The Right Tools

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Any person who works with their hands knows that proper tools are essential.  Whether you are an artist, carpenter, mechanic, crafter, chef, surgeon – this list could go on forever – using tools that are comfortable for you and that fit the job are essential.

When I first started to crochet, I purchased inexpensive plastic hooks. These worked okay, although I did manage to break a few.  Hubby, being ever so helpful and economic attempted to mend these, needless to so that did not work out very well.  On to slightly more expensive aluminum hooks.

The metal hooks worked out well, although my hand would get tired after crocheting for an extended period of time.  It was while using these aluminum hooks that I discovered my preference for a tapered hook.  Below is an image from Planet June, that illustrates the differences between an in-line hook, such as Bates, and a tapered style.

hook_types

After trying plastic and metal, I gave wood and bamboo hooks a try. I found these hooks beautiful and they felt very comfortable in my hand.  A downside to these hooks is that not all fibers were compatible with this hook material.  Some yarns would “hang-up” on the hook, thus interrupting the rhythm of stitching.  Another negative was that my cats loved to chew on them!  A chewed hook can really cause your yarn to snag.  Ha-ha!

I continued to explore other options and read comments from other hookers about the merits of different hook brands.  Two brands that frequently popped up in the discussions were the Addi Swing and Clover Amour.  These are just two styles that have a soft handle.

 

While the Addi Swing is beautiful and ergonomically designed, it was a bit pricey and outside of my budget.  So, ventured into my local craft shop and I purchased two Clover Amour hooks in the sizes H & I.

What a difference the soft handles made!  I found that I could crochet all day long – well almost.  Another plus for me was that the Amour hook had a the tapered head which I favored.  After a few weeks, and of course researching the best price, I took the plunge and purchased a set of the Amour hooks.

However, my hook adventure does not end here.  One set of hooks is never enough for any serious hooker who tends to keep hooks used with works in progress (WIPs).  For me that meant I was always searching for the hook I needed to start a new (short term) project while working on longer projects.  And of course since I love participating in Crochet Alongs (CALs) I always have multiple extended projects in the works.  One of the most recent being the Cosmic CAL by the amazing designer Helen Shrimpton of Crystal and Crochet. But that is another post!

Cosmic CAL

Cosmic CAL – Parts 1 – 4

Back to crochet hooks.  It was my need for a size 7 or 4.5mm hook that led to my initial discovery of Athena’s Elements.  This is not a standard U.S. size and is not always easy to find in a local shop.  Thank goodness for on-line shopping. 🙂  Since I need multiple hooks in the same sizes, I am always looking for a good product at a fair price, and I found what I needed at a popular on-line shopping resource.

Recently, I was again getting frustrated, because the hooks I needed for a project were not available.  I have hook markers, but find that there can be a slight variation in hooks between different manufacturers, so I prefer to keep my hook with the project.  Which means that I need – – you got it – – multiple hooks.  Making the decision that I was going to purchase another set of hooks, the research commenced.  I already had an idea of what I wanted, but wanted to make sure I was getting the best price.

Athena Hooks 1

The hook set offered by Athena’s Elements fit my needs perfectly.  The set had 12 hooks in US sizes B – L ( 2.25mm – 8.00mm), the head was tapered, had a long shaft and a soft handle.  As a plus, you never have to guess about the size of the hook because they are marked with the U.S. alpha and numeric size, plus the metric size.  What more could this or any crocheter want!?!  I placed my order on Amazon on May 29, 2018 and they package was delivered this morning, May 31, 2018.  My happiness with these hooks prompted this rather lengthy post!  Best of all, these hooks are currently on sale at Amazon.

‘Til next time, happy crafting – –

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Mandala from Millan

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I love mandalas!  Love the colors. Love the designs.

There is a spiritual aspect to mandalas that draws me to them. Perhaps it is the repeating design in a never ending circle. Or, the way one’s eye is drawn from the center outward to the edges and beyond. They are labyrinths of yarn that encourage visual meditation.

I have collected more mandala patterns than I could possibly ever make and must have a dozen books of designs and crochet instructions to make mandalas of all sizes. Even when planning a new project, I am often drawn to patterns begin with a circle.  Today,  I again saw this pattern, and being very happy to see it now in English, I thought to share it here.  No doubt this will be on my hook very soon.

Enjoy and Happy Crafting –

Winter Mandala

Photo from Crochet Millan

via Winter Mandala / English Pattern

A Yarn and Some Yarn

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Okay, it’s not really a yarn, as in a tall tale, but I could not resist the play on words!

The other day I posted a long overdue update and included some information about Ficstitches Yarn Club.  To give you a better feel of the projects, here are some snaps of a few of the projects that I have made.

 

 

 

 

I have participated since almost the beginning and love the stories and projects provided in each quarterly kit.  I missed the first few kits, but was able to buy books I missed on Amazon.   The Secret Stitch: Unraveling, Book One contains the first three books offered through the club and The Sojourn Stitch: Unraveling, Book Two contains the next two club books.

Crochet patterns inspired by the stories and designed by Laurinda Reddig are provided in each kit.  If you missed any of Ficstitches Yarn Club quarterly mailings, designs from past kits are available for individual purchase on Ravelry.  You can find these patterns and more at Laurinda’s Ravelry store ReCrochetions.

I always feel a little sad when finishing one book, but eagerly await the next in this fascinating series.

Until next time –

 

WOW!

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I can’t believe how long it has been since adding a post (not that I haven’t been busy making things). Guess I just let writing about was I was making and doing slide a teeny bit.

 

These pictures show just a few of the items that I have made so far in 2018.

Currently, I am working on The Cosmic CAL which is sponsored by Stylecraft.  Another CAL, which is truly enjoyable, is the 2018 A Year in Crochet CAL with monthly original designs by Lorene Eppolite of Cre8tion Crochet.

If you enjoy reading (like I do) you might enjoy Ficstitches Yarns crochet kits.  Each quarter they offer an original fictional story (in two parts), written by C. Jane Reid,  an accessory pattern, from crochet designer Laurinda Reddig,  inspired by the book and beautiful hand-dyed yarn to complete the project.  A project bag and some extra goodies are also included.  You can find more about Laurinda and her designs on her blog ReCrochetions.

I hope you check out some of the links I’ve included.  Until next time . . .

Happy Crafting!

 

 

Golden Squares Shawl

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This shawl actually started as a project re-work for the shawl ministry of which I am a part.  I had the golden hued yarn and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to create, only that I wanted to do a crochet shawl using multiples of three.  WIN_20160208_23_42_16_ProThen I saw a picture of a scarf that had square openings and was inspired to incorporate something similar into a prayer shawl.

I started with a row of foundation single crochet.  Since discovering and learning this method about a year ago, I try to utilize it in all my crochet projects instead of using a beginning chain. The squares are made with triple crochet and chains with rows of half-double crochet. As I worked with the yarn and the square pattern, the design of the shawl began to emerge.  I was pleased with the results, so I decided to write up the pattern and make it available to others.

This is a great shawl to make for a shawl ministry (as I did), to create as a special gift for Mother’s Day, or even make to pamper yourself.

I hope you let me know if you decide to try this pattern.

Golden Squares Shawl by Mary Stanton

 

Bright and Sunny Summer Crochet

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Sq 1 & 2 Circles of the Sun CAL

Circles of the Sun Squares from Week 1 & 2 (unblocked)

Bright colors and small squares are my idea of a perfect summer crochet project.  The colors lift my spirits and the squares are quick to work up so they fit well into a busy summer schedule!

The Circles of the Sun CAL [CAL = Crochet Along] fits the bill perfectly.  As a plus, I get to discover and explore new techniques with yarn.  I have discovered surface crochet which adds texture and dimension to your yarn projects and have learned a better way to crochet in the back loop – – no more loose stitches – – YEA!

Sq 3 & 4 Circles of the Sun CAL

The designer, Lilla Bjorn, used a thinner yarn and smaller hook, so my squares are a bit larger than the original design, but then that makes them uniquely mine. Since I’m working on a number of other projects, I decided to go with Lilla’s color choices instead of planning my own. The end project is to be a pillow, however with my larger squares, I ought to get two pillows made. I plan to use them to brighten up the dark brown sofa in our family room. Can’t wait to see how they will look. I still need to decide on a crochet or fabric backing. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Only four more weeks to go, and I can’t wait for each new square to be released. I have probably finished each square the same day that I started and usually on Friday when each new design is released. The design patterns may look intricate, but don’t be intimidated as they are all just combinations of single, half-double, double and triple crochet. Are you ready to get started?  You can find the patterns here or on Facebook at the OFFICIAL CCC SOCIAL GROUP.

Square for Week Five

Square for Week Five

I’d love to know if you are working on this CAL or if you decide to start!