lördag 17 april 2010

Crochet Hooks

My father was very particular about his tools and equipment. He kept his hammers, saws, screwdrivers and knives clean and in order. They had to be of good quality (not an easy thing in the '50s, after the war). He said you do more harm than good with a bad tool. I'm sure he was right. During the years he gave me some of his tools, a hammer, a small pen knife, a tong. I still use them, but not always for the purpose they where designed for. The tong is now in my kitchen drawer. It's very useful when I want to pick bones out of salmon :)

My textile tools have to be good, too. I have bought new knitting needles, spindles, spinning wheels and sewing machines during the years. Now I'm buying new crochet hooks. Plastic crochet hooks are not always fun to work with, but I love the wooden ones.

On Thursday this week the postman brought me five wooden KnitPro double hooks and one Trapper Joel stainless steel hook. What a day! I had to try them at once! Among my UFOs was a hat in Bosnian crochet, for which I was using a hook from my youth, a steel hook from Inox, 4.5 mm (UK/US 7). The hook is too rounded for Bosnian crochet, but will do if you have no other choice. I like to work Bosnian crochet with a pointy hook. The hat would be a good piece to try the new hooks at.

From left to right: steel hook from Inox, five wooden KnitPro, Joel's hook made from a spoon handle, steel hook from Inox, steel hook from JMRA, my grandmother's homemade metal hook.
The yarn is a variegated 2-ply spun at Kehräämö Musta Lammas in Finland. I like this yarn with it's deep, clear colors. Some years ago the mill started selling so much carded wool for felting, that they decided to stop spinning. The hat is from Kerstin Jönsson's book Smygmaskvirkning, a Swedish book about Bosnian crochet

I tested Joel's hook first, naturally :) I think Joel had Bosnian crochet in mind when he made it. It's very pointy, which is good when you work slip stitches. My first impression was that I really like this hook. I tried the casting technique, where you keep the yarn and the hook in the same hand and throw the yarn under the hook instead of picking it from one of the fingers on the other hand. It worked quite good, but when I tried picking, I soon found out that works even better for me. I'm right handed, and the hook is made for a right handed person. It's very smooth, so the only problem for me was that the pointy hook sometimes got trapped in the yarn. I will work looser stitches in my next project, because that will solve the problem. I'm very pleased with this hook. Thank you again, Joel!

I like the wooden KnitPro hooks. They are smooth and light, but they are not so good in Bosnian crochet because of the rounded hook. The idea of two hooks in one is handy. I know that quite a few persons with joint problems have been able to go on knitting and crocheting with the lighter wooden needles and hooks. Wood can not be used in fine hooks, so I still have all my small stainless steel hooks in my hook cloth. My smallest wooden hook is 3 mm, and my smallest needle 2 mm, both from KnitPro.

I also bought a hook at the local yarn shop, a 2 mm (UK 14, US B/1) steel hook made by Inox. It has a plastic handle for easier grip. I have small hands, so the hook was far too long for me. I took some masking tape and made the steel part a bit shorter. This is a good hook for all kinds of crochet, even if I have a suspicion my shortened steel part will be too short for bullion stitch. Is that a good reason to by another one? Is there such a thing as "too many crochet hooks"?

My answer is no. Every new yarn needs it's own hook. If you have only one 2 mm hook, it might be the right size for the yarn, but it still doesn't work because of the shape of the hook and the handle. Sometimes I try 3-4 hooks before I find the right one. That's why I won't throw away my old hooks when I buy new ones. I even keep the impossible hook I found in my grandmother's button box after she died in the late '60s. My father thought it was made during the war, probably by grandfather, as a means to keep grandmother calm at a time when every new day could bring a dreaded message from the front line. I have tried the hook a couple of times, but I find it to be a very bad hook. What has grandmother crocheted with this? I don't know. She was a very skillful lace crocheter, so most of her hooks where much, much smaller, size 0,5 to 1,5 mm. This hook might have been for wool rather than cotton yarn. And yes, my grandparents did get that message. My uncle died in battle. Did grandma keep the hook as a memory? She kept the buttons from my father's uniform in that box, too. My father survived the war, and lived the rest of his life as a pacifist.