Sunday, March 25, 2012

Crochet Hooks & Brand Loyalty

I ought to know better by now.  No matter how (relatively) minor-- or even trivial-- a subject may appear from the outside, if you look close enough, you will find people passionately invested in it.  (g)  Today's examples are crochet hooks and brand loyalty.

I use Boye hooks (though I do have a few acrylic hooks in large sizes that I think are Susan Bates).  After I bought my first set of three hooks, I stuck with Boye just because I already had a few, and it made sense to continue collecting the same line to complete my set-- but I don't remember why I chose Boye to begin with.  Probably, they were just available and affordable.  (Especially important for someone starting out in a new craft, not sure she'll stick with it and loath to invest much in tools and materials.)

I've been aware for quite some time that there are other brands of hooks and that each brand has its supporters and detractors, but it wasn't until today that I read much about crochet hooks.  Apparently, crocheters can have very strong opinions about hooks, and they may be irate when a manufacturer changes its hook design.  (Brings back memories of the uproar that resulted every time a polymer clay manufacturer changed its formula or discontinued a few colors.) 

Today, I've read about "in-line" versus "a-line"/"not in-line" hooks-- and learned that Boye hooks are not in-line, while Susan Bates hooks are.  Coats & Clark (the makers of the Bates hooks) claims that in-line hooks require less wrist movement and are therefore superior.  Oh, and they make your gauge more even, too, evidently.  (On the other hand, Boye touts their rounded heads and "exclusive Boye Tapered Throats"-- which are "optimally smooth".)

Eventually, I start wondering-- questioning my almost exclusive use of Boye hooks.   Maybe I'd prefer Susan Bates aluminum hooks, if I tried them... I certainly don't want to ruin my wrists (even faster) by using inferior hooks that require excessive wrist movements.  Hm...

--And then the next thing I read is to the effect that C & C changed the design of (most of) their Susan Bates hooks just last year.  (g)  So now the new (readily available) Bates hooks are closer in design to the Boye hooks (though they did keep the distinctive in-line shape).

Elsewhere on the vast Internet, someone complains that Boye is now churning out hooks inferior in finish to their earlier product.  (I'm not clear on the specifics of the changes or when they took effect, but it seems to be four years or so ago, at least.)

So... whether you use Boye or Bates, you can't find a decent new hook, then?  Time to try one of the several other brands out there, I guess-- or scour yard sales and on-line auctioning sites for second-hand hooks made back in the good old days.  

It's so terribly confusing.  ;o)  Well, maybe not really, but I can see how it might be overwhelming to someone looking for the perfect hook, since there is no such thing-- or at least no hook that is all things to all crocheters.

It's funny, though, how once you read a suggestion that the hooks you're using aren't as good for wrists, you're suddenly more sensitive to your crocheting hand's every movement.  (g)  *Carefully, stealthily sneaking glances at my right hand as I crochet...*  "Wait, was that an excessive wrist movement?  Oh my gosh, I think it might have been!  My wrists!  My carpal tunnel!  Nooo!  I need you!  Don't you give out on me, darnit!"  (Ok, self, calm down.  There are people who crochet all their lives, well into old age.  You and your wrists will be fine.)

...Anyway, I think I will try out a Susan Bates hook (aluminum, in a size I actually use), sometime, just to see/feel the difference-- though if I can find one in the old, more pointed style, that's the kind I'd rather get.  (Sometimes I really have to work to get the hook into a tight spot, and the pointed head seems better for that, though I've seen both Boye crocheters and Bates crocheters cite "tight gauge" as a key reason for their brand preference!)

Enough blathering about hooks for one day...  Unless I get out the camera.  Then I might be back with a photo or two and... more hook talk.