Self-care when crafting – good tools

For the past few months, I have been crocheting and knitting like a woman possessed, I have almost completed all the work on my new book, yeey! I’ve also contributed to another book, taught lots of classes over Zoom with lots of samples knitted and crocheted, not to mention all the commissions and projects in-between. All of this started to result in aching hands and shoulders, not to mention the need to keep my stress levels down, not only due to things happening in my personal life, constant rising COVID cases, but also to patterns that still needed to be written and approaching deadlines, which is not helped by my projects not working out and needed to be frogged, adjusted, then started again! Aaaaggggrrrr!

The need to exercise my hands, shoulders and to de-stress has become paramount and I was making a conscious effort to do those things every day so it now has become a welcome routine. Over the next few days, I am going to publish a blog each day covering different topic of self-care while crafting, from good tools to exercise.

I want to begin the series of blogs with a look at good tools, which are a vital starting point in taking care of your hands. If you crochet and knit on regular basis then I am sure you have acquired a vast collection of crochet hooks and knitting needles. Some of us start out craft journey with inherited tools or by purchasing the basic sets, they usually are the aluminium Pony hooks and needles, they are very affordable and great starting point. However, as we craft more and more we update our basic tools to ones that are not only easier on our hands but also enhance our craft experience. There are 100s of different types of hooks and needles out there. Choosing the right one can be quite overwhelming and to be honest you will not know if the hook or pair of needles is right for you until you try it.

Matt Spiers has written a blog post for Gathered, listing the best crochet hooks, find the blog post here

Sarah Winsper has written one on knitting needles, find it here

Whichever hooks or needles you choose it is your personal choice and if you are happy then that’s the most important thing. I would like to share my personal experience with crochet hooks and knitting needles.

Crochet Hooks

A few years back I wrote a blog on the materials crochet hooks are made from, find it here

After years of crocheting, I’ve settled for my favourite hooks which were Hiya Hiya, they are aluminium and come in array of colours, the point is sharp enough to go into stitches easily and they were my best crochet friend for a long while.

I was also using a lot of wooden hooks by KnitPro Symfonie and Brittany. I like Brittany as they have a sharp point and are quite deep, so grab the yarn really well, not to mention that they are beautifully decorative. However, I know that some people do not get on with them. The same is with KnitPro Symphony, again sharp point and are quite deep. I used to change my hook depending on what thickness of yarn I was working with, so for 4py, DK, Aran weight yarns I would use Hiya Hiya, for lace, mohair I would use the wooden ones and for chunky and super chunky bamboo. It was also very important that the hooks had to be long enough to fit well in my hand, using hooks that are too short was hurting my hand after a while. I hold my hook like a knife therefore the length of hook matters. If you hold your hook like a pen it probably won’t make any difference.  Then I realised I started to favour the wooden hooks a lot better and started using them for everything. I found that the wood was so much softer on my hands, absorbing the movement a lot nicer and my hands weren’t hurting.

I tried the Clover Soft Touch and KnitPro Waves hooks with the plastic handles, but unfortunately, I didn’t get on with them. I know lots of crocheters who adore them and use nothing else, but I found them both too short to fit in my hand comfortably, the plastic handle was hard on my hand and most importantly the hook part was too short before the handle begun. I swing my hook quite deeply into the stitch and when I go yarn around hook, it’s all very dramatic, so the handle used to stop me from reaching a satisfactory conclusion to my stitch. To be honest I should have given the hooks a bit more of a try and I’m sure my crochet technique would have adapted.

Then I discovered the rubber-handled hooks with aluminium tips and oh my what a revelation. I first tried the hook from Yan & Colors and for me it was instant love, the hook was perfect length and it suited my hand, the handle was soft and absorbed the movement of my hand. Even though the length between the hook and handle is the same as in KnitPro Waves somehow they just worked so much better for me. Probably because the handle is softer and it was so much easier on my hand. They come in 3 colours of aluminium, silver, rose and gold, the rose tarnishes very quickly so I now only go for the silver ones.

Prym also has a very nice soft handle hooks which are truly lush too, the hook handles beautifully. They have an ergonomic range as well which is on my list to try.

Sirdar has a nice soft handle range and Rowan just brought out a new collection of wooden handle hooks with aluminium tips…. So many hooks so little time!!

Knitting needles

When I started to knit again, as most people, I used straight knitting needles, which are fine unless you are knitting a big project then they can get heavy. Even though I used to go for the shortest length they still constantly thumbed the arm rest. Then someone suggested circular needles and WOW my knitting life was transformed!! The difference on your hands when you switch to circular is immense! No more wrist pains just absolute pleasure when knitting. Your work is nicely distributed on the wire so your wrist to not have to take all that weight as they would with straight needles.

The only time I use straight needles now is when I am making a small project and for that I have a set of the cutest kids needles KnitPro Trendz, which are 18cm in length and just fab, but they do occasionally squeak, I don’t think they make them in that length anymore.

Most commonly available circular needles are KnitPro Symfony, which are made from laminated birch wood and they have gorgeous colouring. They come in fix or interchangeable variety and are just lovely on your hands. However, I did loose quite few by accidentally breaking them and some lost their fight with my cats teeth.

The Knit Pro also has a beautiful set of Symfonie Rose needles, made of laminated Birch wood in a simulated Rosewood finish which my lovely husband has gifted me one Christmas and they are  my favourite needles.

Not only wooden needles are good on your hands. Addi Click circulars are brilliant too. They are made from lightweight plated hollow brass, the polished needles slip under stitches easily as the tips taper to a nice sharp point, makes them perfect for speed knitting.

ChiaoGoo are another of my favourites. They are lightweight metal needles, very sharp with smooth sating-sheen finish, ideal for lace and sock knitting. Also, wonderful on your hands.

Pony has a great range of Maple wood needles and Rosewood ones. I’ve tried the Maple wood ones and they handle beautifully, very light with nice sharp points.

Pony also has a range of Bamboo needles, which are far more affordable than the above ones. They are nice and light, but I did find that the tips of them blunted quite quickly

Whichever tools you choose they must do the job perfectly for you and most importantly the musn’t hurt your hands, wrists and arms. Regular brakes and exercising your hands in between crafting sessions is vital, but more on that in next post.     

Anna x

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