« Have a Great Christmas | Main | The Best Week for Sunsets »

December 28, 2007

How to crochet with fishing line (nylon monofilament)

P1010451 What's My Line?  Forty-Pound Test!

In this week's newspaper column (REPRINTED with lots of extra photos BELOW) I covered crocheting cool stuff with fishing line, an idea that came to me when I was stringing Christmas garlands with 40-pound-test monofilament ($3.99 a spool at Canadian Tire).  I'm not a fisherperson, but I think the numbered ranking of the line refers to the size of fish that the line can handle. For example, 40-pound-test is strong enough to reel in a 40-pound fish.  If you can explain that more accurately, please feel free to add a comment below. 

I'll be putting up photos over the next few days to give you step-by-step instructions and ways to embellish your monofilament creations with epoxy, wire, etc.  (They're up - see below)

P1010450 P1020983_hi_rez Meanwhile, the birds are all OVER the monofilament birdfeeders outside my window.

If bird-feeding isn't your thing, here's a groovy bottle hassock to try: Easy, easy, easy.

Here's the newspaper column in case you missed it...

Monofilament ($3.99 for about 250 yards) is meant to be used with a fishing hook, not a crochet hook. But needlework and sporting goods are so rarely united. Isn't it time to relax the social taboos and allow this mischievous coupling?

The first thing you'll notice about crocheting with monofilament is that it's tricky to see the "yarn" because it is, after all, meant to be invisible, at least underwater. So if you try this project in dim lighting conditions, your eyes will be smarting with effort and you'll likely be irritated.

P1030029_hi_rez A good solution is to work under a light with something dark in the background to contrast with the monofilament. An even better solution is to go to Michael's and get yourself an uber-cool lighted crochet hook from Crochet Lite ($10 at Michael's or online at www.marymaxim.ca).

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Available in all the usual sizes, the Crochet Lite runs on three tiny batteries and shoots a little LED beam through the clear hook. Now you can crochet easily with dark yarns or monofilament, or any time you're in the dark and have nothing to do with your hands -- in a movie theatre, in the confession booth, or in the back of a police van.

The Crochet Lite doubles as a mini-flashlight, too. The beam lasts about four hours on a set of batteries, so if you're a hardcore hooking enthusiast, spring for a card of extra batteries (six batteries, $6). And yes, the same company makes lighted knitting needles, too. Oh baby.

You can create tons of useful accessories with monofilament. It's fast. A crocheted birdfeeder takes a couple of hours. I recommend using a 25-, 30- or 40-lb. test monofilament for birdfeeders, water bottle slings, gym bags or cellphone pouches.

Monofilament any finer than the 25-lb. strength is like crocheting with spider web. It's tricky to control and even trickier to see. Although it would make elegant, yet highly invincible, lingerie.

P1010456 TIP:  In order to prevent tangles, insert the spool into an upside down gutter plug (about $1.50 at the hardware store).  Using an s-hook, hang the gutter plug a little higher than you are so that it dispenses properly.  A door hinge is good.  The spool can make a horrible squeaking sound as the plastic rims rub against the metal gutter plug.  Wax the rims of the spool by rubbing a candle against the plastic.  Remember to put the spool into the holder upside down.  Otherwise the dispensing strand will bind on the little grooves that are designed to lock off the strand when you store the spool.

You can find great how-to-crochet resources with many photos online. The clearest content is available at www.crochet.about.com or www.anniesattic.com.

There are two easy ways to hook a birdfeeder. Crochet a disc in the round, increasing until you get to a diameter of about three inches. Then just stop increasing, but keep going around. The cylinder will start to form.

P1010503 P1010504 The other option is to forget the bottom disc and start with chaining about 30 stitches. Join the ends and crochet around and around the circle. When you've got the length of cylinder you need, stop.

P1010506 Finish by tying off the monofilament at the top, and then "sew" the bottom seam together (kinda like trussing a turkey) by weaving a piece of aluminum wire through the stitches.  Curl the ends of the wire into spirals to prevent it from slipping out of place.

P1010501 There are a bunch of ways to create a handle for your birdfeeder.  You can use a chain stitch to crochet light wire or monofilament, and then add an s-hook to hang it from a branch. 

P1010498 Or you can use heavier wire to create a metal handle.  P1010497

P1010494 P1010375 You can also horse around with the top of the feeder, inserting wire through it to make it stiffer.  The cut-off ends of the wire can be sharp, so you can make 'buttons' out of plumber's epoxy and pop them onto the wire ends while the epoxy is still malleable.  Make the epoxy prettier by stamping it with a rubber stamp to create a pattern in the surface.  The birds will applaud your efforts at beautification (when they learn to clap).

The "single crochet stitch" works best for sunflower seeds. Birds extract seeds through the openings in the stitches.  Watch out for the stupid woodpeckers, who just yank out one seed after another and toss them on the ground.  I think they're hoping to find bugs. Boneheads.

On the bright side, the woodpecker's sloppy habit provides for the cardinals, who only eat off the ground.

Comments

Abi

Mag,
Thats a really neat bird feeder, and birds loves sure loves you and your bird feeders. The birds are so cute.The birds next to your feeders looks like Robin birds, but then again I could be wrong. When I was a teen I was so terrified of birds after that night I had stayed over at a friends house. Mag I will have to tell you about it in your email later

take care
Abi
ps How many bird feeders do you have at home? Im not sure that we even have one at my house. Have a great day

Mary

what a cool idea.

cs

I think this is a clever way to use something in a new manner. However, I am concerned about the possibility of the birdfeeder coming apart and becoming a threat to wildlife. Plastics in nature are a well-known threat to animals of all kinds. They are also not bio-degradable and so will not break down but litter the planet. I'm considering the same idea but with a more eco-friendly material.

Mag

Hi cs,

I can see why you're concerned but at the same time, there are sound factors in support of both the material usage and the safety level for wildlife.

The birdfeeders are right outside my window. I check and refill them once and sometimes twice a day, so any defect in the structure is going to come to my attention quickly and I can repair it.

Also, crochet has been used since the dawn of civilization for fishing nets and later, for clothing, and the stitches are designed not to unravel. I'm not expecting to ever repair the feeders, especially since I used 40-pound test line, which is extremely tough and resilient.

The excellent drainage offered by crocheted nylon is much safer for birds than classic clear plastic feeding tubes, which tend to hold moisture and make the lower seeds mouldy. Mould is known to cause respiratory diseases in songbirds. The clear plastic tubes have to be cleaned and disinfected regularly and most people don't bother, so they may actually be contributing to the decline of the songbird population when they think they're helping!

If you used a biodegradable material like cotton string or cane or paper fiber, it would also retain moisture and cause mildew and mould to form, so I'm not sure using a natural material is actually a good idea for bird feeders. Birdfeeders really need to be made of inert material that won't degrade. Crocheted monofilament is low maintenance, safe, clean and cost effective. It seems like a pretty good solution for most people who may not have time to correctly maintain their tube style feeders.

From a broader ecological standpoint, making a birdfeeder with nylon line means that no one is leaving clumps and tangles of monofilament in waterways and lakes. I see lots of abandoned snarls of fishing line in creeks and rivers around my area. I also know plenty of fishing enthusiasts who make sure they remove tangled or snagged line whenever they find it, so their efforts are helping.

Let me know what you come up with and if you find an inert but biodegradable material. Maybe soy plastic or something??

Mag

Brenda Klages

We are avide bird watchers. I am interested in crocheting the bird feeder from fishing line, but I can't find the insturctions,,,,,,,,,,,,,HELP me find them please.

Mag

Hi Brenda,
Just added more detailed instructions. Hope that helps. Have fun!

Mag

The comments to this entry are closed.

FUN

  • Get ToolGirl's Newsletter
  • Watch ToolGirl's videos

FIND MAG ON...

  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
ToolGirl

Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie