Friday, March 6, 2015

Crochet Hack: A New Hook

MacGyver Style!
A 75% serious tutorial - and a handful of zombies

  What would you do without your crochet hooks? Go crazy, or buy new ones? What if neither one is an option?  My troll steals/borrows mine sometimes, and doesn't return them until it's too late. Suppose a disaster strikes and your hooks are lost... Maybe a box fell off the truck while moving... What if it's the start of the Zombie Apocalypse, and you have to abandon everything? 

  Or, getting back to a more realistic note, what if it's just not in your budget? I've been there. When the decision comes down to food on the table or crochet, you pick food on the table, right? I know, we all say we "eat, breath, and live crochet", but you know you can't really eat your crochet. Well, you would get plenty of "fiber" if you tried! But, seriously again, you can't eat your crochet. Unless you crochet with rope licorice. The red kind. That would be delicious. Anyways... 

  So, somebody (you know who you are!) recently inspired this thought: What would you do without access to crochet hooks? Which led me to exercise my "MacGyver" style thinking, and consequentially, a perfectly usable hook was born from stuff in the junk drawer. *A disclaimer before we begin: This is just a silly, "look what you can do" sort of post. But... We're going to use tools, and maybe a sharp knife, and stuff might go flying... At least there won't be any rapid bubble gum chewing or explosions. Safety first! Make sure you don't cut your finger off or poke your eye out, okay?

Get ready for crochet:

  Here, we have my first idea. A plain ol' pen. And I'm going to turn it into a crochet hook! You'll need some wire cutters or a good, sharp knife; I personally prefer the wire cutters. Just so you know, before we start: It will probably take you longer to read this rambling post than it will to make this hook; I made mine in less than twenty minutes!

  Comparing the pen to my hooks, this looks like the equivalent of a size N-9.00MM aluminum hook. But, supposing you don't have any hooks because you're on the run from mutant zombies, you won't be able to judge the gauge, and you'll just have to wing it.

  First, disassemble the pen. Most of these pens will pull apart with a gentle pull and a little twist.

  Here's our "hook piece": Slide the piece that fits inside the pen shaft off of the ink-thingy. If it's not already empty, put the ink-thingy in the junk drawer for when another pen runs out of ink, or you can reuse it in this pen! (See, I'm thrifty like that!) If, by chance, you're on the run from the zombies, you might want to keep it for an eye-poking-out weapon, or something.

  This is the part where you could use a knife, but I prefer using my cutters. Forget the ink-thingy and save the knife for the zombies, right? I did some not-so-technical judging and measuring, and decided I needed to cut at about a 45° angle.

  Make the cut no more than halfway through the hook piece.

  Note where the piece flares out to sit on the pen shaft. Don't cut anywhere below it.

  And make another cut just below the first, at a slightly deeper angle.

  I had to wiggle the material out of the cut, but it came out easily.

  And just to make sure the hook piece isn't crushed or anything, give it a "fit check" in the pen shaft.

  An old nail file takes care of any jagged edges left over from cutting. Sandpaper would work, too, but I guess the troll needed mine.

  Make sure to sand/file the underside of the cut, too. It doesn't take much effort to round the plastic to the same shape as a crochet hook.

  I would have liked to use the piece shown here as the tip of the hook, but I've been told (by those more experienced in spit ball launcher making pen dismantling than I am) that if you remove it, the ink is going to go everywhere.


  Enter next item from the junk drawer: A broken bamboo skewer. (Why is it in there?) A little more work with the nail file, and I've tapered the end down slightly and made a rounded tip.

  I checked it for fit inside the pen shaft, and thought I cut it to the proper length, but after assembling it, I had to trim the end down more.

  After using the hook to crochet, I think I would still cut it down just a little bit more. The tip sticks up from the hook piece too much, and tends to catch on the yarn. If the rounded end of the skewer was more flush with the hook piece, there wouldn't be a ridge for the yarn to catch on.

  But...The proof is in the picture! The piece worked with my "MacGyver Style" pen hook is slightly bigger than the swatch worked with a N-9.00MM hook. However, I think I might still be right about the size; my tension was very loose while working with the upcycled hook, because I should have trimmed the tip down more. A proper test was never done, because I had to run from zombies got distracted by more potential hooks!

  Meet the "pencil hook". It didn't work very well, but it was usable, so I'll still share it. When I tried to pull through a loop, I had to rotate the "hook" a full 180° and immediately grab the yarn with my finger, or it would jump off of the hook. Less frustrating items can be turned into crochet hooks. Let's save the pencil for another zombie weapon; shoot it like an arrow from a rubber band or something.

  And for the grand finale: While looking for more anti-zombie weapons digging in the junk drawer, I came across my broken ear buds. (Again, why is this stuff in there?) These have already been "MacGyvered" back together, broken again, and now I give up on them. I was trying to figure out how to turn the back panel of the speaker into a hook, when I discovered the perfect piece for the tip of my pen hook!

  It works great! This piece is a little longer than the tip of a hook would normally be. Maybe that's cool, though, because it creates slightly bigger loops than normal, which makes it easier to insert the hook into the next stitch. Good for tight tension problems!

  And, just because I originally sacrificed the ear buds for the piece you see here, I did crochet with it. I was going to cut the center out in a hook shape, and fix it onto a bamboo skewer. That never happened, because the skewer was too small, and I couldn't find anything else that would fit the piece. I think it would have worked, but I gave up for now. It's a Win/Fail. I managed to use this tiny piece to make a few chain stitches, but holding it in my fingertips was too strenuous. I proved it can be done, but I don't think I proved that you would want to do it.

  What items are in your junk drawer that can be used as a hook? Think like MacGyver, and you will find! Want a tiny hook for thread crochet? Get a paperclip. On the other hand (you have more fingers), I had another idea for a bigger hook - But wouldn't you know it - That's the only thing that's not in my junk drawer! How many times have you thrown out an old wooden handled paint brush? I was looking for the kind that has the hole in the handle for hanging. And then I was going to get even bigger, sharper tools (a hacksaw!) and cut a notch under the loop of the hole, making it a hook. That would have made a really cool rug hook... And for my last suggestion: Don't forget that a new hook could be as simple as finding the right twig on a tree!

  *Before we close, I'm going to give you a quick warning: If you're squeamish, and you don't like frogs and toads, don't scroll down to see the picture. I'll put a nice, big space between here and there, so you don't have to see it. But, sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I've had enough typing for the day.

  Why make a hook "MacGyver Style? Because sometimes you just don't have the money for a new one. Because sometimes disasters happen, and you lose everything. Because the Zombie Apocalypse... Because... You can! And sometimes, it's because you live "in the country", and it takes over twenty minutes to get to the craft store that closes at six on Sunday. And you had plans to go there that day around four o'clock, but because you live in the middle of "NATURE", you have to deal with things like this, instead:

-  -  -  -  -

Like what I found in my yard?
This will put a stop to your day!
But, hey... Maybe I can poison the zombies with them, right?
(Are zombies vulnerable to poison?) 

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