Tag Archives: crochet tools

Blog of the Week 7.23.2013

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Good evening, Gentle Readers!

As promised, I’m back to highlight a blog that, in some way or another, strikes my fancy and shows us an exceptional personality.

This week, allow me to introduce those of you who don’t already know her, to a richly talented and deeply loving woman named, “Mtetar.”

Steeped in an emotional and religious Faith that I can only hope to achieve a fraction of in my life time, Mtetar’s blog entertains us with project tutorials, mostly for children, and stories of family and Faith.  She and her lovely side kick, her grand daughter, paint, sew, read, write and count (among other things!) their way through life together, in such a way that teaches and delights this jaded soul, and leaves me feeling that we, as a species, just might make it after all.

Do stop in and say, “Hello,” to these two talented, loving ladies, and enjoy the blog and its stories and crafts tutorials. If you’re anything like me, you’ll leave with a fresh, upbeat outlook, and instilled with a level of peace and inspiration that will make your day.

Be Blessed, Mtetar, for you are truly a Blessing!

New Feature! “Etsy Shop of the Week!”

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Hi there!

I think it’s time to introduce a new feature to my little space on the web.  Let’s go shopping!

Here, I’ll post a shop in Etsy that I like, that looks like it has something for those of you out there that frequent my pages.  It might be a needlework shop, or crafts, or gardening…it’s all in the air at the moment!

For today, let’s look to my blog roll and start with my friends.  For today, let’s start with G-Ma Ellen!

Ellen’s a wonderful gal, who has a few great crochet patterns up in her shop..it looks like she sold everything else out for now!  Drop her a line and tell her it’s time to restock!

My favorite pattern from her is her Open Shell Cowl pattern. This lovely pattern is so easy and fast, and so customizable, I’ve flown through making something like six of them. I LOVE this cowl!  Isn’t this a beauty?

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I love the details.  Feminine without being too frou-frou, this can be a casual neck warmer, or made to dress up in.  It’s all in the yarn with this beautiful piece.

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Ellen also has a pattern for a delightful Wine Bottle Cozy/Caddy in a stunning yet casual shell lace, perfect for bringing a bottle of bubbly to a picnic, or for gifting a special friend with their favorite Merlot.

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I’ll bet this would even dress up a little girl’s cream soda bottle when she has her friends over for a party!

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So…for now, stop in and visit Ellen. She’s cool!

Thanks for looking! And, stay tuned…next week, along with the shop of the week, I think I’d like to start shining a sweet, bright light on some of the really awesome blogs I read all the time.

Heads up, Friends…you’re next!

Two VERY Special Crochet Hooks

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Gentle Readers, you have just got to see the newest hooks I received from Dot Dot Smile!  If you remember, this is the Etsy shop that I ordered the cool clown hook, the awesome clown cow hook, my sweet, sleepy swan hook, and the Dr. Who Tardis knitting needles, which my sister is totally enamored with.

Kellie didn’t let me down this time, either.  This time, I asked for aluminum knitting needles with little turtles on top, for my sister, and Kellie delivered.

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Aren’t they the sweetest little turtles?  She even got the flowers on their heads to match the needle color!

I also asked her to try a real challenge…and Kelli said, “Bring it on!”  Working only from pictures I sent to her, Kellie made perfect replicas of my beloved sidekicks, Chauncey and Earl.

Yes!!!  My babies are permanently mirrored in polymer clay.  The details are astounding!

The mini-boys arrived beautifully packaged, as usual…

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Even in the packages, you can see that the details are amazing.  Kellie got the colors down perfectly!

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Chauncey’s grip is fun and care free, just like Chauncey, and Earl’s grip matches all of his colors.

Now, check out the incredible details this lady laid into these art pieces…in clay!  Oh, my gosh, those perfect little toes!!!

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Sizes are clearly marked, and just as much fun as the colors…

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Lovin’ the sparkle in their tribal blings!

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Chauncey has his cable needle thing, and Earl has his mini crochet hook.  Seriously, the details are stunning.

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Kellie even got their pins!!!

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How talented do you have to be to lay a tiny safety pin into the head of a crochet hook, in clay!

Now, you ask, “How do the boys like their, “portraits?”  Well, I introduced them, and they looked at them closely.

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Then they looked at me and said,  “They’re little US-es!”

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Earl, a little wary, asked, “We can keep these?”

Chauncey, almost never wary, loudly proclaimed, “MINEMINEMINEMIIIINE!!!!!”

I, in my most indulgent voice, assured them, “Yes, Boys, you can keep them with you.”

Chauncey, who was not expecting this, said, “Really?  For really, we can keep them?”

Like I said, Chauncey is almost never wary.

The party ensued, with lots and lots of running in circles and playing face-splat, bopping up and down, singing, “We can keep them, we can keep them!” and discovering the unparalleled wonders of bubble wrap, which they’re still playing with.

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I finally got them to calm down, with the promise of wearing their new, “Mini-Us-es” for the camera..and the promise of letting them go back to the, “poppie paper.” 

And here they are, my little side kicks, with their wonderful new hooks.   They’re a portrait in polymer, lovingly crafted by an artist named, Kellie.  

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The boys hang out now, with the little boys riding their…er…backs?  Heads?  Whatever, they won’t part with them just yet.  I suppose I’ll actually get to crochet something with them one of these days.  

And, Miss Kellie, some day when I have monies, I’m coming in to your shop to go bananas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Is The Way We Felt a Hook, Felt a Hook, Felt a Hook!

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I’m baaaa-aaack!  Just like a poltergeist tangled in yards and yards of brightly colored yarns…I am back.

And I missed you!

It’s been a little weird here.  Not bad!  Just…quiet.  I’ve been busy, of course, stitching, dreaming, reading blogs, and endlessly wandering, collecting crochet patterns.  I even learned a new stitch or two, thanks to “Mikey’s” You Tube channel, and found a wealth of tutorial videos on Bob Wilson 123’s You Tube channel.

From Mikey, I learned this great “crinkle stitch,” for making a textured, dense fabric, perfect for sweaters, coats, rugs, blankets…anything you can think of.  He’s also got the tutorial video up for this stitch, for lefties!  Woo-Hoo!  We GO, Lefties!

From New Stitch a Day, I found the sweetest
single crochet stitch variation.  Very simple and basic, it adds a cool twist to our beloved, boxy single crochet.  Those of you who are just starting your grand journey into the vast and wonderful world of fiber and hook, will greatly benefit from any of these video tutorials, as will we veteran “hookers!”

I can not describe how much information I found in Bob Wilson 123’s YouTube  channel, or on their website, or Facebook page.  Not enough paper!

What’s that, Earl?  We’re not using paper? Oh.  Can I still change the color of the crayons I write the posts with? Yes???  Cool!

So, I have been doing my thing, stitching, spinning, dreaming…started the garden, finally!  LATE!  The weather isn’t the best this season, but compared to what’s been happening out West, I’ll take some Connecticut gloom.  It’s a banner year for weeds!

Among the infinite number of unfinished projects I always have going, I settled down to felt a few more of my older hooks, ones that didn’t have grips to make my fingers happy.

This time, you all get a little tutorial!

I started out with an assortment of aluminum and steel hooks.

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To keep things a little less splashy, I wrapped a piece of cardboard with plastic wrap.  And, to anchor the roving to the hook well enough to get a start, I used washable fabric glue, Aileen’s,  “OK To Wash It.”  That’s just what I had on hand.  Any washable glue will do, of course.  If all you have is Liquid Nails, go for it!  Just remember to wear gloves so the wool and glue don’t make you a new pair of unintentional fuzzy mittens.

I do not recommend the use of super glue.  You’re going to get a little glue on your fingers, and if you’re using super glue, you’re about to go through the rest of your week with a woolly crochet hook stuck to your hand.

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I put a selection of different colored roving pieces together, some dyed, some natural.  It’s way too cool to wrap your hooks in multi-colored roving, and you can even lay the wool out to make patterns!

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Now that we have the tools and the fuzzy stuff, let’s get started!  This is so easy, and so much fun, you’ll soon find yourself ransacking your hooks stash to find more hooks to felt.

I grabbed a hook, and a small patch of roving, stretching the roving out to measure it against the hook.  I wanted the felted handle to cover the hook up to the finger grip, so that I would have that finger grip, and also be able to tell what size hook I had in my hand.  After the hook was measured against the roving…and believe me, this is not an exact science…I dipped the hook into the bottle of glue, covering it up to the grip, like so…

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I also made a hook with a “patterned” roving patch, which requires just a little more finesse, but really comes out cool.  For this, I got my loose measurement against the roving, with the pattern side UP, then when it looked good to me, I flipped the pattern side down to do the wrapping.

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Once the hook is dipped, just lay it down on one edge of the roving, and start rolling.

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Roll it all up and tuck in the end, close, but not too close.  Leave a little pillow on the end.

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Now, here comes the optional part of today’s program!  Any needle felters out there?  Here’s where, if you have some needles about, you get to needle felt the hook sleeve into place, making the wet felting easier.  Of course, if you really, really go to town with the needle felting, you won’t even have to wet felt.  Your cover will be softer and looser, but perfectly usable.  This hook was needle felted into place…you know the drill…poke, poke, jab, jab, all over, again and again, stick, move, stick, jab, swear, wipe up the blood…..

Yeah, there are two types of needle felters, those who have jabbed their fingers with those deadly sharp little barbed boogers, and those who will do so eventually.

I’m a veteran.

So, anyway. this is what that blue and black hook looked like, needle felted.

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It’s ready to use!  It’s softer than I want it, though, so I’m going to wet felt it, with the others.

This is important!  You have to wait a day, for the glue to dry.  Otherwise, it will wash away and your hook cover will fall off, or worse, fall apart.  So, wait a day, and come back for the rest of the tutorial.

Oh, hi!  You’re back!  So, you have your hooks, with the roving glued to the handles, all wrapped up and ready to felt.  Cool!

And that brings us to…ta-daaaah!  The sink.

Wet felting the hooks is easy, easier if you did the needle step first.  If you didn’t, just take your time.  We’ll go through the process as though you had not needle felted your hook cover, first.

You’ll need hot water, and soap.  I just use the bathroom sink, and some liquid soap that I keep there.  Fill the sink with hot water, and dunk your hook.  Make sure it gets thoroughly soaked!

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Next up, grab up some soapy stuff.  You can see in the picture that I have liquid soap, but if all you have is bar soap, then go for it!  Very gently, get up a good lather, by squishing and releasing, adding a few drops of water when you feel like it.  No heavy rubbing yet!  If you are using bar soap, you might want to let the hook soak while you get a good lather happening in your hands.

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Now, remember, at this early stage, you’re working very gently, so that the wool doesn’t pitch a fit and fall off the hook.  At this stage, I bring up a good lather, and squish it between my fingers, being careful not to rub too hard.  You do have to rub a little, to get the fibers to start blending, but…not too hard.  Just use a light touch, and some gentle squishing and patting.

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The fibers will tell you when it’s time to start putting a little more pressure into your felting.  This is where I start to dig in with my fingers a little.

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Don’t forget the end of the hook!  A little squish-and-rub there would be a great idea right about now.  You’ll probably, sooner than later, have to start pushing the fiber down onto the hook a bit.  If your hook pokes out, just pull some wool back up over the end of the hook and keep rubbing.

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Now that you’ve got some rubbing, squishing and lathering done, it’s time to rinse, and check your progress.  Rinse your hook in hot water, then switch to cold, then back to hot.  This “shocks” the fibers and helps get them to shrinky-dink around the hook.  Hot water expands the fibers, then the cold water shock makes them contract. 

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Now, for more hot soapy water.  You can see in the picture that I’m involving my whole hand, squishing and rolling the fibers, putting some pressure on the wool.

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More rinsing and checking…again, hot to cold, back to hot.  You can now roll the hook between your palms, roll it between a couple of small sheets of bubble wrap, if you have it, dig in with your knuckles, if you like,  rinse hot to cold and back again a few times to shock and check progress…

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And now, as you see, I have a finished, felted grip on my hook.  It feels wonderful in the hand!  I went a step even further with my hooks, and after I wet felted them, I rolled them up in a thick towel to get the excess water out…then popped them into the dryer.  Oh, BOY, do they make a racket!  Toss something in the dryer with them, give them something to rub up against.  The added agitation is what makes them further felt in the dryer, and when they’re done, you’ll have perfectly felted hooks to enjoy!

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This seems like a lot of writing, but don’t feel daunted.  This is not a lot of work.  This is even something that the kids can do with you!  You’ll use warm instead of hot water, but that’s okay, as long as they get the rubbing down.  Felting has a lot to do with agitation.

If your sleeve slides off your hook, like one of mine did, just dip the hook, gently slide the (DRY) sleeve back on, and use the glue that squishes out to seal the open end of the sleeve.  That’s right,  just use a finger tip to work it right into the edge of the wool.  It will disappear, and be soft, as it’s fabric glue.  Then, just put the hook aside for a day while the glue sets, and you’re all fixed!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial…if you have questions, please feel free to leave comments, and I’ll get right to answering them, if I can.  If I can’t…I’ll Beseech The Gods of Google!

Stay tuned…next up, some VERY special crochet hooks….

Ten Ways to Improve Your Fiber Art Photography Now

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Another great read from G-Ma Ellen!  We do the work, putting everything we have into each stitch…now, how to get a great camera shot?

I guess I should by a camera, for starters, and let the cell phone have a rest…:-)

 

Ten Ways to Improve Your Fiber Art Photography Now.

MORE New Hooks!

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What’s this?  Even more new crochet hooks?  Well…these hooks are not new.  These hooks, bought however long ago, are basic aluminum hooks, sans embellishment of any sort.  They’re wonderful, balanced, smooth hooks and they really do the job.  My hands, however….

No big deal, just some arthritis, the bane of any needleworker, be it crochet, knit, embroidery or weaving.  The hands love a little grip, a little padding.  With crochet hooks, this is an easily-accomplished endeavor.  You simply add a grip to your old hooks, and give them new, ergonomic life!

I did this once before, where I added Sculpy eraser clay handles to a batch of old hooks.  They work well, and the best part about using polymer clay to form this kind of hook grip is that you can form it to your exact grip.

Now, I’m using wool.  I’ve fashioned a half dozen hooks (so far) with felted wool grips, and they are marvelous.  They’re soft, warm and supportive, and I got the wool onto the hook in just such a fashion as to be able to see what size hook I have.

No, they’re nowhere near as cool or decorative as the beauties I got from Dot Dot Smile, and I wouldn’t even attempt to do what Kelli has sent me.  Too much tiny detail!!!  For me, it’s the simple, the utilitarian.  I make them colorful…and comfortable.

To make these hooks, I measured enough roving to amply cover the end of the hook, spreading it out past the end of the hook just a little, and making a bit of a pillow around where I wanted the handle to have a grip.  The more wool you wrap around the hook, the thicker your grip..and the longer it will take to felt.  

I dragged out an old bottle of washable fabric glue,  Aleen’s, “OK To Wash It,” and smiled when I shook it and it was still good.  I simply opened up the bottle, and dipped the handle of the hook into the glue, stopping  just short of the finger grip where you can read the size of the hook.  You can dip, or apply the glue to the hook with a small brush.  

I let the excess glue run back into the bottle, then stuck the beginning end of my pre-measured length of roving into the glue.  I wound the roving around the hook, loosely shaping it into a handle. When it was suitable, all edges covered and puffy, I put it aside for 24 hours to let the glue dry.  The drying step is not optional!

Now, here’s where I got to choose, needle felted, or dry felted?  I chose both.  I needle-felted the wrapped wool into usable grips,  jabbing my needles in and out of the wool until the roving became fabric.  This needle-felted step is one that I consider optional.  If you want to do this, and you don’t have felting needles, you can easily skip this step and go right for the hot, soapy water.

My needle-felted hooks came out perfectly usable, but I wanted a denser,  smoother fabric grip.  I further felted the wool in hot, soapy water by wetting, soaping, and rubbing in between my hands, with my thumb and fore finger, with finger tips, however it worked to make the dense wool grips I now have on my hooks.  I paid special attention to the end of the hook so that it would felt properly without having the hook jab its way free of the wool.  I rinsed and rubbed, going back and forth between hot water and cold, to further shock and felt the wool, and finally wound up with these great hook grips.  If the “hook” end of the wool came unglued during the felting process, I added a tiny drop of glue and worked it in with my fingers, securing it smoothly to the hook.  

Here’s the last step I took.  I stuffed all of my wet hooks into the dryer with an old towel and let them roll around in there until they were dry.  The heat and agitation of the dryer further felted the wool handles, and they came out of the dryer ready to use.  This is a purely optional step.  You can let your hooks air dry, as I am with the last of mine right how.

One hook needed a lot of wet felting.  That was the hook that I didn’t needle felt first.  For that one, I started felting with the hot water and soap, and rather than rub right away, I squeezed and patted, squeezed and patted, until the wool told it me was okay to start rubbing.

I must have been in a hurry to have that hook, because that’s the one I started felting without waiting for the glue to dry!  Of course, if the glue is still wet, it isn’t going to stand up to hot water!  So, I carefully finished my hook, got it dry, and slipped the cover off the hook.  I re-glued the hook, and carefully slipped the cover back on.  No problems from there on!

I think they came out colorful and cool.  I know they came out soft and ergonomic, treating my poor creaky hands to a layer of comfort.  

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See that blue one in the middle?  I needed that hook!  You can see that I have a very tiny Feets started, and that hook, as I took the picture, was done with needle felting only.   It works!  I have, since, wet-felted that hook, and it is air-drying now.  (The incredibly tiny Feets got transferred to a different hook…you’ll meet him as soon as he gets stitched.)

Like these grips?  You can do this!  All you need is a little wool roving, a little fabric glue, and a little time and energy.  

Have fun!

 

 

Crazy About Hooks!

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Miss Kelli at  Dot Dot Smile  has done it again!  

After I ordered, and received, the coolest Tardis knitting needles, and my awesome, custom clown Tunisian crochet hook, I asked for a new, larger Tunisian hook, and asked her to surprise me. 

She sure did, with this delightful, peaceful blue swan.   I have named her, “Willa,” and she sits sweetly atop a cool, smooth bamboo hook.  I swear, the work goes smoother just because she’s there!

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And that’s not all!  You see, I just love clowns.  The sillier the better!  And, I adore cows.  So, what’s a girl to do?  I asked Kelli if she could swing a custom hook, a cow…clown.

YES!  A cow dressed as a clown!  Kelli told me she had a ball making this, and I can’t explain how incredible the work is.  Look at what this amazingly talented clay artist came up with for me!

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Isn’t he Da Bomb!?!?!?  I named him, “Bill.”  

It’s a thing….

Bill sits atop a size, “J” bamboo hook, regular length, and has a hand-fashioned, hand-painted grip.  He’s super smooth and comfy to work with, surprisingly well-balanced.  I’ll tell you, this gal has faced every challenge, with a smile on her face, and sent me wonderful hooks and needles.

Here’s some more detail of , “Bill.”

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Sometimes I find myself sitting with the work idle in my hands because I can not stop staring at the hooks.

Here are Bill and Willa, hanging out together in the yard…

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A little detail…

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And finally, my three newest crochet buddies, together.  They make stitching even more fun than ever before!

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Now, stay tuned, Kids, because it isn’t over.  When I sent my biggest challenge yet to Kelli, I told her not to feel bad if it was too much to ask.  Her answer?  She says she loves my challenges, they’re fun to work, and something completely unexpected and new.

So, she can’t wait to immortalize Chauncey and Earl in Sculpey, on the ends of crochet hooks!!!!

Stay tuned!