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.
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.
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.
This giveaway is open internationally. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 9, 2013.
One of the yarn shops I planned to visit during my trip to Pennsylvania was out of business, so I decided to add another shop to my list. Since I was staying just one train stop away from Swarthmore, I planned a visit to Finely a Knitting Party on my way back to New York.
The shop is conveniently located about a block and a half from the Swarthmore train stop. Finely a Knitting Party feels quite different from the three yarn shops I visited in Philadelphia. You can tell it is the only yarn shop in town, because it doesn’t seem concerned with establishing a particular niche.
The yarn is sparsely arranged on cubby shelves and there is plenty of space to walk around. The selection is dominated by a few brands like Brown Sheep, Classic Elite, Crystal Palace, and Plymouth Yarn. There was a good range of fiber types, but most of the yarn seemed basic and no frills – the kind of yarn that most people would want access to if there was only one yarn shop in town. Anything that was slightly unusual was also pricey. The one skein of yarn I was really drawn to was Mushishi but it was outside of my strict travel budget.
I didn’t see any crochet hooks or other signs that the shop might be crochet-friendly. There was a selection of knitting needles in a few brands behind the counter. The shop has a large table in the center of the store’s main room for classes. The schedule online shows that there are daily classes, and there are pictures posted throughout the store of cheerful students holding up completed projects. This looks like the type of LYS where you can meet new knitting buddies and hang out.
I love handmade soap, so I decided to buy some Sioux City Soap instead of yarn.
but I can’t understand why the brand is called Sioux City, since it is made locally in Pennsylvania?
Since I was on a skin care kick, I also bought this lotion.
As I mentioned, this shop carries a solid selection of basic yarns and looks like it has a lot of fun classes. I’m not sure it is worth a special trip to visit, but if I’m in the area again, I might stop by.
Last week, I took my dream vacation and spent a few days at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, PA. The main purpose of the vacation was to relax, enjoy the silence, (wait, what is this? some kind of retro pop music playlist??), spend some time outdoors, and live an unscheduled life, and what’s more relaxing than a trip to the yarn shop?
I’ve been on a pretty severe yarn diet since December, so I planned to splurge during my trip. On Tuesday, I decided to spend the day in Philadelphia visiting yarn shops. I gave myself a budget of $25 per shop. Since I wanted to spend time outside, I actually walked from shop to shop and back to the train station (about 5 miles, according to Google Maps, plus the mile to and from the train station in Wallingford). It was one of those days when it alternates between pouring rain and sweltering heat, so I thank all of the shops I visited for allowing my presumably stinky self inside!
How did I develop my list? First, I stopped by the Crochet Liberation Front Headquarters group on Ravelry and looked at their list of Crochet-Friendly LYSs. Though I now knit also, I want to spend my money where crocheters are respected and appreciated! Then I got directions from Google Maps and wrote them down on a piece of paper. (Then, I got lost and ended up using the Hop Stop app on my phone, which actually seemed to provide more concise routes.)
Rosie’s Yarn Cellar is a small, quiet shop that’s down a short flight of steps. The staff are very friendly and helpful, but in a quiet way. There is a store dog (a pug, if memory serves), who makes some very cute little sounds while trying to kill his toy duck.
The store has a great selection for a shop of its size and a broad range of prices. I saw yarns for $5 as well as yarns for $30. The prices seemed the least expensive of all the shops I visited, and were certainly lower than NYC prices.
It took me a while to figure out how this store got its crochet-friendly reputation, but it does have an entire shelf of crochet books, and crochet hooks behind the counter. I was super amazed that knitting needles are out on display for you to browse and right next to the door. (You can tell you’re not in New York City!)
My favorite feature of this shop is the little signs by each yarn that tell you the details you would find on the label (e.g., fiber content, suggested gauge and needle size, brand name) as well as the price. This made for much easier browsing. For people who like to buy patterns in the shop, there had tons of binders listed by project type.
I still haven’t decided if I think it is more black or more blue. I hope it will one day work itself into a project for me – perhaps a pair of socks? (Sock people, tell me now if this is a good choice or if I should move on to another project idea!) I’m still dreaming about that Mountain Meadow Wool Mill yarn, but I didn’t want to go over budget by getting two skeins.
I was somewhat bewildered by this sign in the window.
I decided that my next stop should be furthest from the station and that I would work my way back. I guess I should have done more research, because after a very long walk, I discovered this shop was closed. I was surprised because usually Yelp seems to be updated when a shop shuts down, but it was still listed.
After briefly mumbling to myself, I continued on my journey and went to Nangellini Gallery.
This shop is in an artsy looking area and has a very funky vibe to it. When you enter, the first room is more of a gallery space with freeform, funky, artsy wearable projects on display. I’m embarrassed to say that I had a great picture of this room, but I accidentally saved over it. (D’oh!) You can find hooks and needles on a display rack on this floor as well as some notions like shawl pins and stitch markers.
On the upstairs level, you can find yarn as well as some spinning supplies like drop spindles and batts. The yarn selection completely fits the vibe of the store, and there is a lot of novelty and highly textured yarn, as well as chunky, multicolor yarn. There is a very small collection of crochet books, but it includes some freeform books that really fit into the store’s theme. There’s also a section of crochet cotton.
I don’t use novelty yarn or very bulky yarns too often, so for a while I was debating whether I should buy anything. And then I saw this.
I ended up with a skein of Nancy’s Hair by No Two Snowflakes. I confess I picked it because it was superwash merino and had the most yardage of anything in the local section.
I think this will probably end up as a gift for my best friend from high school, CG. She is an artist and wears a lot of bold colors. Also, she would actually find the story of how I got the yarn entertaining. (And, she’s already on my Holiday Stashdown Challenge list.)
The staff at this shop are very friendly in a more conversational way. While I was in the shop, an older customer came in with a wedding dress her mom had made her in acrylic yarn (insert large number of years) in the past. Everyone oohed and aahed and I could tell you can get as much attention as you want in this shop. There are also some comfy chairs in the gallery area.
By the time I arrived at Loop, I was tired and a bit nervous about catching the train back in time for dinner, so I didn’t browse for as long.
Loop reminded me the most of a New York City yarn shop. It has a large table in the center (presumably for classes and hanging out) and I was familiar with more brands of yarn being sold in the shop, like Berroco, Brooklyn Tweed, Malabrigo, and Spud & Chloe. It was a bit pricier than the other shops as well.
When I saw the display of Addi Swing hooks near the counter, I immediately understood why this shop was labelled crochet-friendly. And, I gave myself permission to go $13 over budget since I only visited three (instead of four) shops.
It’s always hard to pick a hook size when you are buying just one new hook. In the end, I decided to go with an I, which is probably what I use most often.
As for the yarn, since a lot of the brands are available at my LYS, Knitty City, I decided to get two skeins of Sheep 2 from the Sheep Shop Yarn Company (now defunct) which were on sale.
This should match my winter coat, so I see some winter accessories in my future!
Loop also has a rewards program and $5.95 flat rate shipping for web orders.
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.
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.
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.
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.) Overall, I found the Eleggant hook handle easier to use and it feels more sturdy and snug than the Boye hook handle.
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. There’s no such luck over at the Simplicity YouTube channel. (Update: The Magique video is no longer available, so they are equal on this point, too.)
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.
This post was last updated in May, 2017. I’m a native New Yorker who has lived in either Brooklyn or Manhattan for over 90% of my life, and I love to support local businesses! If you’re visiting New York City, check out my recommendations, and let me know what you think!
After I posted about the awesome class I took with Jenny King at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, Evelyn from Project: Stash asked me what I thought of the Studio, since she hadn’t been there yet. I decided that today’s post would feature my favorite NYC yarn shops. I often see threads on Ravelry about folks planning to visit and wondering which yarn shops to see, so I also included general information about the wacky world of yarn shops in New York City.
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.
So, what’s the deal with NYC yarn shops?
There are some things that visitors should know about yarn shop culture in NYC to avoid surprises.
Price: You should expect that the combination of luxury yarn prices and NYC prices will make it likely that you will spend at least $10-12 on a skein of yarn in most situations.
Schedule: Although NYC is the City That Never Sleeps, yarn shops generally operate what my mother calls “a banker’s schedule.” They usually open at brunch (11 a.m. or later is the norm) and close at the end of the business day (6 p.m. is the norm). Additionally, many shops are only open six days a week, with quite a few closed on Saturday for religious observances and others closed on a week day. Most shops do have at least one “late night” a week, but it is definitely important to check the hours before planning to visit a shop.
Customer Service: It is unfortunately true that many shops with lackluster or even horrific customer service have continued to thrive due to their convenient locations in shopping or business districts.
My favorites (in alphabetical order)
I’ve visited all the shops on this list several times and I’ve found the staff friendly and helpful. These are shops that are crochet-friendly and have prices which are comparable with other shops in New York City. Click on the heading with the name of the shop to visit their website.
After years of hearing that I should add Annie and Company to the list, I finally had the chance to visit for the first time during the 2016 New York City Yarn Crawl. I had a great time (and so did my fellow yarn crawlers, Jessie from Jessie At Home and Amy from The Stitchin’ Mommy), and we definitely agreed that this shop should get added to the list. Although (or perhaps because) it is located off the beaten path on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the store is large enough to allow you to browse comfortably. It includes a broad array of yarn and needlepoint supplies. I really enjoyed the vibrant mood and organized displays. The store also has an active schedule of trunk shows and other events, so be sure to check their calendar or follow them on Instagram to see what is happening when you’re in town.
While we were visiting, we happened to see the sample of Jessie’s Skylark in Wonderland shawl (get the free crochet pattern here) on display, so they are definitely crochet friendly, too.
I stumbled upon this cute shop in 2011 when I was taking an embroidery class with a friend at the Ukranian Museum. I’m rarely on the Lower East Side (Manhattan) these days, so I took the opportunity to check out Downtown Yarns. The shop has a “small town” feel – hard to do, in New York City! – complete with a screen door entrance. The yarn is stacked up to the ceilings and the store has those great, old-fashioned, wooden rolling ladders you might see in a library. The shop is pretty small, so I was super impressed with their collection of knitting needles and notions, which you can sift through on your own. (I hate having to ask to see things behind the counter – I feel like I can’t really browse because I’ll be too annoying to the clerks.) I’ve since made the trip back to the store several times and recommended it to my students who are on the look-out for wooden needles. Their yarn selection is pretty diverse, too, considering their small size.
This is my official Local Yarn Shop. Knitty City is in my neighborhood (Upper West Side, Manhattan), so I frequent it more regularly than other LYSs in New York City – but I love more about it than its proximity to my apartment! I love the comfy corner with books and cozy chairs. I love that the shop is extremely crochet-friendly, and even carries a range of crochet tools rather than just one type of hooks (as many of the knitting-focused yarn shops do). I love the great selection of yarn at reasonable (for New York City) prices, with a different type of yarn on sale every month. I love the large bookcase of knitting and crochet books, including Japanese imports, that you can browse freely. The store also has quite a few events (though my schedule never seems to match up). I have twice needed a hook or needle in a particular size, which the staff has happily special ordered for me.
Knitty City also has exclusive colorways of certain yarns which make great souvenirs, so be sure to ask about those when you stop by. And, Knitty City now offers the option of winding yarn purchased elsewhere (for $1/skein), so if you packed that extra skein in your suitcase, bring it along with you! If you can only visit one yarn shop in NYC, this is the one I recommend!
The Studio sells the full range of Lion Brand Yarn products, which is great if you are looking for a particular color, but not so great if you are looking for another brand of yarn :). The Studio is located just a short walk from Union Square (Manhattan). The shop takes a minimalist approach to decor and has a fair amount of open space. There is a stitching wall where you can work up a swatch in any of their yarns – if only we could do that in every yarn shop, I’m sure many disastrous textures could be averted. Another nice feature of the shop is that you can print out any pattern from the Lion Brand website in the store for free. If you have been itching to try the LB Collection, Lion Brand’s line of premium yarns, then the Studio is the place to do that. You can also buy skeins of unique yarns that were hand dyed by staff.
The prices are lower than most NYC yarn shops, but higher than you would expect if you’ve been buying your Lion Brand yarn at a big box store. The Studio is also a great yarncrafter event space. They offer over 100 classes each month and have many public events which are absolutely worth the trip. Again, the staff is friendly and are equally competent in crochet and knitting. I don’t generally shop at the Studio, unless I’m there for an event or a class, or am desperately searching for a specific color of Lion Brand Yarn, but I do like to frequent their events and classes.
Other interesting yarn shops
These shops may be worth a visit if you have a longer stay in New York.
Purl Soho combines a yarn shop with a quilting shop, but expect major sticker shock. The prices are high by NYC yarn shop standards, but in line with shopping in overpriced SoHo standards. If you enjoy sewing and embroidery, too, or if you’ll be in SoHo anyway, definitely stop by for a visit.
Smiley’s is the ultimate discount yarn shopping location. Updated to add: Smiley’s closed their retail store in 2015, but still have their amazing, cash only, “yarn riot” sales in Manhattan. If you’re visiting the New York area, be sure to check their schedule on the website! You can also shop their online store anytime. At the annual yarn sale in Midtown, Manhattan, you can only buy yarn by the bag, so it is best to bring a friend unless you need 10 balls of each color of yarn. Visiting Smiley’s is the yarn equivalent of stopping at Century 21 while you’re in New York City – you’d get a great deal and likely come away with a good adventure story from your shopping experience.
Updated to add: The Yarn Company is now web only, but it still makes a great tourist destination.Check out their exclusive colorways online, or look for them at a local pop up shop. After years of being notorious for snooty attitude and poor customer service, the Yarn Company was purchased by new (friendlier) owners a few years back. The Yarn Company sells several exclusive yarn colorways which make great souvenirs and gifts.
Skip the trip
In my opinion, there are a few shops that you can definitely miss, especially if you are on a tight schedule.
Seaport Yarn is conveniently located in lower Manhattan and has a large selection of yarn and notions, but the shop is messy, and the customer service is poor. They also have a ridiculously high “credit card minimum” ($30, when I last checked).
What about all the other yarn shops in New York City?
The New York City Crochet Guild has a list of yarn shops on its website. The NYC Yarn Crawl website includes many of the most sociable yarn shops in New York City. Checking out the Yelp reviews might help you decide which shops to visit. Unfortunately, yarn shops come and go in New York City pretty regularly, so be sure to call the shop or check its website before visiting.