Tag Archives: michaels

Battle of the egg-shaped crochet hook handles!

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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.

F.O. Friday – Washcloths (Check!)

Doesn’t it feel great to check something off your holiday gift list?  I’m officially finished with my washcloths.  The last one was made in Lily Sugar ‘n Cream in Westport.

It was very hard to photograph the stitch pattern with the variegated yarn, but trust me, it is awesome.

(You can see the other three washcloths in last week’s post.)  I made one for each of the ladies in my dad’s family.

My plan is to wrap some natural soap with the washcloths, and then use some holiday “take out containers” I bought at Michaels a few years ago for packaging.

How’s your holiday crafting going?

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

F.O. Friday and I Love Yarn Day!

Happy Friday everyone!  I’ve been thinking for a while about how to celebrate I Love Yarn Day, since I first read about it on the Craft Yarn Council website.  The CYC has several suggestions about what to do to celebrate (and several projects from famous designers, too!).

My post for today is a celebration of my favorite yarns and also about yarncrafting for charity.  If you have been crocheting or knitting for any amount of time, you have probably found that we yarncrafters are a generous lot.  I even have some Finished Objects to share, in the form of charity crochet projects.

My Favorite Yarns

My current favorites are Cascade Eco Duo, Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love, Dream in Color Classy, Patons Classic Wool, and Spud and Chloe Sweater.

Top (from left to right): Eco Duo, Alpaca Love. Bottom (from left to right): Classy, Classic Wool (ombre) with Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool (solid), Sweater.

Cascade Eco Duo

Like most of the yarns on my list, I discovered this super soft yarn in my LYS, Knitty City.  As the name implies, Cascade Eco Duo is an eco-friendly yarn made of undyed baby alpaca (70%) and undyed Merino wool (30%).  Since it is undyed, it is offered in a relatively limited range of colors (mostly browns, blacks, whites – very gender neutral) and it is marled.  The softness is incredible and it is really nice to work with.  There is a kind of self-striping effect with most of the colors.  The one drawback for me is that it isn’t machine washable, and since I hate handwashing, I only use this yarn for small accessories.

Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love

This is my favorite big box store yarn. Alpaca Love is also a wool (80%) and alpaca (20%) blend.  I love the feel of the yarn – a great combination of softness with firmness.  It comes in some very fun coordinated colors.  This yarn is very affordable (especially when purchased at Michaels using a coupon!).  The drawbacks for me are the handwashing issue again, and the limited color range.  I usually get around the handwashing issue by felting projects made with this yarn :).

Dream in Color Classy

Dream in Color Classy is another great yarn that I first tried out at Knitty City.  This yarn has recently made several appearances on the blog (in my crocodile stitch project and my yarn haul post).  Classy is a 100% superwash Merino wool yarn that is spun and hand dyed in the U.S.  The colors are variegated and are really fabulous.  The only drawback here for me is the cost, which means that I have to save it for slightly more special occasions.  At least there are 250 yards in each skein, which makes me feel a little less guilty when splurging!

Patons Classic Wool

Patons Classic Wool is another big box store yarn.  It is 100% wool and it is available in a great variety of colors, including both solids and ombres.  (A few colors are also available as tweeds.)  The  solids have 210 yards in each skein and are reasonably priced.  It isn’t the softest wool I’ve felt, but it isn’t scratchy, either.  It is a great, firm, workhorse yarn which doesn’t split.  The only real drawback for me is that it isn’t machine washable.

Spud and Chloe Sweater

Sweater is probably the yarn in this group that I’ve worked with the most.  It is a blend of 55% superwash wool and 45% organic cotton.  I also found it at Knitty City :) about a year ago.  I first picked up a skein of Turtle for a design submission which wasn’t accepted.  I loved the yarn so much that I submitted two more designs with it, which were both accepted.  The first was my Sunshine Blanket, published in the August, 2011 issue of Inside Crochet.  I am also in the middle of a top secret project using these colors for Cooperative Press‘s Fresh Designs Crochet (Kids) book, which should be published in 2012.  I honestly can’t think of any drawbacks to this yarn: the colors are great, it is machine washable, and it feels nice :).

You may have noticed that all of these yarns are worsted weight – yes, I am one of those American yarncrafters that prefers a heavier weight yarn!  You may have also noticed that all of these yarns are made with natural fibers.  I am by no means a “yarn snob” – I work with Red Heart Super Saver, too.  But recently, I have really tried to limit my purchasing of acrylic yarn.  I just don’t feel comfortable buying a yarn made from crude oil anymore.  This is my own personal choice as part of changes I’ve made in my life to be more environmentally conscious.  On the other hand, I can’t just let the existing acrylic yarn in my stash go to waste (that’s  not too eco-friendly either), and so that is where some of my charity crafting and experiments with freeform crochet come into play.

Charity Crafting

One great way to use up your stash while finding a home for some of your creations is through charity crafting.  I especially like to make items for infants and pets (because they are fast and cute, and because my very own special cat was adopted from the Humane Society).

I was inspired by the phrase “Think globally.  Act locally.” and decided to make up a list of local NYC charities that accept handmade donations.  I checked in with all of these organizations, and the list is current as of October, 2011.

Snuggles Project sites:

  • ASPCA, the first humane organization in the Western hemisphere, has a wishlist of donated items for their Manhattan adoption center which includes handmade bedding or toys.  Items can be dropped off during regular adoption hours.
  • Bideawee, the oldest no-kill animal humane organization in the U.S., welcomes Snuggles in any size for cats and dogs in its adoption center.  These can be delivered in person, or mailed to the attention of Lauren Bonanno at the Manhattan location.
  • S.A.V.E., a pet rescue organization in Queens, is looking for small or medium sized bedding.  Email the organization at savepetNY@aol.com to arrange pick up.

Knits for Infants is looking for hats, booties, sweaters, and blankets in soft, machine washable yarns for newborns and infants being treated at the North Central Bronx Hospital.  Having worked in the health care industry in the Bronx for years, I can say that families served by this hospital would really benefit from the donations.  They also accept yarn donations (no novelty yarns or “scratchy” yarns like Red Heart Super Saver, please).

For those of you who live in the U.S. outside of New York, some great organizations you might consider donating to are one of the organizations listed on the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation website (Oglala Sioux Tribe families and elders), Knit Your Bit through the National WW II Museum (scarves for veterans) and  The Red Scarf Project through Foster Care to Success (scarves for foster care students in college).  Internationally, you can find a participating animal shelter/pet rescue organization that accepts handmade donations through the Snuggles Project.  Of course, this is just a small sampling of organizations, and there are many more out there!

Finished Objects


Today, I’m showing off some of the projects that I’m donating to charity for I Love Yarn Day.

Six scarves for Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi, Inc. (LOWO).

Two scarves, a hat, and mittens for toddlers via Knits for Infants. I have two other hats in the works, too.

This is a close up of my snuggle for Bideawee. I plan to make a few more using scrap yarn (I doubt the doggies are too concerned about the colors).

My post yesterday was a reflection on my craft goals for the year, and I’m thinking that when I update them, I will add some charity crafting goals.  I used to donate a lot of projects to charity, and I would like to make more crocheted donations in the coming months.

For more finished objects, don’t forget to stop by Tami’s Amis!

A Final Word on Awesome Yarn

A few weeks ago, I won a giveaway from Danielle at A Stash Addicts Ramblings for my choice of sock yarn from her Jane & Michael Etsy shop.  This lovely skein arrived yesterday, just in time for I Love Yarn Day!

 

The colorway is called Emerald Forest.

 

(On a side note, I remember being totally confused by The Emerald Forest as a kid, since I was, of course, way too young to have any real sense of what the film was about!)

There’s a good chance that this may eventually transform itself into a gift for my mom.

Thanks, Danielle!

To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.