Tag Archives: hooks

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


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

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. 


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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!

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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.

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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.

Nah.

Maybe there’s hope yet.

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It’s Official – I’ll Carve One Special Crochet Hook Per Week: Happy Fall My Friends


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 worx@pixieworx.net).  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.

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Hooks, Crochet News, handmade

Old plastic crochet hooks…..?


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In a world where crochet hooks are my favorite tools, I personally find plastic hooks to be the least of my favorites. I have a couple, just ‘cuz I’ve been stranded without a hook before and have gone to the nearest craft store and grabbed one. Why you ask? Because even using a plastic hook coupled with box store yarn is still better than none a’tall when you are doomed to sit and wait for hours on your kids or a late appointment.

Since I really don’t like plastic hooks though and because they are cheap, I hang onto them to give away to those I end up teaching crochet to, etc.. They are not bad for beginning to learn. (And believe it or not, doing a crochet demo for kids at a show can make a big difference in attendance on your side of the expo while folks watch -and they will- not to mention the general behavior of bored kids tends to improve as well. I’ve been thanked by surrounding artists more than a few times.)

Susan Bates Vintage "Bone" Luxite Crochet Hook

If you have vintage “bone” colored hooks that are Bates, they are probably Luxite like this one, not Bakelite. These were made to look like bone. Genuine bone hooks are somewhat collectible and perhaps Luxite would be to some degree. Though I do collect hooks, I don’t personally collect these. However others do.

If you don’t want to hang onto your older plastic hooks, try eBay and throw them together as a mixed lot. I do see the older ones sell there in many conditions I wouldn’t buy for actual use. Modern plastic hooks are not really a draw for bids alone, but older hooks are. People will buy an auction full of hooks to get just one vintage one they want, like any collectible hobby. Even so, I have seen “bone” hooks on eBay that are obviously not.

When listing a lot of hooks together for an auction, you might consider tossing in a couple tags in like 4-H and Girl Scouts and teaching too. And better yet, write an explanation about the idea in your description. When I did demos for Maker Faire Austin and a scout class, I scoured eBay for economical hooks that I could afford to lose or give away.

And I know I’m not the only one!

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