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 www.knittingglassguy.com.  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.   ;)