Crochet in the Groove

To find something in crochet that I have never seen before takes some doing, but I was fortunate enough to have one such product find me.

The Groove by Chetnanigans is a hand crafted tool designed to make the creation of broomstick lace quicker and easier. My understanding of its origins involves a woodworking husband fulfilling the dreams of his crocheting wife. This couple has created many creative products to fulfill the needs of crocheters including, but not limited to; hook and notion organizers, blocking boards, and hair pin lace looms. But the groove is something unlike anything else I have seen.

Sean and Holly of Chetnanigans reached out to me earlier this summer, after noticing that I was teaching a Broomstick Lace Technique class at the CGOA national Chainlink conference. They asked if I would give the Groove a try and give them some feedback. Well I found it unique enough to even share it with my students, many of which ordered their own.

Traditional broomstick lace has been done with a knitting needles. By working loops over a knitting needle and then working the loops back off to create a stitch that sometimes is noted as resembling the eye of a peacock tail. One of the biggest drawbacks to this techniques is that it is a bit awkward…it feels like you need a third hand to hold everything.

The Groove addresses this issue by putting a base on the “needle” so that it can actually stand upright on a table, so simple it becomes a “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of thing. However the Groove doesn’t just stop there, it then has…well…a groove at its tip. It is this groove that sets the Groove apart.

A crochet hook slips into this slit and under the loops that have been added to ease the removal and really make the process faster. When using a traditional knitting needle you move these loops to the tip and work your crochet hook between the loops and needle, it is not particularly difficult, but it is a slow process when compared to using the Groove.

The Groove is equivalent of a 25mm knitting needle, or in other terms has a 1” diameter shaft, so it is a perfect size for light to medium weight yarns. It has a nice weight, not feeling to light or flimsy or to heavy and clumsy. The only drawback I have found is that my kids think it would be a great spike to kill vampires or even club someone, so I have to keep an eye on its location to ensure that it is only used for its intended purpose. But if I find some vampires I guess I am prepared, and in the mean time I will have a great time crocheting up some broomstick lace.

Memory Magic In A Hook

I have used the same hooks for years. Since working in crochet professionally I have learned that there are many different hooks with different subtleties and that there are many people that love them for various reasons.  However I still believe the most powerful hooks are the ones that share memories.

I am hard pressed to find a crocheter that doesn’t have a hook that shares memories, some remind me of particular projects, some remind me of people, and some remind me of times. I even have some that simply share a memory as an idea or inspiration.

I have a hook that reminds me of the time I began crocheting with wire and all the craft fairs I worked selling necklaces. I have a set of hooks that were gifted me upon a friend’s death, so obviously these hooks remind me of her. I have a hook that reminds me of my grandmother. I have a little glass jar of hooks that reminds me of my aunt while stirring my imagination about my great-grandmother. A hook that reminds me of appreciation, a hook that reminds me of a friend.

I have a hook that reminds me of an incredible trip I took, a hook that reminds me of the lunch with a friend. I have a hook that reminds me of a design that an editor of a magazine really loved. I have a hook that reminds me of student’s questions. I have a set of hooks that reminds me to be humble, a set that reminds me to be kind, a set that reminds me of friendship, and a set that reminds me of generosity; all because of the stories behind them.

These memories might be more powerful in my designing as the yarn itself. These memories somehow have become embedded in the handles and find themselves helping to create new magic. Memories can be magic, and I am in awe of how much magic sits in my jar.

Crochet Attachment, or Attached to Me

When I was younger crochet was an emotional outlet, I do not know if I could say the same thing today. Maybe crochet has grown up with me, or maybe it has just become ingrained to my every day.

I remember when I was in high school that my brother use to joke that is anyone was cold and needed a blanket, then find a guy for me to date then break up with me. Not that I dated much at all, but break-ups did through me into an afghan making frenzy. Everyone in my family has at least one, friends from the time can probably say the same.

It was not necessarily that I was filling my stitches with tears, as much as it kept my hands busy and helped to let my mind focus. I guess in a sense it was my meditation. I am not sure if it applies the same today.

I crochet daily, but now it has a different focus, it is part of my work. I keep more notes about the stitches I am working, I am deciding the best way to highlight a yarn, I am thinking of things for blog posts, I am exploring different ways to explain techniques in teaching, basically I have lost my mind wandering. I am not completely sure that this has come from the position of it being my work, or the many years that I have been doing it, over ¾ of my life.

I also am not working nearly as many afghans. I made many blankets over the years, I really only started making garments about a decade ago. In all things relative that is very short amount of time. So maybe that has taken to my change of my crochet experience, that I have expanded the scope of my outlet.

I may not recognize it as my emotional outlet, but nearly twenty years of marriage could have curbed that need. I still am not sure what I would do with my hands while seated just about anywhere, so maybe crochet has grown into something more primal, maybe it is just a part of me that I cannot see as separate.

Small Town, Small World, Big Punch in Fiber Arts

The world has ways of reminding me that it is much smaller then I think, and I have had friends recently make me think of my home town a bit differently. I grew up, currently live, and have long roots in the California gold country; a friend made a comment about living in such a historic place, and I admit I think I probably have taken that for granted. However the craziest thing isn’t how much my area has history, it is how often I learn about companies in the fiber industry that have roots here too.

 

As I was getting into the profession of crochet I began to pay a bit more attention to my surrounding in regards to other professionals. My local Fibers Guild (a groups of members that love all things yarn) I learned that there was a yarn company just a short distance from my kids school, Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks. I have worked with Lisa over the years to help create crochet designs in her beautiful yarns, as well as help work her show booth and visit various cities throughout the United States.

 

If only having a well-established yarn company in my town was enough, I also learned that a nationally recognized fiber spinning instructor and author, Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff, grew up in my community as well. Heck she was only a year ahead of me in high school, but my high school was large enough that I can honestly say that we did not run in the same circles. Her family owns a well-known local winery, and she has a studio just near the tasting room, that I have had the pleasure of teaching workshops at.

 

Those two connections should be more than enough, then I got into a conversation with a long time member of my Fiber Guild and when she learned where I lived she immediately assumed that I must know Lorna Miser, the creator and founder of Lorna’s Laces yarn. I did not know her, but the connection was made that as I was growing up she was starting the yarn company literally about 2 miles from my childhood home. There is even a colorway within the yarn company that features my street name, Bucks Bar. I did meet Lorna a few years later, and long after she had sold the business that is now housed in the Chicago, Illinois area, I was when working on some designs for a book that she was working on, and learned that she knew several members of my extended family. Even though up until very recently she and I only lived about thirty minutes apart, while she was starting up her latest yarn adventure, Zombie Yarns,  we would only cross paths at trade shows thousands of miles from home; but that is how it works out at times isn’t it? Never have lunch with a friend when you are in the everyday routine of home, but definitely make time when out of the ordinary grind.

 

So looking back over the connections above to my community, I thought that maybe there was something in the water or maybe every community as secret fiber artists dwelling in plain sight. Then I was at a trade show earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio when a friend and colleague escorted me over to check out a hook supplier. Honestly, I was tagging along a bit, my mind was already taking in the days discussions with various yarn companies when the gentleman, Chris Barnes, mentioned something about California. I mentioned I was from Placerville, that got him to look up, as he started he grew up there. Now I should mention that when traveling it is exciting to find someone that can pronounce the name of the town correctly (it is a short a sound), let alone know where it is without me drawing a map. We began chatting back and forth to find that we knew several of the same people and he was only two years ahead of me in high school and hung out with my cousin during his high school years. Apparently he had just taken over the business his father had started in my hometown, Brittany Needles. The company moved several years back to a little down on the northern coast that I enjoy vacationing at, Mendocino, but it started right here in my little gold rush town.

 

I know I have taken the local gold rush history for granted, but I did not realize that there was such a rich fiber arts history in the professional sense surrounding me. Honestly, since this last connection I am beginning to think I need to question the ladies at the Hangtown Fibers Guild more, as when I excitedly mention these new to me connections, they have already know everyone involved.  I wonder if there are any other industry connections hidden away in my back yard.

Batiste- Some Nice Texture and Color

What some may not realize about my yarn reviews…they are really just for me. Yes, I am a bit selfish. However I have found that by reviewing a yarn weekly, it helps me hone my skills. Don’t get me wrong I hope you, the reader, gets some insight too, but I helps me focus on a fiber that I have in my working stash and imagine its possibilities. So you will see me discuss the fiber content, as this can really effect the drape and performance of the yarn, I also will remind myself of how it feels and if it works up well. I note the weight and length of the skein so that I can keep a mental note of how many skeins it would take to work up a desired project.

www.lindadeancrochet.comI recently travels to a yarn trade show. There are many various companies and different yarns to touch hold and get inspired by. Honestly, it can be a bit overwhelming, but it has provided me with some new yarns to critique and make notes about, such as Batiste from Knit One Crochet Too.

I cannot say that I have ever worked with yarn from this company before, I have seen it and heard the name, but never had the pleasure of crossing paths with a skein before. Batiste is made up of 50% fine merino wool 30% linen and 20% silk. The soft nature of the merino really shines through, while the linen offers a bit of a heather appearance in the color. The linen also offers the yarn a bit more structure and can allow the fabric to appear wrinkled or creased if put under pressure.

Even with the heathering it still has nice stitch definition, showing texture a bit more subtly than some yarns, but still very nice. It is listed as a Fine weight yarn, but I felt really comfortable using a 5.00mm hook (size H/8) so it didn’t feel at all too fine.

I can easily see this worked up as a garment or accessory close to the skin. The hank has a decent size with 208 yards/190 meters at 50 gram/1.75oz, so a small light shawl might take only 2 hanks, but I would prefer to use at least 3 to get a nice size.

Overall, a nice yarn that spurs some ideas. If you want to check out more of my yarn thoughts select the “Yarn Play” under the website categories.