Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crochet's Unsung Heroes

It is true; I've been joy riding several new crochet hooks, not just the one I mentioned over Thanksgiving break.  What's up with that?  I suffer from HAS: Hook Acquisition Syndrome!

If this 1800s crochet hook could talk, what crochet adventures would it tell us?
It was during all this giddy-glee of playing with new crochet hooks that a thought started repeating itself to me as I worked each new stitch, each new project:

"Crochet Hooks are the unsung heroes of our craft."
Think about it.  When we see a project, in person, or pictured online, we want to know:
  • if not an original pattern, then who designed it? 
  • is the pattern for free or for sale?
  • where can a copy of the pattern be obtained?
  • can it be made/altered to fit me?
  • what is the skill level: beginner? Intermediate? Advanced?
  • what yarn was used?
  • how much yarn is required?
  • what size hook was used?
Did you read anywhere above "What hook was used?"
   Did we learn if the hook belonged to your great, great grandparent?
      Did we learn if the hook was hand-turned from a descendant of Moby Dick?
         Did we learn if the hook brought you pleasure with each stitch it helped you create?

No, sadly, we usually don't share these kinds of details, do we?  We, do, however, usually hear when a hook breaks -- I've been known to accidentally kill a hook or two in my time (linky).  And we usually hear the woes of missing hooks, too (linky).  But what about the crochet hook that was pressed into your hand as a distraction when a loved one was in the hospital.  Or the hook you bought to make your first crochet chain.  And what about the hook that helped wrap an adorable baby with a crocheted blanket you crafted with your own two hands?

All I'm saying is, that without our crochet hooks we'd be pretty much limited to finger crocheting.  (Doable yes, but try making a dainty doily with sausage fingers!)  Let's give a little praise to the hooks we love to use; regardless if it was mass-produced or hand created, I'm betting there's a story behind it.  And I, for one, would love to know about it!  :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Joy Riding

Ever buy a crochet hook that feels and looks almost like a hot rod?  I think this one classifies:

This hook was custom made for me by The Knitting Glass Guy.  For the maiden drive, I'm working on a scarf that will be donated locally; part of the 2011 "60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge."  I'll be writing up an official post about the hook in a few weeks over at HooksNStitches. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Fear is the Project Killer"

It seems I got my stitches in a bunch and it wasn't looking good for finding a fix.  I wanted to create a new hat for my newly-teenaged son -- something more in line of  his current fashion sense.  I went shopping in my yarn stash and found two hanks of Berroco's Inca Gold, a blend of merino wool and silk.  I picked up one of my new crochet hooks and set to work using half-double crochet stitches.

All was going well, very well indeed!  Then it came time to create the brim of the hat.  At first I thought, "wouldn't it be cool to knit it?"  To, you know, make my first official bi-stitchual project -- without the use of a crochet hook.  So I rummaged through my little knitting needle stash and found a pair of circulars I thought would do the job.  Unfortunately the cable proved it was too long and thus it became too big of a pain to deal with.  I ripped out all the knitted stitches I had made.

So I went to my next game plan ... use the Dyak Craft Interchangeable crochet hook and "knook" it. (Not familiar with the term "knook?" Look it up on my Types & Techniques page on my website)  That seemed to be working quite well.  It was working so well, so well indeed!, I decided to pop the DVD in of The Black Swan and continue on my merry little way with my stitching.

Unfortunately, in looking at my work this morning, I shouldn't have.  I found a few errors.  Normally, even with my limited knitting experience, I know how to fix the errors ...  first secure the stitches that are good, then pull out the bad column of stitches, and then rebuild them back up using a crochet hook.  No problem, right?

Wrong.  I decided I had to use the Twisted Knit Stitch.  That's right; I had to complicate things; lol.  I had to figure out how to retwist the column of stitches I had pulled out so that they would be uniform to the rest of the brim design.  Unfortunately I couldn't find any help sites on the Internet on how to do this, so I vented on Twitter a little:

I stewed a little.  I agreed with Chicken Little that the sky was falling.  I thought about giving up -- after all I could give it as a Christmas gift instead of a Birthday gift, thus buying me some time.  I might have cursed a bit too, although I won't admit to that. {{whistles innocently}}

And then it came to me:  pull out the column of stitches that include the error, insert hook into loop, give it a counter-clockwise twist before pulling up the next loop. Repeat until column has been rebuilt.

I gave it a try AND it WORKED!!  My fear of  having to kill the project turned to pure joy!

And the really cool part is, aside from figuring out how to fix an intentional twisted knit stitch -- my project is 100% made with crochet hooks.  Three to be exact.  A few more rows & this project will be done.  Whoot!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crochet Hook Binging Leads to Blog Revival

Ok, so I admit it.  I've been crochet hook binging all week.  I've been combing the internet looking for beauties to add to my collection.  It's been a rough week; a rough month; a rough year.  I think it's time to declare this as my time to adorn my hand with some new bling -- not as in diamond rings, but as in beautiful crochet hooks.  You know, sorta as my reward for surviving all that Murphy's Law has thrown at me this year.

During this week of crochet hook binging, several of you have asked me if I sell crochet hooks.  As a rule, I do not. If I wind up with an overstocking for a class I taught, then I might.  But for the most part I collect them.  To me, they're like a fine wine, or a fine piece of chocolate, or a "cantlivewithout" ball of yarn.  I'm sure you get the picture, yes?  LOL

And during this week of binging, many have asked about who I buy them from, how I display them, do I use them ... and so on.  I gave these questions serious thought and you know what? You're all onto something here.  No, seriously!  Where are the blogs dedicated exclusively to the crochet hooks we love??  While I begin my search for such blogs, I decided in the meantime to revive a blog I wanted to start as an off-shoot of this one way back in 2005.  I didn't do anything with it for the past six years as I guess I was waiting for the right motivation, or rather, the right muse.  (Funny how it's been right in front of me all this time!!)

If you are a regular reader, you may have noticed my CrochetingWithDee blog has a new look -- it is now in line with my website, CrochetWithDee, and with my Twitter.  I took the old background of the steel hooks and put it on my revived blog, appropriately called Hooks N Stitches because it fits there.  My goal is to post images of the many crochet hooks I own, and those I covet, at least once a week, and to include bits of information about them. 

I'll still show my crochet hooks here, and discuss other topics related to crochet (and sometimes knit), but the other blog will be for those who share my lust for crochet hooks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our Favorite Crochet Hook Makers

My state of Connecticut is finally getting back to normal after experiencing a freak autumn snow storm that delivered in many areas over a foot of snow.  Because trees still contained full canopies of leaves, many came crashing down under the heavy weight of snow, causing massive power outages.  (Our second major outage within two months!) We were one of the nearly one million families that were effected by the power outage -- ours lasted eight fridgid days.  My father's, who lives right down the road from me, lasted nine.  And as I type this, there are still many residents without power. 

Fortunately cities and towns, such as mine, opened their schools as emergency shelters.  My family and I spent many hours there, taking advantage of having (generator) power to recharge batteries, get a warm meal, shower, and most importantly, to keep warm.  For me, the emergency shelter offered more than that:  it was also a social hub for keeping up with the news, as well as an outlet to "crochet in public."

I met many wonderful crocheters (and knitters); I helped two young girls learn how to finger crochet; and on one evening, showed how a swift and ball winder worked in turning hanks of yarn into quick, usable cakes (balls) of yarn.  At one point my activities caught the eye of a reporter and I was interviewed briefly for an evening segment on Connecticut's Fox News ... 

One of the most frequent questions I was asked was, "Where do you get your crochet hooks?"  The majority of my crochet hooks are handmade/handturned.  Although I have created a crochet hook on my own (I took a class with Nancy Nehring a few years back on how), I am more of a collector.  We call the art of collecting crochet hooks as HAS.  HAS stands for Hook Acquisition Syndrome. 

Some of the hooks I own that were purchased online: Graydog (formerly sold on eBay for a number of years); Brainsbarn, DyakCraft (formerly GraftonFibers), Celtic Swan, and many, many others.  If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know I have been discussing rewarding myself  (for surviving a stressful week without power) with a custom GLASS crochet hook, to be crafted by Chris of  Naturally once I officially add the hook to my collection, I will be photographing it and featuring it in an upcoming blog entry.  

I also purchase crochet hooks from various events, such as a few years ago from The Eastern States Exposition; from Stitches East (back when it was held in New Jersey); or I receive them as gifts, such as the crochet hook I recently mentioned that my brother-in-law gave me (maker is unknown as it was handcarved in the 1800's).  Collecting hooks is not hard, you just need to give it time and keep your eyes open.

And this brings me to question who are your favorite crochet hook makers?  Go ahead and be an enabler; I have room in my heart & home for more crochet hooks.   ;)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Question From Reader: Tunisian Hooks a Pain?

Dear Dee,

I am learning Tunisian crochet and find I have too many loops on my hook. How do you deal with this? Thanks, Marnie

Dear Marnie,

prototypes of DyakCraft's Interchangeable Crochet Hooks
What a great question! Tunisian crochet requires us to load up our hook with many loops, much like a knitter would load up one of their knitting needles. The problem of having too many loops on the hook causes the loops to stretch out, fall off the hook -- or worse! -- cause an actual physical injury!

Since I have experienced all three issues (yes, I sprained my thumb a number of years ago from too many loops/too much weight on the hook) I now almost exclusively use cabled Tunisian crochet hooks.

My current "go to" cabled Tunisian crochet hooks are the proto-types for that I mentioned this past January {LINKY} ~ based upon the discussion on Ravelry, their interchangeable hooks should be available anytime soon!  The interchangeable crochet hooks, including the Denise version (which I also own) and others on the market, do tend to cost a bit more, but in my humble opinion, they are well worth it!  The interchangeable's are great because you can change the hook size and/or the cable size for your project.  In the picture above I have nearly 200 loops on the hook & cable; by moving the loops down the cable I disperse the weight of the work.  {{both the Dyak Craft & the Denise interchangeables are made in the USA!!}}

The interchangeables are also good for the "amazing needle" (aka knooking) technique, and the crochet-on-the-double technique.  If you're not sure what these techniques are, visit my website at and check out my Crochet Types & Techniques page.

Maybe now is a good time to put an interchangeable crochet hook set on your Holiday Wish List.  :)


Monday, October 10, 2011

Hello, I'm a Beadaholic and my name is ...

As a very young child I always loved when my mother decided to clean out her jewelry box as she would pass the treasures she no longer wanted to me.  Usually this meant pierced earrings with various beaded assortments relevant to the then fashion trends.  Being one of the few kids on the block without pierced ears, this would mean that my Barbie dolls would inherit them.  I'm not sure what happened to all those treasures mom gave to me, but I do recall all the many hours I spent adorning my dolls with them -- not just their ears, but in hanging them off various garments too.
Through the years, that fascination with bling-y bead stuff never left me.   In all seriousness, I can understand why Manhattan sold for $24 worth of beads; I think I would have sold it for the beads too.  Today, I still collect Barbies, and  I still love playing with beads -- just not together (Barbie has enough stuff thankyouverymuch!).  Now I pass on the tradition of cleaning out my own jewelry box, handing down various items I no longer want to my own kids: Mini~Dee and Dee Jr. 

Sometimes items from my jewelry box never make it to their eager hands -- did I mention that I like to crochet with beads and sequins?  I do!  I will get my pliers out and enjoy a little cannibalism.  LOL  (Apparently I'm not alone in thinking various jewelry components will look great on my crochet!)  I think adding beads and sequins to crochet projects adds a little zip; a little glamour to the intended project.  Of course, from time to time I will cut corners and buy pre-beaded, or pre-sequined yarn, such as Deborah Norville's Fashion Jeweltones to save a little time ...

Recently I started to make my own beaded stitch markers, such as the ones above.  In fact, I brought two sets of my stitch markers to show at one of my Chapter meetings recently and the members all "ohhhh'd" and "awwww'd" over them. This month is Part I of our Chapter's 10th Anniversary, and next month is our Part II of the Celebration; I decided to make three sets of stitch markers:

Our CGOA Chapter is represented by 3 colors: Purple, Silver and Gold.  Purple for our passion for crochet, Silver for making new friends, and Gold for keeping the old.  I wanted to avoid creating "cliques" with the stitch markers  and encourage them to mingle, so I mixed the three sets up.  (photo credit: the hook in both pictures is a Graydog crochet hook.)  Each set is on a ring so they can be worn while working on a project (preventing the sofa from gobbling them up!)  Come this time next month, three lucky HHCC members will each win a set (hook not included).

What about you?  Do you look at your jewelry with cannibal eyes?  Does your bead stash demand nearly as much shelf space as your yarn?  If so, you're a beadaholic too!  :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Loot, The Goods, The Bounty ...

The question that seems to be on everyone's mind (including Mr. Dee & the kids) since I've been back from ChainLink - which was what? A just week ago? -- is what did I come home with from the Vendor's Market?
On Thursday night, when the market opened, I decided to swim the current of shoppers to see what was "new to me," and what had "potential inspiration."  Like a child in a candy store, there was a plenty that fit these two categories!

On Friday afternoon, while many attendees were in class, I re-entered the vendors market and swam, like a shark, from vendor to vendor.  My first purchase were stunningly-beautiful handmade buttons by  -- I'm not sure why the color orange sang to me so loudly (maybe the yarn I purchased at Rhinebeck last year is finally ready to be worked up?), but I was in love.  There was no leaving them on the rack!

 I stopped at another vendor that was offering hand-dyed hanks of yarn.  I resisted the temptation, but could I really?  No.  I went no further than 10 steps away before I found myself returning to adopt a stunning hank of "blue denim" bamboo ribbon.  I then ran over to the CGOA's Yarn Winding booth and handed my precious new baby over to be wound into cakes; they were raising money to donate to the ASPCA in Jean Leinhauser's memory.  (If you ever tried to wind ribbon yarn, you'll find having someone else do it for you will be the best dollar-while-helping-a-cause will be the best dollar you'll ever spend!)

On Saturday evening, just moments before the market closed I made one more final purchase: a skein of Rozetti's sequined Soft Payette, and a skein of that new funky yarn that opens into a rickrack style of lace, Rozetti's Marina Multi.  This type of yarn is known as "webbed ribbon."  The video below is Rozett's video on how to knit with it:

and below is Kathleen Sams, of Red Heart Yarn, demonstrating how to crochet with the netted ribbon they're calling Sashay:

Pretty cool, huh?

The last goodie I got was not purchased.  It was a gift from my friend, Prudence Mapstone. It is a handmade button crafted by Petra of New Zealand. It's absolutely beautiful! Thank you, Prudence! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Crochet Tributes

So here is the thing, if you take one of my classes, and you are wearing something you created by hand, and there is a stage ... then yes, there is a really, really good chance I'll ask you to get up on the stage and proudly show your creations off!  Thank you for being such great sports!  :)


As wonderful as it was to see all my old friends, and meeting so many new buddies at the recent ChainLink/ Knit and Crochet Show in Greensboro, NC, I did feel an incredible absence.  To not see the great smile of Jean Leinhauser there, who passed away this summer, was very sad to me.  She was the author of the first crochet pattern I ever laid eyes on -- and tried!  She was at every crochet conference I ever attended.  In the past 10 years we exchanged many emails discussing various topics about crochet; her wisdom and humor I cherished greatly.  To not see her at this conference felt to me like there was a huge hole;  I was delighted to see there was a Tribute to her on the Vendors Market floor:

She accomplished so much, and did so much for our World of Crochet.  Yes, Jean was & is greatly missed.

Check out this Tribute Leisure Arts created:

Jean will always be with us, in every stitch we create.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Details: Knit & Crochet Show, Greensboro, NC

 While we're waiting for the official pictures about the CGOA's Fall Conference, I thought I'd post this picture of the Design Competition entries as they were displayed on the Vendors Floor. (Complete list of the winners can be found here on the CGOA's blog.) 

I did not compete, but I do know that Doris Chan deserves a standing Crochet Hook Ovation for all the hard work & hours she put into this event:  the accepting of the entries, labeling them, hauling them to North Carolina, setting up for judging, lining up the judges, repacking & resetting up on the Vendors Floor, repacking the winning entries and hauling them to the Fashion Floor, finding volunteer models, repacking and hauling & setting up the items back to the Vendors Floor, and then repacking and hauling the entries back home to then ship back to everyone.  Exhausted yet?  I am -- in just thinking about it!  And she does this as a VOLUNTEER!  You so rock, Doris!
Here is a link to a local newscast of the Knit & Crochet Show -- watch it and you'll see Doris in the background safeguarding & discussing the entries with an admirer!

Normally we say, "What Happens at ChainLink Stays at ChainLink," but when bribed with a pretty skein or hank of yarn, it's pretty easy to spill the beans.  Or so I hear.  (lol)   This was the second year Caron Yarn sponsored the rockin' "Club Caron" dance party.  If you go, you'll want to brush up on your Chicken Dance -- it's quite popular!  And yes, that is me in the lower right dancing with Kathleen Sams of Red Heart Yarn.  So much fun!

Jane Rimmer, the CGOA's Treasurer, was also spotted getting her hooks wet, kindasorta -- if you were shopping the Vendors Market then you saw her working on the Coral Reef Project started by participants in Marty Miller's class.  The project was to bring awareness of marine life destruction.  Awesome job ladies!

OK, my phone is ringing.  I suspect its another yarn bribe.  If so, you'll want to come back and see what other juicy details from the ChainLink Conference I let slip... whahahahahaha

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Copyright Violation: Open Plea to CWD Readers & Fans

Dear Readers & CWD fans,

At the recent Conference in Greensboro, NC, it appears I was videotaped without consent during one of my classes. This video, as I understand it, was then offered to be "emailed" to various attendees. 

My open letter in this blog post is addressed to those attendees, and to those who may obtain this video in the future: please know it is in violation of copyright laws. [As well as downright unethical!!!]  I am asking you to help me safeguard my material by not accepting the video; deleting it immediately. I am also asking you to be my eyes on the Internet, and in the classrooms, where it may be shown in a public forum.

It took a great deal of time, energy, resources and creativity to create the crochet classes I offer -- to have someone to illegally videotape undermines the quality and integrity I strive for.  As we all are here for the love of crochet, your help in safeguarding not only my material, but also the content created by other crochet teachers we love and respect is very much appreciated.  If we want our crochet knowledge to grow, to ensure our crochet teachers are inspired to come up with fresh and exciting crochet classes, then we must do all that we can to honor copyright and integrity. 

Thank you for your understanding & your loyal support.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quick Memories of ChainLink (Fall) 2011

Lens-Eye View of the 2011 Fall ChainLink Fashion Show
Did ChainLink in Greensboro, NC, fly by that fast? How sad, it did. It REALLY did! The drive to Greensboro, NC, from Connecticut seemed like an enjoyable drive through the countryside. I barely noticed it took nearly 11 hours ...  That was Tuesday.

I slept in on Wednesday, missing Professional Development Day.  But I was OK with this -- so was Doris.  She quickly scooped me up to help prepare entries for the CGOA Design Contest judging ... afterwards I went to teach Pushmi~Pullyu to a most inspiring group of hookers/crocheters I've yet to teach this class to!

On Thursday I was just as busy, meeting  new attendees, and teaching my Tunision 101 and Crochet 101 classes.  I kept them all in line with my huge Jenkins, size U/25mm, Tunisian hook (I'm joking! lol) ... if you want one for yourself, click here for his website.

On Friday it was time for me to tap into my inner Trekkie-ness (fans of the television show Star Trek get this; lol), and teach my Link Me Up, Scottie class.  I loved how my students pushed the envelope and went "where no hook has gone before," creating some new-to-me stitch designs.  You go girls -- and may your stitches "live long and prosper!"

That afternoon Doris once again recruited me as I was browsing the Vendors Market, treating myself to some funky yarn and jaw-droppin' purdy buttons.  This would be my first time volunteering behind the curtain --  I was responsible for music and photographing the beautiful crochet fashions as they were hot off the catwalk. It was soooo much fun!!  I loved how all the models cooperated with some of  my zany posing requests, such as posing like "Charlie's Angels" ... Of course you need to go to Doris' blog to see Vashti sorta, uh, um, expecting ... yeah, you gotta go see that!  (Yes, I said you need to go to Doris' blog; try the link I posted earlier!)

On Saturday I had my students venture into bi-stitchual-ness by Crocheting Your Knit.   They did amazing!  That night I kidnapped Margaret Hubert & Joan Davis and ventured outside of the hotel for dinner at PF Changs where I met a lady who could pass as the twin of one of my nieces!

During the evenings I spent time with new & old friends, those from afar, and those who were locals.  I love how we are all able to bond over the love of crochet!

Sunday came way too fast & it was time to venture home again.  I'm already making plans for next year.  How about you?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Up for a Road Trip?

Next week I'll be headed down to North Carolina to teach classes at the Fall Knit & Crochet Show -- I'm so excited.  Will you be going too?

Unfortunately, there's a schedule conflict -- I can't be in two places at once.  And this is true for several of my CGOA Chapter members as well.  If you are planning on going to The Big E to visit us on Connecticut Day, please note, for the first time since 2002, we will not be there.  The Fall Knit & Crochet Show takes place the same time The Big E fair opens!  Maybe this gives more reasoning that cloning could be useful ... I'mjustsaying....

It also means I did not enter any items into their judging ... but my son, Dee Jr., did!  If you go, keep an eye out for these photographs:  praying mantis, dock, and summer storm:

This is his second time entering his photography into competition; I'm really proud of him! For a 12-year old kid, I think he has a great eye!  Now, if only I can get him to take photos of all the yarn & crochet projects I need ...   If you'd like to see more of his work, click here.

Also at The Big E, check out the demonstrations being offered by artisian Crista Grasso of ... she'll be there on September 24th in the New England State Building. Crista taught my Chapter how to create beautiful beaded stitch markers last year!

If you're not at The Big E then I'm hoping you'll be at the Knit & Crochet Show with me!  :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eighth Annual "60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge"

Wow; where did summer go??  It seems one moment I was taking the kids camping, and the next was back to school shopping.  What happened to the time in~between! 

While I can't explain why time seems to fly when one is having fun, I can announce that it is time for the Eighth Annual "60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge!"  Can you believe it?!!!  This is our EIGHTH year of sharing warmth & love to our local communities with handmade scarves from the heart!

If you've never participated, you'll be amazed at how easy it is.  All you need to do is hand-craft one (or more!) scarves from September 1st through November 30th and then tell us who you will be donating your scarf to.  If you are a member of Ravelry, you can join in on the conversations & growing counts by clicking here.  If you are not a member of Ravelry, you can leave your count in the comments of this blog post.  At the end of November all the scarves are counted for a grand total!

Do you need to ship your scarf/scarves anywhere?  No.  Not unless you want to.  The idea is that this Challenge is to help our local communities -- many of which are in dire need!

Do you need to use a special pattern?  No.  Not unless you want to.  And if you do, if the designer asks for credit, please remember to give it.  Otherwise, you can learn a new stitch, or create your own pattern!  All while putting a little dent in the ever-growing yarn stash!

Do you need to crochet it?  Well, yes, it you want to.  Or you can knit it.  Or even weave it.  As long as it is crafted by human hands then it counts!  If memory serves me correctly I saw a macramed scarf in a LYS not too long ago, so if  you want to macrame a scarf out of soft, yummy yarn, then go for it!!   :)

Do you have to make 60 scarves?  There have been many who have tried -- some made the goal, and some didn't.  This is a Challenge that some take up as a personal one, or as a local group, or to have their single scarf added to everyone else's to help the numbers add up!  It's like filling up a bucket a drop at a time; each drop counts -- and eventually the bucket will fill, and usually with this Challenge, it will overfill!  Isn't that great?!?

Can you create a "60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge" in your local community?  ABSOLUTELY!  Why keep all the fun to ourselves, right?  I know of several groups working together to see if they can create 60 scarves -- or more -- for their local community.  The fun is seeing if your group can meet or beat the Challenge.

OK, what are you waiting for?  Your yarn is a'callin' ...

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Thought to Chew On

Weird Stuff to Crochet With...
I am always amazed to learn what people are willing to crochet with: cassette & vhs tape, telephone wire, spaghetti, hair, and admittedly (here on my blog), I've tried crocheting with toilet paper, licorice, and yarn with bird feathers.

I had also thought that the future possibility of crocheting with silk spun by spiders would be interesting, but never had I ventured in thinking those wads stuck under tables, or under the soles of my shoes, would be crochetable ... until after reading this thread on the CLF Ravelry Forum  ...

Yes, now we have another thought to chew on, or rather, to crochet with:

Of course, it's just a matter of time until Lady GaGa calls her to chew up some unique design for wearing to an awards ceremony celebrating her bubble-licious-ness ... I'm just saying ...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Growing Up

It is so easy to get caught up in the details of daily life ... sometimes too easy.  It is when we have time to reflect that we realize just how fast, and precious, time is.  This week my sweet Mini~Dee graduated from the eighth grade.  Is it possible that much time has passed since she was pinned by Gwen Blakley-Kinsler, founder of the CGOA?  (see photo on right that I borrowed from Casey's website, Wow!

Although I did not crochet anything for her to wear to her school dance, or for her graduation, I did create some of the jewelry she wore, such as the pieces she's wearing here in this pre-graduation photo:  

Eighth Grade was a year of transition for her: starting a new school, taking the bus for the first time, making new friends, and more!  Although she struggled at first, she took each challenge head-on and worked her way back onto Honor Roll. We are very proud of her!  She even turned some of her new friends into fans of Sheep & Wool Festivals!

To my Mini~Dee, and to all of her graduated friends from her old school, and her new, I say CONGRATULATIONS!  ... and let's take the next four years a bit slower, OK?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crocheters Mourn Legend

Today crocheters learned the sad news of crochet legend Jean Leinhauser's passing.Rita Weiss and Jean Leinhauser, 2008  Jean is one of three in the "Old Broads Rule" exclusive club; the other two members are Rita Weiss (pictured with Jean on the right), and Margaret Hubert.  This was an exclusive club they enjoyed; to be a member you had to have been in the publishing business for as long as them!

I first "met" Jean at a local craft store where I purchased my first crochet book on baby afghans -- with her name on the cover.  I had always wondered who she was; it wasn't until a few years later, once I went "public" with my crochet and joined the online movement, that I joined Crochet Partners, then a private group with its own website.  Shortly thereafter, when the group was moved to Yahoo! (where it still flourishes today) did I learn she owned the group!

I finally had the honor of meeting Jean in person in 2005 at a CGOA "Chain Link" Conference, and looked forward to seeing her at every Conference I attended thereafter. Jean will be honored and remembered at the upcoming CGOA Conference being held in Minneapolis as the first member inducted into of the Crocheters Hall of Fame.   She will be greatly missed!

To learn more about Jean, please read the interview on The Crochet Insider:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Question from Reader: Greek Filet Crochet??

Dear Dee,

I've recently been on holiday in Kefallonia, a Greek island and while I was there I saw an old Greek lady doing some sort of crochet. I don't speak Greek; she didn't speak English so I couldn't understand what she was telling me but basically it looked like Filet Crochet with one end of her work tied to a chair and the other end had 2 or 3 stitches on it, attached to what looked like a metal rod in her left hand and this was pulled to keep her work tight. She worked through these stitches with what looked like a long needle with an elongated eye and cotton threaded through it, using her right hand. I would love to know what this technique is and am currently trawling the internet to find out what it is. Maybe it's just a local craft? Cynthia from the UK

Dear Cynthia,
What a great question!

I believe, based upon your description, what you observed while on vacation is a technique called "Locker Hooking." This involves having a mesh fabric (yes, the mesh certainly could be crocheted if you wanted), with a "needled crochet hook" (a crochet hook with a hole at the end) to pull yarn or material up into the space, then secured once the yarn attached to the hook is pulled through. The end product has a very similiar look -- yet a bit different -- to those woven on an actual loom. The specialized crochet/locker hooks can be found in some craft/yarn shops, and online such as at and at Amazon. There are also books available such as the one I own, called: "Hook, Loop 'n' Lock: Create Fun and Easy Locker Hooked Projects.  Your local library may have additional references available.

Check out this video I found on YouTube:; I believe it will be the technique you observed while on holiday.

And, for the record,  I do think of the Locker Hooking technique as a hybrid between crochet & weaving, much as I think the Tunisian technique is a hybrid between crochet & knit. 

Thank you for writing in! :)

ETA:  If you're interested, there is a  small group on Ravelry for this technique:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jelly Makes it Sweeter

When my daughter came to me the night before a class field trip for a band competition at a local amusement park she was panicked.  She stated she needed a new beach bag.  Naturally I did what many parents would do: yell at your child for sharing this information at the very last minute, and then proceed to pull a miracle out of thin air.  In this case I knew I did not have enough time to crochet a bag for her, so, with little sewing experience I decided to get my machine out and see what I could create.  Considering I had no pattern, or expert advise, I put the pedal to the metal, powered through and managed to create a cute bag for her with breaking just one sewing machine needle.

Of course, after all the hugs & thanks, there was a promise for better timing in the future -- but we all know Murphy's Law needs to be factored in...

Yesterday, after my CGOA Chapter's monthly meeting, we went shopping for my daughter's Middle School Graduation gift -- a Polaroid Waterproof Digital Camera.  Once we got home and opened the packaging we discovered the camera did not have a camera strap/leash.  Oh no!  This would mean for her class field trip she would need to hold the camera in her hand the entire day.  Not wanting to trust Murphy's Law, I decided she needed a waterproof camera case that she could wear on her wrist.

Using Jelly Yarn's "Super Fine" black yarn, and crocheting into the wee hours of the morning, I designed this great little waterproof camera wrist bag waiting for her that was ready when she woke up this morning.  She was thrilled, and said the bag worked out great today during her class trip to Holiday Hill. 

With a week left of school, I'm hoping this is the end of last minute projects.  I need some sleep!  LOL

Monday, June 6, 2011

Crochet Machines?

I took some time off to enjoy some time with my mother and my Grammie Gloria over the past few weeks; what a good time we had!  :)

Prior to that I started going through my many, many emails -- I am amazed at how many inquiries for information on crochet machines I have received!  I had left a quick blurb on my facebook account promising to address this topic here just as soon as I could, so let's discuss this topic today.

Crochet Machines: do they exist? 

The answer is Yes.  And the answer is No

The first thing we need to address is the definition of crochet.  As crocheters, or rather as "human crocheters," we define crochet as the act of using a single tool with a notch at the end to pull one loop through another, creating one stitch at a time.  It is a simple definition, and for human hands with some experience, it is (mostly) a simple action to do.

Many knitting machines that exist today "knit" with a multitude of 'sticks with a notch at the end' to create the fabric by interlocking many loops/stitches at a time.  This is not crochet.  This is knit.  And, these machines can be purchased for the home (simplified & affordable) and for the factories (huge & complex, and expensive!).

If you Google or Bing "crochet machines" on the Internet, you will find links to companies selling what they claim are actual crochet machines.  However, if you look at the images of the finished products the machines create it is not in fact crochet.  There are machines on the market that can create very simplistic crochet stitches, such as the crochet chain, and, based upon a discussion in the Crochet Partners group on Yahoo, it would be used for finishing touches found on items like curtains.  These simplistic machines used for this purpose cost in excess of $10,000 US -- each!

The truth is, as simple as crochet can be for the human hands, it is too complex for machines to replicate.  All those crochet goods you see in the retail stores were indeed manufactured BY HUMAN HANDS.  The reason it is so inexpensive (aka, cheap) is because those human hands (& their owners) reside in third world countries. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Hand-Crocheted" ...

While I'm still struggling with getting regular online access, I did want to take a moment to thank the television program "E!" for saying something correctly:  They were discussing various spring/summer fashions when one of the models came out wearing an open-work crocheted vest over a (regular) bikini.  The announcer noted all the details about what the model was wearing, and included the words, "hand-crocheted" when mentioning the vest.

Of course I knew what "hand-crocheted" meant, and I'm pretty sure you do too.  But does the public?  I doubt it.  IMHO, there isn't enough emphasis placed on items created by human hands. 

If a genie granted me a wish (OK, if a genie granted me several wishes -- because we all know I'd ask to have my online woes taken care of immediately!), I think I'd ask for merchandise to be better labeled -- where a big hang-tag states where the item was made AND have another tag (maybe in the shape of a human hand?) saying, "This garment was entirely created (crocheted!) by human hands."  Until that happens, I'm loving the "Hand-Crocheted" wording.

The question rolling around in my mind is: If we're willing to pay more for hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries, then why is it not a crime to pay $6.99 for a huge "hand-crocheted" market bag?  Is it because we don't see labels stating such?

What are your thoughts on this?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Greetings Earthlings!

Yes, I feel as though I have been a journey of a million miles to nowhere.  This was the worst winter on record (could we get any more snow?  No, seriously?) which knocked out our power and phone lines more times than I can count.  Then came the food poisoning, and well, let's just say it was all down hill from there.  I even missed my Birthday Week Extravaganza last month!  Oy!

On the bright side, I am feeling better (just down to a pesky cough which should be gone soon!) and still working on a vision problem.  But things are looking good (pun intended).  I've even managed to crochet a small handle for a basket!  (That's a huge milestone here!).

My online time is extremely limited right now, so I will be checking in when I can.  In the meantime, please share with me how you are celebrating National Crochet Month!  I'd love to know what you have planned!  :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

...And the Winner is ...

I would like to thank everyone who participated in my Anniversary Celebration.  I greatly enjoyed reading everyone's Crochet Wish Lists -- it was amazing to see so many listing Tunisian Crochet as one of your seven crochet techniques that you would like to learn.  Fortunately I can help you with that come this September at the Knit & Crochet Show that will take place in Greensboro, NC ... be sure to mark your calendars! 

It was also interesting to read many participants are not CGOA members but expressed an interest in joining.  I wonder, what is stopping you?  Why not take the plunge, join, and discover what I find so special about this Crochet Organization?  And why not join with a friend, perhaps gifting her/him with a membership too?
Giving a CGOA GIFT MEMBERSHIP is very easy -- CGOA memberships include 6 issues of Crochet! magazine plus all the regular member benefits of the Crochet Guild of America.   Want more reasons on why to join?  Check out the top 10 Reasons to Join!

I am pleased to announce the winner of my drawing for the one-year membership to the CGOA:

Congratulations Carol, and once again, thank you to everyone for participating, making this a wonderful way for me to celebrate 7 years of blogging about crochet, and celebrating my 10th Anniversary of being a CGOA member.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Question From Reader: Nuns Crochet Hook

I just came across an old wooden crochet hook, size K, with the name "Nuns" on the side. It must have belonged to my grandmother. Are you familiar with this brand? And do you know when it might have been made?
Marcia of Brookfield

Dear Marcia,
Thank you for the wonderful question! You have led me on a fun quest to learn more about your grandmother's crochet hook!  I have never seen a Nun's hook in person, so I was very intrigued!
Photo of Nun's Crochet Hook by Marcia.
Your crochet hook comes from T. Buettner & Co. Inc., well known for the "Nun's" branding, that was in business from the mid 1880s until its reported dissolving in 1960. The company was located in Chicago, Illinois, and specialized in the importing and manufacturing of goods for crocheting, embroidery, knitting, spool knitting and the likes.  Many companies, like the T. Buettner company, published their own patterns to help support the sales of their thread & yarn lines, so it is no surprise they also offered their own line of crochet hooks.

1926 T. Buettner & Co. ad for Nuns
"Boilproof" Embroidery & Crochet Cotton
The original owners, two brothers by the name of Emil and Ernest Buettner, seemed to have been immigrants from Germany; I am not sure why they came to America, but it is during the time period where there was a huge influx of Russian-Germans settling in that part of the country. The business was successful  to the point where they were able to hold dual residences in America and Germany.  (And their business took up three addresses in Chicago!)  Many of the items they sold from their American company reportedly came from Germany. As a side note, I noticed a lot of labels for their "boilproof" threads and yarns were stamped with "Made in Switzerland!"  

Your crochet hook is stamped with the letter "K;" this means that the hook was created for American use, regardless of where it was made.  If it were crafted for European use, it would have been stamped with a metric size. Unfortunately I am not able to figure out when -- or where -- your grandmothers Nun's crochet hook was created.   Readers, do you know more information about the Nun's Crochet Hooks?  If so, do tell!  :)
Websites to visit for more information: 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Now That's Just Creepy!

Oh, those things that are never more than 6 feet away from us -- no matter where we are.  We're talking those silent creepy crawlers, most of which spin webs -- spiders! 

In  2009 a unique cloth was created by "milking" over one million "wild" golden orb spiders -- taking some 70 people, and 4 years to do so -- to create an 11x4 foot textile (it was on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City).  The fabric is reported to be very elastic and so strong it is is compared to steel!  They call it "spider silk."  You can read the 2009 article, as well as see the "spid-y" fabric here.

And this is not the first time spider silk has been woven into a textile!  The first time, based upon the AMNH Video, was in the early 1900s, with the completed work placed on exhibit in Paris. Since that time the textile was lost!

Now, as reported in the January 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, scientists at the University of Notre Dame, and at the University of Wyoming, are genetically engineering silkworms to incorporate spider DNA to make "super-strong silk."  My guess they're looking to make the spider silk more affordable by being able to mass produce it through the use of silkworms.

My question is, what if they mess up like they did with the bees?   What are your thoughts on this?  Would you crochet or knit with spider silk?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Question From Reader: Double Ended Crochet Hooks???

What does one do with a double ended circular crochet hook? A.C. Moore carries one by Susan Bates for $9.95 and I have this great 50% off coupon. I've perused EVERY Tunesian crochet book in the store and there is no mention of using this type of hook ! The websites for Susan Bates etc. don't even mention or show it...hhmmm.. I can't think of anything with which to use this other than Tunesian crochet. Any ideas? Pictures? Projects using this type of hook? Ginger in Greenville

Dear Ginger, What a great question!!

The reason your Tunisian crochet books do not mention the double-ended crochet hook is because the hook in not part of the Tunisian technique.  Well, it is, kindasorta, but it isn't really considered a part of it.  I say "kindasorta" because if you know how to do Tunisian, you'll pick up the Crochet on the Double technique in a heartbeat!  On the other hand, if you know how to Crochet on the Double, then you'll pick up the Tunisian technique in a heartbeat.  They're that similar, yet, still different enough to be considered unique crochet techniques.  :)

The idea behind double-ended crochet hooks is that you can use different colored yarns, and/or textured yarns, to create beautiful crochet fabrics/projects.  You may want to check out the book 101 Double Ended Hook Stitches for some inspiration; your local library may have it available for loan.

At the moment,  my "on the go" project is a scarf I'm working up with some yarn that has been sitting in my stash for ages.  Not having enough of each color to create a single project is what kept this yarn from being utilized.  I have found combining them together using the double-ended crochet technique marries these two colors together beautifully: one side will be more "orange," and the other will show more "blue."  The gold running through both yarns pulls it all together.  (Side Note:  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)
Take a look at the crochet hooks (pictured on the left) I am currently using -- test driving actually.  These are prototypes ...sweet, sweet, prototypes, I might add-- hand-turned by Tom of   Yummy looking, right?  These hooks are not on the market -- yet -- but the knitting needles are.  You can go here for the Ravelry discussion.  Keep watching my blog, I'll be discussing these hooks more in-depth soon!

I hope this helps, Ginger.  Now, go out and try this double-ended crochet technique.  It's pretty cool -- and, if you haven't already, consider entering into my CGOA One-Year Membership Drawing:)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Crochet Cover-Up on Wall Street

As a former "day trader" I got huge chuckles when the story of a crochet cover-up on Wall Street hit the news. And that's no bull. Well, actually, it kindasorta is...

On Christmas Eve, Agata Olek set out to cover the well known Wall Street Icon, the charging bronze bull that was created by Arturo di Modica. You can read the story here, and also watch the magic unfold below. And you can check out more of Olek's interesting crochet works here.  Want to know why she did it?  Read her blog entry here.

I love this sort of "yarn bombing!"  :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Yarn!!

The start of a New Year is always a good time to take stock of all that is good in our lives, as well as to make resolutions for what we hope to accomplish for the year.  ‎2011 will be my third year in reducing my yarn stash; many items for charity will be crocheted. Of course, with the kids liking the needle-felting, I can't say my roving stash will share the same fate.

The start of 2011 also means, that in just two short weeks, I will be starting my SEVENTH year in blogging about my crochet/yarn adventures, AND it will be my TENTH year of being a CGOA member.  In researching my very first post, it wasn't much.  But then again -- it was.  It was Ruth Arbitelle, one of my devoted crochet students who repeatedly asked me to share more about my crochet adventures.  At the time blogging was still fairly new and I didn't know much about it.  I decided to jump in and see where it would lead; the journey has been wonderful.  I am sure Ruth is smiling down from heaven, happy I'm still blogging (and probably wishing I'd update more often! lol).

To celebrate these milestones, I decided to have a drawing!

The rules are simple:
1. Entries accepted from now until January 14, 2011, midnight, eastern time, by leaving comments at this Blog entry.
2. List seven  things about crochet you'd like to learn.  If you're not sure, visit my "Types & Techniques" page on my website,, for some ideas.
3. Include if you are a CGOA member or not.
4. Leave a way for me to contact you should your name be drawn as the winner.  If I can't reach you, I'll need to have another name drawn.  Winner will be announced on January 15th; the winner will receive a One-Year Membership to the CGOA!
I wish you all a happy, healthy, crochet-filled New Year!  :)