Category: Crochet and Knit

Dating Steel Crochet Needles and Hooks

Posted by – August 5, 2015

wire needle crochet hooks

As my crochet hook collection grew over the years, I began grouping my hooks first by material the hook is made from (not the handle) and then by style. Most of the more ornate and delicate styles are steel needles or hooks used for thread work and are no longer made. I wondered if I could date them. I eventually found four sources of information useful in dating hooks: patents/registered designs, materials technology, company documents and packaging.

Kippenburg patent card

Patents and registered designs are the most accurate way to date crochet hooks. Either can date the first release of a hook. Patents are usually for innovations in technology such as US patent 572809 by Kippenberg in 1896 for the flat (grip, thumb rest) found on most hooks today. British registered designs or US design patents are usually for a decorative element such as the handle like the diamond mark, US design patent D52973, on the grip of the Peerless Novelty Company hooks.

Materials technology covers the methods of working steel to form a crochet hook. The goal is to make a hook better, faster and cheaper. Steel for the earliest hooks was made in small batches and the hooks were fashioned the same as sewing needles. Later innovations allowed steel to be made in large batches and later still to have the steel formed by stamping machines. Materials technology gives a broader date range as it took time for the industry as a whole to switch from one technology to another. A new company might have to be formed or an established company might have to retool before a new technology would be incorporated.

Major milestones in materials technology for crochet hooks included the changes from small batch steel to large batch steel (Bessemer process patented in 1856) seen in the shift from needles in separate handles to one piece hooks, improvements in tool steel that allowed rods to be stamped into hooks instead of hooks being cut into the rod and decorations worked by lathe turning, and the switch from stamping to swagging. A summary of the materials technology in table format is shown in this link. Associated technologies can also be used to date crochet hooks such as offset lithography on tinplate, usually associated with tin toys, used for crochet hook covers.

daisy crochet hook 380 1915 Notions and Fancy Goods

Company documents such as advertisements, wholesale catalogs, incorporations, mergers and even litigation over trademarks can provide information on the age of a hook or the length of time a particular hook was manufactured. Advertisements and wholesale catalogs usually only give spot data on when a hook was in production but don’t address when it was first or last made. Legal documents such as articles of incorporation and mergers may put outer limits on the dates a hook was made. British crochet hook manufacturers in the early 1800s were cottage industries. These small manufacturers and their brands might cease to exist after a generation or two or might be consolidated into larger companies such as Milward with logos and brand names being used by the purchasing company. Legal documents can date these events.

packaging from 1963 or before when zip code introduced

Packaging can sometimes by useful in dating crochet hooks especially modern hooks. Boxes holding a dozen hooks were used from about 1900 into the 1960s. In the 1960s C. J. Bates changed to individual blister packages for needlework tools and won several awards in the packaging industry. Most large companies followed suit. Changes in the packaging such as price, whether there is a zip code (see image of package without zip code), and changes in logos and trademarks can all help with dating. For the Clipson hook shown, the Clipson trademark was registered in December 1949 and zip codes were created in 1963 so this packaging is from between 1950 and 1963.

The Lace Museum book release party

Posted by – May 28, 2015

Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting

The Lace Museum, 552 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale, California, is having a Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting ebook release party on Friday, June 5, 2015 from 7 – 9 pm as a part of their new First Friday series. The museum will have the knitted samples that were photographed for the book, a display of laces knitted by Mary herself from the museum’s collection, and a notebook of Mary’s family photos. And I’ll be there to fill in details and answer questions! Refreshments will be served and you will receive a discount code for 50% off Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting good until June 25, 2015.

While at the museum, check out the current display Lacy Beginnings celebrating lace finery for babies.

 

Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting

You can find Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting in the Interweave Press Store.

Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting release

Posted by – May 25, 2015

Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting

How exciting! My first ebook, Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting, has just been released by Interweave Press. The ebook contains over 20 knitting patterns collected by Mary Schiffmann, co-founder of the Lacy Knitters Guild.  Mary collected lace knitting pieces and patterns her whole life and from many sources. She knitted up each pattern and wrote out the instructions. This might involve translating old instructions into modern terminology or creating instructions from scratch for an heirloom doily that someone loaned her. Included in the book are patterns from sources as varied as Mary’s great aunt’s handwritten notebook to patterns she created to express her love of astronomy.

If you are a beginning lace knitter, you can improve your skills by following along with Mary’s 10 session course on learning to knit lace. The course starts out with a simple edging and each subsequent class introduces a more advanced skill. The course outline, all of the patterns and Mary’s teaching notes are included.

You can find Mary Schiffmann’s Lacy Knitting in the Interweave Press Store. Use the code LACE50 to receive a 50% introductory discount. The coupon runs 6/1 through 6/25/2015.

Art Nouveau Daisy Table Topper

Posted by – March 13, 2015

Art Nouveau Daises Table Topper

 

The pattern for my Art Nouveau Daisy Table Topper in filet crochet was recently published in Blue Ribbon Crochet special issue by Crochet World magazine. It’s about 36″ diameter and worked in size 30 crochet thread. What I like about this pattern is that because of the curving lines has a much more organic feel than most filet crochet. The little squares that make up the pattern aren’t as visible as in most filet crochet.

 

871501_BlueRibbon_COVER 400px

Perfect Irish Rose and Irish Rose Leaf

Posted by – October 13, 2014

Irish Rose and Leaf on simple mesh ground 600px

I’ve just posted an in-depth discussion of and instructions for the Perfect Irish Rose and Irish Rose Leaf in the techniques section (pdf). These two crocheted motifs are probably the most recognized motifs in Irish Crochet. Discussion includes how repeats and progressions are used to make the two motifs and how you can easily memorize the basic formula for each so you’ll never need to search for a pattern again! You’ll also learn how to easily modify the patterns to get the exact look you want.

National Crochet Month – March 2014

Posted by – March 2, 2014

Pansy Patch Bedspread

Coats and Clark Pansy Patch Bedspread made by my grandmother, Laura Nehring, in the late 1960s. Pattern reprinted with permission of Coats and Clark.

March and National Crochet Month have rolled around again. This year for Crochetville’s National Crochet Month blog tour, I want to introduce you to a new section on my web page, Quiet Yarns – Textile Artists. You’ll see the section in the right hand column about half way down.

Quiet Yarns is a collection of stories that I will continue to add to about women (and maybe a few men) who did needlework as part of their daily lives. You probably haven’t heard of any of them. They worked quietly in their homes to add a little luxury to their lives, have a creative outlet, do a little needlework to relax, or maybe make a little money to help support their families. Their stories are typical for the times they lived in so were seldom considered important enough to tell. I’ll tell a few here. I’d like to start you off with the story of my grandmother, Laura Nehring, and her crocheted Pansy Bedspread.

If you missed last year’s blog tour, check out my Crochet Hook Classification. It’s a work in progress but already has a lot of good information that will help you identify and date your old crochet hooks. It also has photos of all of the CGOA Commemorative Crochet Hooks.

Carol Danvers Lucky Hat on Julie 300px

And finally, if you did not see my blog post last month, I have a free crochet pattern for Carol Danvers’ (aka Captain Marvel) Lucky Hat first seen in Marvel Comics – Captain Marvel Issue 9. The hat looks like and stretches like knit but it is actually made with slip stitch crochet. Since this hat was made by for Carol by her grandmother Rose in the comic, my version features a beautiful crocheted rose.

Carol Danvers’ Lucky Hat Crochet Pattern

Posted by – February 3, 2014

Carol Danvers Lucky Hat on Julie 300px

I have a 20 something friend, Julie, who is taking up crochet. She works from patterns which she gets from both print and the internet. Julie is also a comic book fan and one of her favorite characters is Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel. Now Carol has a Lucky Hat (Captain Marvel Issue 9) that her Grandmother Rose made for her and Julie wanted to make herself one. She could find a pattern in knit but not crochet so Julie asked me if I would design a Lucky Hat pattern in crochet. Julie is modeling the result above.

The hat looks like and stretches like knit but it is actually made with slip stitch crochet. Since this hat is crocheted, it uses a beautiful crocheted rose instead of those messy, undefined things in red. The hat was made by Grandma Rose after all.

The pattern for Carol Danvers’ Lucky Hat in crochet is here.

Cellulose Acetate Crochet Hooks

Posted by – November 5, 2013

By 1930, cellulose acetate along with specially designed compression molding equipment was available and began replacing celluloid for plastic crochet hooks. The main advantages of cellulose acetate over celluloid were that molding techniques were much faster and cellulose acetate was not flammable.

Like celluloid, cellulose acetate is naturally clear but can be made in any color or opacity. It is tough and flexible. It is easily machined and easily manipulated by hand when softened to 100 degrees C (212 degrees F, boiling). Because it is nonflammable, cellulose acetate was perfect for compression molding which was introduced in 1929 and, later, injection molding introduced in 1934.

About 1929 Tennessee Eastman, a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak, began selling sheets, rods, tubes, and molding powders of Tenite cellulose acetate. Boye began making injection molded crochet hooks out of Tenite. This is the substance the crochet hooks marked

are made from. These came in a wide variety of colors: white, red, yellow, translucent green, sky blue. Patent number 2024794 actually refers to the shape of the hook which is square in cross section. Many other hook manufacturers used cellulose acetate also.

 

Celluloid – The First Plastic Crochet Hooks

Posted by – October 1, 2013

Examples of celluloid crochet hooks (top to bottom) – Diadem Manufacturing Company imitating ivory, tortoise shell imitation, imitation amber hook came in a variety of transparent colors from “apple juice” as shown to “cranberry”, Sunlight Yarn Company with hollow ivory colored handle and solid black plugs at both ends.

The first plastic used for consumer goods, specifically celluloid, was used for crochet hooks as early as 1912. The British patent for celluloid was issued to Parkes in England in 1856. The US patent was issued to Hyatt in 1878 and expired in 1892.

Celluloid is a naturally clear, hard, shiny, durable substance. It can assume any desired color or opacity. Early on, it almost always imitated natural materials: ivory, tortoise shell, amber, horn, coral, agate, malachite, or wood. For crochet hooks, celluloid joined the market imitating the first three of these items. Its main advantage was to manufacturers because celluloid was more consistent in quality and all of the waste could be reused. Its main disadvantage is that it is flammable. Celluloid exposed to high heat or open flame bursts into flame. In the factories, this resulted in frequent fires. At home, women with celluloid buttons on their dresses sometimes had the buttons burst into flame if they got too close to the stove.

Celluloid, ivory, tortoise shell, horn, and bone, all of which were used for larger size crochet hooks, all had some supply problems between 1900 and WWI. The quality of Celluloid varied, sometimes turning color, bubbling, warping, etc. Camphor, derived from the camphor tree and used in the Celluloid manufacturing process, became hard to obtain due to deforestation of the camphor trees in Asia. Eventually, artificial camphor was invented. Ivory was available but the price and quality both fluctuated widely and it was always more expensive than Celluloid. Tortoise shell required a long process to prepare it for use, so it too was more expensive than Celluloid. Horn became scarce by 1900 as ranchers adopted the practice of dehorning cattle before shipping them to market. Cow shin bone of sufficient length became hard to get in the late 1920s as US ranchers began to ship cattle to market at a younger age.

Eventually, celluloid became more consistent in quality, easier to obtain, faster to manufacture, and, therefore, cheaper than natural materials used for crochet hooks although it never completely replaced any of them. That would be done by later proprietary plastics.

WARNING—because Celluloid is constantly degasses and both the gas and the Celluloid itself are flammable, store Celluloid crochet hooks in a container that allows air to circulate and keep Celluloid away from open flames.

Learn Short Row Slip Stitch (Crochet)

Posted by – September 12, 2013

Short Row Slip Stitch 800 px

Just got copies of my new crochet book Learn Short Row Slip Stitch by Annie’s (formerly DRG – Dynamic Resources Group). My favorite pattern has to be be the Cosy Vest loosely based on a Victorian era pattern called al Hug-Me-Tight. I like the pattern so much that I made one for myself in peach that I wore to the Knit and Crochet Show and CGOA Chain Link Conference last month in Indianapolis. My editor’s favorite pattern is the  Wrapped Scarf. You can vary the look by wrapping it one, two or three times around your neck! She’s wearing it to the Knit and Crochet Show in Charlotte next month!

Slip stitch crochet produces a fabric that is nearly identical to 1×1 knit rib. It’s soft, stretchy and flexible. Short rows, a technique borrowed from knitting, shape the slip stitch into unexpected shapes such as domes, wedges and ruffles. Short rows are also used in the book for easy custom bust cup sizing. Order your copy from Annie’s Catalog in either a paper or digital version.