Review: HeartSprinkle Hooks and Stitch Markers

HeartSprinkleReviewNot long ago I was mailed two handmade crochet hooks by Krystle of HeartSprinkle. Krystle sculpts beautiful handles for metal crochet hooks using polymer clay. Her favourite hook to make is her signature honey bee hook, and I was lucky enough to receive two of them as a gift!

Krystle makes her handles on any brand of metal hook, so you can choose your favourite – whether it be a Susan Bates, Boye, or Clover Amour hook, she can make a unique personalized handle for it. I chose to have one handle made on a Susan Bates hook because I had never tried an in-line hook before, and one on my all time favourite Clover Amour hook.HeartSprinkleHooks

What I love most about these hooks are the small details. Each has a cute little bee with little translucent wings flying over hand painted clouds and flowers. The green around the flowers shimmers and there is a fun dotted trail leading from the bee’s hive to the bee. The end of the handle is stamped and imprinted with a letter indicating the hook size, plus there are additional imprints on the body of the handle: the hook size in mm and the HeartSprinkle logo.HookCollage

The handle is smooth and warm, so nice to hold. It is a large handle, so does take some getting used to if you are accustomed to holding only the thin metal hooks, but with time it feels natural to hold. Krystle has tested her handles for strength, so they will not break or crumble if they are mishandled (mine have survived a few drops off my desk onto hardwood floor!).

If you want to see the hook in action and up close, just watch one of my more recent tutorial videos: joined rounds in amigurumi, stripes in joined rounds, and joining legs in joined rounds.

Along with my two hooks, I also received a set of stitch markers. They are ADORABLE. One is a little bee, with a neat black bead for a head, a little beehive, and a small flower. All match perfectly with the bee hook design. Each has a lobster claw clasp, which I am not a huge fan of for amigurumi because they can be tricky to open and with amigurumi you need to move the marker a lot, but they work great if they are staying in one place for a while, or for my knitting (I hook them onto a ring marker for larger needles). Krystle also makes markers with a simpler hook which are easier to place and remove (see the heart marker below).StitchMarkers

Overall, the hooks and stitch markers are really fun to work with and make my time crocheting a little more special and personal. You can tell a lot of care went into making each item. Krystle is a great artist who obviously takes great pride in her work and has a true love for crochet – including a love for amigurumi! You can see more of her art work, not just polymer clay, on her Instagram – she creates adorable kawaii drawings, too.

If you want to learn more about Krystle and her work, visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Etsy.  Have a special request? Just drop her a message on Etsy!

Krystle is my go to sponsor for my amigurumi CALs, so if you want to win a hook for yourself, stay tuned for news on the latest hookabee CALs and join in!

For cuteness sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.
Until next time,
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Hand-dyeing with food colouring: Stove top method

hand dyeing yarn with food coloring on the stove top by hookabeeThis is the third post in a series I am doing on how to hand-dye yarn using food colouring. Previously, I harnessed the heat of the sun to dye a small skein of yarn bright yellow and slow cooked my yarn in a crock-pot until it was a gorgeous pink. This time I am going to show you how I used the stove top to dye my yarn teal.

If you missed the first post on hand-dyeing, make sure you read at least the first section on the basics of dyeing with food colouring and how to prepare your yarn.

Hand-dyeing using the stove top:

Unlike the sun and slow-cooker methods, the stove top method needs more of your attention during the process. You need to continuously monitor your yarn and dye solution to make sure it doesn’t get too hot while on the stove – you don’t want it to boil! Once you have dyed your yarn this way several times and know the temperature level on your stove that will give you a hot solution that doesn’t boil, the method is pretty simple.

This time I chose the teal dye from my box of 12 Wilton Icing Colours to dye the little 25 g skein of alpaca wool yarn I had made during my first dying experience.

My stove top dyeing protocol: (using 25 g of yarn)

  1. I pre-soaked my yarn for about 30 min in a bath made up of vinegar (2 tbsp) and water (2 cups). I used these volumes because my dye is blue (so needs more vinegar than yellows and reds, see DyeYourYarn.com), and the total volume was able to cover my yarn fully.
  2. In a small pot, I mixed 2 cups of water with 2 tbsp of vinegar and some Teal Wilton icing dye. I just estimated the amount of dye, but used no more than 1/4 tsp because I didn’t want extra, and therefore wasted, dye that wouldn’t be taken up by the yarn. I based this on the info found on the DyeYourYarn.com site for Wilton dyes: “[Use] 1/16 teaspoon Wilton®Icing Gel on .2 oz Lion Brand® Fishermen’s Wool. This amount of gel produces a saturated dyebath. Using more gel will leave food color in the dyebath that will not bond.” I then whisked the solution until most of the gel clumps were gone and dissolved.
  3. Next, I transferred the wet yarn from the pre-soak bath into the pot. Before you transfer your yarn, make sure that your two baths are not drastically different in temperature. This reduces the chances of your yarn felting. I then topped up the dye solution using some of the water from the soak bath until the yarn was fully covered. Finally, I turned the stove element on to about medium-low and allowed the solution to heat up, but not boil. Make sure the water doesn’t boil, otherwise your yarn may felt!stove top hand dyeing of yarn with food coloring by hookabee
  4. I then kept checking the dye solution every 5-10 min or so to make sure it wasn’t boiling and to see how much dye was still in the water solution (a clear water bath indicates that all the dye has been taken up by the yarn). I had my solution heating for quite some time (over an hour) and the dye bath was still not clear , so I started to wonder if I had used too much dye. I decided to just turn off the stove element anyway, placed a lid on the pot, and let the yarn sit in the dye bath as it cooled. Once cooled, the solution was almost clear! I am unsure whether I needed to heat the yarn for so long before letting it sit (and tutorials online have mixed directions) – more experimentation is needed!
  5. Once cooled, I removed the yarn and rinsed it to remove any excess dye. You don’t want to suddenly rinse your hot yarn with cool, or even warm water, because this may cause your yarn to felt, so make sure your yarn is completely cooled before this step.  Once rinsed, I gently squeezed the excess water out and hung the yarn to dry.

Done! I LOVE how my yarn turned out this time. The teal colour is gorgeous!stove top hand dyeing yarn with food coloring by hookabee

How does it compare to my other dyeing experiences? Because I was unsure of how long to “cook” the yarn before letting it cool, this method took longer than I anticipated. I had expected it to be faster than the slow-cooker, but more labour intensive (ie. you had to monitor it more), but it took almost as long as the slow cooker! I think that was an error on my part, however. I think it would have been fine heating the yarn for a shorter amount of time (either 30 min or until it almost boiled) before turning the element off and letting it cool in the dye.

And the yarn? I think this method dyed the yarn just as wonderfully as the previous two methods. Because I was monitoring it more, I did stir the yarn around a bit in the pot (unlike for the slow cooker), so the colour came out more uniform and solid than my pink skein did. If I had wanted a more mottled look, however, I could have easily just let it sit in the pot and not touched it so that some edges remained slightly out of the dye bath.

Stay tuned for a future post on the next, and last, method: Microwave dyeing!

Don’t forget to sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.

Until next time,
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What are amigurumi?

What are amigurumi? by hookabeeAre you new to amigurumi? Or have you ever wondered where they originate from and what the word actually means? Read on!

Amigurumi are knit or crocheted stuffed toys. They are hugely popular right now, and with reason. Ami (short for amigurumi) are super cute diy plush that can be made with minimal tools and supplies (a hook/knitting needles, a yarn needle and some yarn!) and are relatively easy to make. They are being made around the world by all sorts of people –  teens, adults, women, and men.

Making a little owl amigurumi by hookabee

Amigurumi originated in Japan, the land of kawaii (which means cute). The general wave of cuteness in Japan began following the devastations of WWII. Supposedly, this cuteness trend started as a way to change the image of Japan and to help people cope with the everyday stresses of work. One of the most well known examples of the kawaii craze is the Sanrio character Hello Kitty.

“Ami” means knit or crocheted in Japanese, and “nuigurumi” means stuffed creature or doll. Anything can be made into an amigurumi toy, from cats and bears to anthropomorphic pencils and sushi. Amigurumi can be as small as a dime to super sized and huggable.

Koko the owl amigurumi by @hookabee

The art of making amigurumi didn’t arrive in North America until the early 2000s, but its popularity has grown like crazy. The methods of making ami have changed to suit the preferences of Americans, such as fully written instructions vs. the typical diagrams found in Japanese patterns. The basics remain the same, however, such as working in the round and making them, whatever they might be, really cute.

Hanna the squirrel amigurumi pattern by @hookabee

Amigurumi are fun to make and are a great way for knitters and crocheters to make something other than another scarf, hat or sweater. In the summer when you are itching to use your hook, but don’t want to make something that will keep you warm, amigurumi are your answer. When you want to give someone, anyone, not just children, a fun handmade gift that will make them smile, laugh, and keep them company, amigurumi are perfect. Ami patterns are quick to make, use a small amount of yarn (usually), and allow you to bring to life a little character. If you haven’t made one yet, I highly recommend trying!

Little Walden the Narwhal amigurumi crochet pattern by @hookabee

Don’t forget to sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.
Until next time,

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