Thursday, December 24, 2015

We Did It! A World Record

  Did you make a blanket for the World's Biggest Stocking project? If you did, then CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING PART OF A WORLD RECORD! I fell short of my personal goal for blankets, but managed to send in four of them. And that's okay with me, because that's twice as many as I had originally planned. My target number jumped mid-project when I was bashed on Facebook for my work. Even though I didn't make it to the twelve blankets I wanted to make in retaliation, the negativity only drove me to push beyond just two.

Guinness World Record, World's Biggest Stocking, knitting, crochet

  I wanted to design a special pattern for the project, so I could definitely pick out one of my blankets from the Stocking. I never did, because I know how that would go... I'd get halfway through it and rip the whole thing out in a fit of rage when I'm not happy with the design. I do that a lot. Getting involved in this project was never about "look at my pattern". It was about "Hey, YOU can help make blankets, too!" I knew I couldn't get them done if I was wasting time on designing a pattern.

  I'm a little disappointed in a way... But not really. I wish I could find my squares in the finished project, just so I could say "Look! That's one of mine!" Like I said, the project wasn't about me. I'll just pretend that the one spot in the Stocking that happens to have four blankets a lot like the ones I made all next to each other... Yup, in my head, that's my spot, whether it really is or not. You can't have that spot. It's mine. Can you find your blanket in the stocking? I saw some really interesting originals in there!

Yarnspirations, World's Biggest Stocking, Guinness World Record

  So, here's the stats: (I got this info and the pic above from the Yarnspirations videos on Facebook... I couldn't get the photo to link properly, so this link should take you there.) 830 knitters and crocheters stepped up to the challenge. A total of 1260 knit and crochet squares were donated to make the Stocking. The final project weighed in at a whopping 1641 pounds, and measured 76 feet wide by 136 feet long! $100,000 was raised for the Children of Fallen Patriots fund, and the Stocking was disassembled so the pieces could be donated to those in need.

  Those who worked to assemble our squares into the Stocking spent a total of 40 days (960 hours!) sewing the project together. They deserve a big huge pat on the back! If you visit the Yarnspirations Facebook page, you can see a few different videos about the Stocking, but I think this one is my favorite. Watching the length of time it took to unroll the World's Biggest Stocking is a great reminder of how much work went into this project!

  So many people came together to make the World's Biggest Stocking possible! From the companies that sponsored the idea to the 830 knitters and crocheters that made the squares, and especially those who assembled it... I mean, without them, it would just be a pile of squares. It all came together to set a Guinness World Record and benefit charity, too. Everybody deserves a big, huge


  Now, enough with tooting our own horns over the World's Biggest Stocking. Because you know who deserves an even bigger thank you? The soldiers and their families that inspired this project. If not for their sacrifices and suffering, the Stocking wouldn't be needed... But even this project isn't enough to help them all. Remember that there's soldiers that won't be coming home this holiday season. Never forget the sacrifices they made for you. If you know a veteran or a family member of a fallen soldier, don't forget to say


  I'll be busy over the next week or so, making sure some of my Scarf of the Month projects see their way to some veterans in need. Others are going to Bridge and Beyond in Ohio, and a few that aren't so practical to donate to the homeless are getting sent to some friends that are down on their luck. I'll try, but it's possible there won't be another post on the blog until the new year - But I'll be picking up with all the free patterns that have been on hold! So in the meantime: My progress on the blankets for the World's Biggest Stocking was pretty dramatic, and full of tutorials! If you missed the series, you can pick up some skills and read my rants by checking out these posts:

The Wednesday Wishlist
It all started here, with a short little post. At that time, a giant box of Caron United was already in transit to my house. Ha! I mentioned "looking into" using some of it for this project.

Yarn Tales Tuesday - National Crochet Month and #crochetforcharity
Yup, that would be the semi-famous rant I went on after the Facebook bashing. My inspiration to make more than two blankets.

Yarn Tales Tuesday - I Need a Break!
The invititation to come make blankets with me. I took a moment to unleash some stress and recharge before starting the project.

First Color
The start of the Big Granny Square Blanket. Beginners can learn how to begin the pattern, make a double crochet, and work the first two rounds of the pattern.

Color Two
I deal with "yarn vomit" (tangles) as we work the next two rounds.

Color Three
Rounds 6 and 7, plus more yarn vomit. I call out Caron United for having a yarn-tangling troll in their factory. For some reason, I never received a response. (lol)

Colors Four and Five
The last two color changes before the colors repeat, and a vomit-free skein! 

Repeating Colors
Beginners can get a great tutorial to begin without a slipknot!

The Trouble with Trolls
Beginners can learn to tell the direction of their stitches; some advice about untangling yarn vomit; a mini-rant about trolls.

A Look at a Finished Blanket
More about the troll and how I messed up he made me mess up the project! Also, the last living appearance of Cornelius Peanutbutterus on the blog :(

The Big Granny Square Blankets Finished!
Beginners can learn how to invisibly weave in ends in the round and how to join yarn with the Russian join.

Big Granny Square Blanket, free crochet pattern,

Yarn Tales Tuesday - Finding Myself in a Pile of Yarn
After veterans opened up to me about their struggles and said thank you for my work, I open up about my own struggles to say thanks back.

Beginning Blanket Two   
Trying to decide what to do about having the wrong colors for the Nine Square Blanket; yarn vomit; how to begin with a knot-less slipknot.

Tips for Beginners and Beginning Squares
Beginning the squares, another lesson in the double crochet stitch, working into the knot-less slipknot, and weaving in your ends while you work.

Nine-Square Second Row
More weaving while you stitch and help with working into your turning chain.

Mistakes I Made as a Beginner
It's amazing that I have the skills of an expert, with all those mistakes I used to make! I get it all out there, with tips so beginners don't have to make the same mistakes.

Ready to Assemble!
Beginners can see what a square sometimes looks like before blocking - even when it's made by an expert.

The Nine-Square Blanket Finished!
Joining the squares.

Nine Square Blanket, free crochet pattern,

Beginning the Granny Square Blanket
Making the center of the squares and changing colors.

A Contrasting Color
Adding a second color to the squares, deviating from the pattern, and weaving in ends.

Uh Oh!
How I messed up again, and what I did to fudge it instead of frog it.

Time to Go
Due to some roadblocks, I skip ahead and share a sneak peak at all of the finished blankets.

Four Blankets Shipped!
The final result of the Granny Square Blanket after my mistakes, a tutorial for using the single-crochet-two-together for joining the squares, and shipping!

Granny Square Blanket, free crochet pattern,

  The idea that I wanted to join the project was announced February 18th, I began working on the squares in the beginning of March, and my four blankets were shipped to the project by the 19th of June. Twenty-three posts about my progress were published. I worked through constant thunderstorms; I worked through a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis; I worked through power outages and terrible flooding; I struggled and still worked through the death of my closest companion. I connected with some wonderful bloggers and some amazing veterans. I listened to stories from them and their families: How much of a struggle they face every day. How much they need help. How much my work meant to them. And I still can't get it out of my head... Just some measly little blankets... Money raised for a college fund... Surely that isn't enough to say "thank you" in return for what they've given.

Happy Crocheting!
A Big Thank You to all the knitters and crocheters that made the Stocking possible!
An Even Bigger THANK YOU to all the veterans and families of fallen soldiers out there!
And Happy Holidays, everybody!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Working with Boa Yarn

  The secret is out: The Kid saw the project, so now I get to blog about it! *Sigh* It's difficult to share a work in progress when it's intended as a gift or surprise... Especially when the sneaky little recipient says she's not going to read the blog, then surprises you with "I saw the project you're working on with the pink fuzzy yarn!"

Bernat Boa, blanket, eyelash yarn

   Many crocheters find it hard to work with certain novelty yarns, and Bernat Boa is one of the most complained about. Anything with fur, fuzzies, or fluff makes it difficult to see your stitches; personally, I think eyelash yarn is the worst. You might be able to make a chain or a stitch, but working back into it can be a pain. While I was working on my not-a-surprise-anymore project, I decided to put a tutorial together to make this yarn easier for those who have trouble. This "tutorial" might be more of a warning than a lesson.

  There's plenty of other complaining we could do about many "fuzzy" yarns: They shed, most need special laundering, and usually, they're not cheap. I refuse to pay full price for these headaches. My very first ball of Boa yarn was bought from a clearance aisle, just like every ball since. At first, I hated it. I thought I would never buy it again. Then, I found a bunch of half-unraveled balls with missing labels for 99 cents a piece, and I caved. After another project left me covered in synthetic fur, I swore I would never buy it again. And then I found a box full that wasn't so unraveled, and most of them still had the labels. Yup, I bought those, too.

Bernat Boa, blanket, eyelash yarn

  So if you have this yarn (or something like it) and you have trouble with it, maybe you'll find some help here. If you've never tried furry novelty yarn, then here's your example of what you will face. It's far from effortless. I'm not going to even suggest that it will be easy. But after some practice and a little wasted yarn, you might find that the results are worth the fight. When it's worked up in a project, the shedding stops. And once you get used to finding your stitches, you'll feel like you have super powers.

  I'll be making a double-crochet-three-together (dc3tog) stitch, also sometimes called the cluster stitch. If you're looking to learn the dc3tog for the first time, then I suggest using this tutorial instead. The furriness of the novelty yarn won't make this an easy lesson.

  In all seriousness, this is going to be a sarcastic, complain-y tutorial for those who are fighting the fur, not a how-to-make-this-stitch for beginners. Also (wow, holy cow, here's some encouragement), remember that the examples are from my own experiences. It took me a few patterns to get comfortable with this yarn. It might take you more. You may never get comfortable with it; you might hate it and refuse to work with it ever again. And I totally understand that. If you've never had any trouble with this yarn, either you have magical powers or you haven't worked with it yet.

dc3tog, Bernat Boa, cluster stitch, crochet

  So, here we go: What you see above is the completed dc3tog stitch. Note how you can't really see the individual posts at the base of the stitch. If you lose track in the middle of the stitch, it's difficult to tell at first sight how many steps you've completed. There's a chain-1 in between the stitches, and one chain on the hook. Being able to make the stitch into a chain space instead of an actual stitch makes this yarn so much easier to work with.

dc3tog, cluster stitch, crochet, Bernat Boa

  So, to make the dc3tog, we yarn over and pull up a loop. A fuzzy loop that will want to cover the loops next to it. I cheated here for the first picture by sliding the yarn back and forth to spread it out on the hook. I won't do that in some of the other photos, and you'll see the difference. But, you know... Hint, hint. If you can't see how many loops you have on your hook, work it around. The loops will become more visible, and you might start getting used to the feel of the stitch; count with your fingers and not with your eyes.

crochet, dc3tog, Bernat Boa

  (In case you don't know, here's where you yarn over and pull through two loops.) I can't really help you with a hint for pulling through the stitches, other than to stick with the same advice as before. If you can't see it, you're just going to have to learn how to feel it. To avoid having trouble with the number of loops to pull through, I keep my index finger on the loop(s) that will remain on the hook.

crochet, dc3tog, Bernat Boa

  Now we yarn over and pull up another loop for the second half-closed double crochet of the stitch. Here you can see a better example of how the loops will really look on your hook. The fur twists and turns any which way it wants to, looking much like my hairdo when I roll out of bed in the morning. You know, except for that color... I would do something cooler like purple with black streaks or something. Anyway...

crochet, dc3tog, Bernat Boa

  I didn't mess with this one: After yarn-ing over and pulling through another two loops, I hit a thin spot in the fluff. Do a little happy dance when you get one.

dc3tog, Bernat Boa, crochet

  And now we yarn over and pull up the loop of the third half-closed double crochet. So much for that thin spot... The fluff monster ate my stitch again.

dc3tog, Bernat Boa, crochet

  This should be another "yarn over and pull through two", but it kinda looks like it's the same step as the last one. It should be the last step before pulling through all four loops on the hook. I got distracted while editing the photos, and now even I'm not sure what this is. I think I accidentally deleted the second-to-last step.

dc3tog, Bernat Boa, crochet

  Well, we can get back on track with this one: Here's pulling through all four loops in mid-action. Where'd the hook go? Am I pulling through all the loops?

dc3tog, Bernat Boa, crochet

  Sometimes, you just don't know until you're done with it. Or, until the hook gets caught on a loop inside the stitch because you're trying to take a picture (or just because), and you can't see which way you need to rotate it to fix it, so you wiggle it back and forth, but... Oops! That was the wrong way to wiggle it. Now all the loops of silky furry fluffiness slide right off the hook and the weight of the yarn pulls the entire stitch out, so that you can't even pick it up mid-stitch. Try again.

crochet, Bernat Boa, how to,

  Sometimes, you might come across a spot that makes you think you forgot to make a chain almost a whole round ago, and you start to cuss as you think you're going to have to rip it all out, inevitably ending with being covered in more synthetic fur. Before you go crazy and start that ripping, double-check your work. Here it looks like I forgot to make that chain, but after closer examination, it's just an extra-fluffy spot in the yarn that's filling in the hole. It's a good thing the kids weren't here and the cats and dog can't repeat some of the words I said when I thought I'd have to frog it.

Bernat Boa, crochet, difficulties, how to

  This is a yarn that makes you slow down and pay attention to what you're doing. As I said before, the result is worth the fight is you're willing to make the effort. I saw some throws kind of like this in an outlet store, on clearance for $40 - Original price, $75. By the time I get done with this, I think I'll have three, possibly four balls of yarn in it - And I only paid $1.50 a piece for them. Add to that the extra-fluffiness of the crocheted version... I think the ones in the store were just woven. This one is twice as thick. Plus, I get to brag that I can crochet with Boa like a boss.

Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Simple Snowflake

  Worked up in only three rounds, you can make a ton of these snowflakes in no time! Make them in different colors to use as gift tags (bust those scraps!), create one with sparkle-y yarn for an ornament, or work up a bunch to create a garland. Personalize a tag or ornament with fabric paint, or coat them in glitter glue for decorations. With such a simple pattern, this snowflake leaves you extra time to add your own touch!

free crochet pattern, snowflake, winter, Christmas, decoration, ornament, gift tag, garland, tutorial

  The snowflakes I made in worsted measure 4" (5 cm) from point to point. Make them bigger or smaller by using different yarn weights and your manufacturer's recommended hook size. The chunky version shown measures 6" (12.5 cm).

  I started working on an awesome beaded version of this pattern using thread, but I ran into a problem... My seed beads were too small and wouldn't stay trapped in the stitches. Not to mention, they are so small that they were difficult to slide. The thread version would have measured a little less than an inch (2.5 cm), and had a ton of potential as a piece of jewelry. Consider giving it a try if you have the right materials: Just slide a bead up in each single crochet and chain stitch of the last round.

Skill level:
easy crochet pattern

Worsted weight (4) yarn (or see suggestion above)
-I used Red Heart Super Saver in blue for the tutorial/worsted version. I think the white may be the same yarn, but I was working from my scrap pile. It could be Caron United or One Pound... It's worsted-weight acrylic either way.
-The chunky version was made with Bernat Pipsqueak and a size K/10.5 - 6.50 MM hook.
Hook size I/9 - 5.50 MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle

Not important. If using different yarn weights, try manufacturer's recommended hook size.

A picot is usually worked with a chain stitch after the slip stitch. The chain is skipped in this pattern. Do not chain after making the slip stitch of the picot.

Need help? Click here for a step-by step tutorial!

free crochet pattern, tutorial, snowflake, winter, Christmas

Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Single crochet (sc)
Picot - Chain 3, slip stitch in bottom bar of last stitch made.


Round 1: 
Ch 3, sl st in farthest ch from hook to join into a ring.

Round 2:
(Sl st in ring, ch 5) six times.

Round 3:
(Sl st in next ch-5 space. Ch 1, sc, picot, sc, ch 1, sl st all in same space) six times.

Bind off. To avoid an uneven gap: Pull tail from back to front through first sl st, then back through ending loop. Weave in ends.

free crochet pattern, snowflake, ending in the round, tutorial

Happy Crocheting!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

August Scarf of the Month: Scrappy Granny

  Hey, how about a free pattern? The Scarf of the Month series has been on hold because of July's disaster... But I'm done waiting. Let's skip July and get to August, because there's even more patterns backing up!

  The Scrappy Granny Scarf was designed to use up those half-skeins taking up room in yarn stashes everywhere. Unlike a classic Granny Square that can use up smaller scraps of yarn, this rectangular Granny needs longer bits to finish a round. So, dig out those color-coordinated I-made-a-hat-now-what?-skeins, and let's get our Granny on!

crochet, granny rectangle, free crochet pattern

  You could make this scarf more colorful and use up shorter 1/4 skeins by switching colors every round. I worked with what I had on hand to create this scarf. If you plan on doing the same, then check out this progress post showing you how to judge whether you'll have enough yarn to make it around the pattern. Finished size of my six-round scarf if 60" (150 cm) long by 7.5" (18.75 cm) wide. You could work less rows for a skinnier scarf, or continue working rounds for a wrap! Directions are included at the end of the pattern if you would like to continue working around.

free crochet pattern, granny rectangle, scarf

Skill level:

Worsted (4) weight yarn
-I used Red Heart Super Saver in:
Color A - French Country
Color B - White
Color C - Blue*
*I lost the label for this scrap. I could have sworn this color was "Royal", but after double-checking on Red Heart's webpage, it appears to be called "Blue". If they do sell a "Royal" and I just missed it, then this is Royal.
Crochet hook size J/10 - 6.00 MM or size needed to obtain gauge
Yarn needle
Stitch markers (optional - to mark beginning chain)

In 4" by 4" (10 cm by 10 cm)
Four sets of 3-double crochet
4 rows -or- 2 rounds

free crochet pattern, granny rectangle, scrapbuster

Chain 4 at beginning of rounds counts as one double crochet + chain 1. Use stitch markers if needed.

There are no chains between double crochet sets! I know so many of you will say "I got this, it's a granny square" - but beware of no chains! Only chain-1 for corners.

Pattern is written in multiples of 3 + 1.

Stitches and abbreviations:
Chain (ch)
Slip stitch (sl st)
Double crochet (dc)

Back loop (b/L)
Begin/beginning (beg)
Front loop (f/L)
Skip (sk)
Space (sp)
Stitch (st)

free crochet pattern, granny rectangle, scrapbuster


Chain 140 to begin. (136 = 45 multiples + 1, + 3 for beg dc, + 1 for ch-1 corner space.)

Round 1:
Make 3 dc in b/L of fourth ch from hook. (Sk 2 chs, make 3 dc) 44 times. Ch 1, make 3 dc in same st. Ch 1. Working around, make 3 dc in f/L of same st. (Sk 2, make 3 dc in f/L) 44 times. Ch 1, make 3 dc in same st. Make 2 dc in same st as beg ch. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 2:
Sl st in ch-1 corner sp. Ch 4, make 3 dc in same sp. *(Sk 3, make 3 dc in sp after set) 45 times. Ch 1, make 3 dc in same sp.* Make (3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc) in next ch-1 corner sp. Repeat from * to * one time. Make 2 dc in the same space as beg ch. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 3:
Sl st in ch-1 corner sp. Ch 4, make 3 dc in same sp. *(Sk 3, make 3 dc in space after set) 46 times. Ch 1, make 3 dc in the same sp. Sk 3 dc, make 3 dc in sp after set.* (3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc) in next corner ch-1 space. Repeat from * to * one time. Make 2 dc in the same sp as the beg ch. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 4:
Sl st in ch-1 corner sp. Ch 4, make 3 dc in same sp. *(Sk 3, make 3 dc in spce after set) 47 times. Ch 1, make 3 dc in the same sp. (Sk 3, make 3 dc in sp after set) 2 times.* (3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc) in next ch-1 corner sp. Repeat from * to * one time. Make 2 dc in same sp as beg ch. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 5:
Sl st in corner ch-1 sp. Ch 4, make 3 dc in same sp. *(Sk 3, make 3 dc in space after set) 48 times. Ch 1, make 3 dc in the same sp. (Sk 3, make 3 dc in sp after set) 3 times.* (3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc) in next ch-1 corner sp. Repeat from * to * one time. Make 2 dc in same sp as beg ch. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

Round 6*:
Sl st in corner ch-1 sp. Ch 4, make 3 dc in the same sp. (Sk 3, make 3 dc in space after set) 49 (...) times. Ch 1, make 3 dc in same sp as last. (Sk 3, make 3 dc in sp after set) 4 (...) times.* (3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc) in next corner ch-1 sp. Repeat from * to * one time. Join with a sl st to beg ch-3.

* If you wish to continue the pattern for a wrap, just follow the last round! Replace the number before the (...) with the next highest number each round.

Bind off, weave in ends.

free crochet pattern, scarf, shawl, stashbuster

Happy Crocheting!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

An Update on Weird Stick Thing (Thanks, Ravelry!)

  Didn't I say that I'd end up feeling like an idiot over Weird Stick Thing? Well... I guess I don't feel like a complete idiot... I mean, I didn't know what the thing was, so I set out to investigate. And when I couldn't come up with an answer, I asked for help from all of you. That just means I'm uninformed; not an idiot. But... I still feel like an idiot.

knitting, crochet, needlework, tools

  Weird Stick Thing was found in a bunch of needlework tools, so I assumed that it was a needlework tool of some kind. Wouldn't you? And after some help from the wonderful members of Ravelry, it's possible that Weird Stick Thing wasn't originally intended as a needlework tool... Or, maybe it was? I love the responses to my post! Let's cover some of the suggestions so far:

1. Swizzle stick

2. Fruit skewer

3. A cheap shawl pin

4. Crappy knitting needle (lol!)

5. A spool-knitting tool

  Whether Weird Stick thing was added to the collection by my mom, the original owner, or just by accident... Well, we may never know. But I do know that my mom used to do quite a bit of sewing back before my time, and still created a few projects in my younger years. I have vague memories of a quilt in progress, mentions of some mysterious material called bias tape that looks like fabric to me*, and what looked like surgery being done on a blanket with an orange stick.

*I'm not that clueless, I really know what bias tape is. I just refuse to acknowledge it.

  I assume the "surgery" would be "turning corners"; something that didn't register in my young brain because the quilt wasn't being turned... Just like how I couldn't figure out why bias tape wasn't sticky at all... And while we're at it, I was confused about orange sticks not being orange, too. Hey, we could keep going with the perplexity of why Turtle Wax is to wax your car and not to wax your pet turtle, but we're talking about Weird Stick Thing, not the misconceptions of a three-year-old.

  So, getting to the point: According to suggestions 1 & 2, it looks like Weird Stick Thing might be nothing more than a swizzle stick. Yup, this mystery needlework tool was possibly part of a cocktail. The ball-end looks right, but what about that pointy end? Maybe it's a skewer/swizzle stick combo, or maybe it's a swizzle stick with a broken top. Either way, I could see it being used as a tool to turn corners while sewing. BUT! See a note during the explanation of suggestion 5.

  As for suggestion 3, I could also see it being the pin-part of a shawl pin... But indeed, it would be a cheap one. And that rolls into suggestion 4: The crappy knitting needle. That's what I thought it was at first! Who knows, maybe it is...

  Now, on to suggestion 5, and possibly why I didn't recognize this tool: The tool for a spool knitter, or a Knitting Nancy. This is a tool and craft I had to go research. French knitting? Are you serious? Now there's another yarn-y craft I'm going to have to learn? Yay! Anyway... Although this tool doesn't exactly match any of the ones I found online, it does bear a striking resemblance. And I even found one that came with a yellow plastic stick, but the ball at the end is different. This could be a cheaper version, or it could still be a swizzle stick.

  However, I think suggestion 5 could be the likely answer, due to some extra clues provided. One informative Ravelry member happens to be married to a 30-year bar and restaurant manager. See? It helps to have inside connections. Apparently the size of this "swizzle stick" is all wrong for it to be a fruit skewer, swizzle stick, or a fruit-skewering swizzle stick.

  So in conclusion, there still is no real conclusion! The Ravelry discussion is still ongoing, so feel free to stop by and check the whole thing out. Is it a swizzle stick? A knitting spool tool? What do you think? And to add to the barrage of questions: Forget the grown-up style looms... Have you ever used a toy-style Knitting Nancy Doll? Why, oh why did they make a toy that poops out your needlework? What IS that?  

This whole thing makes me want to throw a Starbucks drink stopper in with my tools, just to confuse the kids when I'm gone :) 

knitting, crochet, needlework

Happy... Knitting?
What is it?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hooks with a History - What the Hook is that?

  I was saving this for last, but I just can't keep it to myself anymore. Can you help me? I have something strange in my new "vintage" crochet hook collection... And I wish I could begin to tell you what it is. Is this a tool of some craft I don't know? A strangely-made knitting needle? A Medieval torture device? Well... No, of course not; it's plastic... But c'mon! What is it?

knitting, crochet, needlework, mystery tool

  Since I don't have much information for you, I'll just cover examples of how clueless I am: Each set of my photos gets their own folder, so I can keep track of all my pictures. This thing is in the folder "weird stick thing". I considered naming it "plastic knitting needle", but it can't possibly be a knitting needle. No way. Who would make a knitting needle with raised spots and a sharp seam that would catch the yarn? Please tell me that I'm right, and this isn't really a knitting needle.

knitting, crochet, needlework, mystery tool

  I Google searched "vintage plastic knitting needle", "plastic yarn tool", "vintage/plastic needlework tools", and "plastic craft stick", all with no success. One more obnoxious search of "Weird Stick Thing" taught me that apparently, quite a few people stick weird things where they shouldn't go. I wound up on that part of the internet that could scar you for life... How in the world do you get the curved end of a cane stuck... Forget it. Why would you put a cell phone... Really? Are you expecting an intergalactic call from Uranus? And salad tongs? SERIOUSLY?! Know what? Never mind. Some people just ain't right. And that was just the top of the first Google Images page. I'm not looking anymore. If I'm going to retain any faith in humanity, I just can't look anymore.

  So, I further contemplated the purpose of Weird Stick Thing while I detoxed with videos of cute kitties. Could it be some sort of yarn needle? Probably not, because again: Bumps that catch the yarn! These raised spots appear to be leftover from the mold during manufacturing. Plus, what kind of needle doesn't have an eye? This has a knob at the end, like a knitting needle.

knitting, crochet, needlework, mystery tool

  Weird Stick Thing has a really sharp point, which may not be how it was created. The point is slightly bent and there's a burr on it, leading me to think this could be a broken... Something. But what? It really bears the appearance of a knitting needle... But, the bumps! What is this thing?

knitting, crochet, needlework, mystery tool

  I wanted so badly to discover its purpose; to be able to present you all with a "look at what I found" post. I have exhausted myself more than I care to. I give up on this one. Anybody have the answer? Is it a poorly-made knitting needle? A broken "something"? A nose picker? WHAT IS IT? If the answer is obvious and I'm just clueless, then feel free to get a laugh. Just please tell me what the hook this thing is already!

*An afterthought... I'm already receiving so much help on social media, but we still haven't figured it out. I forgot to include some helpful information: It's 5" (12.5 cm) long, and measures in a knitting gauge as a size 4, or 3.5 MM. But... The bumps only let it go halfway into the knitting gauge. You have to go the next size up for the "tool" to go all the way through.

Happy... Well now... I always say "Happy Crocheting". But I don't know what this thing is for, so...

Happy... Something! 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hooks with a History - Susan Bates

  In all of the "vintage" hooks I brought home from my mom's, there's only one Susan Bates. I immediately thought this must be an ancient hook, because of the price stamped on the flat. I automatically figured that hunting down any history of it would be just as hard as the last time... But my research led me right where I needed to go, and I only have one hook to put a date to. This went quickly enough that I have time to give you a good laugh:

vintage, crochet hooks, Susan Bates

  Before any seriousness, let's all chuckle about the dumb things I do sometimes... As I stared at this hook prior to any research, I thought it was aluminum. But then I noticed what was printed on the opposite side of the flat: "SIZE 4 OR E". Now, my eyes saw that as "size 4/ore". So, I'm sitting here, like an idiot, thinking: What kind of ore? There's all kinds of metal ores, so what is it made of? Thankfully, my eyes stopped tricking me and I soon noticed that the "E" is bigger than the "or". *Face palm*!! Dummy! It's "SIZE 4, or... E, and yes, it's aluminum! Glad I figured that out before I told anybody... Oh wait, I just told you... Shh... Okay?

vintage, crochet hooks, Susan Bates

  Anyways, let's see if I can feel smarter again... Before I dig into the research, let's cover what I already know: Susan Bates hooks are famous for their patented inline heads, which means the head of the hook is in line with the shaft. This produces a sharper angle in the throat, which some claims helps to catch the yarn. Personally, I find that inline hooks tend to increase the issue of yarn splitting, but I'm addicted to hooks with a tapered head. Which do you prefer?

crochet hooks, Susan Bates, in-line head

  Now, on to the history: Originally C. J. Bates and Son, the company began when Carlton Joseph Bates bought the business from his employer. From the age of fourteen, C. J. Bates started working for the firm of Tyler and Post in 1861. Post bought out his partner and a company called Griswolds in 1865, then Carlton Bates bought the business from Post in 1873. The company continued to manufacture items from bone and ivory such as manicure tools and, of course, crochet hooks. In 1893, Carlton Bates fell seriously ill. His son Hamilton took over the business and held the position of chief executive until he retired in 1954.

  Needlework tools from Bates originally had no brand marked on them, or they were marked with a private label. It wouldn't be until the 1930's when the company started using its own brands, Chester and Barbara Bates. (I assume Chester was for the original location in Chester, Connecticut.) In the 1940's, the brand Chester was changed to Zephr, and Barbara Bates to Susan Bates.

  Okay, so that quickly narrows down the search for the age of my hook. Susan Bates wouldn't have been stamped on it until the 1940's or later. Like most other companies, C.J. Bates and Son experienced a halt in production during that time due to World War II. Further searching of products led me to identify this hook as part of the "Silvalume" line, which (as far as I can tell) wasn't introduced until the 1960's. Although I can't find any information to an exact date of when the price was stamped on the flat, I now know that this hook isn't really an antique. A real "Susan Bates" antique wouldn't be made of metal at all, or be stamped with "Susan Bates".

vintage, crochet hooks, Susan Bates

  But just like the rest, it's still vintage to me. Coats and Clark now owns the name, and hooks are no longer manufactured in America. You won't find any new hooks with this stamp of "Made in U.S.A.", and you definitely can't buy them for 29 cents. I couldn't dig up a list of patent dates; I didn't find any other hooks like it on eBay or Etsy. I'm not going to worry about stressing to put an exact date to this hook. It's special just like the rest, no matter what it's true age is. Since this hook is all by itself in my bunch of "vintage" hooks, it seems lonely to me. I'm gonna stop working to dig up it's history and show it some love... As soon as I stop splitting my yarn with this in-line head. This is supposed to be easier? :)

crochet hooks, in-line head, Susan Bates, yarn splitting

*I have to extend a big, huge THANK YOU to Lace Buttons! All company history came from this page:

Happy Crocheting!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hooks with a History - Boye

I apologize in advance to those who were expecting a short post in consideration of the holiday season. Once I delved into the history of Boye, I knew I couldn't keep my promise. 

I should probably also apologize in advance for my repeated cheesy wordplay with the Boye company name. But Boye, I just can't help myself...

  Although I consider plain ol' aluminum Boye hooks to be everyday and quite uninteresting (no offense, Boye, I think that's just because I use them every day), my new "vintage" Boye hooks seem to have more than originally meets the eye. Let's begin with some history of the company itself:

crochet, vintage, crochet hooks

  First of all, Boye, they really got me! (Ha, ha...That's two already.) All this time, I thought they were just a knitting and crochet company! In fact, the Boye company began in 1906 with the introduction of a sewing caddy called the Rotary Case. That would be a clock-looking cabinet thingy that I don't even want to begin to understand because it has to do with sewing, so if you're interested, please go read this article. The authors were able to interest me in this sewing accessory even though I didn't want to be sucked into sewing history.

  So, getting back on track... After James H. Boye and a few of his unnamed associates started the company with this invention, they further expanded into the realm of torture. I mean sewing... They expanded in the sewing business with sewing machine parts and accessories. It wasn't until 1917 that they would put out the first line of Boye steel crochet hooks.

  This at least tells me that my Boye crochet hooks can't be any older than that. Now, how to put a date to each of them? My most-used set of hooks are brand-new-ish aluminum Boye hooks, purchased at a Wal-Mart. The first thing I noticed about these older Boye hooks is that the style of the trademark is different. That's where I started the rest of my research:

vintage, crochet hooks, Boye, trademark

  I came across a wonderful bit of the Boye history while having no further success in my searches. In this article, I was able to find the years that certain hooks were manufactured, along with some other really interesting information. But first, I had to find out what "crochet forks" are. (Hairpin lace looms.) Did you know that because of the shortage and need for steel, the government stopped the production of steel crochet hooks during World War II? I mean, sure, I learned about that in history class, but not specifically crochet hooks. Guess the thought never crossed my mind that it wasn't just machines and building materials that were scarce; needlework suffered, too. And that's where the history gets a little confusing to me...

  Nickel plating was stopped first on May 1, 1942, so (possibly) all steel crochet hooks from then to May of 1945 were finished with black oxide. But, all steel hook manufacturing was halted in August of '42. In April of 1944, two sizes of steel hooks were reinstated. And the ban on nickel plating was ended later in May of the next year. So, if I have this right, then black oxide hooks were only available for a few months before the ban on steel hooks, and for one year after. And since my Boye size 3 and G steels aren't black oxide, I can look farther ahead into the past for that.

vintage, crochet hooks, Boye, steel

  Now, to cross-reference the information I gained about the steel hooks with the changes in trademarks and other markings...

  To get the less-exciting news out of the way, the size 3 steel hook isn't very vintage. First of all, the print on the flats was changed to read "size/Boye/size" in 1925, so I was hopeful. But jumping right ahead, the trademark without the quotation marks wasn't used by the company until 1962. Although that means that it's ancient to me, this steel hook isn't truly an antique. This is a newer hook, possibly purchased by the generous soul that provided my mom with her first hooks, but probably by Mom herself.

Boye, steel, crochet hook

  On a related note, the colored size K and N hooks aren't truly vintage, either. The updated trademark along with the fact that size K wasn't introduced until 1956 tells me that these are newer. And... After a painfully long search through vintage hooks on ebay, I found a case... And bid on it... A set of Boye "Diana" crochet hooks packaged in a hard plastic case, and, if I remember correctly, a felt-covered or foam insert that held the hooks... Wait... What was that? How do I remember? Seeing the case struck a memory of watching Mom pull out this set of hooks every time she made a baby blanket for somebody. The colors matched all of the vintage ornaments she has for the Christmas tree, so in my little mind, it was always a bit like Christmas to see Mom's hooks. I know my mom stopped crocheting shortly after I started school, so it's been a long time since I've seen that set. I've discovered that the random size "J" hook I've been using belongs to that set... But where are the rest? Hmm... Mom never looses anything... Or takes it out of the case it belongs in... Grr, now that's driving me nuts! Where are they? I have asked; now it will probably drive her nuts, too. Alright, let's move on to something more interesting for everybody.

Diana, Boye, crochet hooks, aluminum

  The two aluminum G and J hooks with worn paint use a trademark from before 1962. The part that has me stumped is: I can't find any information for exactly when the flats read "MADE/size/U.S.A., with "Boye" alone on the opposite side. But Boye, oh Boye, I think it doesn't matter... I had to do some extra learning, but I think the proof is in the paint. The color of anodized aluminum doesn't chip, peel, or wear off. Since these hooks are showing considerable damage (especially that bent one), I believe they may be from before 1949, when the anodized aluminum hooks were first sold. However, I'm unsure if these are the lacquered aluminum hooks sold from 1932 to 1935, or the set of various colors released in 1949 prior to the anodized. The colors listed are "dubonnet, starlight blue, aqua, and silver". Did they sell a set of all different colors, the way hooks are sold now, or was each size available in each color? So, I'm still a bit stumped, but my gut is telling me that these could be the older lacquered hooks.

crochet hooks, vintage, Boye, lacquered aluminum

  For the coolest of the cool, and the most vintage of the vintage, let's get to that steel size G hook: It's vintage! Oh Boye, it's vintage... I was able to track down this assortment of hooks on Lace Buttons, where I found what it is: A nickel-plated steel rug hook! First introduced (along with size "I") in 1926. From there, I browsed many sources from Pinterest, eBay, Etsy, etc., but every one of them that has information says "made around the WWII era", and no actual date.

vintage, antique, crochet hook, Boye, steel rug hook

  What I learned from my original source is that G and I steel hooks were not manufactured between 1942 and 1947. There are a few rare black oxide-finished "G" and "I" hooks out there, but mine's not that uncommon. So, being harder to place, I can only figure that it is from between 1926 and 1942, or it was made sometime after 1947. I was unable to discover when these hooks were discontinued for good, but my gut tells me it was sometime around 1949, when the aluminum size "G" hook was introduced.

  Boye was the first company to sell a complete line of hooks that were made in America. And even if you have some Boye hooks that might not be "vintage", but they were made in the U.S.A., you have something that isn't being manufactured anymore. In 1989, the Boye Needle Company merged with Wrights, then Conso acquired Wrights in 2000. (

  I'm not sure at what point during that time hook manufacturing was moved to China. Although it's not stamped on their hooks, that's what it says on the packages my hooks came in. Boye hooks can still be purchased, but with a no-flair logo on one side and international hook sizes on the other. They still have similar Christmas-ball anodized colors and the classic tapered throats that every Boye user either loves or hates. But that "vintage" stamp of "U.S.A." is now a faded memory of the past, so hang on to 'em if you've got 'em.

Boye, crochet hooks, vintage, modern, made in U.S.A.

  And who knows? Maybe someday in the future, manufacturing will come back to the United Stated, and those of us who have these made-in-China/bought-at-Walmart hooks can call them a collector's item. Yeah, probably not. I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen. But what I will hope for is that no matter where they were made, and by what company, somebody will cherish them because they were a part of Mom

Happy Crocheting!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Hooks with a History - Part 1

  Check it out: I have new toys! So, if you saw the post about the Holly Holiday Table Runner, then you know I was at Mom and Dad's house to take the pictures of it (as well as the old Lacy Fall Table Runner). I gave them the new table runner, but I didn't come home empty-handed: I scored some crochet goodies! And these are vintage crochet goodies... Oooo!

crochet hooks, vintage

  Please bear with a bit of confusion in this history, for I have trouble keeping everything straight when Mom's telling me the story as I'm distracted by the sight of their "white panther" staring at me through the door, the TV's on, and I'm suffering from heavy metal and coffee withdrawals...

cat, crochet

  A long, long time ago, my great-granny, or maybe my mom's great-granny was doing something... She cleaned houses, took in laundry, helped take care of sick people, took food to the poor... So, she was doing some kind of nice thing for somebody as usual, and they happened to hear that my mom (16 or so at the time) was trying to teach herself how to knit. They sent over a how-to or a pattern book and a set of needles.

knitting, needles, vintage

  I scored those needles and more a long time ago when I was trying to teach myself to knit. After the lady passed away, her family gave all of her needlework stuff to my mom. And then my mom gave it to me when I started knitting. So, I learned (and promptly forgot) how to knit on vintage needles; cool! I really should get back into knitting...

knitting needles, vintage

  Anyway... You may or may not have heard the partial story of my vintage Hero hook. That was in a case with some cable holders, another rusty hook, and other stuff that Mom told me to keep, even though I wasn't crocheting yet or knitting cables. I've been trying to dig up some history on the Hero hook forever, and can't really find any solid information. I also can't find any hook exactly like it. So, I thought maybe Mom could fill in a little of the story, and perhaps owned the rest of its mates. What I got wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I got a partial history, more mystery, and more vintage!

crochet hooks, vintage, steel

  The history that we know is pretty much what I already told you. Some lady gave them to my mom when she was a teenager. So, since the original owner was pretty vintage herself, I have no idea how old some of this stuff could be without more research. Some of it is obviously not-so-old, but it's all way older than me! I'm going to be taking a closer look at all of them and doing some internet digging over the next few days. Since it's the holiday season, I'll break up what I find into separate posts, to keep them short. And until then, you'll just have to sit in suspense...

Happy Crocheting!

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