As The Yarn Bowl Turns.
"A bad day woodworking is better than a good day working."
~ Author unknown
~ Author unknown
Green wood directly from the log of a felled tree contains more than 50% water. This “free water” is eliminated during the turning process, often giving the operator a cool shower. Bound water is what remains in the cells after the wood is turned. The outside surface dries first and becomes hard while the inner cells are still releasing water. This is what causes movement or cracking in the wood and is predominately tangential or diagonal to the direction of the grain thus causing the wood to twist. You can even find this in kiln dried building lumber at big box stores.
All wood even after finishing is hygroscopic in that it will constantly release or absorb moisture to be in equilibrium with surrounding air for the life of the piece. Yes, all your wood furniture is doing this as well. That is why we always caution our buyers that wooden bowls don't like prolonged exposure to water or direct heat.
Editors Note: I love the beautiful shape of a warped yarn bowl however, I've noticed all the north/south views of our "warped" yarn bowls, look oddly exaggerated (see pics 2 and 3 below), sometimes even distorted in photos. With better imaging skills, I might do better... nonetheless, I include every view so you can admire the grains and unique properties of each dimensional piece. –PTH
Bob has always wanted to carve elegant embellishments on yarn bowls. That’s why when he got a pneumatic power (dental) drill in January, I wondered where he was going to find the time to develop this new skill along with his 40 hr. week turning habit...
I finally got in a few practice sessions carving the words knit, crochet, yarn, etc., on wood samples and was ready to start something simple. Bob was a bit concerned when I asked for three segmented pine yarn bowls to carve words big on bowl in order to practice accurate curves, straight lines and removal. After carving, I filled the grooves with our sparkle inlay making three very blingy yarn bowls. He thinks they’re a bit tacky, I think they’re fun and festive –what do you think?
This was a fun exercise to learn the basics, but I plan to do more intricate carvings (no inlay) in future works. Find these three at our Etsy Shop –like all our bowls, definitely one-of-a-kind!
Now I’m hooked. Yesterday, Bob roughed out a XXL Cherry Yarn Bowl that’s begging for a nice carved relief border around the rim. I’ll certainly need get to work on carving technique in the next few weeks while the bowl cures.
Power carving is fun and relaxing when I have this 500,000 RPM tool in my hand. However, I was recently paralyzed with fear when my hygienist used a similar drill to clean my teeth on my last dental visit. I was suddenly struck by the trust I was putting in my dentist, with this high powered tool
Caring for your Heckathorn Yarn Bowl is as easy as an occasional buffing with whatever furniture wax you use at home. However, many of our yarn bowl enthusiasts ask what we use.
Before we ship each yarn bowl, Bob applies a fine coat of Renaissance™ Micro-Crystalline Wax Polish and gives the piece a vigorous hand buff with a soft cloth. This wax adds brilliance and resists fingerprints and serves well for a multitude of other household polishing purposes.
Renaissance™ Wax is a mix of "refined waxes blended to a formula used by the British Museum and restoration specialists internationally to revive and protect valuable furniture, leather, paintings metals, marble, ivory, etc..." Although it's a bit pricey (currently $15.95 on Amazon.com) it's well worth it. The small 200 ml can should last a lifetime unless you decide to restore your leather couch or polish your marble countertops with it!
The origins of Renaissance Wax are interesting. Find out what makes this wax so different at http://picreator.co.uk/renaissance-wax/
Recently, I was asked for the dimensions that categorize our yarn bowls. While each yarn bowl listed includes the dimensions as part of it’s description; this post should clarify the size range for the five categories offered. small, medium and large yarn bowls are all listed under the Large category, because it's rare that Bob turns small and medium yarn bowls. Bigger is better right?
The first dimension listed is the diameter of the bowl; measured (in inches) across the center of the bowl from one side to the other. Depth of the bowl is the second measurement listed, however the diameter is what actually determines the size/category of a Heckathorn Yarn Bowl.
A yarn bowl with an XXL diameter, for example, might be upgraded to an XXXL if it's extra deep. All dimensions are approximate as wood has a tendency to warp making the top diameter vary slightly depending on where it's measured across. The depth of our XL - Jumbo Yarn Bowls vary considerably. For that reason, depths aren't listed for our XL - JUMBO categories.
• SMALL: Under 5.5" Diameter x varying depths. Bob rarely makes small yarn bowls, when he does, they're great for sock and mitten projects.
• MEDIUM: 5.5 - 6.5" diameter x 4 - 5 " +/- deep.
• LARGE: 6.5 - 8" + diameter x 5"+ deep. This is our classic "workhorse" yarn bowl; perfect for any project accommodating a single 5-7oz skein of worsted yarn, rolled into a ball ready to glide like silk making all yarn projects easier.
• XL: 8 - 10" diameter (depth varies considerably depending on style of the bowl).
• XXL: 10 - 12" diameter (depth varies considerably depending on style of the bowl).
• XXXL: 12 - 14" diameter (depth varies considerably depending on style of the bowl).
• JUMBO: 14" (Plus!?) It's rare that Bob gets to turn a 14" Yarn Bowl. And, he would if more jumbo wood stock was available here. However, our XXXL yarn bowls are close in size to Jumbo, and we usually have a few in store.
Make sure you know exactly what you're buying. A great trick is to find a glass or ceramic bowl of similar diameter/depth to be sure it will suit your needs. It's important that you know what you're getting before the bowl arrives at your door!
Keep in mind that in order to show off the distinct features of each yarn bowl it’s necessary to “fill the frame” of the each photo. These close-up, tight product shots can be deceiving. When all the sizes are grouped and viewed together on our main product pages, the smaller bowls will fill more of the frame than the larger bowls because they are not as wide; thus they appear to be much taller than the larger yarn bowls.
That is why we always include one or two images of the bowls filled with yarn and tools as a reference point. We hope this helps you choose the perfect Heckathorn Yarn Bowl for your work style.
Reclaimed hardwoods are not always available here, and while Florida live oak is plentiful, premium hardwoods like cherry, pecan, cedar and camphor to name a few are a rare find. Recently, Bob found a reliable source for prime cherry hardwood; a particular favorite with minimal warping, stunning tones and a very hard durable finish that resists dents and dings.
Turning reclaimed wood into yarn bowls is a lengthy process over several months, starting with a very rough turning, shaping and hollowing of each piece. After roughing out, each bowl is set aside for a drying period of one to four months time depending on weather conditions (humidity, barometric pressure and temperature).
The drying period is the most critical stage for a piece of fresh turned wood. A stretch of dry, cool weather for example can cause the bowls to warp and crack. Some hardwoods (like cherry) are less prone to warping and cracking, other hardwoods gently warp, while many crack considerably, or warp and crack. Nature determines the condition of the bowl when it’s dry enough; as interesting wood patterns and challenges emerge. The choicest bowls are finished first.
Most wood turners reject cracked and warped bowls; discarding them to focus on more pristine specimens. Bob sets these nature challenged bowls aside until his supply of hardwood gets low, and he has the necessary hours to rescue these gifts from nature. This is when the real magic begins –with restoration techniques that result in his most artful offerings.
The larger cracks are filled with our proprietary inlay; in custom colors mixed to complement the bowl. Fine cracks are filled to match the wood tones. Bob’s process follows the ancient Japanese philosophy “Wabi-Sabi”, embracing the flawed or imperfect; highlighting the cracks and repairs to honor the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage. Performing "Kintsugi" (the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery) on reclaimed wood yarn bowls results in some stunning effects! For details and photos of this work in process, check out “Wood Wabi-Sabi Trending Home Decor 2018.”
Spalted Wood Makes Beautiful Yarn Bowls; but what makes spalting in wood so special to wood enthusiasts? Spalting is the beginning of decay in wood due to natural invasion of fungal spores. These spores start colonies and grow in the wood forming interesting discolorations as the wood fibers begin to decay. If caught at the right time and stabilized, spalting can result in various stunning effects; enhancing the value of the piece.
One blank I had to discard because it was too soft to safely turn. The other I mounted up and took a chance that it wouldn’t disintegrate. What emerged was a fascinating bowl with a blend of decay interspersed with sound wood. In some spots it was very spongy with colorful decay. Other spots completely rotted through; indicating hours of work to come.
I stabilized the piece with wood hardener, which petrified the decay, making it stable enough to work through the sanding and finishing stages. The blue inlay is where the wood was rotted through; the golden tones are various stages of decay while the rust areas are sound wood, unaffected by decay bacteria.
With so many different choices and styles of yarn bowls, which one is right for you? Many potters and craftsmen offer yarn bowls that look great, but how many knit or crochet themselves to understand how to create a yarn bowl that performs the best?
Created by a Lathe Artist and tested by a Knitting & Crochet fanatic; for this husband and wife team creating Heckathorn Turned Wood Yarn Bowls isn’t a just business, it’s a passion!
India & China have recently entered the market with yarn bowls claiming to be "handcrafted". These bowls are quickly hand sanded and finished, skipping days and hours of the necessary ten sanding/finish cycles which ensure a silky smooth finish to the wood grain that won't snag, damage and pull on your yarn! Yarn shops, WalMart, even Etsy Shop owners have gotten on the band wagon offering these mass-produced versions at rock bottom prices. Yes, they're cheap, but remember the old adage; you get what you pay for!
Here’s what makes Heckathorn Hand Turned, Hand Crafted Large Yarn Bowls so special:
THE SIZE & SHAPE
Our best selling Large Yarn Bowls are taller and narrower than competing yarn bowls. The tall sides are designed to loosely hug a ball of yarn to prevent it from popping out when the yarn is tugged quickly A standard 3.5 oz. skein of 4 ply worsted yarn rolled in a ball will fit with room to spare, with most of our large bowls easily accommodating an oversized 5 oz., 8 - 9” ball (about 75% of a “Super Saver” skein).
FORM & FUNCTION
We've had a couple requests to “drill some holes in the sides of our yarn bowls for knitting needles…” While needle holes may add interest to some yarn bowls, they just don’t work with the deeper profile of our designs.
As form meets function in all of our yarn bowls, we hope to shed some light on how important the ease of use is as well as the natural beauty Bob brings out in the wood. We hope you make the right choice for your needs. If it’s a Large Yarn Bowl by Heckathorn Turned Wood, we’re confident that you’ll share our passion for these fun and functional collectibles.
SELECTION & VALUE
Every yarn bowl is made to strict gallery grade standards. Bob tries to stock a varied selection with segmented pine bowls (shown here), priced from $70-99; an incredible value considering the hours spent to elevate each piece to “Collectible” status! Each Large Yarn Bowl takes a minimum of fifteen hours of work. After shaping and turning the bowl on the lathe, the bowls are painstakingly hand finished with over ten individual rounds of sanding, buffing, coating and drying. Under optimum weather conditions this process alone takes up to five days. A final coat of museum wax is applied and buffed to resist fingerprints and stains.
NOTE: You'll find our best-selling Large Yarn Bowls in our Shop Section as well as our ETSY Shop!
Paula's #MindlessCrochet, 12 Pointed Star Tablecloth
In August I started looking for a round crochet tablecloth pattern. Google searches produced lots of vintage (white and ecru) lace tablecloth patterns. Some were beautifully intricate, most comprised of circle motifs. And, while I love crocheting hundreds of little circles to relax, joining circles into a giant circle was daunting to me... not the long relaxing #MindlessCrochet project I was looking for.
Round pointed afghan projects gaining popularity on Instagram inspired me to bust out my stash of ultra fine cotton and a small hook. I kept increasing a "12 Pointed Star Crochet Throw" pattern (lots of free ones on www.ravelry.com) to a 74" diameter tablecloth. These patterns adapt well to finer crochet cottons with a smaller hook.
I can't figure out why there aren't many newer style round tablecloth patterns to be found. If you have one please share. Tag me if you make one!
*I purchased most of this cotton from www.loveknitting.com -they stock almost 60 gorgeous colors, have fast shipping, pack in those sweet organdy bags, and offer sales frequently.
When friends have an ailing or unruly tree they call me, knowing how I enjoy creating oversized yarn bowls from reclaimed wood. Occasionally one of these trees might turn out to be a hardwood that will morph into a couple stunning pieces. After the wood is cut, hauled, prepped and blanks are made, the real fun begins with lathe work and hand finishing.
These six yarn bowls are from the wood of a White Mulberry freshly cut last fall. Their lobed, alternate leaves and abundant, edible fruits distinguish these deciduous trees. Known as Morus alba, the White Mulberry tree is a fast-growing small to medium sized tree, growing 30 – 50’ tall, with a lifespan comparable to humans.
The leaves of the White Mulberry have been used in China since at least 2600 BC as the primary diet for silkworms. The tree was introduced into North America in colonial times in efforts to establish a silk industry. Although the industry never took hold here, the trees did take hold and, over time has naturalized in fields, forest margins and along roads throughout much of the US.
I enjoy seeing what magic nature has hidden inside each particular species. This Mulberry didn’t disappoint with its buttery tones and grains from creamy beige to soft greys, in six unique shapes dried to a natural soft warp. This select group of XL - XXL Yarn bowls is composed of mid-range sizes I can never seem to make enough of!
I spend a lot of time sharing photos of finished yarn bowls on our Facebook page and Instagram feed, but rarely share shop pics with a glimpse of how they're made. With the big light on Bob's lathe, flying wood chips, wood dust and debris, it's not what you'd call glamorous and it's a challenge to show what can often be grueling and repetitious hard work!
Today, as I brought him his daily hydrating tea at 11 o'clock, I thought about the work he does every day in a shop with no climate control. Although Bob has always enjoyed working in the heat (?) I constantly marvel about what he accomplishes in the 95-105 degree humid heat of Central FL early June into October. Now that his northern body has acclimated to the climate here, he says he prefers it to the (temperate 60 - 70 degree) "winter" weather I enjoy late Dec. - March. After suffering from my summer version of cabin fever I say "bring it on!"
In the spirit of sharing, I thought I'd take a moment to say how much admiration I have for my hard working husband/lathe artist. He does a lot of amazing work under some pretty harsh conditions. So here's to you Bob, I'm your biggest fan; knowing that along with the heart and soul you put into all these yarn bowls there's a heck of a lot of sweat, too!
On rare occasions Bob finds some fresh “green” hardwood (Cherry, Pecan and Maple to name a few) from a fallen tree or local tree trimmer. And, although turning green wood bowls on a lathe is easier because it’s in a soft state, the necessary drying process that ensues is risky!
After a fresh wood yarn bowl is turned, it is set aside to dry. Depending on the current weather conditions (like relative humidity, barometric pressure and temperature to name a few) the drying process takes one to three months. As the hardwood dries, it has a tendency to warp and crack. Warping usually adds nice character to the yarn bowls; however, Bob feels that cracking; which is easily repaired in the finishing process, is an undesirable feature in some of his collectible art bowls. As his partner, I try to respect those high standards while at the same time viewing the cracks that ensue as the final word from nature!
Too often, I’ve watched Bob throw a beautiful yarn bowl into the recycling bin and felt that his lack of control over a few small cracks deprived a fellow yarn crafter of a unique and naturally beautiful piece. After some whining on my part, Finally, Bob acquiesced and started finishing these natural wonders when the occasion arises. Now, I’m able to offer a distinctive piece at deeply discounted price.
There’s a lot of value in our “Perfectly Imperfect” Yarn Bowls. Each one takes ten to twenty hours (at the least) to make –the same amount of time it takes to create a first quality bowl. For those who may not be able to invest in our first quality yarn bowls, I consider these pieces to be a special offering from Heckathorn Turned Wood as they are all authentic gifts of nature!
You'll find that select YARN BOWLS in our Etsy shop feature our proprietary "Inlay" or "Sparkle Inlay" enhancing a knot or set into the rim of the bowl for added appeal. We have developed a special process of mixing custom colors and textures to match the style and color tones of each individual bowl Bob adds Inlay to.
This eye-catching element raises the bowl value and collector status. So, be on the lookout for yarn bowls that mention "Inlay" in the title... the detail of the inlay doesn't often show on the main product thumbnail. However, when inlay is added to a yarn bowl, close up photos are usually provided to show this beautiful added feature.
I would like to share my experience of adding wood shavings to garden soil and hope to dispel some of the bad raps on doing so.
First of all, I live where a lot of builders’ sand and fill was added when the house was built so I don’t have native soil, which in central Florida contains Mayakka sand to begin with. As a former Master gardener I learned that composting is the first important step to amending soil for a successful garden.
Second, being a wood turner I generate a lot of wood shavings and I compost kitchen waste so I have two important ingredients to start with. I researched many sites of those who have tried this and was left scratching my head about the pros and cons but had to find out for myself so this is what I do.
I do not use shavings from walnut, which is supposed to poison young plants nor do I use any aromatic wood like camphor or cedar relying on woods like cherry, oak and pine. Now I can hear someone screaming that green shavings rob nitrogen from the soil during the decomposition process. My solution is to add a cup or two of composted cow manure available at the big box stores. Of course if the wood is already kiln dried this is not an issue.
I do not use store bought composting drums, bins and such, which take weeks and occasional turning to make compost and then you have to transfer it to the garden. I simply take my kitchen scraps*, a generous amount of shavings and a little composted cow manure and place all three in a hole that I have dug in an unplanted part of my garden. I do this all through wherever I can find a new space and in ten to fifteen days it has decomposed and ready to provide nutrition. Earthworms do all the work so when you dig and see them smile and thank Mother Nature for the help. The growth of an occasional mushroom or fungi is also nature’s way of helping to break down the wood.
*Be sure to follow proper composting guidelines.
One of the hottest sellers at our new Etsy shop has been my Segmented Pine Yarn Bowls. With demand for these bowls in mind, I created the new shooting star groove design as an alternative to the standard (J) hook design. It just seemed more artistically harmonious and gives easy control of the yarn, while the stars points allow the yarn to be pulled in different directions in a controlled manner.
I use no stains or dyes, sanding each piece to a fine finish so your yarn won’t snag. Choose from small, medium or large with one-of-a-kind variations in wood grain and star groove placement. Each piece is signed and numbered.
Overly aggressive use of any tool can lead to an adverse reaction and safety issues. Turning wood can be like playing golf, where a nice smooth swing with the proper club can produce a nice shot as opposed to a hard swing that goes out of control. Think of what pottery would look like if the artist tried to choke the clay with clenched hands. We all have days when we function differently because of how we are feeling, what is on our mind or just over enthusiasm.
I find that after completing the exterior of a bowl is not uncommon to become overzealous with the hollowing process especially with very hard wood like white oak. Always use the tailstock to support the piece as long as possible and keep your tool sharp so that a light touch is all that is needed. Too much pressure or an inadvertent angle change can cause the tool to CATCH causing a nasty gouge in the wood or worse, knocking the piece out of the chuck.
A heavy piece flying out of the chuck is not only dangerous but can damage the nice exterior and at the least cause the piece to be difficult or impossible to re-chuck accurately causing the bowl to be out of round as you continue. Remember you are creating a work of art not digging a ditch. If you are not comfortable, walk away and do something else or clean up the shop and come back fresh later.