One of the things I promised myself I’d like to try this year, has been crochet. I kept seeing such nice projects made with it, that I wanted to try it. I’d seen Wendy Poole on C&C recently, with a DVD on how to crochet, then just after Christmas there was a series of collectable magazines; Knit & stitch, which included knitting & crochet, so I gave the first couple of issues a try.
The DVD that came with issue one of Knit & Stitch magazine was excellent and covered (albeit a little too quickly) the key stitches and about increases and decreases. Issue 2 came with a crochet hook so I gave bought that too and decided to give crochet a go.
As you can see, I managed the first square but due to RSI issues, I had a lot of trouble with using the metal hook. Now on the knitting front, the right needle made all the difference, so the search began for hooks suitable for people with dexterity issues. My short list of hooks to try was as follows;
- Clover Soft Touch
- Tulip Etimo
- Cushion grips to use with normal hooks
In the past, I learned with knitting that plastic needles gave too much drag on yarn, so other than the one Tunisian hook that was in my late mother’s collection, I didn’t try any more plastic ones. Metal needles and hooks made my hands lock up because they are so cold. Because of the poor dexterity, I really needed something with a thicker handle, which led me to the options above. On to Ravelry, the font of knowledge on all such things and I had a good read of what others were saying about their experiences of those brands of hooks. A quick trawl through You Tube, for possible demos and the flat nature of the Clover soft touch, finally put me off. After trying a totally unsuitable pencil gripper (NOT suitable as it’s designed to put your fingers in a writing position, which was wrong angle for crochet). I ordered a Tulip Etimo hook from a seller on Ebay, who beat even Amazon prices!
The Tulip Etimo hook has a metal area where the hook is, but the handle is made of a special cushion grip, which is smooth and rubbery so not cold and not slippery. I’m posting a full review of it on a later date.
To try to limit the amount of twisting I needed to do, I used the knife style of grip on my hook. Also to reduce the twisting and bending on the wrist, I tried rotating the hook just in my fingers, instead of using my whole hand. This worked on not having to twist my hand around but sadly it seems crochet is not for me. I feared it would come under the heading of self harm with the dexterity issues I have, and at least in the winter this turns out to be the case, it was always going to be a long-shot. Even with the soft and lovely handle of the Tulip Etimo, the way I was spinning the hook, made not just my hand lock up, there was a lot of pain across the back of my hand and up my forearm to my elbow, I learned the hard way in the past NOT to ignore this kind of pain and it took over a week to settle back down, so sadly it looks like crochet isn’t for me.
I’m quite sad that I couldn’t crack this, as I’d love to have made some snowflakes and some granny squares but its not worth the pain it caused and after over ten years of recovery after two operations on my wrists, to get even some of my dexterity back, I’m certainly not going to risk further tendon damage, again.
What all this has taught me, is to be wary of people who say; ‘This is suitable for people with dexterity problems’. I am guilty of making that remark myself too. Everyone’s dexterity problems are unique to them, it could be that your hands don’t function well but that fact doesn’t cause you pain, so you just need a tool that you can get hold of easily. In my case my dexterity issues not only make gripping and fine motor skills difficult, but also very painful so different tools can help but not every time.
At the end of the day, I am glad I tried crochet. It might not have worked but I am still very lucky that, at least for short periods, with long breaks between sessions and with the right materials, at least I can still knit occasionally. In future, I will try to make sure I use comments like; ‘If you have dexterity issues, these are worth looking into’. Rather than, ‘Are great for people with dexterity issues’. I’ve still got a bundle of Knitting magazines that gave details for making a blanket. So maybe over a lot of time, we still will get our hand-made blanket. Ten years DH & I have been married and only recently when we were talking about crochet, did he say he’d always liked the idea of a blanket like that :) Who knew? :)
For those who would like to find out more about the hooks from my shortlist, here are links to the manufacturers.
For those wanting more information on getting started with Crochet, check out these sites.
- Ravelry. An online community for those who love to; Knit, Crochet, & Spin with yarns and wools.
- Coats Crafts UK Have some great tutorials for Getting started with Crochet
- Nerdigurumi Has great tutorials, this one is all about choosing hooks
- Wendy Poole, as seen on Create and Craft has a tutorial DVD out on crochet too.
- Knit & Stitch My review of the recent knit & crochet magazine, includes links to the makers.
Amazon is a good place to look for feedback others have left about these brands and joining Ravelry is not only a great way to meet fellow yarn-a-hollics but also find out more about knitting & crochet, share patterns and discuss your questions too.
For others who find this article for research, have you found any hooks that work great for you? If so do leave a comment so others can find them too.
Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon