Monday, 3 December 2012


It is nice when I learn a bit of the story behind one of my handmade items, once it has left me. I have been sending off a few items lately to far flung places through my etsy shop.

Today I noticed that I had got a number of hits on my shop from a website called Tintina Fibres, so, wondering why, I checked it out. It turns out Rachel, who runs the website, had ordered a 3.5mm crochet hook from me a month ago, and now it has been transported half way round the world to the Yukon in Northern Canada. Rachel makes hand spun yarn and crochets beautiful, hats and bags which she sells on her website and etsy shop.

Some of Rachel's hand spun wool on her spinning wheel
It is amazing to me to think of one of my hooks carved here in rural Wiltshire, being used by a talented crafts person in the cold wilds of Canada. Thanks Rachel!

Today I am posting this Scandinavian style wooden kuksa cup to someone in North Carolina, on the east coast of the USA, and it pleases me to think of someone swigging a local tipple from it in this far away town that (the magic of google earth tells me) is surrounded by forest

Friday, 23 November 2012

Current works in progress

I have spent the majority of the last couple of weeks in the woods, making stuff. I now have lots of items in their final stages, drying out before I can do the last finishing cuts. The wood is much easier to work when relatively green, but it takes a better finish once the moisture content has fallen.

I have enjoyed making some larger objects with the help of a curved adze and gouges.

Here is a selection of the items I have made recently, all unfinished: 3 spoons of willow and field maple, one spatula in striped ash, a blackthorn serving spoon, a large poplar platter, a kuksa cup and an eating bowl in apple wood.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Apprenticeship opportunity

As any of you who know me will be aware, I am a young craftsman based in the West Country, scratching a living from carving spoons, cups, Box wood crochet hooks, and other treen. I am fascinated by traditional crafts and woodland management and am determined that I will make a living from these things. Because of this I have decided to do an apprenticeship in the area of coppicing and green woodworking.

Coppicing is a form of sustainable forestry that has been practised for thousands of years. Deciduous trees are cut, low to the ground, and instead of the stump dying off, as would happen with most conifers, new shoots are sent out. If the woodland is managed well, these shoots will grow straight and true and will be cut again in later years when deemed sizeable enough for their intended usage. This form of management dramatically extends the life of individual trees, as they are kept in the juvenile stage of their life cycle and there are less stresses placed on the tree by weighty limbs.

This form of woodland management means that timber and other wooden products can be harvested from a woodland almost indefinitely, with little need for replanting. It is also very beneficial for wildlife. The soil is not disturbed and so delicate species of flora and fauna can flourish, many of which favour the various stages of a coppice rotation over full canopy coverage.

However, in recent decades this sort of management has declined, in favour of the short term return of conifer plantations and as other materials such as plastics replace wood in many aspects of life. Sadly, when a coppice woodland is abandoned it becomes overstood – the stems may grow too large and twisted to be useful for anything other than firewood, and the stools (coppiced trees) will begin to tear themselves apart, letting in rot and disease. In a relatively short time the woodland becomes unproductive and lacks the biodiversity of an in-rotation coppice. It is then a substantial undertaking for anyone wishing to again harvest a useful product from the woodland.
Coppice stool that has torn itself apart

As people are beginning to realise the threat of climate change and the part that an over reliance on fossil fuels and imported products plays in that, coppicing is once again becoming important. Coppice products can reduce our reliance on foreign imports of timber as well as providing us with locally sourced building materials, fencing, firewood, furniture, food and much more. It is necessary to revive this ancient, but still relevant practise, in order to become more sustainable and self-reliant as an island.

I have been making things out of wood for a good few years now, gradually honing my whittling skills, as well as getting out into the woods and trying as many different aspects of green woodworking as possible. Now I feel that the time has come for me to get my teeth into coppicing by training with an expert, so that I can practise the sustainable woodland management that I feel to be so important. Tim Gatfield at the Cherry Wood Project has agreed to take me on as an apprentice for a year, but to make this happen, I need to find the funding to support me in buying the tools, equipment and training necessary, as well as a small amount to cover my living costs for the year.
The Cherry Wood outdoor kitchen

During this year I would be restoring derelict coppice, by cutting overstood stools, replanting to increase the density, felling and milling conifers and deer fencing to protect the newly cut and planted trees. I would also learn many different aspects of green woodworking and related skills including making furniture, hurdles, bowl turning and earth oven building, as Tim runs many different courses in traditional skills.

By donating towards my apprenticeship fund you are helping to keep traditional skills alive and encourage sustainable woodland management. You can donate to my fund by clicking on the donate button on the right hand side of my blog.
Thank you for any contributions. 


Monday, 10 September 2012

Sumac spoons

I have been experimenting recently with making some spoons out of the wood of the Sumac tree. It has turned out to be a lovely wood. Nice to carve and with beautiful colours and grain. Once oiled it takes on a shimmering iridescence.

Sumac is a tree genus, species of which grow wild across much of the world. It is not native to the UK, but is often grown here as an ornamental plant.

The ground up fruits of some species are used as a spice, particularly in the middle east, and I feel a particular affinity to this tree because  was introduced to its use as a spice by my late friend Osman.

The spoon on the left of the above photo is still available to buy from my etsy shop HERE.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The hook making process

The process of making each hook is as follows:

A boxwood branch is sawn into lengths suitable for the finished hook.

This cylindrical piece of wood is then split in half, then the halves are halved and so on until these segments are of an appropriate size. Because of the nature of boxwood, and its unpredictable grain these 'clefts' are never straight, and sometimes the split runs off centre. I would get more hooks out of each round if I were to saw the wood into segments, but I am not willing to sacrifice the strength that cleaving retains. Wood is always stronger when cleft than when sawn.

Each segment is then carved down to a comfortable size using a swedish carbon steel knife.

Particular attention is paid to the final 35mm of the hook as this is the working end. I cut it carefully down to size, and then stick it through a brass gauge that I made. This is a sheet of brass with holes of various sizes drilled in it. This not only checks the size but also marks any high points. I then carefully shave these off to reach the desired dimensions.

I then sand the entire shaft, working through many grades, to bring out the grain and leave the hook feeling wonderfully smooth.

To cut the hook, I first use a small tenon saw to cut in at a slightly diagonal angle, I then cut up to this with my knife, creating a V. The sharp corners are then shaved off, and the point of the V softened with a small round file. Then the hook part is sanded smooth.

The hook size is then burnt onto it using a pyrography pen.

It is then given a couple of coats of raw linseed oil.

After drying the top 35mm of the hook is burnished to a shine by rubbing it with another smooth piece of boxwood.

And the crochet hook is complete!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Buttons n' Beads

A finished batch of buttons, beads and crochet hooks. The novelty sized buttons are going to Malaika for lovely macrame flower brooches. You can see (and buy) her work HERE!

The beads are for Emma's huarache sandle making workshop at Shambala festival in August as optional add-ons.

Buttons are sycamore, yew and blackthorn; beads are laburnum, oak, chestnut, cherry, apple, purple heart and holly.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Un montón de ganchillos

I've been making lots more boxwood crochet hooks lately. There are plenty of them up for sale in my Etsy Shop.

I have also made a nice fabric roll to display and protect my wares, while out and about. It means I can take a sizeable bundle of hooks with me wherever I go.

You may notice that none of the hooks in the above photo are for sale on etsy. If you are interested in any of these, send me an email: ditchfieldcrafts(at)

I will be selling these and other items from our bike trailer kitchen, Pedallers Kitchen at various festivals this summer.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Etsy shop

I now have a shop on Etsy.

There are many more hooks listed for sale on there as well as other items. Etsy is a huge online craft market, where individuals can host shops selling handmade items.

My shop banner

I have just completed a large batch of boxwood crochet hooks in 0.5mm increments from 3mm to 6mm. I will be posting photos soon.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Pedallers' Kitchen

Just wanted to point you in the direction of my new blog detailing the latest project that me and my girlfriend, Alice, are embarking on - Pedallers' Kitchen. A magical bike trailer cooking machine, with loads of gizmos.

The address is

Friday, 30 March 2012

New Layout

I have created a new 'Shop' page, accessable by clicking on the tab at the top of this page. It shows all the items currently in stock. The page you are currently on will now become a more convensional blog, with posts on my interests, happenings, goings on and the like.

Some of the posts below on available stock are no longer relevant as I have recently taken a number of crochet hooks to The Wool Croft in Abergavenny. Here is a photo of my wares on display there.

Monday, 6 February 2012

My Current Hooks

Items listed for sale in this post are not necessarily still available. Check 'Shop' for latest wares.

I now have photos of the crochet hooks that I currently have for sale.

For a short time, all those pictured are for sale, but some will soon be off to the shops and will not be available here. Boxwood hooks (all those sized 5.5 or under) are £10 and Ash hooks are £8, including P&P to UK. All hooks have size in mm burned on and are treated with raw linseed oil. If you wish to order, click on the 'Order Form' link at the top of the page and tell me which hook you want by counting from the left in this first photo and telling me the number. If you want anything special made, just let me know.

 One of my new business cards

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Some Wares

I now have a camera, and thought i'd post up some photos of some of my lovingly crafted utensils. Some for sale and some not. If you want to buy anything you see here, send me an email at ditchfieldcrafts(at)

The 1st is carved from cherry wood from the farm in Catalunya. It was carved from the point where a branch forked from the main trunk and therefore follows the natural curve of the grain.

It is well balanced, thin, light and delicate, but because it has been carved to the grains shape, it is strong enough to be a practical and useable soup spoon £22

The next is a large pipe.

The bowl is carved from cherry, followed by a leather spacer, then the centre piece is oak, followed by a copper spacer and finally a mouthpiece of holly taken from an Iron Age hillfort in South Wales. There is a brass tube running the length of the pipe. £50

Eating spoon from Red Cedar. Feels beautiful in the hand £16.

Acacia eating spoon £16

And this is my personnal favourite. Carved from a well seasoned, almost impossible to work piece of cherry. I was originally trying to make a cup, but there was woodworm in it, and by the time i'd hacked all the holey stuff away I was left with only enough to make this. It is halfway between an eating and a serving spoon in size. Most would struggle to fit it in their mouth... But it looks even more beautiful in person. £39

And here's some that aren't for sale:

 My personnal Boxwood eating fork

 A bowl made from an Almond burl. This. Took. An. Age.

Serving spoon from Red Cedar.

(Commisions taken)

Sunday, 29 January 2012


Hello. Welcome to my new blog. I will be using it to display and sell my wares. 
Lately I have been making lots of crochet hooks. Each is hand carved from carefully selected hardwood from a variety of sustainable sources. These latest hooks have been carved from Ash and Box. Ash for the larger diameter hooks and Box for the finer ones. Each are graded in mm, and I am making them in half milimeter increments (e.g 4, 4.5, 5...). The Ash wood for these hooks was taken from a wind blown tree on the Somerset levels, and the Box came from a couple of  different sources. One was another casualty of the recent storms - an ancient Box tree near Abergavenny that losts its crown, but supplied me with some sizeable chunks of wood; the rest was a gift from a former Columbian cowboy, now a small-holder in rural Catalunya, where I was recently living for 8 months. Box wood is our hardest native wood, which makes it perfect for fine items such as these crochet hooks. Some of the Box wood is beautifully figured, with lovely swirling patterns, but all of it is very difficult to work, and I sometimes have to resort to files rather than a knife in order to shape it.

Unfortunately, I do not currently have my camera and so am unable to post any photos of my current work, but here is a photo of some of my past creations. My current hooks are undecorated, but I am happy to do pyrography work on commisions.