Friday, September 26, 2014

Rubber-Handled Crochet Hooks

The Tulip Etimo Rose hook arrived earlier this week, so I decided to pull out all my similarly sized rubber-handled hooks and do some comparison. (I left the Clover Amour hook mostly out of it, because that's a steel hook and the handle is not likely to be quite the same size as a Clover Amour aluminum hook would be.)

I'll include a few photos at the bottom of this entry, but first things first...

Tulip Etimo vs. Tulip Etimo Rose: 

The differences appear to be nearly entirely cosmetic.
The Tulip Etimo handle is a brown, and the metal is a very warm golden tone.
The Tulip Etimo Rose handle is pink (thus the "Rose" part), and the metal is a silver tone. 

The brand and size markings vary slightly between the two, but in every other way, they appear to be identical.  Same length.  Same handle shape and size.  Same style of tip and length of shank.  Both are aluminum hooks with a fairly matte finish (for metal).  Both have an "elastomer" handle with the same texture and feel in the hand.  The packaging of both includes a warning that the hook should be used for "crocheting purposes" only.  (You knitters out there, don't get any ideas about using this hook to fix a dropped stitch. ;o))

So, unless I'm missing something, you can pay slightly more for the silver/pink hook, or save a couple of bucks per hook by opting for the exact same tool in brown and gold.  The pink is pretty, and it looks like the different sizes come in a gradient of tints of pink (though each tint is repeated across the range of sizes, because the gradient goes from pale to deep pink, then back down the pale again), whereas the handles of the brown hooks are all the same shade.  However, I have to wonder why they wouldn't just make them in a variety of colors, so you can even more easily tell them apart.  (As Clover does...)  Of course, then the "Rose" part of the name wouldn't make as much sense...

If I ever add more Tulip Etimo hooks to my collection, I'll probably opt for the cheaper version.  (That said, I'm glad I have a pink and a brown one, now, because it'll be so much easier to tell them apart, at a glance.)

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Tulip Etimo vs. Crochet Dude (Boye):

Differences:
Boye hooks have a very obvious "seam" down each side of the handle. (Could possibly be carefully trimmed with a blade.  I may give that a try, sometime.)
Tulip hooks are pretty much perfectly smooth; there is a visible seam, but it's very subtle.  

The two brands have a slightly different "tip" style.
Boye has a bigger tip.
Tulip looks more like a hybrid between Boye and the "in-line" Susan Bates style.  

Boye hooks have a slightly more rubbery, "cushy"-feeling handle, compared to Tulip.

The shape of the handles differs.  Tulip's thumb-rest seems to have all the "indent" on the top and be flat on the bottom, while Boye has an indent on top and bottom/underside.  The underside of the Boye handles "bell out" more around the metal than the Tulips do. 

Boye has its logo in raised texture on the front of the thumb-rest.
Tulip has its raised logo (and "JAPAN") on the lower back portion of the handle.

Boye hooks are available in a variety of blues and greens.  However, each specific hook size is only available in one color, and some of the colors appear more than once across the full range of sizes.  For most of the hooks, the metal is a fairly light color, but a few (such as my G hook) are a very dark blue.  (For a description of the colors of the Tulip hooks, see the section above.)

Boye hooks have the size printed near the bottom of the front of the handle.  It looks unsealed and very easy to wear away with heavy use.

Tulip hooks have the size printed in that same general location, but it appears to be sealed.  It looks like it would be more durable, but again, could wear away, eventually.  (I would prefer an "engraved" size marking, but oh well...)

Sidetrack:  
I've noticed one thing that applies to both brands of hooks-- and to any other hook with a permanent handle.  That one thing is this: You can't very easily use a hook/needle gauge to measure the hook's size.  I have a gauge and thought I'd measure these hooks just to see how accurately they were milled-- but then I realized that it won't work, because the tips are bigger than the shaft-- the part that needs measuring-- and the handle prevents you from sliding it in the other way.  You could always measure them with a ruler, but that seems fiddly.  Anyway, it's not a big deal, but it never occurred to me before that sizing them the old-fashioned way simply won't work.  (If the sizes ever start fading away, I need to mark them with a Sharpie.  Much better than holding them side by side with marked hooks and guessing.)

Similarities:
Both are aluminum hooks that have some type of rubbery handle. 

Three of the hooks are almost identical in length-- right around 5.5 inches.  The G/4.25 Boye hook is about a quarter of an inch taller than the other three.  (...And come to think of it, that may be my doing!  The G hook is the one I noticed was spinning around in its handle, and I gave a gentle, experimental tug or two to see if I could get it loose.  Yeah, that was probably due to me.)

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A Word on Hook Sizes
Do you ever wish that the world had just gotten together and decided on a universal sizing system for crochet hooks (and knitting needles)?  I mean, sure, there's the whole measurement in millimeters thing, but I tend to remember knitting needles and aluminum hooks by their ascribed number-- not their size in millimeters.  (Strangely, the same does not hold as true for steel crochet hooks.  I find it easier to remember "1.65mm" than "7".)

It can be confusing.  If I refer to a hook using a letter ("G", for instance), non-American crocheters may not really know what I'm talking about.  If I had to guess the size in millimeters... Well, I might be able to give a good guess right now, because I've been paying attention-- but ask me a month ago, and it would've been a very wild guess.  I simply don't think in millimeters! (But maybe I need to start trying, at least as far as crochet hooks go!)

What makes things even more befuddling is that there can be variation even within the same system of sizing.  I've read over and over again, lately, that a "G" hook is 4.00mm.  Yet when I look at this Boye (Crochet Dude) size G hook, it's marked 4.25mm.  ...What?  I guess Boye lives by its own set of rules. 

Boye's not the only one guilty of confusion, though.  These Tulip Etimo hooks are definitely two different sizes.  One is 4.00mm and the other is 4.50mm.  Yet they are both marked a size 7!

A very small change in gauge-- such as switching from a 4.00 to a 4.25, mid-project-- may not be the end of the world (as long as you're not making something that has to fit perfectly), but it's probably a good plan (if you can't just leave the hook with the WIP from beginning til end) to write yourself a very specific note about which hook you were using.  Not just "G", but which G hook you used ("Tulip size 7" or "dark blue G hook")-- or the exact size in millimeters, if your hook is marked.  (Those of us who use clay-covered handles often have just the letter size to go by-- but I know that all my clay-covered hooks are Boye brand, which helps.)

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 Photos:

Crochet Hook Comparison

From top to bottom:  Tulip Etimo, Tulip Etimo Rose, "Crochet Dude"/Boye (x 2), Clover Amour (steel hook-- see last blog entry for more information).


Crochet Hook Comparison

Left to right:  Boye, Etimo Rose, Clover Amour, Etimo, Boye.

I think you can see what I mean about the different shapes of the tips, in this photo.
The Boye hooks have a very slender, tapered neck, and the tip is quite rounded-- curved/convex front.

The Tulip hooks also have a neck, but it's not as long and super-slender as the Boye, and the tip is less rounded-- much flatter in front.

I don't have a Susan Bates hook to photograph for comparison (not my brand), but you can find photos online.  Bates hooks are "in-line", meaning (to the best of my knowledge) that the tip doesn't protrude from the profile of the shank/shaft.  It's "in line" with the rest of the hook.  The neck is a very different shape-- flatter and wider-- the tip smaller and usually more rounded, without that "point" you see at the very tip of all the hooks in my photo.

Preference of one hook style over another seems to usually be strong, one side vowing to never use Boye and the other scorning Bates.  ;o)  I started with Boye, and that's pretty much all I've used, except for one or two things I've crocheted with a lighted hook.  I gave the Etimo Rose a quick test drive last night, and it worked fine.  It's still too early to say whether or not I notice any difference between the Boye and Tulip hooks, but I'm hopeful that I'll find the Tulip tips just as pleasant to use as the Boye-- maybe even better.

I do think the Tulip (and Clover) production quality is superior to that of these Boye hooks.  They feel more finished, without those unsightly seams.  Also, I've already had an issue with one of the Boye hooks-- the one that is spinning around in its rubber handle.  It's possible that I'll run into the same problem with the Tulip or Clover hooks-- but I kind of doubt it.  (I've also seen reviews of "Crochet Dude" hooks on-line from other customers who've also had a hook rotating in its handle or who have gotten a hook with a rough spot on the metal part of the hook. Not good at all!  On the other hand, there are plenty of reviews by crocheters thrilled with these hooks.)

Of course, the Boye hooks seem to run at least a few dollars cheaper than the Tulip or Clover, so you have to take that into consideration.  I'm hopeful that I'll be able to pry the hook from the handle, glue it back in place, and go about my merry way.  Still, that's time I could have spent crocheting, so it's an annoyance. 


Crochet Hook Comparison

One last photo to show the textured/embossed parts of these hooks.  They all have something sticking out in relief from the surface of the handle.

The Clover Amour hook (which I've only mentioned in passing today) has "JAPAN" embossed on the very lowest part of the back of the handle, and "CLOVER" embossed on the very lowest part of the front-- right beside the "engraved" sizing information.  The font is tiny, thin, and inobtrusive, but I have been feeling it when I crochet that doily, and that's the kind of thing that can easily rub on your finger or palm until it creates a sore spot... 

The Tulip hooks both have "Tulip JAPAN" embossed on the bottom of the handles.  I haven't used these enough yet to say whether or not I've noticed that while crocheting. 

The Boye logo is engraved-- rather strangely, I thought-- on the top of the handle, right in the indented thumb-rest.  I suppose they chose that location because in a bare metal hook, that's where the branding/size information is usually placed.  Maybe it's not that strange of a choice.  I never thought about it on those bare aluminum hooks... I don't remember noticing the embossed logo back when I was using these hooks, either.  It just looks like it could be irritating.  (g) 

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I'll try to remember to come back to this subject (in later entries), if I make any potentially interesting or useful observations about these hooks.  It's hard to know yet which ones I'll love best... (And it's probably a completely personal judgement, anyway!)