5/23/2010

Great Owl Crochet-Along - Getting "Hooked Up"

We've already talked yarn and today I want to talk about some of the tools you'll need for the Great Owl Crochet-Along.

Obviously, the most important tool you're going to need is a crochet hook. But with so many out there, which one is the right one for this kind of project? A while back, I did a workshop on hooks, so one place you can get more information is that blog post. But, the post tends a little more toward the general side of crochet -- so here's my advice on getting the right hook for your owl project.

Material
I've had some trials and errors with this category, so let me just come out by saying that the best hook material I've found for amigurumi is metal. Case in point... I taught my friend's 10-year-old daughter amigurumi crochet and when she started getting good at it, I bought her a  lovely set of plastic hooks in rainbow colors. The next day, she called to tell me that she had broken one of the hooks while trying to crochet. the continued until she had only one or two of the hooks left.

Now, if a 10-year-old is putting enough tension on the hook to snap it, imagine what an adult can do. As a result, I do not recommend plastic hooks for this kind of project. Save them for your lighter-tension afghans.

For those of you who love working with natural textures (like bamboo), you don't have to give that up to work on amigurumi. Check out the aluminum barrel/bamboo handle hooks I was able to track down on the internet after a brief search!

Size
I've already talked a little bit about hook sizes in our yarn-shopping post and you already know that the hook size should complement the choice of yarn. I personally use a size E hook when working with sport weight yarn (3 weight) and a G with worsted weight (4 weight), but you may have to adjust up or down a little depending on how tight you make your stitches.

 Before you choose your hook, whip up a gauge swatch. For amigurumi, the exact size of the gauge swatch doesn't matter -- so if you end up with 4x4 when you wanted 5x5 -- no big deal. The important thing is to see how tight you can get your stitches. Remember that your amigurumi is going to be stuffed in the end and you don't want to see the filling peeking through the stitches. So, look at your gauge swatch very closely. Stretch it and put something with contrast behind it -- can you see though easily? If so, you might want to try a smaller hook size.

Another important element about size -- when I talk hook size, I generally use the US measurement terms. For you international folks, hooks can be measured in metric units (for example, an E hook is 3.5 mm). If you're in the UK or Canada hooks may use the English numbering system. The following chart should help you to convert:


Ergonomics
Wen I started crocheting, ergonomics was not at the top of my list for hook selection. But over the years (and especially after a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at age 30), the way a hook feels in my hand has become VERY important to me. If I had to pick only one crochet hook brand for the rest of my life, it would be the Soft Touch hooks by Clover.

The hook barrel is metal and the body is nicely shaped for an easy grip. I also really like the small rubber oval on each hook that helps you to get a grip on the upper part. It really comes in handy when doing a tricky decrease.

Where To Buy
you can buy crochet hooks at any of the sellers I mentioned for yarn (Herschner's, Mary Maxim, etc.). Here in the US, you can also find hooks at any big craft store (Jo-Ann's, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc.). I also found some lovely hooks on Etsy... check out these polymer clay handled hooks from NK designs!

For a bunch of other hooks on Etsy, check out this search. Ohh! I'll have one of those.... and one of these... and....

Hopefully, this information gets you a little closer to your favorite hook. But if you have questions, comments, or experiences you want to share, I want to hear from you! Tell me all about your favorite hook in the comments below!

3 comments:

  1. Most of my hooks are the aluminum susan bates one which I like but the lady at my local yarn shop gave me one of clover's soft touch hooks and that is my absolute favorite hook that I own. I use it the most. I love the way it feels :)

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  2. I'm thinking of getting some plastic ones for when travelling by plane - hopefully I won't snap them!

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