Tag Archives: hooks

Handmade wooden crochet hooks

I guess it’s obvious if you’ve been reading my recent reviews that I have more crochet hooks than most.  That doesn’t stop me from wanting to collect even more, though!

I love perusing Etsy to check out beautifully made, wooden crochet hooks.  I confess that I’ve only bought hooks from one of the vendors, Sistermaide.  Both hooks were delightful, so I included her in the Treasury twice.  (You can link directly to this Etsy Treasury here.)

What’s your favorite source for unique or handmade crochet hooks?

‘Handmade wooden crochet hooks!’ by UndergroundCrafter


Hand Carved Crochet…

$19

Rustic Oak Crochet …

$15

Driftwood Crochet h…

$26

5mm Hand carved Box…

$10

Handmade, solid pin…

$30

XXXL Wooden Crochet…

$19

Handmade Wood Croch…

$30

Handmade Purplehear…

$16

Summer Garden – Ha…

$130

Hand Made Wood Croc…

$20

Handmade Wood Croch…

$29.99

8 Handmade Crochet …

$98.99

Ergonomic Hook by S…

$11

Hand Turned Crochet…

$39.95

Hand made Greek oli…

$28

Sistermaide Tapered…

$10

Treasury tool supported by the dog house

Crochet Hook Review and Giveaway: The Crochet Dude Ergonomic Hooks by Boye

Every Sunday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be reviewing crochet hooks.  Today’s post features the Crochet Dude ergonomic hooks, along with a giveaway for 6 hooks, courtesy of the Crochet Dude by Boye.

Last summer, I was the happy winner of a giant box of crochet fun through a giveaway on Robyn Chachula‘s blog.  One of the many goodies tucked away into this prize package was a Crochet Dude ergonomic aluminum crochet hook.

The hook that got me hooked.

The hook that got me hooked.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Boye hooks – I have a collection of sizes B through P in my hook drawer, and I even have several sizes of steel Boye hooks for cotton thread.  I prefer not to use an inline crochet hook, and so naturally Boye became my “go to” brand over the years.

But as crochet has become a bigger and bigger part of my life – and especially when I’m crocheting on a deadline – I’ve found that a solid aluminum hook can put too much stress on my hands.  In the last 18 months or so, when I start a crochet project I usually reach for a comfort hook.

After using Boye hooks regularly for over 20 years, I know readily what size hook to use with different yarns and can be pretty consistent about my gauge.  This familiarity was what excited me about the Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hooks.

Each Crochet Dude ergonomic hook features the familiar Boye point and throat with a molded, soft handle covering most of the hook’s shaft.  The handle is squared towards the middle, has a flattened thumb rest, and then tapers down at the end.  Each size comes with a different color handle and the size in etched on the handle in both US letter size and millimeters.  These features allow you to quickly pick up the right size if you have a full set.

The Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hooks provide cushioning and comfort while allowing me to use my preferred type of point and a tapered throat.  It’s  one of the most affordable comfort hooks on the market.  (The suggested retail price is $5.99 per hook.)

Like most comfort hooks, the shaft of the hook is mostly covered by the soft handle, so the Crochet Dude ergonomic hook isn’t ideal if you are doing certain dimensional stitches (like bullions or puff stitches) where you may need more space to keep multiple loops on the hook, or where a tapered shaft might make it easier to work the stitch.

My overall review: The Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hook is a great, affordable comfort hook option for a crocheter who doesn’t need an inline hook.

Full disclosure: Six review/giveaway samples of this product were provided by Boye/Simplicity. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the distributor/manufacturer, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. You can read my complete review disclosure here.

Giveaway

When I contacted the nice folks who manufacture the Crochet Dude by Boye collection to tell them about my plans for reviewing the hook during NatCroMo13, they were generous enough to send along a prize pack of 6 different ergonomic Crochet Dude hooks (in US sizes B, E, G, H, I, and L) for me to share with one lucky reader.

Crochet Dude by Boye prize pack

This giveaway is open internationally.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 9, 2013.  

Battle of the egg-shaped crochet hook handles!

This post contains affiliate links.

I first became aware of egg-shaped, ergonomic crochet hook handles some time last year while visiting the Lion Brand Yarn Studio.  If you knew me in real life, you would know that I’m somewhat… cheap.  I saw this ergonomic crochet hook set and my first thought was, “$24!  But I already have tons of crochet hooks at home!”  The set had a bizarre effect on me though, and after going home my mind kept returning to the hook handles.

I was also teaching crochet and knitting at Micheals during the time, and I discovered that Boye had a similar product, the Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Hook Handle.  I decided to try it out with my employee discount.

My two best friends were nice enough to hook me up (pun intended) with my very own Eleggant Hook set for my birthday, and I later purchased some additional hook sizes.  (I should mention that it was cheaper to order the specific sizes and parts I wanted and to have it shipped to the U.S. than it was to buy the pre-packaged set with sizes I don’t really use.  This is how I convinced my cheap inner self to order the additional hooks.)

So today I present to you my reviews of both ergonomic, egg shaped hook handles.

Boye vs. Eleggant!

What’s included 

The Boye kit includes a hook handle of indeterminate material (my guess is rubber or plastic) which can twist off to open, as well as 8 “washers” to fit various sizes of crochet hooks.  The retail prices is $7.99.  Hooks are not included.

The Eleggant kit includes a wooden handle with metal adjustor, six modified crochet hooks (steel hooks in sizes 1.25 mm, 1.75 mm, and 2.25 mm, and aluminum hooks in sizes 3.5 mm/E, 5.0 mm/H, and 6.0 mm/J), and o-rings.  The retail price is $24.99CAD.  Alternatively, you can customize your own set by purchasing the handle ($15.00CAD), o-rings ($1.00CAD/10), and modified hooks in your favorite sizes ($1.50CAD – $1.75CAD each).

The verdict: The Boye kit seems less expensive, but it doesn’t include any hooks.  If you add the cost of hooks, then the prices are actually quite similar.

Small, color coded plastic washers are added to the Boye crochet hooks to create a snug fit inside the handle.

How it works

With the Boye kit, you attach plastic washers to each crochet hook.  The washers are a bit tough to get on because they are made to fit quite snug.  The washers are color coded so you have to examine the little color chart to figure out which washer goes onto what size hook.  After the washer is on the hook, you twist the hook handle open, insert the hook, and then twist the handle to close.  It takes some practice to position the washer properly so that the hook isn’t jiggling around in the handle.  A downside to this system was that once I put the washers on to my existing hooks, I didn’t have much interest in removing them.  They were really tough to get off around the point of the hook.  Since I was using my regular crochet hooks with this handle and there are certain types of stitches (e.g., the bullion stitch) that are difficult to work with the egg-shaped handle, the end result was that I have been using my Boye hooks less.

With the Eleggant hooks kit, you attach o-rings to the base of the modified crochet hooks.  Then you use the metal adjustor to tighten the handle around the hook.  I found these easier to use and since I have a dedicated set of modified hooks for the handle, I can pick it up whenever I feel like using an ergonomic egg-shaped hook without any impact on my other crochet tools.

The verdict: The Boye handle often leaves the hook jiggling around inside unless you place the washer very precisely.  The Eleggant hook handle occasionally snags the yarn at the join between the o-rings and the adjustor.  (This may be because I tend to move my stitches further down on the hook than other people when crocheting.)  Overal, I found the Eleggant hook handle easier to use and it feels more sturdy and snug than the Boye hook handle.

The Eleggant hook handle attaches to modified crochet hooks.

Other stuff

Feel: The Eleggant hook handle is made of wood and feels much better on the hands.  The Boye hook handle was almost instantly covered with cat fur and dust, and requires frequent washing.  Also, it tends to get “sweaty” when it is warm.

Durability: Again, I’d have to go with the Eleggant kit.  It looks and feels much more sturdy than the Boye handle and washers.

Ease of use: Honestly, crocheting with an egg-shaped handle takes a bit of getting used to.  With both handles, you would need some practice to get comfortable.

Customer support: The folks at Magique Enterprises are nice enough to share a video explaining how to use the Eleggant hook on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYdFGTKzzHg&noredirect=1

There’s no such luck over at the Simplicity YouTube channel.

Hook selection: Both sets are made to work with the Boye style hooks.  But what if you prefer the shape of point and throat of another brand of crochet hooks?  According to reviews that I’ve read online, the Boye kit can be used with Susan Bates hooks even though they are not the same length as Boye hooks.  If you want to use a different type of hook with the Eleggant handle, you will definitely need access to tools which can precisely cut metal.  (I didn’t test this out myself because my only aluminum hooks at home are the Boye brand, which I prefer.)

Finding the right size hook: The Boye kit has color coded washers and if your Boye hooks are also color coded, that you can probably easily find the right size.  The washer, when positioned correctly, will probably cover the size information on the hook handle though.  As for the Eleggant kit, supposedly the hook size is etched into each hook.  When looking through mine, however, I’ve found that two don’t have the size etched into the modified hook.

The verdict: Overall, I prefer the Eleggant hook handle.  It feels sturdier, fits the hook more snug, and is smaller to hold in your palm.  In fact, soon after the second time that I washed my Boye hook handle, I gave up on using it.  Since I live with a cat, there is just no way that it can stay clean.  However, if you really need more access to a broader range of hooks, you may want to consider the Boye handle.

Crochet Lyceum: Crochet 101 – Week 1/6: Materials and Project Planning

Welcome to Week 1 of Crochet 101, the first CAL/class in the Crochet Lyceum with Underground Crafter series. Visit this post for the full course outline and more information about how to participate.

Week 1: Materials and Project Planning

This week, we will focus on the basic crochet tools – specifically, the materials you will need for this six week CAL/class.  We will also discuss different beginner projects.

This week is more text heavy than future weeks :). Feel free to “skim” to pick up the information that you need.  Our outline for today’s post:

  • Yarn
  • Hooks
  • Notions
  • Choosing a project for the CAL
  • Making a supply list
  • Homework

Yarn

There are two main ways to categorize yarn: by fiber content and weight.

In recent years, yarns made with many different types of fiber have been introduced in the marketplace.  Rather than overwhelm you with every type of yarn that can exist in the world :), I will focus on fibers that are readily available, relatively inexpensive, and otherwise “beginner friendly.”

Some yarns are made with natural fibers while others are made with synthetic fibers.  In general,

  • Natural fibers create projects that are more breathable.
  • Natural fibers are biodegradable and are frequently more eco-friendly than synthetic fibers.
  • Synthetic fibers are often inexpensively priced and more readily available in “big box” stores and large retail outlets.

The fibers that I would generally recommend to beginners are (in alphabetical, not preferential, order): acrylic, alpaca, bamboo, cotton, and wool.  This chart has more information about the properties of different fibers.

In the U.S., we use a weight numbering system standardized by the Craft Yarn Council (CYC).  In this context, weight refers to the thickness of the yarn.  The numbering system ranges from 0 to 6, with 0 being the thinnest and 6 being the thickest yarn.

When the manufacturer is dyeing the yarn, there might be slight variations in color between batches of dye.  The dye lot number allows you to identify yarn dyed from the same mixture so you know colors will be consistent across multiple balls of yarn.

Dye lot

Hooks

There are many varieties of crochet hooks.  The most common materials are bamboo, metal, plastic, wood, and steel.

Bamboo hooks come in a wide range of sizes. They are generally easier on the hands than metal hooks. Often they are unfinished and, as a result, the yarn may not "glide" as easily off the hook.

Metal hooks are typically made from aluminum. They are sturdy and inexpensive. Because metal is thermally conductive, these hooks become sticky from sweat in warm weather and feel icy in cold temperatures. For people with arthritis and other hand conditions, metal hooks can be uncomfortable to use.

Plastic hooks are relatively inexpensive and are usually cleared for airline use. When they are cheaply made, seams will snag on your yarn or the hooks will break from frequent use. They also tend to get sweaty in warm weather. In larger sizes, plastic hooks may be the easiest to use because they can be lighter weight.

Steel hooks are available in small sizes and are used for working with thread and very light weight yarn. Expect the same thermal conductivity issues you would experience with aluminum hooks.

Wooden hooks are often more expensive and less readily available. They are gentle on the hands and are usually finished and smooth.

There are also specialty hooks.  I don’t recommend that beginners run out and spend a lot of money on supplies :), but you may find these hooks useful as you start to crochet more.

Comfort hooks generally use an ergonomic design and/or rubberized material around the center of the hook to reduce strain on your hand and elbow when you grip the hook. These can be fairly costly, but can be well worth the price if you have a hand condition or need to use a tight tension with a small hook (e.g., for amigurumi).

Decorative hooks include functional or non-functional ornamentation. This hook has floral decorations on the polymer clay handle.

Interchangeable hook sets are wonderful if you crochet frequently and use a variety of yarn weights and crochet techniques. These sets include a range of sizes and can be adjusted for Tunisian or double-ended crochet. The hooks in this Denise Interchangeable Kit can also be used for knooking.

Like yarn, hooks come in a range of sizes.  The millimeter size refers to the circumference of the hooks.  In the U.S., hooks are also lettered and numbered.  As the numbers increase and the letters move further into the alphabet, the circumference is getting larger.  (The opposite is true of the U.K. sizing.)

For each yarn weight, there is a recommended hook size.  This chart has more information and includes U.S. and U.K. hook sizing.

Notions

In addition to the yarn and hooks, there are some other tools which crocheters use regularly.

Measurement tools are critical to the success of most crochet projects.  You can use a standard ruler or tailor’s tape.  If you want to get fancy, the Knit Picks View Sizer or the Susan Bates Knit Chek can assist with both measuring gauge and figuring out the sizes of those mystery hooks in your collection.

We will start talking about gauge and measurement in Week 3.

A decent pair of scissors is invaluable.  You can use full size, child size, or embroidery scissors.  I prefer the portability of child size scissors because I do a lot of crocheting on the go.

Yarn needles are generally considered optional for crochet.  However… when I compared the look of my finished crochet projects before and after I began using yarn needles, I decided to make them mandatory for myself :).  Yarn needles come in metal and plastic varieties.  I personally prefer 2 inch steel yarn needles, like Susan Bates 14081.

We will use yarn needles in Week 6. (The Susan Bates 14081 2 inch steel yarn needle is pictured at the top. It looks much less threatening than the other needle, doesn't it?)

Choosing a project for the CAL

Next week, we will start crocheting!  You will get to choose what type of project(s) you would like to work on.  I will post a tutorial and/or video each week and will also be sharing some stitch patterns.  Since we are focusing on the basics, most of what you make will be rectangular or square.

Some project ideas:

  • One small project each week, such as a washcloth, a short scarf, or small, decorative pillow, or
  • A larger sampler project for the whole 6 weeks, such as a pillow form cover, blanket, rug, or multi-stitch scarf.  Each of these projects could be worked in one large piece with color changes or in squares/rectangles which could then be joined together.  (Week 6 will focus on joining.)

Your choice of project(s) will influence your selection of yarn.

Making a supply list

Now that you have an awareness of the different supplies used for basic crocheting, you should get together a supply list.

Yarn: If you have a really defined project in your mind, review the Yarn Comparison Chart to see what type of yarn fiber would be best for such a project.  Remember, you can post a message here, on Flickr, or my Ravelry group if you aren’t sure what type of yarn fiber would be suitable for your chosen project.

I recommend #4 medium weight (also known as worsted, afghan, or aran weight) yarn with a straight texture for our CAL.  (In other words, no boucle or novelty yarn.)  This type of yarn is readily available and easy for beginners to use.  You should expect to use at least two colors for this CAL.  If you are a beginner, light colored yarns will be best because it is easier to see your stitches.

Hooks: You will want to get at least two hooks in different sizes.  If you get #4 medium weight yarn, what are some hook sizes you might want to buy? (Hint: review the Recommended Hook Sizes chart.)

Notions: Your notions purchases could be spaced out during the CAL.  You will need a scissor starting in week 2, a measurement tool starting in week 3, and a yarn needle is optional for week 6.

Will you be collecting all of your supplies now, or week by week?

Homework

Your assignment for next week is to get your hands on some yarn, hooks, and scissors.

Remember that yarn labels often contain a lot of helpful information.

Fiber content

Yarn weight

Recommended hook size

If you are already a knitter, you are welcome to search your stash for an appropriate yarn.  If you are a new crocheter, your crafty friends might be willing to donate some yarn to your swatching fund :).  Unless you have a very specific, large, beginner project in mind, or live very far from a store that sells yarn, I don’t recommend running out to buy tons of yarn.  You may discover that you don’t love crocheting with a particular type of yarn or that you don’t need as much as you expected.  Also, when we learn about gauge in week 3, we will talk about ways to estimate the amount of yarn you might need for a specific project.

You can post a reply here, on Flickr, or my Ravelry group if you have any questions or want to share your project ideas or supply finds.

Essential Crochet Supply Kit, Part 1 of 7

I recently went through my entire crafting stash in an effort to become more organized.  This arduous cleaning experience got me thinking about the most essential tools for the crocheter.

The most obvious is, of course, the crochet hook.  The other critical tools are scissors, a measurement device, yarn or tapestry needles, stitch markers, pen/pencil, and some manicure tools.  If you plan to crochet outside of the home, you’ll need a carrying case/organizer of some kind too.  (I personally do the majority of my crocheting on the subway, so the case is almost as important as the hooks for me!)

But which hook, yarn marker, etc. should you pick?  Each day this week, I’ll go through one of these essential tools in more detail, walking though which supplies are “must haves” for the beginner and what can wait until you are more advanced.

You may be wondering, “What about the yarn?”  Well, that’s a whole ‘nother story – subject for many future posts, I’m sure.

Part 2: Manicure tools and writing implements

Part 3: Scissors

Part 4: Measurement devices

Part 5: Stitch markers and yarn needles

Part 6: Hooks

Part 7: Cases/organizers