Tag Archives: michaels

Year of Projects, Year 3: Small beginnings

YOP3 sheep

My goals for A Year of Projects.

The August body zone for the Head to Toe Challenge is feet.

I’ve never been that excited about feet as a crochet zone – I’ve finished only a handful of foot related projects in all my years crocheting, and we all know how my attempt to knit socks ended up.

These yoga socks were one of the few enjoyable feet related projects I've crocheted.
Yoga socks for my mom: one of the few enjoyable feet-related projects I’ve crocheted.

I do have several ideas for cute baby booties, though, and the small size means I’m more likely to stay focused.  I did a bit of research this week, looking for different newborn and infant sizing charts.  The favorites I’ve found so far (for feet) are these three from Wendy Knits, Bev’s Country Cottage, and the Craft Yarn Council.

I didn’t have the colors in my stash needed to execute my creative vision, so I also took a trip to Michaels.  It’s strange, but since I’ve started stash busting, my experience of shopping for yarn is totally different.  I spend much more time in the internal debate over each purchase, trying to decide if I really need it.  This now happens even when I’m going there to buy something.  I suppose it’s good, that I’m more thoughtful about bringing yarn into the house, but it can take a lot more time than yarn shopping in the good old stash accumulation days.

Besides researching sizing and buying yarn, I haven’t made much progress on this foot/design challenge.  Instead, I’ve mostly been focused on my next design in the My Mountain contest.  (You can find my first finished design here.)

Here’s the gauge swatch for my second My Mountain design.

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Battle of the egg-shaped crochet hook handles!

I first became aware of egg-shaped, ergonomic crochet hook handles some time last year while visiting the Lion Brand Yarn Studio.  If you knew me in real life, you would know that I’m somewhat… cheap.  I saw this ergonomic crochet hook set and my first thought was, “$24!  But I already have tons of crochet hooks at home!”  The set had a bizarre effect on me though, and after going home my mind kept returning to the hook handles.

I was also teaching crochet and knitting at Micheals during the time, and I discovered that Boye had a similar product, the Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Hook Handle.  I decided to try it out with my employee discount.

My two best friends were nice enough to hook me up (pun intended) with my very own Eleggant Hook set for my birthday, and I later purchased some additional hook sizes.  (I should mention that it was cheaper to order the specific sizes and parts I wanted and to have it shipped to the U.S. than it was to buy the pre-packaged set with sizes I don’t really use.  This is how I convinced my cheap inner self to order the additional hooks.)

So today I present to you my reviews of both ergonomic, egg shaped hook handles.

Boye vs. Eleggant!

What’s included 

The Boye kit includes a hook handle of indeterminate material (my guess is rubber or plastic) which can twist off to open, as well as 8 “washers” to fit various sizes of crochet hooks.  The retail prices is $7.99.  Hooks are not included.

The Eleggant kit includes a wooden handle with metal adjustor, six modified crochet hooks (steel hooks in sizes 1.25 mm, 1.75 mm, and 2.25 mm, and aluminum hooks in sizes 3.5 mm/E, 5.0 mm/H, and 6.0 mm/J), and o-rings.  The retail price is $24.99CAD.  Alternatively, you can customize your own set by purchasing the handle ($15.00CAD), o-rings ($1.00CAD/10), and modified hooks in your favorite sizes ($1.50CAD – $1.75CAD each).

The verdict: The Boye kit seems less expensive, but it doesn’t include any hooks.  If you add the cost of hooks, then the prices are actually quite similar.

 

 

Small, color coded plastic washers are added to the Boye crochet hooks to create a snug fit inside the handle.

How it works

With the Boye kit, you attach plastic washers to each crochet hook.  The washers are a bit tough to get on because they are made to fit quite snug.  The washers are color coded so you have to examine the little color chart to figure out which washer goes onto what size hook.  After the washer is on the hook, you twist the hook handle open, insert the hook, and then twist the handle to close.  It takes some practice to position the washer properly so that the hook isn’t jiggling around in the handle.  A downside to this system was that once I put the washers on to my existing hooks, I didn’t have much interest in removing them.  They were really tough to get off around the point of the hook.  Since I was using my regular crochet hooks with this handle and there are certain types of stitches (e.g., the bullion stitch) that are difficult to work with the egg-shaped handle, the end result was that I have been using my Boye hooks less.

With the Eleggant hooks kit, you attach o-rings to the base of the modified crochet hooks.  Then you use the metal adjustor to tighten the handle around the hook.  I found these easier to use and since I have a dedicated set of modified hooks for the handle, I can pick it up whenever I feel like using an ergonomic egg-shaped hook without any impact on my other crochet tools.

The verdict: The Boye handle often leaves the hook jiggling around inside unless you place the washer very precisely.  The Eleggant hook handle occasionally snags the yarn at the join between the o-rings and the adjustor.  (This may be because I tend to move my stitches further down on the hook than other people when crocheting.)  Overal, I found the Eleggant hook handle easier to use and it feels more sturdy and snug than the Boye hook handle.

 

 

The Eleggant hook handle attaches to modified crochet hooks.

Other stuff

Feel: The Eleggant hook handle is made of wood and feels much better on the hands.  The Boye hook handle was almost instantly covered with cat fur and dust, and requires frequent washing.  Also, it tends to get “sweaty” when it is warm.

Durability: Again, I’d have to go with the Eleggant kit.  It looks and feels much more sturdy than the Boye handle and washers.

Ease of use: Honestly, crocheting with an egg-shaped handle takes a bit of getting used to.  With both handles, you would need some practice to get comfortable.

Customer support: The folks at Magique Enterprises are nice enough to share a video explaining how to use the Eleggant hook on YouTube.

YouTube Preview Image

There’s no such luck over at the Simplicity YouTube channel.

Hook selection: Both sets are made to work with the Boye style hooks.  But what if you prefer the shape of point and throat of another brand of crochet hooks?  According to reviews that I’ve read online, the Boye kit can be used with Susan Bates hooks even though they are not the same length as Boye hooks.  If you want to use a different type of hook with the Eleggant handle, you will definitely need access to tools which can precisely cut metal.  (I didn’t test this out myself because my only aluminum hooks at home are the Boye brand, which I prefer.)

Finding the right size hook: The Boye kit has color coded washers and if your Boye hooks are also color coded, that you can probably easily find the right size.  The washer, when positioned correctly, will probably cover the size information on the hook handle though.  As for the Eleggant kit, supposedly the hook size is etched into each hook.  When looking through mine, however, I’ve found that two don’t have the size etched into the modified hook.

The verdict: Overall, I prefer the Eleggant hook handle.  It feels sturdier, fits the hook more snug, and is smaller to hold in your palm.  In fact, soon after the second time that I washed my Boye hook handle, I gave up on using it.  Since I live with a cat, there is just no way that it can stay clean.  However, if you really need more access to a broader range of hooks, you may want to consider the Boye handle.

F.O. Friday – Washcloths (Check!)

Doesn’t it feel great to check something off your holiday gift list?  I’m officially finished with my washcloths.  The last one was made in Lily Sugar ‘n Cream in Westport.

It was very hard to photograph the stitch pattern with the variegated yarn, but trust me, it is awesome.

(You can see the other three washcloths in last week’s post.)  I made one for each of the ladies in my dad’s family.

My plan is to wrap some natural soap with the washcloths, and then use some holiday “take out containers” I bought at Michaels a few years ago for packaging.

How’s your holiday crafting going?

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

There’s still time to enter my giveaway for a classic edition of Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book. Check out my knitting stitch guide review post for details.

Thursday craft goals update – Week 28

And now, for my weekly update on my updated craft goals.

Personal crafting goals

1) Work my way through Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters. In my Year of Projects post this week, I included an update on my progress so far.  I’m now about 1/3 through the book.

2) Make something handmade for my mom and sister for the holidays (or their birthdays). I’m working on the design for a Saints-themed blanket for my sister.  I posted some ideas here and would appreciate any feedback.  So far, the Double Irish Chain pattern has a strong lead.

5) Limit new yarn purchases, increase the ratio of natural to synthetic fibers in my stash, and continue to destash any yarn or notions that I won’t be using in the near future. I sold 5 skeins from my stash sale on Etsy this week (yay!) and I also awarded some stash yarn as prizes as part of my Crochet 101 Student Showcase.

6) Make and donate more charity crochet projects in 2012 than in 2011. I’m in the running to be a “charity sponsor” on the Crochetlist Yahoo group for 2012.  I will keep you posted if my application is accepted.

Professional crafting goals

3) Publish at least five patterns. It looks like I will be working with a yarn company to release some free patterns in the near future.  More details (and patterns) to come!

4) Blog at least twice a week. I did take a break after Blogtoberfest, but I seem to be posting pretty regularly.

10) Become a CYC Certified Knitting Instructor (Level I-Instructor). I have been very slow about completing the correspondence course that I started when I was teaching at Michaels.  So I contacted the CYC and there will be an on-site course at the Fashion Institute of Technology in February, taught the fabulous Arnetta Kenney.  I decided to sign up.

How are you progressing towards your craft goals?

F.O. Friday and I Love Yarn Day!

Happy Friday everyone!  I’ve been thinking for a while about how to celebrate I Love Yarn Day, since I first read about it on the Craft Yarn Council website.  The CYC has several suggestions about what to do to celebrate (and several projects from famous designers, too!).

My post for today is a celebration of my favorite yarns and also about yarncrafting for charity.  If you have been crocheting or knitting for any amount of time, you have probably found that we yarncrafters are a generous lot.  I even have some Finished Objects to share, in the form of charity crochet projects.

My Favorite Yarns

My current favorites are Cascade Eco Duo, Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love, Dream in Color Classy, Patons Classic Wool, and Spud and Chloe Sweater.

Top (from left to right): Eco Duo, Alpaca Love. Bottom (from left to right): Classy, Classic Wool (ombre) with Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool (solid), Sweater.

Cascade Eco Duo

Like most of the yarns on my list, I discovered this super soft yarn in my LYS, Knitty City.  As the name implies, Cascade Eco Duo is an eco-friendly yarn made of undyed baby alpaca (70%) and undyed Merino wool (30%).  Since it is undyed, it is offered in a relatively limited range of colors (mostly browns, blacks, whites – very gender neutral) and it is marled.  The softness is incredible and it is really nice to work with.  There is a kind of self-striping effect with most of the colors.  The one drawback for me is that it isn’t machine washable, and since I hate handwashing, I only use this yarn for small accessories.

Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love

This is my favorite big box store yarn. Alpaca Love is also a wool (80%) and alpaca (20%) blend.  I love the feel of the yarn – a great combination of softness with firmness.  It comes in some very fun coordinated colors.  This yarn is very affordable (especially when purchased at Michaels using a coupon!).  The drawbacks for me are the handwashing issue again, and the limited color range.  I usually get around the handwashing issue by felting projects made with this yarn :).

Dream in Color Classy

Dream in Color Classy is another great yarn that I first tried out at Knitty City.  This yarn has recently made several appearances on the blog (in my crocodile stitch project and my yarn haul post).  Classy is a 100% superwash Merino wool yarn that is spun and hand dyed in the U.S.  The colors are variegated and are really fabulous.  The only drawback here for me is the cost, which means that I have to save it for slightly more special occasions.  At least there are 250 yards in each skein, which makes me feel a little less guilty when splurging!

Patons Classic Wool

Patons Classic Wool is another big box store yarn.  It is 100% wool and it is available in a great variety of colors, including both solids and ombres.  (A few colors are also available as tweeds.)  The  solids have 210 yards in each skein and are reasonably priced.  It isn’t the softest wool I’ve felt, but it isn’t scratchy, either.  It is a great, firm, workhorse yarn which doesn’t split.  The only real drawback for me is that it isn’t machine washable.

Spud and Chloe Sweater

Sweater is probably the yarn in this group that I’ve worked with the most.  It is a blend of 55% superwash wool and 45% organic cotton.  I also found it at Knitty City :) about a year ago.  I first picked up a skein of Turtle for a design submission which wasn’t accepted.  I loved the yarn so much that I submitted two more designs with it, which were both accepted.  The first was my Sunshine Blanket, published in the August, 2011 issue of Inside Crochet.  I am also in the middle of a top secret project using these colors for Cooperative Press‘s Fresh Designs Crochet (Kids) book, which should be published in 2012.  I honestly can’t think of any drawbacks to this yarn: the colors are great, it is machine washable, and it feels nice :).

You may have noticed that all of these yarns are worsted weight – yes, I am one of those American yarncrafters that prefers a heavier weight yarn!  You may have also noticed that all of these yarns are made with natural fibers.  I am by no means a “yarn snob” – I work with Red Heart Super Saver, too.  But recently, I have really tried to limit my purchasing of acrylic yarn.  I just don’t feel comfortable buying a yarn made from crude oil anymore.  This is my own personal choice as part of changes I’ve made in my life to be more environmentally conscious.  On the other hand, I can’t just let the existing acrylic yarn in my stash go to waste (that’s  not too eco-friendly either), and so that is where some of my charity crafting and experiments with freeform crochet come into play.

Charity Crafting

One great way to use up your stash while finding a home for some of your creations is through charity crafting.  I especially like to make items for infants and pets (because they are fast and cute, and because my very own special cat was adopted from the Humane Society).

I was inspired by the phrase “Think globally.  Act locally.” and decided to make up a list of local NYC charities that accept handmade donations.  I checked in with all of these organizations, and the list is current as of October, 2011.

Snuggles Project sites:

  • ASPCA, the first humane organization in the Western hemisphere, has a wishlist of donated items for their Manhattan adoption center which includes handmade bedding or toys.  Items can be dropped off during regular adoption hours.
  • Bideawee, the oldest no-kill animal humane organization in the U.S., welcomes Snuggles in any size for cats and dogs in its adoption center.  These can be delivered in person, or mailed to the attention of Lauren Bonanno at the Manhattan location.
  • S.A.V.E., a pet rescue organization in Queens, is looking for small or medium sized bedding.  Email the organization at savepetNY@aol.com to arrange pick up.

Knits for Infants is looking for hats, booties, sweaters, and blankets in soft, machine washable yarns for newborns and infants being treated at the North Central Bronx Hospital.  Having worked in the health care industry in the Bronx for years, I can say that families served by this hospital would really benefit from the donations.  They also accept yarn donations (no novelty yarns or “scratchy” yarns like Red Heart Super Saver, please).

For those of you who live in the U.S. outside of New York, some great organizations you might consider donating to are one of the organizations listed on the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation website (Oglala Sioux Tribe families and elders), Knit Your Bit through the National WW II Museum (scarves for veterans) and  The Red Scarf Project through Foster Care to Success (scarves for foster care students in college).  Internationally, you can find a participating animal shelter/pet rescue organization that accepts handmade donations through the Snuggles Project.  Of course, this is just a small sampling of organizations, and there are many more out there!

Finished Objects


Today, I’m showing off some of the projects that I’m donating to charity for I Love Yarn Day.

Six scarves for Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi, Inc. (LOWO).
Two scarves, a hat, and mittens for toddlers via Knits for Infants. I have two other hats in the works, too.
This is a close up of my snuggle for Bideawee. I plan to make a few more using scrap yarn (I doubt the doggies are too concerned about the colors).

My post yesterday was a reflection on my craft goals for the year, and I’m thinking that when I update them, I will add some charity crafting goals.  I used to donate a lot of projects to charity, and I would like to make more crocheted donations in the coming months.

For more finished objects, don’t forget to stop by Tami’s Amis!

A Final Word on Awesome Yarn

A few weeks ago, I won a giveaway from Danielle at A Stash Addicts Ramblings for my choice of sock yarn from her Jane & Michael Etsy shop.  This lovely skein arrived yesterday, just in time for I Love Yarn Day!

The colorway is called Emerald Forest.

 

(On a side note, I remember being totally confused by The Emerald Forest as a kid, since I was, of course, way too young to have any real sense of what the film was about!)

There's a good chance that this may eventually transform itself into a gift for my mom.

Thanks, Danielle!

To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.

Reminders:

  • You have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, October 19 to enter the giveaway for Val Pierce‘s Knitted Mug Hugs (Twenty to Make) by visiting this post.
  • If you want to learn to crochet or improve your skills, you can still join in on my Crochet 101 crochet-a-long.  For details, read this post.

 

Are you near a Michaels store?

Today is the Instructor open house at every Michaels location in the U.S. and Canada.  I will be at the Manhattan Store from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. promoting my knitting and crochet classes.  You can get 50% off the registration for any class you sign up for today (crochet, knit, Wilton, painting, jewelry, scrapbooking, etc.).  So if you plan on taking a class at your local Michaels in September or October, stop by today.

Thursday craft goals update, week 15, and week of giveaways, day 7

Today’s post is mostly self-promotional :).  Since Thursday is usually the day when I give my weekly update on my annual craft goals, it seemed to be fitting.

September is around the corner, and that means that registration is coming up for several classes I will be teaching in NY/NJ.  Here’s a little calendar preview for those of you in the area…

  • Monday, 9/5: All Things Fiber Camp 2012 (in Rhinebeck, NY) doesn’t start until May 13, but you can save $100 off the early bird registration if you are one of the first 25 registrations received by 9/5.  For more information, check out the All Things Fiber Camp website, my instructor page, the blog, or the Facebook page.
  • Saturday, 9/10: Michaels is having an open house with all of its instructors.  Stop by and meet me at the Manhattan store.  You can find the schedule for the knitting and crochet classes I teach at Michaels here.
  • Saturday, 9/17 & Sunday, 9/18: I’ll be teaching Introduction to Tunisian Crochet on Saturday and Reversible Crochet Hats (using double-ended crochet) on Saturday and Sunday at the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival in Hemlock, NY.  Check out the Festival page on Facebook and group on Ravelry.  Register by September 1 using this form!
  • Saturday, 9/24: The fall Saturday Activity Classes for DC 37 union members, retirees, and their families start on the 24th, and I’ll be teaching knit and crochet.  For more information and to register, contact the Education Department at 212-815-1650.
  • Friday, 9/30: I’ll be teaching Tunisian Crochet Basics, the Perfect Fit for Canines, and Amigurumi 101 at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival in Ridgewood, NJ.  If you pre-register for classes by 9/20, you get free admission to the Festival, so go ahead and save 8 bucks!  Check out the website, Facebook page, and group on Ravelry for more information.

In other craft goal news, since my last update, I’ve:

  • posted another filet crochet installment as part my Crochet Master Class project (Personal crafting goal #2),
  • started filming my first videos, to be posted in the fall (Professional crafting goal #2),
  • blogged every day (Professional crafting goal #4), and
  • finally figured out how to embed YouTube videos in my self-hosted WordPress blog (Professional crafting goal #9).

Have you made any progress towards your craft goals this week?

The Giveaway

Today is the last day in my week of giveaways to celebrate my 100th blog post.  In keeping with the theme of this post, today’s giveaway is Crochet: 100+ Patterns Throughout the Year: 2012 Day-to-Day Calendar.  I have three patterns in the calendar.

The calendar has over 100 crochet patterns from many designers.

You will have 10 days to enter each giveaway.  To enter for a chance to win this fun crochet calendar,

  • Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, August 21, 2011.  Be sure to include your email address (which won’t be displayed) so I can contact you if you win.  (Please note that my comments are moderated, so if you are a new visitor, it will not appear immediately.)
  • For a second chance to win, like the Underground Crafter Facebook page.  Then you can either post a comment on Facebook or here again so I will give you a second entry.  (If you already like my Facebook page, you can still post a comment for another chance to win.)
  • For a third chance to win, share the link to this giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, or your blog.  Then post a comment here with the link to your Tweet or blog post, or leave a comment on my Facebook page so I will give you a third entry.
  • If I reach 100 “likes” on my Facebook page by the end of this giveaway, I will send out another copy to a second winner, so please feel free to share the link.
  • I am willing to ship this internationally, so please feel free to enter from any location.

Remember that you still have time to enter my other giveaways…