

At the first hint of “the taste,” I immediately threw open all the windows. Fresh air in the house, it’s so wonderful. And it whispers to me. Not only were we blessed with an actual spring this year (lasting more than two weeks), we’ll be blessed with an actual fall too. :)

With October finally here, the most wickedly fun of all holiday months (and dear hubby’s and my birthday month), I’m feeling more alive. Even if more in spirit than in body.

And that’s saying a lot. Because I haven’t felt myself since breaking my right ankle at the end of the summer road-trip adventure that I took with my teens. It’s been two months + 11 days of blurred trauma, surgery, and complications. :/ As of today, I’ve only just been walking about 3 weeks.. ish.

There’s definitely an interesting story to tell there, and one I want to share with you, as I’ve learned quite a bit too.  But it’s a story that will have to wait for now.

spiderwebinafternoonsunWhy?  Because the spider invasion has begun at our house, and it demands adoration. Its story refuses to be put off.

Well, at least not after tomorrow.

Stay tuned for part 2….


Leave a comment

Filed under Crochet Patterns, Editorial, Halloween, Writing

And the walls would be lined with yarn….


And the walls would be lined with yarn....

I wish my friends’ houses were connected to mine…
By secret tunnels and hidden staircases to climb.
And everywhere you’d look there’d be a book you could find…
And the walls would be lined with yarn.

~ Julia Chambers
September 6, 2013

6 Comments

September 6, 2013 · 7:58 pm

My Crochet Hook Experiment Will Be At Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire! Tomorrow!


Hey guys! Sorry for the late notice, but wanted to let you know that I will be at Mini-Maker Faire in Round Rock, TX tomorrow. This is in the Austin, TX area and entry is FREE – so if you’re in the area I’d love to see you!  I’ve been flying by the seat this week and was accepted at the last-minute, so bear with me!  But I’m really excited!

They edited some of it, but you can get more info about the event and see my intro/project description here: http://roundrockmakerfaire.com/call-for-makers/aberrant-crochet.

What am I doing? Well, you know Jimbo and I started a crochet hook experiment at the last Crochet Liberation Front Crochet at Cama Retreat. We carved up a bunch of hooks that all had variations in design. Long throats, short throats, narrow lips, wide lips, deep bowls and shallow wedges. And everything in between. Greenwoman and Cerdeb’s hubbies and others attending the retreat also helped us get these hooks carved up in time for us to try out the idea at the retreat. Maker Faire deleted part of my explanation of this story, but suffice to say, this is something Jimbo and I worked on together.

We were trying to see how folks would use them, which ones they might tend to like and frankly – just what if we’d learn something! And honestly, it’s not like we had a specific plan. We just made them, talked about them and then put them into people’s hands and asked for input. At the time, because we were showing these hooks to an audience as well, we decided to use large fat hooks so the differences would be accentuated.

However, this time, I want to do the experiment locally with much smaller hooks, more typical of what most crocheters might use. So between Jimbo and I, we’ve created more basic hooks from the smallest dowels we could find – about a J. And I have to thank Jimbo for his help here. I didn’t have enough time to carve them all myself, so he helped!

So here’s the deal – if you’re interested, I’ve love to watch you crochet, take some photos/video of your hands (with permission and model release) and get your input on the shapes we’ve come up with. I want to hear your story! How do you use your hands? what did you used to do before you crocheted? And tell me about any problems you’re experiencing with your hooks too!

Am I super planned with this? No not really. I hope you’ll be as laid back as I hope to be. I only just found out Maker Faire was coming to my town about 10 days ago. But it’s definitely a chance to reintroduce this project. I want to travel the world to meet women through crochet and to study their tools someday. That’s my big thing and this is a beginning part of that. Jimbo and I’d like to travel to other US areas with this and get some real input from real crocheters about the way they use their hooks. And then blog and write about it along the way.

I’ve also been asked to help cover for a table that will run out of materials and close early, so I’ve added finger knitting to the list of activities for young kids, and have plenty of yarn. I have no idea what kind of crowds to expect, but if you are in the area and feel like hanging out, I wouldn’t mind an extra hand. :) Just let me know.

There will be a little seating area near my table so the kids can sit to finger knit, but feel free to sit awhile and crochet if there’s room!
My daughter also plans to be in costume tomorrow and will show off the wood anime sword she made for Halloween last year.  It’s really something, so do come see it in person if you are interested!

:D


3 Comments

Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Education, Events, Make Faire

Book Review and Giveaway! Texting Mitts by Designer Andee Graves


booklet cover LA websiteWell everyone, you’re in for a treat this weekend!  My crochet buddy Andee Graves has a new crochet book out called Texting Mitts!  And not only do I get to be a part of her blog tour celebrating the book’s release, but you have a chance to win a copy too!  If you can’t wait to get your “mitts” on it (see what I did there?) you can find the book at JoAnn stores and Leisure Arts website.  Which is good, because as of this writing, Amazon is temporarily out of stock!

So Who’s On The Tour?

Well I’m the last stop on this week’s blog tour, but if you’d like to catch up on the others, here’s the whole list of us.  A great list of crochet designers and enthusiasts you should consider checking out if you don’t already know us.

As the last stop on the tour, I was trying to think about how I could really add to the blog tour for you and for Andee with my post.  And of course, rebel that I am, I gotta do it my way anyway.  And if it ain’t honestly informative, lively or fun, it’s not really my cup ‘o tea.  So Andee, readers, et all, hang on for the ride – I hope you like it.  Gritty or not, here we go.

First, let me share how I know Andee.

I guess Andee and I actually initially met online in the Crochet Liberation Front group on Ravelry.  But getting to know her really soared later when we finally met in person at the Crochet Liberation Front’s 1st Ever Crochet At Cama Retreat.

Andee_and_Julia

Andee and Me!

She was funny, laid back and we’re both October babies!  So we were both enjoying the crochet retreat as part of our birthday gifts to ourselves.  Hers near the beginning and mine near the end.  :)  I liked her immediately!

I discovered Andee to be an enthusiastic crochet designer, and excellent teacher as I watched her interact with people.  She has a deep background in massage as well, and she demonstrated a lot of understanding about making the most of crochet while minimizing damage to your hands and wrists and more.  She gave an excellent talk at the retreat addressing carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues many crocheters face, which of course as someone fascinated with hook shapes and hand holds, I found fascinating too.  Plus Andee carves hooks at home too.  These aspects to her of course add to her foundation in design.  The importance of caring for our hands is a subject near and dear to her heart.

Onward For The Tour: Fingerless Mittens – Why I Like Them And You Should Too

Chunky Vs Mitt LAAlong those lines comes Andee’s most handy book full of fingerless “Texting Mitts” designs.  (I couldn’t resist.)

Let me tell ya – fingerless mittens are a must for me.  I’ve been in business for myself for 10 years now.  I started out doing shows and selling my finished goods.  And many of those shows were local outdoor festivals.  But while everyone else was suffering in the chill, I wore my wool cape and fingerless mittens and muffatees that were an asset to me “in the field.”

Diamond Back Mitt LAAnd today, while I use Square to accept credit cards at shows and use my smart phone for commerce, even at chilly indoor shows during the summer fingerless mitts can be an essential tool because smart phones don’t work without skin contact.   (It happens – Central Texas where we sometimes over compensate indoors for the heat outside!)

So if you’re looking for a useful kind of gift, that isn’t really limited to just winter use, definitely consider fingerless mittens.  I know folks who use them for typing at work too.

So What About The Book?

So what do I think?  Well, let’s start with first impressions.

It’s been awhile since I looked over a Leisure Arts crochet book.  And reading over Andee’s new book involved a colorful and visual experience I hadn’t remembered before.  So, being who I am, I had to make a trip to my local craft store to thumb through the books and see if it was my imagination or not.  Sure enough, I found that books more recently published by Leisure Arts were sporting a whole new design approach not found in my mother’s or grandmother’s books.  It threw me a bit at first, but in analysis, I actually think it’s good.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

2013-02-15_20-26-00_-2.0Ev-1Colorful and color-coded text.  A definite visual plus.  If you like to use highlighters and colored pens in your notes, you’re going to be surprised when you see that a lot of the text is already color coded in helpful ways.  One such helpful note is how all the size variations are printed in different colors in order to make them easier to find quickly when you’re working.2013-02-15_20-26-14_HDR-1

Visual Icons.  Wherever you see a little video camera symbol like this one, it means you can go to the Leisure Arts website and watch a video demonstrating that specific stitch or technique!  Now ain’t that about time!

2013-02-15_20-31-00_HDRShopping Lists.  I suppose this is something most good patterns already sport, however I do like the way they put it together, highlighting it and making it very easy on the eyes to read, complete with universal standard yarn symbols for the weight.

Easy To Read Stitch Glossary.  These back pages are pretty well laid out, with clear sections, making it easy to read and find what you’re looking for.

Xst Mitt LALarge full color photos.  Many photos are a full-page in size and they seem to be very crisp to me.  If you are a visual crocheter, you’re going to appreciate these.

Three Column Layout.  I personally find three columns per page to be the sweet spot as far as ease on the eyes.  I like it way better than one or two, which is what I usually see.

The Designs/Patterns Themselves

“Texting Mitts” offers a pretty decent collection of fingerless mittens with different stitch techniques as well as design looks to try.  Whether your style is lacy, textured, casual, or tailored, you’ll find a design to suit your needs in here.  Projects range in skill from beginner to intermediate.  And all the patterns are designed for sock-yarn, or any other super fine lace-weight yarn.  I can see that the construction for all of these is geared towards flexibility and active use.  This is a plus.

If the tamer yarn color choice presented in the photos are not really your type, don’t worry, the design structure is solid for bolder, and earthier tones.

LA

Also, if you’re wondering if this book is only suitable for making gifts for women, think again.  While looking over Andee’s book my 13 yr old son leaned over and pointed to a design he’d like me to make him.  (In camo or black of course.)  So don’t knock it until you try it.  I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a good marketing move for LA to have included a male model, even a teen one?

Cabled Columns Mitt LA

The two mitts pictured here are the ones that I took a little time with to try out the patterns.  These are the Seashell Mitts and the Twisted Cable Columns Mitts.  The Twisted Cable Columns Mitts will help you exercise your foundation single crochet (Fsc) skills.  But if Fsc has you stumped, Andee has a neat little technique for you to try in the Seashell Mitt pattern.  I would like to see a little more time taken to explain the round joins and beginnings when involving the cross stitch and chain 3, as there’s a step that seems to be assumed in there that someone with less experience might not be able to figure out.  Also, the patterns use stars, () and [] , so be sure to hit the glossary in the back to familiarize yourself with their use in the patterns upfront.  And it’s clear to me that swatching is going to be important for many folks as well.  I’m a more relaxed crocheter as far as stitches, so right off the bat my no-gauge test was turning out larger than it should have with the right sized yarn and hook.  So do swatch for size.  I would also have liked to see just one advanced pattern to ice the cake with.  But that’s just me.

The Upshot?

Texting Mitts” is  an artful book with a nice selection of design variations and is full of what I consider “crochet intelligence.”  From a critical technique point of view, these designs have interest and challenge that will appeal to most crocheters.  All the patterns are fingerless mitts, but each pattern brings something new to the table in design or skill.  I encourage buyers to experiment with other colors and post their photos and their reviews.  Overall I like the new colorful and thoughtful layouts Leisure Arts has come up with for reading their pattern books, even if it does take me a little getting used to the change in colored text.  And I like the 3-column layout.  I think in the long run the attention to details like this will be very helpful both as a teaching tool, and for those who have eyesight issues.

Enough! I Want A Copy! How Do I Win, Win, WIN!?

I thought you’d never ask!  First off, this contest can only be open to US residents (I’m sorry, it has to be).  And it’s Presidents’ Day Weekend, so I thought we’d make this a little special.  To enter the contest to win a free copy of Andee’s book “Texting Mitts,” here are the giveaway contest rules:

  • First, you also must be a U.S. resident with a domestic mailing address.
  • Second, you should subscribe to both Aberrant Crochet (my blog) and Andee’s crochet blog.
  • Then, leave a comment below, answering this fun holiday trivia question: “If you could make a pair of fingerless mittens to give to any president in U.S. history, who would they be for and why?”
    (Answers do not technically have to be rational, but must include the name of a U.S. president in history.)  ;)
  • Include your email and website/blog (if you have one) in the comment form. (Emails are not viewable by the public.)
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org!

My answer to the trivia question?  I would totally make a pair of fingerless mittens for President Abraham Lincoln and Founder Benjamin Franklin.  Benjamin Franklin wasn’t ever president of the United States, but he was a diplomat who traveled the world and he spent time out there in a storm with a kite! And Abraham Lincoln?  All that writing, lawyering, giving speeches and leading a country during one of its darkest times.  I bet some fingerless mittens would have been appreciated by them both.  And Abe as movie legend in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter?  Wielding a pen in congress and an ax in battle?  I bet some fingerless mitts would have comforted sore hands after a long day of saving the world!  

OK, so now how about you?


PLEASE NOTE…
1. You have until Tuesday, February 19th at 2pm CST to enter…
2. That means the giveaway will close Tuesday, February 19th at 2pm CST.
3. A winner will be chosen via random.org later in the day.
4. I will announce the winner on my blog shortly after (so come back to check!)
5. Please be sure to have your email address linked to your comment or there is no way for me to contact you!
And that’s it!

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!   :D    HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND HAVE FUN!
Oh, and disclaimer: I have not received any monetary compensation for putting on this giveaway.  Though I did receive a copy of Andee’s book to review.  So this contest is purely for fun!  I mean, just in case you’re wondering.  They say it’s always good to be clear about these things.  So, there you have it… clear?  We love you!  Enjoy!
PS – All photos courtesy of Leisure Arts Publishing.

25 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Crochet Community, Crochet Patterns, Editorial, Giveaway

Ergonomics In Crochet Hook Design And The Hands That Use Them


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.  :)

Catch ya on the up-swing! ;)


3 Comments

Filed under crochet, Crochet Hooks

I Never Set Out To Sell Crochet – Crochet Ruminations


It wasn’t in the plan.  Really.  I crochet because I can’t help but do it.  It’s very meditative for me.  Like playing piano, or writing, it’s something that helps me stay that nice person most folks like. 

We neeeeeds it, gollum! 

And even when the whole family has been gifted out of their minds, I still crochet. It’s just one of many ways that I express my inner geekery. 

I say we all have a madness in Life and crochet is just one of mine.  Which stands out just a little in a climate that’s rarely cold.

There’s always a new idea in my head somewhere and I never tire of thinking on a different angle for this or that when it’s crochet.  I have about 40 different unfinished projects going at a time, so there’s always something I can work on.  If I’m feeling less than benevolent to a particular project (and some projects do end up in the “dog house” for awhile), I put it aside and switch to something else so I can come back with a fresh attitude another time.

When it comes to conversations, even then I can’t shut up about crochet.  I find myself drawing analogies to the artistic process involved with crochet design, or industry quirks, marketing tools or a myriad of other crochet related micro-conversations that I find myself tying to more common life scenarios.  And there I’ll be, with folks staring at me going – did you really just relate that to crochet?

Uh, yep. Yep I just did.

It’s more perfect than you think.  Like “Zen And The Art Of Crochet” and “What Crochet Taught Me About Popularity” kind of material.  That’s the way it is for me.  And I’ll argue there’s nothing wrong with it either.  Substitute “cooking” in place of crochet and most folks would hardly blink an eye.  We all have our ways to explore the inner workings of self, business, relationships and world.  There’s nothing wrong with mine.  Whatever gets your attention.

But selling crochet?  That started out because I’d crochet while waiting on my kids.  People started noticing what I was making and wanted one too.  Before I knew it, “I want one! I want one!” and I was in business.  The fact that anyone wants to pay money for my expertise is just awesome.  It helps pay for my madness!

How about you?  How did you get into crochet related business?  And if you’re not yet, what do you think might get you to or why would you not want to?


9 Comments

Filed under Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, Random Thoughts

What You Like About Me Is Owed To Grandma Dot (Advice That Changed Me) – Crochet Ruminations


As far as advice that changed me?

The first thing that comes to mind for me are words from my Grandmother when I was a child, after I showed her a crochet sculpted hockey puck I made.

You see, a thought occurred to me as I was learning to crochet: that I could do more than what everyone around me was doing. That I didn’t have to just make doilies and afghans. That I could use a hook and yarn to sculpt, kind of like clay. So I set about to prove my theory.

As silly as it might sound, showing Grandma and hearing her words was a pivotal and freeing moment I have never forgotten.

“Well look at that clever thing! See there’s nothing you can’t do and bring into reality when you set your mind to it. If you want it, and work for it, you can do it.”

That was all I needed.  I’ve never been the same since.

As an adult, I realize those words may seem clichéd, but that tiny young moment contained so much power for me. Something huge shifted inside of me. I have since heard stories from others who were criticized for not doing things “correctly,” even having their hands smacked with rulers when they messed up, and other stories!  And no wonder as a result they never really picked up the art of crochet. None of my family ever did something like that to me.  And Grandma Dot always took time and marveled at my ideas.  She made me believe.

You never know what it is that will make a difference for someone.  How about you?  What piece of advice changed your life?  Who was it in crochet that made a difference for you?

1 Comment

Filed under Crochet Education, Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, Random Thoughts

Bidding Begins NOW For Mrs. Maplesworth – Crochet Hook Challenge


Shout Outs!

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 HooksJimbo 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.

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!

8 Comments

Filed under Crochet Hooks

What Gripes Me (Crochet Hook Shapes) – Crochet Ruminations


The inconsistency of the shaft and work space issue is exactly what gripes me about many hooks being sold on the market today, and it’s present in wood hooks as well a metal. When I give lectures/demos about hooks, I talk about this. That widening of the shaft causes a lack of consistency in the stitch loops, which besides causing strain on your hand, also causes changes to your stitch appearance.

I don’t know why this is happening in hook-making today, but I suspect it has to do with the time involved in making the hooks and in the case of metal hooks, strength. (And perhaps lack of knowledge?) So many of the older hooks I find are just better made. The quality of the metal is better. My favorites metal hooks have hand-machined and cut heads. The shafts are strong and they will flex, not snap or permanently bend like modern hooks will.

And you know what it reminds me of? How good knives and swords are made.  Good knives and swords are strong and will flex with pressure, but not break. And especially in miniature crochet, we put a lot of torque on those hooks.

Perhaps part of all this points to the possibility that metalsmithing and true metallurgical knowledge is not what really goes into our metal tools anymore?  

What about you?  I’m intrigued to know.  What quirks do you notice about crochet tools that get under your skin? And what can we do about it?


14 Comments

Filed under Crochet Education, Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, Random Thoughts

Untapped Marketing – Crochet Ruminations


If you were to divide crocheters into experience classes, when you think about it, the beginner class is rather small and short-lived.  The girth of our community is somewhere in the middle to the advanced side.

So much of advanced crochet skill is not necessarily governed by stitches and patterns, but in learning consistency and control (which can’t be taught as much as practiced), refining our methods and then there are advanced concepts like shaping.

And yet the type of instruction generally offered to the crochet community remains below the skill levels of the majority.  Resulting in crocheters being ignored and even written off as cheap and unwilling to spend $$.

The way I see it, our market has so long been poorly understood.  And there exists a whole frontier of creative marketing that just hasn’t been adequately explored.

What about you?  Do you feel the level of training offered in crochet adequately responds to your expertise?  And how do you feel about the way our market is approached?  Let us know the area you’re from when responding. :)  Maybe we’ll hash out some good stuff!


14 Comments

Filed under Crochet Ruminations

The New Frontier – Crochet Ruminations


Crochet Ruminations – The Start Of  A New Thing

There are times when I have a series of thoughts and mini-conversations running through my head.  And when those “attacks” come, I don’t always have time to explore them.  But I’ll go ahead and draft the musings up in preparation for a deeper blog post to savor later when better time and exploration can be dedicated to them.

And sometimes they do turn into much more and get published.  And sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they never evolve and really are just shorter capsules of ideas in the moment – tasty tidbits of ponderings and half-eaten conversations that honestly don’t have anything more to do, or become, right now.

In looking over my list of possible blog posts, I’ve realized that sometimes one of those posts is only supposed to be just a few “deep thoughts.” Just some occurrences of ideas to fling out there for consideration and/or discuss amongst peers, if anyone wants to engage.  And that’s just that.

So in that spirit, instead of saving a zillion drafts every time something crosses my brain (my list of drafts is getting too long to manage!), I’m launching a series on my blog simply tagged Crochet Ruminations.

With that intro, here’s the latest….

The New Frontier…

Technology has brought us to the beginning of a new frontier in the world and we’re the pioneers laying the groundwork for what is to come, for ourselves and for future generations. History is literally being made.

How this new frontier works for crochet is being driven by the people actively in it. People like us, anyone who is willing to move to uncharted territory and figure it out.

The same is happening in other fields too. The internet is the “new land” to settle.  There’s no reason why anyone who has the will can’t figure it out and benefit.

The thing I find extremely important to register in our heads though, as Laurie points out (a.k.a. Fearless Leader from the Crochet Liberation Front), it takes working with others, not shouldering the responsibilities of the world alone, or shoving everyone else out of the way. That is not to invalidate the need for personal hard work and responsibility.  However, it is said that successful business people know at heart what school doesn’t teach us. That life is not a closed book test, that we don’t succeed by cutting others off, that the only way to succeed is to do it with the help of others.  And that often a sign of a successful person is one who continues to train and learn and someone who recognizes and values the expertise of others. 

We walk a fine balance of working hard on our own, but also benefiting from the help and insight from others.  Whether we hire them, or we accept help from a friend.   Trying to go it completely alone, making sure everyone knows we did it by ourselves and without help, does not work outside the classroom.  It is not a place of balance, nor a sign of success (and neither is the opposite).  In reality, no one expects you to perform alone in adulthood – only on standardized tests.  And those who believe they do not need advice, training or learning, who only boast on “did it myself” laurels, surely exhibit signs of impending implosion.

Coaching, master minds, discussions, hiring experts, studying, training, practicing, learning new tools and technologies, comparing notes with peers, understanding that old ways don’t always work today and that some old things never lose their effectiveness and sometimes what works for someone else is not right for you – all these things are important.  Settling the West was not born on the shoulders of one person.  In fact, to try to do such, was almost certain death.  People had to come together with their varying talents and work ethics to form the foundation for something great.

In thinking about this, what things do you see as it affects the crochet world that we should be mindful of?


4 Comments

Filed under Crochet Community, Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, Random Thoughts

Meet Mrs. Maplesworth! – Crochet Hook Challenge


Meet Mrs. Maplesworth - aka A Technical Discussion About Using Dowels To Make Crochet Hooks

2 Comments

Filed under Crochet Hooks

And The Winning Bid On The Grandmother Tree Crochet Hook Is….?


Doug has the winning bid for the Grandmother Tree’s crochet hook silent auction at $45!  I’ll be getting with him to get it shipped off to its new home!

In the mean time, thanks everyone for all the support, comments, RTs and shares!  Y’all are awesome!  It was really helpful to get me off to a good start!

Stay tuned for a blog post about my next hook project!  We’re going to look at a very different crochet hook shape!

Leave a comment

Filed under Crochet Hooks

Crochet Hook Engineering – Types of Tools – Crochet Hook Challenge


The first silent auction for Grandmother Tree’s crochet hook (the first of my challenge series) is already underway.  You can check out the final photos and view the bidding here.

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!


2 Comments

Filed under Crochet Education, Crochet Hooks

Bidding On The Grandmother Tree Crochet Hook Begins At Midnight!


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) 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. 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.
     

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for pics of the hook I’ve been working on this week. I’ve been calling her Mrs. Mapleworths. 


Leave a comment

Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Crochet Hooks

If You’re Not Breaking Stuff, You’re Not Innovating


 

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!)

Hour 7
Innovation:

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.)

Hour 8:

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!

9 Comments

Filed under crochet, Crochet Education, Crochet Hooks

Episode 2: A New Hope…


Broken.

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.

6 Comments

Filed under Crochet Hooks