>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.