>REVIEW: Etimo Crochet Hooks

>This post is all about teaching an old dog new tricks. It is not my imagination. I can tell, with each passing year, that I am losing brain function along with 1) patience, 2) near vision, 3) a waistline. I am extremely crabby now and have become my dad about some petty things (“my way or the highway”), but I hope I can remain open-minded, flexible, adaptable about the important things. Those who cannot adapt are doomed to extinction. However, when it comes to crochet tools, I am stubborn (some would say loyal) about my hooks.

I remember my mother teaching me to crochet, but not the exact hooks she put in my hands. Today I see she uses Boye hooks, so I assume Boye hooks were the ones of my early experience. I also see that Mom holds her hook with a pencil grip and wraps the feeder yarn firmly around her fingers. It dawns on me why I never took to crochet as a young girl. I must have tried it her way, learning by example. No wonder I ran away. It musta been awkward and uncomfortable. There was no way for me to have known that crochet could be done differently.

As an adult, I figured out that I’m a knife-hold crocheter, that I could relax the tension, and that I much prefer Susan Bates hooks. I’ve used Bates aluminum hooks for twenty years and have had little reason to try any others until recently. With so much crochet work on my plate as a designer, I’m finding the standard aluminum handles are cold and thin, two major contributors to hand fatigue.

I sampled all kinds of hooks in an effort to find a happy alternative, from plastic to bamboo to rosewood to maple and back again. My current favorite is a gorgeous hand crafted and carved hook from Grafton Fibers. It had better be perfect, after I beat up Tom over and over until he got it right! But I do not use my custom hooks for design work. Plastic hooks do not work for me at all. Bamboo hooks are nice, they are warm, but do not have a flattened grip to help me keep the tip from rotating, so they caused even more fatigue. When Susan Bates came out with a bamboo handled aluminum hook a couple of years ago, that became my go-to tool, and I was satisfied.

So understand, when my friend Vashti steered me to an exhibitor at the recent TNNA show in Columbus, Tulip Co., a Japanese manufacturer of handcrafting tools, I was ready to dig in my heels and resist. Kang Hyo Min, manager in Planning and Development, showed us Tulip Co.’s latest hooks, Etimo. Mr. Kang encouraged us to play with hooks and yarn provided, and we dutifully swatched up some stuff. WOWSERS! I could not let go of this hook. At the risk of sounding like a fracking commercial, this is the ultimate crochet tool on the planet.

The hook head is aluminum, but incredibly smooth, more highly polished than any I’ve seen, shaped somewhere between the bulbous Boye type and the in-line Bates type. In other words, the tip is tapered like the Boye, but with less of a bulb. The throat is not as pinched, is shorter, and returns to proper hook diameter sooner than the Boye. Etimo hooks have a shallower slot than my usual Bates, very similar in that way to the silhouette of Clover hooks. And unlike some other overseas manufacturers, Tulip makes their hooks in millimeter sizes that correspond exactly to American standard sizes, including the hard-to-find G-7 (4.5mm). That alone is enough for me to stand up and cheer! But there’s more to love.

The handle is made from a special kind of rubber, elastomer (as opposed to the hard ABS plastic grip of the Clover Soft Touch), that is bouncy, with a suede-like texture. The grip is hand shaped (as opposed to the cylindrical grips of the Addi and Bates Bamboo handle hooks) and the “fit” for me is perfect. One real problem I have with the Bates Bamboo handles is that the finish gets sticky, especially if you slather hand cream as frequently as I do, and it is a stickiness that never goes away. The Etimo elastomer handles never get sticky or tacky, no matter what. The surface actually seems to thrive on rich hand cream.

Mr. Kang sent me a set of Etimo hooks to try and they have become my tools of choice. I admit, it took a bit of getting used to at first. The shallower slot means that the tip is less hook-y than my usual Bates. In order to keep the yarn from slipping out of the hook, I find myself applying a teeny bit more tension and a touch of rotation. These subtle changes could ulimately affect my gauge, particularly when crocheting tall stitches, but no matter. I am a convert.

Etimo hooks will not be cheap, probably a dollar or two more than the other more widely distributed Japanese rival hooks, Clover Soft Touch, which retail for $6.99 each. But this tool will last a long time, and must be considered a worthwhile investment. As of today I am aware of no USA distributor or retailer of Tulip Etimo crochet hooks. But that will change.

17 thoughts on “>REVIEW: Etimo Crochet Hooks

  1. >This could just be a funny translation gaffe. On the other hand, from what I've observed about Japanese fiberzzi, I get the impression that they don't distinguish among their fiber crafts as Americans do. Here it's such an us vs. them, knitting or crocheting dichotomy, and don't you ever mistake one for the other. In the rest of the world this "typo" would not be such a big deal. Just saying…

  2. >i want some! i am always searching for the perfect hook grippers, after having a traumatizing year with repetitive stress in my wrists. so far my faves are the soft touch OR the boye with the grips. i'll keep my eyes peeled for these.and i agree about the "knitting"– everywhere else, needlework is knitting, and it's not a big deal.

  3. >Where can I buy these? I desperately need a G-7. I have a set of clovers and some addis. Do I have to attend the CGOA to get some…hehe!

  4. >Kazue Ohara of Tulip Co. says that they will be exhibiting at the Knit & Crochet Show market at CGOA in Buffalo in August, but I am not sure if they will be selling products or just demonstrating. In any case, you'll be able to get your hands on Etimos there.

  5. >I, too, have been using the same crochet hooks to design with for 20 years. EEK..that sounds like a long time! These hooks look really interesting, though. If Tulip is going to be at Chain Link, I think I will just have to give them a try. Thanks, Doris, for letting us know about them!

  6. >Doris is right. Here in Japan, the word "knitting" (amimono) encompasses both knitting and crochet. Knitting is "bo-ami" or "bobari ami" (stick knitting or stick needle knitting) and crocheting is "kagibari ami" (hook needle knitting). You'll find pattern books that use both tools much more frequently than in the US.BTW, impatient hookers could check around Ravelry's Knitters in Japan group to see if someone can pick you up Etimos for you.

  7. >Just a bit of US-sizing-vs-metric-sizing trivia for you all…Boye's US Size G/6 hook is actually a size 7–it measures 4.50mm at the shaft (even though Boye has a measurement of 4.25mm printed on the hook). I prefer Boye hooks as well (for their shape), but also have some Bates hooks for the sizes that Boye doesn't make. Basically, different manufacturers measure different parts of the hook as the basis of their sizing. That's why the CYCOA is pushing for everyone to use millimeter sizing measured at a specific point on the hook as part of the Yarn Standards guidelines.I hope the Etimo hooks are available in the US soon, I also hold my hook "overhand" and would love to give these a try!

  8. >I started wrapping my Boye hooks with polymer clay, I usually buy cane from clay artists and use a slice to make my hooks all pretty. It certainly helps, I have developing arthritis in both hands and recently changed my way of holding my hooks bc of it. I'm on the toad now but will email some pics once I get back in town!

  9. >I just remembered to get a picture done of the hooks I made. The hooks are mainly Boye, although I had a great one I gave to a little girl I've been trying to teach. They are super easy, but through trial and error I would say it's best to use a paper towel or something with a little texture to sort of blot them before baking to harden the polymer clay. While I've made a couple attempts to create the canes, I'm not that good so opted to buy some cane from a couple fab clay artists. Haha, would you believe I just typed this whole thing and can't figure out how to post you a picture? Story of my life. Well, I'd love to send you a pic, if you would like to see and copy…ha. Have a great day ladies!!

  10. >Hey JaneAvril, if you are not already there, please join us at Ravelry.com. Jump onto the group and forum dedicated to my designs (Doris Chan: Everyday Crochet)and post pictures of your polymer handle. I'm certain many crocheters/crafters would be interested. Thanks!

  11. >You can buy the Tulip Etimo crochet hook at Knitty City in NYC's Upper West Side. I bought a J hook a few weeks ago, and I can't put it down. The comfort is amazing! My hands have not tired once since I started using it. I will be buying more in the near future. They are a bit pricey, at $8.00 a pop, but well worth the money!

  12. >I ordered a set of Tulip hooks from ebay. They were shipped from Hong Kong! They are a set that has a hook on either end7/0-8/0 and down. Four hooks 8 sizes and two yarn needles. I cannot get the sizes to match up with my Susan Bate hooks. H hook which is 5.0 sure isn't the 5/0 hook on this set…any ideas? I love the feel of this hook in my hand and tips are so smooth!

  13. >Hey ARK50, this is a case of caveat emptor… buyer beware. Your set might be something that Tulip Company packages for Asian markets. For true US hook sizing you have to make sure you are getting the set designed for distribution here. You can now order Tulip Etimo cushion grip hooks and sets from the official US distributor Caron International at buycaron.com.

  14. Right here is the right site for anyone who really wants to find out about this topic.
    You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject which has been written about for many years.
    Great stuff, just great!

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