Monday, May 14, 2012

Fake Crochet

Want a closer look at "machine-made crochet?" Click onto image to enlarge.

I think it is amazing the amount of curiosity around "machine made crochet."  I have discussed this topic here several times, the last time being last summer: Crochet Machines?

Here it is, nearly a year later from that last blog post, and nothing has changed.  Crochet still remains one of the last fiber-art forms that must be made by human hands.  This means those little doilies you see in the craft stores for a dollar, to garments at Walmart to Macy's, they are all made by human hands -- NOT by machine.

The closest I've ever found is an oval table cloth, made of plastic, with the crochet pineapple motif stamped on it (see picture above).  I have owned this table cloth for about 10 (or more) years, and of yet to ever see another in-person.  From time to time I will bring it to crochet demonstrations I volunteer for to show the closest I've ever seen what a machine can produce. It's fake.  Want to see other samples of fake crochet?  Go to, click onto "images" and then search for "pvc crochet table cloth."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Measuring Up

Mini~Dee models "Delta Lace Topper"
at HHCC Monthly Meeting.
A few days ago I finished hand-crocheting a Delta Lace Topper, designed by Karen Whooley; her pattern is featured in the booklet, "Delta Lace Crochet."  Although I modified the pattern (I added a few increases to make it slightly larger, added one additional row, and changed the collar), it was a lot of fun to do -- seductively so.  [[All the details, including my notes I took about the project as I went along can be seen on my Ravelry projects page here.]]

The initial plan was to use all three hanks of the Jade yarn I blogged about last month. It turns out I had more than enough of the lighter color of Jade that I didn't need to blend in the darker.  This means I have one full "Jade" left, and one partially used.  Unfortunately, I don't know how much of the partially used remains.  This could be a problem when deciding upon a future project with this most-delicious yarn.

I decided to give my yarn meter a run for its money.  I took the meter out of the box, found it easy to set up, and within minutes (while rewinding the leftover yarn into a new yarn cake) I knew exactly how much yarn I had left: 465 feet.  I then converted the feet into yards: 155 yards.  [[1 foot = 0.333333333 yards]]  Wow!  What a handy little tool!
Yarn Meters are Needed by Crocheters too!
**Crochet hook by, featured on my HooksNStitches blog here.

What else can I learn with this gadget?  I decided to rewind the darker Jade.  The label states that it is 420 yards.  Knowing yarn is really sold by weight and not by length, I wondered just how close I'd come to the 420 yards.  As I hand-cranked the yarn winder, it wasn't long until I had my measurement: 1065 feet.  This converted to 355 yards.  A difference of 65 yards!!!  That's huge!! While I am not surprised that I actually got less yardage as I understand the darker the yarn, the more dye it takes, thus throwing off the yarn weight -- I was very surprised the number was this high.  Now I'm wishing I had pre-measured the length of the lighter Jade before I started my project.  What would it have shown? 

The clever meter is a product of NNK: -- there are various local yarn shops selling it.  It retails for about $49 - $55, a bit pricey to be considered a crocheter's "toy," but as a working tool, I think it is well worth the investment.  Going forward, this 'lil device will be out of its box to measure yarn as I wind it from hank to cake (or ball), and then when I'm done with a project to determine how much yarn remains.

Of course, if you feel you need an electronic version of this yarn meter, one does exist.  On NNK's site it currently retails for $269, and includes a sleep mode after five minutes of inactivity.  I'm not sure I'm ready for an electric version, but it is super cool looking.  :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Best 25th Anniversary Gift - Evah!

Applewood crochet hook will make a full recovery.
This month marks the 25th year Mr Dee and I are together.  I don't think he had a clue back when he asked me out on that first date that his life (and home!) would eventually be consumed by crochet.  No, back then, I was working full-time while going to school full-time; every three months escaping reality by taking mini-holidays over extended weekends for some RnR.  Other days he helped fill my world with rides on his motorcycle, impromptu picnics, encouraging me to wind surf, and of course the snow skiing...

I know what you're thinking: "What's with the picture, Dee?  That's not so romantic!"

Oh, but isn't it??

When you spend 25 years with someone you get to know what pleases them most.  I was crushed -absolutely so! - when I opened my project bag and found my Brainsbarn custom crochet hook, crafted out of applewood from our own back yard -- broken!  I really love this crochet hook.

Mr Dee saw how distressed I was.  He said he, "...could rebuild him ... [he] has the technology..."  Yes, cue the theme music from the popular 1970s television show, The Six Million Dollar Man.  My hook was broken in half.  I put my trust in him and handed the hook over.

Late last night Mr Dee told me I could see my hook, that it will recover from this most unfortunate accident.  I was so happy.  This man, regardless of the many times he's tripped over my vast yarn stash, or had to push a project aside on the sofa so he could sit down, has been dragged to conferences, and volunteered to appear in a crochet video ...  just smiles through it all, knowing it makes me happy.  I am thrilled my hook has been repaired.  Now that I know he's a skilled crochet hook surgeon, I have a few more patients for him.  But that can wait; we have an anniversary to celebrate.  :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"The Truth is Out There" ... 7.00 mm

On May 1st I mentioned ID tags that I had purchased at the Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival -- and I noted that there seemed to be a problem with having a complete set.  After receiving a few inquires for more information, I decided to post what information I have here:
Crochet Hook by; See blog entry "Jaded" for yarn info.

How one could have been lost: After purchasing the ID tags, as I started to walk away from the booth, somehow one of the ID packages had slipped out of my bag of goodies, spilling onto the floor.  ID's went everywhere.  Since the package did not state it contains X number of IDs, I had no idea how many I should be searching for on the floor, including under the many feet of other attendees.  Once I got home I inspected the bag and noticed the side seam of the ID packaging was never factory sealed.  So the missing tag could have been from me not seeing it on the floor, or it could have been lost somewhere between India (location of manufacture) and the LYS that sold it to me.  No matter how you look at it, it is a lost ID tag.

The other "missing" tag I think is more direct in being a manufacturing/packaging issue.  On the KnitPicks website, they show the ID tags as a package of 12 ID's:  3.50 mm, 3.75 mm, 4.00 mm, 4.50 mm, 5.00 mm, 5.50 mm, 6.00 mm, 6.50 mm, 8.00 mm, 9.00 mm, 10.00 mm, and 12.00 mm.  However, based upon merging my two packages together, there's really a "baker's dozen" of sizes available. A "baker's dozen" means 13.  The 13th size is 7.00 mm (U.S.10 3/4).

Giorgio A. Tsoukalos stated on one of the Ancient Aliens shows (currently airing on the History 2 channel) that the measuring of distance and time in segments of 12 may have come from aliens, which I take from that it was humans who developed the metric system.  Crochet hooks have long been measured by metric sizes up until their arrival to the US.  ((does this mean it was aliens responsible for changing the sizing of US hooks to numbers and letters, thus solving the mystery on how the U.S. numbering/lettering sizing all got started???  Has the mystery finally been solved??))

Questioning this further, the Craft Yarn Council's guide on knitting needles & crochet hooks shown on their page has nothing listed for size 7.00 mm crochet hooks or knitting needles. I love the CYCA; they're trying to regulate the craft so we can all play from the same playbook.  Still, I have to wonder why would they not have anything listed for 7.00 mm??  Perhaps I should ask *Fox Mulder what he thinks. (*reference to the X-files tv show that aired during the 1990s).  Or I could act like Dana Skully, applying scientific reasoning to this issue simply by emailing KnitPicks for an explaination.  But where's the fun in that?  lol

Will that extra size ID tag go to waste?  I don't think so.  With so many of my crochet hooks hand-turned, I'm sure it will come in handy, representing a hook or two in my collection.  And, along with my new Hook Size Gauge device (also mentioned on May 1st), the 7.00 mm size does exist, so "the truth is out there."  All you need to do is measure it. :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Crocheter Says "Buh Bye, Hokey Pokey"

There will be no more hokey pokey for me, or rather, for my crochet hooks.  Oh you know exactly what I mean!  ... it's when you put the right foot crochet hook in, take the right foot crochet hook out, put the right foot crochet hook in and shake it all about ...

Yes, I'm talking exactly that!  No more using gauges meant to measure knitting needles for my crochet hooks.  I am sure you are familiar with my frustration -- the trying to jam various crochet hooks into those holes the pointy knitting needles have no trouble navigating.  Whereas crochet hooks, with the various sized heads, well, I can tell horror stories that can make a sheep's fleece curl in fear!

Crochet Hook Size Gauge by
My pups (I can say that as many of my crochet hooks are "Graydog" hooks) have a new measuring tool and it is dee-vine!  For those that want to liberate their crochet hooks from the knitter's gauge, I found it on; don't forget, if you're a CGOA member to get your 15% discount!)  The beauty is that all I need to do is slide the crochet hook down, with extreme ease, to determine a crochet hook's true size.  As a collector, and heavy user of custom crochet hooks, this will become the most valuable tool in my crochet-toolbox!  ((As of the writing of this blog entry, I have a hook measuring guide on order with Turn of the Century.  I'm sure it will work in the same fashion as the one I have pictured here.)) 

If you use mass-produced crochet hooks, you might be thinking you are in no need of such a wonderful gadget.  And nothing could be further from the truth!  Mass-produced crochet hooks have the exact same issue. -- take some Susan Bates crochet hooks from different manufacturing locations and give them a good measuring.  You'll find they vary! Even from manufacturer to manufacturer, the hook sizes differ!   Think that crochet hook is circular in diameter?  What if it isn't? What if its slightly elliptical?  Yep, this tool will help you determine your crochet hook's true size.  I like that. I like it a lot!

Dee's customized ID Tags to use on Crochet Projects.
To help me in this quest of being more accurate with my crochet hook sizing on various projects, I decided to take the ID tags I purchased at the CT Sheep & Wool this past Saturday, and turn them into beaded stitch markers.  (On a side note, I was disappointed both sets of ID tags were incomplete; I had to combine the two packages to create a single set of ID tags. I'm not sure who is at fault, the seller or the manufacturer.)  Using beads from my stash, and in the color theme of my CGOA Chapter (Purple, Gold & Silver), I came up with these.  Now, when I pull a hook from a given project to work on another -- or when one needs to go into surgery because someone, not naming names here, snapped one in half -- I can tag the project to make it easier to resume the project at a future date.  I'm liking this a lot too.

With tools like these to make my crocheting so much easier, I just might opt to start doing the Ma-, Ma-, Ma-, Ma-, Ma-, Ma-, Macarena ...