I’m very excited to be (almost) recovered from a cold that wiped me out for a few days so I can jump right back into the NatCroMo excitement! Today is the first in a series of weekly posts where I will feature an artisanal crochet hook maker, share a review of the hooks, and offer up a giveaway where you can win your very own hand crafted crochet hook!
This post contains affiliate links.
Today’s post features Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking LLC. David Shepherd is the woodworker and maker behind the shop, and Kelly is responsible for the administrative work including listing items on Etsy. You can also find David and Kelly online on the Shepherd’s Woodworking Facebook page. Both David and Kelly have stopped by today for an interview, followed by my review of a Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking crochet hook, and a giveaway for another hook from the shop, so read on for details!
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started working with wood?
David: I started woodworking when I was 7 years old with my father in his wood shop in the barn behind the house. When I was in high school, I went to work in a cabinetry shop with my father. When the shop closed, I decided to open my own shop, Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking LLC, making custom cabinetry, furniture, and refinishing and repairing wooden items. And, later making fiber art tools.
UC: What initially inspired you to make handmade crochet hooks?
Kelly: Making crochet hooks was my sister’s Idea. I had bought her a pair for rosewood crochet hooks for her birthday a few years earlier and not since then seen wooden hooks for sale.
David: I borrowed a few hooks for examples and started experimenting. I broke a lot of heads off the crochet hooks before I was able to get it just right.
UC: Do you crochet yourself? If not, who tests out your new hook designs?
David: I was taught by a teacher in school when I was 8-9? years old. But I do not use that skill very often.
Kelly: I am the official hook tester and my sister gets called in sometimes to help test products.
UC: Many crocheters have never owned a handmade hook before. Do you have a recommended wood or size for someone venturing into a handmade hook for the first time?
David: The wood hook can be fit to the person and their style better then a one-size-fits-all store bought hook. If you like a light weight hook, sure. A domestic wood like elm or maple would be great. You like your hook to have some weight? Madagascar ebony or blood wood is the way to go. You don’t like dark colors, ok, so yellow heart or maybe oak. You just want a hook none of your friends have, maybe something playful like leopard wood or zebra wood or one of our dyed woods? As far as the size hook, our suggestion is to pick a size you use often or a new size you want to try. The length and wider handle will help with hand fatigue and just make crocheting more comfortable .
At the fiber shows, we encourage someone looking for a new hook to touch them all. Each one has its own unique feel, almost an energy of their own. And when you find your hook you will know it.
UC: Do you have any crochet/crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Kelly: I am on Ravelry every day. I have also been on your blog and have found several wonderful patterns.
UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?
Kelly: We will be in Michigan for the Spring Fiber Expo at the end of March. We will be having a sale in our Etsy shop. (UC comment: Use coupon code NATCROMO for a 10% discount off anything in the shop through March, 2015!)
UC: Where can people find you at upcoming events?
Kelly: We will be at several shows this year:
- Michigan Spring Fiber Expo in Ann Arbor: Saturday & Sunday, March 28 & 29, 2015
- Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, Ohio: Friday through Sunday, May 22 – 24, 2015
- Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair in Granville, Ohio: Saturday & Sunday, June 13 & 14, 2015
- Autumn Fiber Festival in Ashland, Ohio: Saturday, October 17, 2015
Thanks so much for stopping by, David and Kelly!
David and Kelly sent me a purple heart/purple wood US J-10/6 mm crochet hook to sample for a review. You can see the hook in action and watch my full review in the video below. I also demonstrate how you can use this hook to create plump bullion stitches.
This is an inline hook where the point, throat, and shaft of the hook have the same circumference. There is a thumb rest and the hook is unusually long (approximately 8.25″ (21 cm). After the thumb rest, the hook tapers quite a bit.
What I like about this hook:
- It’s very lightweight and smooth.
- The purple heart/purple wood is a beautiful, purplish brown.
- The company name and the year the hook was made are printed on the handle so you can easily find the artisan again if you’d like to order more.
- The hook size is etched into the handle and filled in with a contrasting color so it’s easy to read.
- The long handle allows you to avoid any abrasion against the side of your hand that sometimes happens when you use the knife grip to hold your hook.
- The long handle’s taper makes it great for forming bullion stitches and other dimensional stitches like puffs that use many yarn overs.
- The design is lovely so it’s a great conversation starter!
What might take some getting used to about this hook:
- It is unusually long so it may not fit into your existing hook holders.
- The finish, while smooth, grips the yarn a bit. I expect that over time/with frequent use this will diminish.
- Crocheters who prefer hooks with tapered throats to inline hooks may find it harder to pull the yarn through their loops with this hook. (Though I generally prefer tapered hooks, I found this one easy to use.)
Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking hooks currently sell for $16.50 – $24, depending on the size and wood used. You can find more of their hooks and their other products, including yarn bowls, knitting needles, and more, in the Etsy shop here.
Full disclosure: A free review sample was provided by Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking LLC. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.
David and Kelly have been kind enough to offer a great giveaway to one lucky reader! Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for your chance to win a crochet hook from the Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking Etsy shop by Sunday, March 15, 2015. Only entries logged through the widget will be eligible to win. Good luck!