The Dreaded Dratted Fuzzies

I love Novelty yarns.  Anything fuzzy or sparkly tends to draw my eye.  But knitting and crocheting with these yarns can be a challenge.  Particularly  if you have to frog your work when stitching with fuzzy yarns.

Shawl in Universal Yarns Swiss Mohair

A few of my favorite commercially available fuzzy yarns are Lion Brand’s Homespun, Premier Yarn’s Alpaca Dance, KnitPick’s Suri Dream, Caron Yarn’s Dazzleaire and Universal Yarn’s Swiss Mohair. 

Basically what I consider “fuzzy” yarns are any yarns that have a “halo” to them while you are working with them. Generally if there is Mohair or Suri Alpaca in the blend you are going to have some halo to contend with.

With crochet it is easy to twist the fibers of the halo together within a stitch.  Making undoing the stitches, or working into the top of a stitch extra challenging.

So here are some tips for working with and frogging fuzzy yarns without losing your mind:

1 – Don’t work tightly.  Using a small gauge needle or hook with these yarns is almost an engraved invitation to insanity. Most are marked as a bulky or super bulky yarn, and folks, they are not kidding.  When crocheting with most novelty yarns the smallest hook I use is a K (6.5mm).

2 – Working with a very pointed hook can help you get through the stitches without splitting the yarn.

3 – Avoid the grab and yank approach to frogging or even pulling your yarn out of a center pull skein.  Be prepared to be patient with these yarns and make your stitching (un-stitching) speed a bit slower.

4 – Have a small hook or needle on hand to tease apart the fibers if your stitches get stuck when  working.

5 – If you are making a toy or other project that needs tight stitchwork requiring a smaller hook or needle. Work slowly and be prepared with extra yarn in case you run into problems. Generally it is nearly impossible to frog your work when tightly stitching fuzzy yarns.

6 – If your fuzzy yarn gets it’s fuzziness from Mohair, sometimes sticking the project in the freezer for a bit can make it easier to unravel.

Good luck with your next fuzzy project. It’s well worth taking pains with these yarns to create luxurious wraps, scarves, garments and cuddly toys.

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A Confusion of Seasons

Yesterday, while in Boulder I took these pictures of some blossoming trees and shrubs.

This morning I woke up to this scene.

One of the challenges for a designer is that you are often required to design items for a season that is 6-8 months ahead of you.  So I guess I should be grateful for the snow, since I am currently coming up with design ideas for Winter.

Still, I really wouldn’t mind if we were getting rain instead of snow. I’m quite ready for some warm Spring like weather, instead of our typical Mountain Spring time weather.

Conductivity

Conductivity is all about how well energy travels thru a material.  In the case of crochet hooks it’s about how well that material conducts heat.

One thing that can affect how comfortable a hook is in your hand is the material it is made from.  If your hook is sucking all the heat from your hands, it could increase your risk for repetitive stress injuries.

For some crocheters, there is no real worry about conductivity. They don’t spend hours on end stitching. Their time with the hook is interrupted and intermittent.  That is actually a good thing. Because it means breaks are sort of  “built in” to their stitching time.

But what about folks that spend a couple of hours at a time stitching or those who are plagued by arthritic pain in the hands? Then the material their hook is made of can make a world of difference.

Susan Bates and Boyes Hooks

Metal hooks are the big culprit when it comes to discomfort crocheting.  They are also the most commonly available and affordable hooks out there. In the US particularly, the aluminum hooks manufactured by Susan Bates and Boye are the most frequently sold hooks.

Any kind of metal though is a great conductor of heat.  And heat is something you need to keep in your hands to avoid repetitive stress injuries or arthritic pain.

Personally I love metal hooks. They tend to be smooth and fast with most yarn fibers. They are also durable, especially when it comes to working with non-traditional materials.  It works much better to crochet wire with a metal hook as opposed to using a wood or plastic one.

My Tulip Etimo and Clover Soft Touch Hooks

This is one of the reasons that I like my Clover Soft Touch and Tulip Etimo hooks so much. I get the best of both worlds. Metal hook with a warmer less conductive handle. But they can be daunting to some crafters as the individual cost per hook is about 3 times that of regular metal hooks.

Susan Bates Bamboo Handled Hooks

Susan Bates also has a hook series with Bamboo handles that I’ve heard good reports about.  My hook hold is such that they aren’t that ideal for me, though I need to  use them a bit more to decide if I would recommend them.

If you are only working with yarn, then wood or plastic hooks could be fine for you. 

ChiaoGoo Bamboo Hooks

A very affordable option for a wood hook are the bamboo hooks from ChiaoGoo, they come in a wide range of sizes and are often my choice for design projects that need a larger gauge hook. 

My Laurel Hill Ebony Hooks

The Laurel Hill hooks are lovely if you are willing to pay a bit more. They sit beautifully in the hand and are finished super smooth to glide thru any yarn fiber you want to work with.  They do have a very tapered throat, so that can make gauge a little trickier.

Clover Reflections Ergonomic Hooks

My favorite plastic hooks are from Clover. They currently are only available in sets of 3 hooks. Size N, L, & K and Sizes J, H, & G are packaged together in a handy and decorative tube. They are not as smooth as the other hooks I’ve mentioned, but they are quite serviceable and the shape is very hand friendly as well as the plastic will warm up to your touch without cooling off your hand.

Modified Hook Handles

If you are more of a DIY kind of crafter you can always modify your hook. I have an article at the Crochet Uncut website on using shelf liner to add width to your hook.  Making a Hook Friendly.

Spring Break?

Up here on the mountain wintertime leaves us reluctantly. We just returned earlier this week from a 10 day road trip (the reason the poor blog has been a bit quiet) to visit family in Kansas and Ohio. It was my boy’s Spring Break from school.

The weather was warming and spring like when we left, but even before we got back to our mountain we were feeling like winter wasn’t ready to give over the reins to spring and summer yet.

I spent a good part of our driving time crocheting of course. I had planned to work on a sock yarn project, but the fine yarn and the dark color I was working with didn’t work so well for car stitching.

Instead I played with some swatching for some wintertime designs.

I’m a big fan of large snuggly scarves.  Something that can be used to keep your neck warm under a coat, or that you can wrap around your shoulders for some additional warmth in a drafty house or office.  It is very likely what these swatches are destined to grow into some day soon.