How to crochet with fishing line (nylon monofilament)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.