Stash-ay Away?

FOs (Finished Objects)

What’s been finished since my last post

  • Nothing Knit or Crochet
    Had a busy month and lots of my projects are large projects, however
  • Project Bags
    I had a whole raft of linen/canvas shopping bags that for one reason or another I didn’t want to use as shopping bags (sentimental, unique, wrong size, handles not long enough or too short,..) so I spent a happy afternoon with a needle and thread and seam ripper making very easy project bags.
converted linen shopper to project bag
Convert Linen Shopping bag to project bag – remove handles, thread ribbon through top seam (I opened one side seam and hand stitched the loose ends) then add simple box folding to bottom to give a bag that will stand up.

WIPs (Works in Progress)

Works actively being worked on – (not hibernating or we’d be here forever) including my PP (Purse Project or the project that is living in my handbag)

  • Spiderweb Skirt, Hook 5mm, Knit Picks Dishie in “EggPlant”
    This is my ‘desk’ project so only gets worked on in my lunch hour at work.  I’m about 30% through and about to start the base of the skirt
  • Tirrold Sweater – came out of long term hibernation to become my ‘purse project’
  • Spectra – gets a few rows (1 ‘panel’) a week but frankly I’m bored with this again
  • I worked a little more on my swatches but am now playing with different fibre content to get the best blocking for the modular shawl and doing a lot of ‘thinking’ about the project rather than actual working on it.

Every Day’s a School Day

What I’m learning from my crafting this month..

  • Perseverance
    I seem to be very good at starting a project and then getting distracted by something else -resulting in lots of half complete items in my WiPs (also known as working on my PhD  – Projects Half Done!). Making more of a concerted effort to finish things before moving on
  • Techniques.
    As the Spectra is only 40 stitches long and involves short row shaping I decided to uninvent (to quote the great Elizabeth Zimmerman) how to knit and purl backwards.  To my great surprise, this is not the same as knitting left handed! It’s actually very easy and fun to do, and made easier by an ability to ‘read’ your knitting so you can see how you can ‘force’ each stitch to be what you want it to be.  Really enjoying the process – but there’s a lot of very same-y stitches that just don’t hold my attention for long.

Bits of Sheep

Stash reduction or enhancement

Having a very reserved month – my only slip was a skein of a beautiful soft reddish brick color of a wool linen blend that might be perfect for my modular shawl design..

MonthBalls/Skeins InBalls/Skeins OutNet Balance

Oh Shiny…

The source of my startitis – for example planned projects , inspirations or ideas that have caught my eye or subjects or topics that have snagged my attention..

There are two things I’d like to talk about this month so I’m going to actually post twice this month!  My next post will be all about the ‘dyeing for knitters’ course I am completing this weekend and deserves a post all of it’s own.  That post will appear in a couple of weeks.

So this week I’d like to do a book review – 

A Stash of One’s Own – an anthology edited by Clara Parkes

The blurb on the dust jacket says: 

In tales from twenty-one knitters, Clara Parkes examines a subject that is irresistible to us all: the yarn stash.

Anyone with a passion has a stash, whether it is a collection of books or enough yarn to exceed several life expectancies. With her trademark wry, witty approach, Parkes brings together fascinating stories from all facets of stash-keeping and knitting life–from KonMari minimalist to joyous collector, designer to dyer, spinner to social worker, scholar to sheep farmer.

Whether the yarn stash is muse, memento, creative companion, career guide, or lifeline in tough times, these deeply engaging stories take a surprising and fascinating look at why we collect, what we cherish, and how we let go.

Contributors include New York Times bestselling authors Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and Debbie Stoller, Meg Swansen and Franklin Habit, Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner, Adrienne Martini, and a host of others.

I will be honest, I bought this on impulse in the KnitPicks sale – and I am very glad I did.  

Each unique take from 21 different points of view, written over a few pages each, on what is a stash and it’s psychological meaning helped me clarify and identify my own ideas – from the relief my own stash doesn’t match the nearly 12,000 skeins of one Ravelry member to the moments of stressed caused by the acknowledgement that somebody (who doesn’t appreciate this stuff in the way I do) will have to deal with all my stash when I shuffle into the big yarn store in the sky.

New voices I hadn’t read before came across eloquently about their own experiences and journeys with their stash (or lack of!) and old friends reassured me that I wasn’t thatdifferent to other crafters.

I highly recommend this light read as a reassurance that no matter what style or type of stasher you are (no yarn at all to thousands in a special room) there’s more than just you in the world.  Stash, and yarn stash in particular, are far from essential to a crafter’s life – but if you like to have a few ‘comfort balls’ around then grand. If you prefer to only have yarn in the house that is being used for your current project and you’ll buy what appeals for your next project then that’s just dandy too.

I read this over a couple of days (I am a fast reader and have a long commute when I don’t cycle to work), but because of the essay style and short ‘chapters’ it would be easy to read this one essay at a time and then take a couple of days to process the ideas presented – I fully intend to re-read most of the essays again at a more considered pace.  However the book had an immediate impact on me both physically and in my mental approach to my ‘craft collection’.

Most of you will have worked out I have a stash.  I hadn’t considered that all the accoutrements also counted as stash – my needles, hooks, threads, little pin looms, books, patterns, project bags… and I was inspired to finally get my yarn stash (most of, I think I’m missing 3 balls)  onto Ravelry. It took just under 9 hours but I got there! I once worked out that if I gave up my day job and took up knitting 8 hours a day I had 3 solid years of work without buying another ball. I’ve got faster since then – but I think I still have a safe 18 months to go at without worrying overly.

Do have I stash I will never use?  Absolutely. Those ‘souvenir’ balls and those ‘it’s just too pretty…’  Have I bought stash for a specific project and then gone off the idea?  Indeed, and those balls and skeins sit and wait patiently, without judgement, while I decide what it was the universe actually wanted them to be.  Could I give away the stash I have fallen out of love with? Probably. But I’m not quite there yet – my stash diving showed there is very little I am not in love with, and that which is ‘unloved’ is my oddments that I use for swatching ideas.

Having examined my buying habits, it appears I am a combination stasher.  Most of my purchases seem to be bought for the ‘potential’ of what that skien all could be.  Often I have a project type in mind, and several purchases are for specific projects that I had carried in my head for several years before committing (even if I haven’t started the project yet!).  But I also ‘adopt’ yarn. Those skeins that just need to be looked after and come home with me. Now, sure, in the long run this is cheaper than adopting, say, kittens who need shots and feeding and stuff – but it has resulted in a goodly percentage of my stash that has no purpose other than for me to occasionally get them out and ‘squee’ over them.  Finally there is the Exotic Fibres Collection – those skeins bought for no other purpose than for me to be able to say “I have yarn made of…” (banana, 100% milk, possum, seaweed…)

I tend towards the hyper detailed in my mind, so the fact I am in love with possibility of my yarn, with the potential captured in the fibres rather than the actual concrete results has surprised me. My stash is not there to soothe the panic of “I must cast on x at 3am..” or “in the event of the zombies, I can at least hole up and not need yarn for a couple of years” (though there is definitely an element of that). My stash is a comfort blanket of latency.  A smorgasbord of dormant possibility. That jewel like ruby 4ply silk could be a vest, or a beaded evening bag or an elegant lace insouciant scarf. That dove grey mist of cobweb weight mohair with the pale lilac core could be a snood, or lace cuffs or a frothy collar. That petrol sheen bulky acrylic would shine as a simple long sleeved shrug, or maybe a hat and gloves – or slippers…

I enjoy my finished projects, I love picking a shawl to match an outfit or presenting new parents with a blanket they can use, or showing I care with a well thought gift.  But I really get a kick out of selecting the perfect yarn for the perfect project, paired with the perfect tools. I don’t need my needles to match my yarn colour (like one of my yarnie friends) but I will select my stitch markers to match my mood and project – often with a little private in-joke that makes me smile when I see it.

Could I live without my stash?  Sure (she’s says while she doesn’t have to test it).  I’m in the enviable position of having enough disposable income that I could create a new stash over time.  Would I miss some of the irreplaceable items in my stash? – yes, absolutely! But more the books and vintage tools than the yarns themselves – and the universe is always providing new ‘irreplaceable’ things for us collectors of beautiful moments and trinkets.  My relationship has sifted subtly as a result of reading ‘A stash of one’s own’ It’s gone from being a reserve yarn shop to being acknowledged as a representation of the potential I am capable of. That each skien has a place and means something (even if that something is ‘don’t buy this yarn ever again’).  It was a nice surprise to discover that part of me still believes that I can be anything I want to be, and my stash is my metaphysical representation of that.

What does you stash mean to you?

Review – Chiaogoo Bamboo & Steel Crochet Hook

Notes: I’m a natural left handed, ‘knife’ holder – but can work pencil hold and right handed.  I’ve worked all 4 styles for this review, but mostly for my natural preference.  My preference for hooks is straight, tapered with a deep throat.  I also have very small hands.  Obviously using a hook for an hour is different to using one for a month and some of my ‘issues’ might simply be due to habitual practice and adversity to change 😉

For this review I tested a 1.8mm hook.

First impressions

  • A lovely smooth handle which is warm to the touch and feels very secure in its attachment to the hook.
  • Laser etching of the size (in metric and US) is clear and easy to read.
  • Very light in the hand, with the weight being slightly forward (like a dart)
  • Has a tapered, deep throat and a pointed head
  • Slightly shorter in overall length than my ‘vintage’ steel hooks (and by slightly I mean a difference of less than ½”
  • Touchable and I found myself wanting to hold the hook just to see how it fit in different parts of my hand.
  • A 1.8mm hook is a slightly strange size as longer term UK crocheters would be more used to a 1.75mm or a 2mm sizing.

Working with yarn

The Hook

The hook is very slick and smooth on a variety of yarns and threads, creating a sense of almost no friction.  The tapered head and deep throat are very good at picking up, and holding onto, the yarn and it was easy to get up a decent speed (for a new hook, there was very little ‘learning curve’).

The length of the metal hook part is suitable for most stitches (including shorter bullion stitches). Though the hook shaft does taper slightly wider into the handle I don’t think that would bother most users.  You’re not going to be doing Tunisian, but the start of the handle is about the same place as the thumb rest on most of my other brands of crochet hook so has the same shaft length to go at as a standard hook (the Lantern Moon hooks have almost no thumb rest and don’t have this issue)

The head is a nice point which inserts into the stitches very nicely with a clean motion and made easy work of the crochet thread, 2ply and cobweb weight yarns I tried with the hook.

I’ll be honest, I adored the metal section (the hook and shaft) of this tool.

The Handle

The handle is so smooth it almost feels waxed or plastic (surprisingly) – but it is warm and comfortable to hold.  It has a nice stable grip and is very easy to hold in terms of touch.  I found myself picking it up just to feel it, and automatically held it in pencil hold, fairly far down on the shaft.

Chiagoo Hook profile

I have a slight preference for the thin straight hooks with a relatively long handle and I found in knife hold that the end of the handle of the Chiaogoo was short enough that it rubbed uncomfortably on the outer edge of my palm – however I have very small (almost child sized) hands, and that might not be an issue for a ‘normal’ person as the end of the hook should nestle more into the palm.  Pencil hold completely solved this problem.  Incidentally I have this exact same problem with my shorter straight hooks, so it’s not an issue specific to this hook.

There was a little learning curve in finding the ‘right’ place for me to hold the hook. The shaping goes from a lovely flat plain at the back of the hook to a more rounded shape at the front.  When you pick up the hook, your thumb wants to sit at the point of change, but I found in practice that this positioning was too far back for me and I wanted to work further up the hook.  I also found in this ‘natural’ hold (the one you want to adopt on picking up) that it was difficult to get the little bit of roll needed to move the hook, which used a little bit more wrist action than I was used to – but nothing drastic.  For me I found moving up the handle slightly to the more oval lozenge shaped barrel solved those problems.


  • Very light
  • Comfortable to use in Pencil Hold
  • Very fast hook
  • Nice deep throat
  • Warm to touch


  • Uncomfortable for me in Knife Hold
  • Hand placement on Handle shaping needs a little thought/practice to find the ‘sweet spot’
  • Slight ‘plastic’ feeling of bamboo
  • Some might find the hook too ‘fast’ (slick)

Would Suit People who prefer

  • Pencil hold
  • Warm feeling hooks
  • Broader holding areas
  • Light hooks

Would I buy one?

This is a really nice tool, but I don’t think I would, simply because of my own personal preferences of working style.

If I had bought one as a trial I wouldn’t be disappointed and would consider it money well spent, but I probably wouldn’t buy any more (maybe in a sale, but even then only maybe)

I loved the hook but wasn’t over keen on the handle, if I could get that fabulous hook on a straight shaft I’d buy the set!

For “scientific purposes” I handed Mr TuesdayFortnite the Chiaogoo, a Clover SoftTouch, One of my Vintage steels and a Lantern Moon for comparison.  My partner, a natural right handed, non-crocheter picked up all the hooks like a pen.  He also naturally held the Chiaogoo down on the shaft but preferred the feel of my Clover soft touch and was surprised to hear the Chiaogoo was bamboo.  Having taught him how to chain, he discovered he is actually a knife holder and found the Chiaogoo much less comfortable to hold in knife hold (and he has bigger hands than me ;-).  His favourite overall was the Clover, but he could also see the appeal of the Lantern Moon.


Review – Tulip Steel Cushion Crochet Hook

Notes: I’m a natural left handed, ‘knife’ holder – but can work pencil hold and right handed.  I’ve worked all 4 styles for this review, but mostly for my natural preference.  My preference for hooks is straight, tapered with a deep throat.  I also have very small hands.  Obviously using a hook for an hour is different to using one for a month and some of my ‘issues’ might simply be due to habitual practice and adversity to change 😉

 First impressions

I was asked to review a Steel, gold tipped 0.5mm Crochet hook

  • A rubberised handle which is warm to the touch and feels very secure in its attachment to the hook (there are little moulding holes at the far end of the handle and you can see the metal of the shaft through them)
  • Sizing is in black on a laser inset label, easy to read with American and metric sizing.
  • Hook and shaft are steel with a gold plated head
  • Very light in the hand, with the weight being slightly back of centre
  • Has a tapered, medium throat and a semi-pointed head
  • Similar length to my ‘vintage’ steel hooks
  • Not as tactile as the Chiaogoo,
  • A .5mm hook is standard sizing and the hooks come from .5mm to 6mm (changing range)

Working with yarn

The Hook

Despite the difficulties of working with a .5mm hook (it took me ages to find a yarn fine enough – ended up with a single strand of embroidery floss) I am trying to be as fair and as reasonable as possible in reviewing this hook

The hook is a standard speed, I didn’t notice any difference in those terms to my usual hooks.  It is smooth on a variety of yarns, but due to the extreme fineness I did find it difficult to get a ‘yarn’ that the hook would pick up and hold onto,  but that was having yarn too thick than any fault of the hook.

The throat for me isn’t as deep as I would like, and though the head isn’t as pointy as some I still found it very easy (easier than normal in fact) to split the yarns (again this could be a feature of the small size of the hook)

There is a sudden and fairly abrupt taper to the hook (probably to add strength), though this didn’t really affect me in working the hook would be unsuitable for the taller stitches and bullion type stitches as it would be difficult to get a consistency of loop size.

The hook worked very well with the single strand of embroidery floss, but anything ‘larger’ was frustrating and difficult to manage.  It did however work very well as a beading hook, inserting very well into 4/0mm beads with laceweight yarn.

The hook also came with a protective cap – partially to protect the hook from damage, and partially to protect the crafter from impaling themselves on the hook when reaching into the project bag.  Most hooks of the smaller sizes (about 1mm down) should come with this.

The Handle

The handle is a plastic rubberised material which is warm to touch, and the double flat sided thumb rest is a nice, comfortable touch.  There is a raised section on the ‘back’ of the hook with the company name ‘embossed’ on the handle, and this could potentially irritate pencil hold users.

The handle was comfortable in knife hold, and I was comfortable using it in pencil hold.

The laser printed and embedded label looked like the sizing information would last, not sure how it would hold up under extremis, but you’d have to be deliberately picking at it to make it look tatty or damaged.


Given the pack also included the 4mm and 6mm hooks I thought I would say a quick word on those as well.  The handle is a different shape, with a wider, half circle thumb rest and a shorter handle overall, giving a longer metal hook area.  The hook itself lacks the gold touch, but they are nice solid hooks.  Again a throat that is medium deep and a semi-pointed head.  I used both hooks in projects and found them comfortable to use, but not as nice to touch as the Knit Pro.  The shafts are lovely and even and maintain a standard size all the way to the handle.

I was perfectly happy using the larger hooks in projects, and didn’t notice any differences really to my usual hook choices.

I know these are the hooks of choice of many ‘professional’ crocheters – including Doris Chan.  The fact that you can buy these in colour coded sets would appeal to some purchasers (including me).  The Rose Etimo set and the Steel crochet hook set are both beautifully presented and cover most sizes that people would use.  More obscure sizes are available by special order, giving the single largest range of sizes I have ever seen from one manufacturer.

I also note that Tulip do Giant crochet hooks (7 – 12mm) and these sizes are difficult to get hold of in the shops.  They are colour coded aluminium, and there is a trend in crochet at the moment to work with a larger hook than is called for in the yarn to get drape and lightness.


  • Light
  • Comfortable to use in Pencil and Knife Hold
  • Medium depth throat
  • Warm to touch
  • The gold tip adds a sense of luxury
  • Legible sizing.

There is a matching style from 2mm to 6mm with a gold or silver coloured aluminium hook and shaft., but a bigger and slightly flatter handle.  The gold has charcoal gray handles and the silver is shades of pink.


The embossed tradename might rub some users

Rubberised handle gives the sense of a work tool rather than luxury item (least favourite of the handle materials for me, and bang in the middle for handle shapes)

Some don’t like the thick ‘pen’ type ergonomic handles

Personally not over keen on the moulding holes in the handle

Would Suit

People who prefer

  • Either hold
  • Warm feeling hooks
  • Broader holding areas

Would I buy one?

This is a really nice versatile tool.  It lacks some of the ‘luxury’ feel of the others but it is a solid and well made piece of equipment that would suit a wide range of users from complete beginner to ‘old hands’.

I like the option of buying sets with scissors in a purpose case, and Tulip has one of the broadest ranges of sizes I’ve seen from a single manufacturer.