Category Archives: crafts

Athena's Elements Crochet Hook Set

Unbiased Review of Ergonomic Crochet Hook Set by Athena’s Elements

This is an unbiased review of an ergonomic crochet hook set by Athena’s Elements. FYI, I have not been paid for this review; I have not received free product in exchange for my opinion; nor have I been prompted in any way to write these comments. This was written purely on my own accord to help those who are shopping for ergonomic crochet hooks to help them in their crafting endeavors. Now that the facts have been made clear, I hope the following will help you in making your decision on what YOU should get!

I have been crocheting since I was very young (and I am now considered a senior citizen by some criteria). I have always used the standard thin metal crochet hooks. I have gravitated toward using the Boye-style hooks because that’s what I learned on and have used for many years, so I’m used to working with them and hence, prefer them over other style hooks.

In the last year or so, I started an online business selling crochet cloths. The business has blossomed into more than I imagined and hence, I’m doing a LOT of crocheting! Recently I noticed my hand (left hand, that is…I’m a lucky leftie) was feeling very “tired”, was starting to ache and my finger tips felt numb. It was obviously from all the crocheting I was doing. So, I decided to see what I could do to help the situation before I seriously damaged my hand. Hence I shopped for ergonomic crochet hooks. I ended up buying a set of hooks from Athena’s Elements. Here’s what I found…

Crochet Hook Case

Crochet Hook Case

Nice Set with a Handy Case
The set I purchased came with a cute case with a Velcro closure. There were color options to choose from, so there should be some color that will appeal to most anyone.

The set comes with 11 crochet hooks ranging from size B (2.25mm) to size J (6.0mm). The case holds all the hooks in their own small slots, and also come with a packet of stitch markers (like plastic safety pins), a hook size conversion chart, and a nice letter from the founder of the company.

Crochet Hook Size Conversion Chart

Crochet Hook Size Conversion Chart

The case feels sturdy and I imagine it will outlast my lifetime. The hooks seem to be of excellent quality and as long as I don’t lose them, they should also outlast me.

Color Coded Handles
The hooks all have different colored handles, so that makes it easy to find the hook you need if you’re working with the same few sizes routinely.

Hook Length and Style
There is 1-1/2″ length of the metal hooks before the start of the grip handle. I have found this to be enough length when making my crochet cloths. I have not tried it with some of the elaborate stitching techniques that may require more hook length. You would need to determine if that’s enough length for projects you typically make.

The hook end is a Boye-style tip. I find that easy and desirable to work with. However, that may be simply personal preference.

Hook Size Markings
The hook size marking on the handle only indicates the mm size, not the US conversion (ie 5.0mm=size H). The mm size is marked on the upper handle of each hook by being cut into the grip on the hook. This way the marking should never wear off nor wear down because it’s on a part of the handle that you don’t hold consistently.

The fact that only the millimeter size is indicated on the handle is only a slight inconvenience for me, since I’m used to using the US lettering system rather than millimeter sizes. As long as I don’t lose the conversion chart, I should be OK. However, I’m sure that conversion information could easily be found on the Internet if the guide does get lost. This may be an issue for some people, but overall I feel like it’s only a slight problem that can be shrugged off.

Crochet Hook View 1

Crochet Hook View 1

Ergonomic Grip Handles

Above all, the ergonomic grip handles are why someone would purchase this set in the first place. I don’t know what the grip handles are made from…probably some type of rubber or vinyl with a texture or “gripiness” to it.

 

Crochet Hook View 2

Crochet Hook View2

The “gripiness” prevents the hook from slipping in my hand or along my fingers. I will admit that the feature took some time to get used to. However, after a few days of adjustment, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That feature allows me to release my “death grip” on the crochet hook and hold it much more loosely because it doesn’t slip in my fingers. This relieves any tension in my hand and has virtually stopped my numb fingers. I no longer have a “tired” hand after crocheting for some period of time!

Also, the grip handles have a shape to them where you hold them allowing for a good yet light grip, again without having to hold it tightly, and without it slipping in your hand as you work.

Crochet Cloth

Crochet Cloth

Allow Time to Adjust
It took me several days of using these hooks to actually adjust to working with them comfortably. During that time, I wondered if I could really use them in my work. But with time, I adjusted and regained my speed and accuracy in making my stitches. Other people may not need such an adjustment period. I feel the effort was well worth it because of the relief I feel in my hand with the thicker, non-slip, easy grip handles. No more death-grip on the hook. No more numb finger tips. No more tired hand and wrist muscles. No aches and pains!

The time it took to adjust to these new ergonomic crochet hooks was well worth it, and I don’t believe I’ll ever go back to standard less-than-pencil-thin crochet hooks.

I truly hope this information can help you in making your personal decision about any changes you need to make in your crochet tools. The change was worth the effort for me and I highly recommend these hooks!

Let me know (in the comment section below) if this information has been helpful to you!

Happy crafting,
Judi

Handmade Quilted Table Runner2040

Handmade Quilted Table Runner, Patchwork Tapered Blue, 13″x52″

To my great delight, the color blue is once again becoming fashionable in home decor. Blue is my husband’s favorite color and I too enjoy blue. So, the color blue has always been in our home. It’s nice to have it “fashionable” again, so I can enjoy making more table mats in blue. The following is my latest and it’s a gem!

The runner measures 13″ x 52″ from longest point to longest point. The sides are 38″ long before tapering starts. The assorted blue cotton fabrics were aligned in an angled pattern moving outward from the diamond centerpiece. The runner is bordered in the same dark blue as the diamond center. It’s truly striking AND is a one-of-a-kind item! If you would like to adopt this runner, it’s available on my website (as of the date this post was written), http://www.handmadeiniowa.com/over_40_long.html

Enjoy the pics!

Judi

Handmade Quilted Table Runner2040 (13"x52")

Quilted Table Runner2040

 

Center view plus backing (Runner2040)

Center view plus backing (Runner2040)

 

Close view of tapered end (Runner2040)

Close view of tapered end (Runner2040)

 

Close view of centerpiece (Runner2040)

Close view of centerpiece (Runner2040)

Coaster Saved by Mod Podge

Too Much Acrylic Spray? Mod Podge to the Rescue!

For those who don’t know me, I wear many hats…musician, wife and mother, nutritionist, entrepreneur, and crafter. In conjunction with those comes, housekeeper, bookkeeper, problem solver, nurse, “budget-er”, confidante, shipping specialist, inventor, advertiser, photographer, webmaster, and the list goes on.

Lately I’ve been winding up some craft projects in getting ready for an upcoming craft show. My latest endeavor…coasters, some with cute sayings on them, some with just fabric. Things were going along smoothly until I sprayed too much acrylic spray in the finishing touches on some of them, in an effort to “get a good coating on them.” Well, a heavy coating of acrylic spray was NOT a good idea. They appeared cloudy. At first I assumed they just weren’t drying because the weather was damp. After waiting all day, I realized I created a real problem.

After doing some Internet research and trying a few things, I found my answer to getting them to look bright, clear and shiny again. But first, let me tell you what NOT to do…

First, I tried sanding them with 220 grit sand paper. Then I wiped them down with a damp cloth. All good and well, but the excess acrylic spray was still on them and they looked worse than before I sanded them. They were dull and scratched looking.

I tried wet sanding another one with #400 grit sand paper, then wiping them down with a damp cloth. Not much better results than the attempt with the other sand paper.

Next, I tried a cotton ball with pure acetone (nail polish remover). That DID remove some of the acrylic spray, but created a sticky, gummy mess that also took some cotton ball fibers along with it that I couldn’t remove from the coaster. Yuk. Won’t do that again!

The nail polish remover did the trick of telling me not to venture further. Here’s what I found that DID work, EVEN with the coasters that were scratched and dull looking…

I found that lightly sanding them with #0000 steel wool (that’s the finest grade of steel wool you can buy) took just a hint of the outer layer of acrylic spray off the top and also removed any small bumps that were formed in the process of coating them initially. This made them smooth and a bit dull looking. I wiped them off with a damp cloth and dried them.

Coaster Saved by Mod Podge

Coaster Saved by Mod Podge

Next, I reapplied a thin coating Mod Podge (glossy finish) with a foam brush. After they dried, to my amazement, the brilliant color of the fabric returned! They did not look dull, nor scratched (EVEN the ones that were scratched from so much sand papering looked shiny and the color of the fabric was brilliant). The picture to the right is one of the coasters that looked really scratched after attacking it with sand paper. The picture was taken after applying the one coat of glossy Mod Podge. (Note, the “scratch” appearance in the lower left corner is not scratches at all; it’s light reflection of the glossy finish.)

After allowing the Mod Podge to dry really well, I reapplied three very thin layers of acrylic spray and the coasters look fabulous. Needless to say, THOSE coasters are well coated and should work well for a long time!

Lightly sanding the excess acrylic spray and reapplying Mod Podge saved me from losing my merchandise. If you’ve accidentally over-sprayed your clear acrylic spray, and your project is cloudy looking, try lightly sanding it with fine steel wool, wiping it off with a damp cloth, wiping it dry, then reapplying a thin layer of Mod Podge. After it dries well, start over with the acrylic spray with light, thin layers. It worked for me and hopefully will work for you too!

Happy crafting,
Judi

NEW Unique Effective Gentle Dish Scrubbies

NEW Handmade Dish Scrubbies Unique Simple Effective

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I love to create and am always looking for something a little different to make. I’m a practical person, so I usually stick with “useful” things, rather than dust collectors. When I discovered this new scrubby yarn, I decided to give it a try. To my delight, it makes excellent, nonabrasive, very effective scrub pads that are MUCH less stressful to make than those made with nylon netting. Hence, I’ve added them to the collection of merchandise on my website.

These scrubbies or scrub pads are simple yet very effective at removing dried food and residue from dishes, pots and pans, glassware, ceramics, silverware, etc. They are nonabrasive, so they can easily be used on nonstick cookware, dishes, crystal, glassware, silverware, you name it! I’ve shared them with friends and neighbors and they’ve come back wanting more! They are soft on hands, yet they have a scrubbing power greater than cotton dishcloths alone.

Each is made with two strands of yarn…a cotton yarn plus a scrubby yarn. The new scrubby yarn has little “extensions” that gently remove food from dishes. That yarn is made from 100% polyester, so it does not bleed when washed. I couple it with cotton yarn for absorbency and together they make a real workhorse for washing dishes!

I’ve found that the blend of polyester with cotton makes them more durable than cotton alone, and they don’t tend to sour like all cotton does. When it’s laundry day, simply toss them in the washer and dryer along with other towels and they come out good as new. I prefer to put mine in a laundry bag since they are rather small compared to a bath towel.

The size is roughly 4-1/2 inches square, so they are a comfortable size to handle when doing dishes. Not too big, not too small. They wring out easily too, so they’re worth trying if you’re looking for something a little different that’s new, very effective, simple, nonabrasive, and gentle on skin.

Green and Blue Scrubby Set

Green and Blue Scrubby Set

I currently have three color combinations available, all in packs of four. One combo has two green and two royal blue, all with cream colored cotton yarn.

 

 

 

 

Red and Yellow Scrubby Set

Red and Yellow Scrubby Set

The next combo has two red and two yellow, all coupled with cream cotton yarn.

 

 

 

 

 

Black with Beige Yarn Scrubby Set

Black with Beige Yarn Scrubby Set

The third option has four black coupled with beige cotton yarn.

 

 

 

 

 

Green Blue Scrubby Set

Green Blue Scrubby Set

As you can see from the pics, the scrubby yarn comes in bold, bright colors. More combos are coming! Click the links above (or here) if you’re interested in trying any of these wonderful, new, unique and effective scrubbies! They’re worth a try and you’ll be glad you did!

Enjoy,
Judi