Crochet Essentials – more than just a hook, a yarn, and stuffing!

Essentials

Hi there… This time I took a break from making amigurumi and decided to make a post of my favorite crochet tools. I started learning how to crochet back in 2009. At that time, what I needed was just a crochet hook, a ball of yarn, and cotton balls. As I am more into amigurumi, I invested to a more comfortable crochet hook, a better yarn, and lots of stuffs! *way too much stuffs according to my hubby hahaha…* So, I want to give a brief overview of some crochet essentials that might help an avid amigurumi maker. Let’s start with the holy-trinity in amugurumi making: Crochet hook, Yarn, and Poly Fill.

CROCHET HOOK

Crochet hook is the most important thing of crocheting. If you walk into arts & craft store, you’ll see that there are many types of crochet hooks! Back in 2009 when I was just a fresh university graduate and jobless, I bought a Susan Bates aluminum hook since it was the cheapest option at Michaels. This thin aluminum hook makes my fingers numb very quickly. Because of this limitation, I then searched for a more comfortable hook. After numerous researches, Clover Soft Touch with bigger plastic handle and rubber thumb grip sounded very promising. The only downfall is that the price tag! Yes, it is more expensive than the aluminum hook, but trust me, it is SO worth it! I used this hook for about 3 years and I was very happy with it since it is comfortable enough for my hands. Apparently, different brands of hook have different characteristics. If you are in the middle of considering to invest a better hook, go to Nerdigurumi’s post that explains the different characteristics very clearly.

Last year, I found some crochet blogs raving about Clover Amour (or Amure). I secretly hoped that I had enough spare money to buy a set of this rainbow coloured hooks. Luckily, my husband was kind enough to buy me a set as my birthday gift! After using it for about 6 months now, I must say that these hooks are the BEST so far! *Although, sadly, it is more expensive :(* The rubber handle is more streamlined than Clover Soft Touch and the hook was super light! I can feel that I crochet faster than before. Another good thing from this line is the colourful handles that act like a code for different hook sizes. If you want to read a review about this hook, head to All About Ami’s website. The biggest competitor of Clover Amour is Etimo Rose.The design of Etimo is very similar to Clover’s. However, a lot of review said that Etimo hooks are shinny while the Clover hooks are mated. I, myself, prefer mated hook since it is less slippery when I crochet. If you still struggle to choose between Clover Soft Touch vs. Clover Amour, see this youtube link for a comparison.

Crochet Hook

YARN

There are TONS and TONS of yarn brands, type, colour, and size in the market. Here’s a good explanation of different yarn weight from Planet June’s website. The very first time I bought a yarn at Michael’s, I was overwhelm! Back then, I chose the cheapest yarn on sale – it was Bernat Handicrafter Cotton. As a beginner, I suggest you to buy ONE cheapest yarn to practice. When you are more comfortable with your technique, then you can buy the more expensive one. Since I crochet small sized amigurumi, I prefer to use light worsted yarn (usually marked with number 3 on the label). Patons Astra is my favorite since it has various bright colours to choose from. This yarn is widely available at Michael’s Canada but I hardly found one at Michael’s USA 😦

Lately, I am a fan of Patons Canadiana too since the colours from this line make good combinations with those from Astra’s. My favourite thing about this yarn is that it has a nice sheen that makes my final product looks more polished. However, Patons Canadiana is medium worsted yarn (#4). Unlike other medium worsted yarn, such as Caron Simply Soft and Red Heart Classic, I have no problem combining Patons Astra and Patons Canadiana when making my amigurumi. I guess the Canadiana is a bit lighter than other medium worsted yarn. So far, I only buy commercial yarns from Michael’s and Joanne. I haven’t bought any boutique yarns since they tend to be bulkier for bigger projects, i.e. making scarf, socks, hats, etc. Let me know which brand is your favorites!

Yarns

POLYESTER FIBER FILL (POLY FILL)

When it comes to stuff my amigurumi, I trust Polyester Fiber Fill or known as Poly Fill. The very first time I made an amigurumi, I used cotton balls. Although it seemed okay, overtime it tended to be lumpy. When I stuff my amigurumi, I like to roll a handfull of Poly Fill into a dense little balls. Surprisingly, it takes a lot of Poly Fill to fill a small ball so that it shapes like it supposed to be. However, how dense or scarce you want to stuff your amigurumi really depends on how you want your final look to be.

12 polyfil

Next, I’m going to review some of important ‘accessories’ for making amigurumi.

LARGE EYE BLUNT NEEDLE

This needle is a MUST for joining pieces of amigurumi. I have Susan Bates steel blunt needle set of 5 that I guard with my life. If you prefer a plastic one, Singer has one. I prefer the steel one since it is very durable although it is a bit slippery.

5 Susan Bates blunt eye needle

BENT TIP TAPESTRY NEEDLE

This needle is very similar to large eye blunt needle but the tip is slightly bent. I just recently bought a set made from steel (similar to Chibi’s one) since I had problem to sew my amigurumi hair. It is a challenge for me to sew on a flat surface using a straight blunt needle since I have to navigate my way to pass the needle to the other side. I had high hopes that the bent tip would make my sewing experience a bit easier. However, I have split opinions on this type of needle. Yes, it does improve my sewing on a flat surface but then the slippery steel and odd shapes make it so tricky to handle. I often found myself still wiggling the bent tip needle since it would just flip once I insert it into my amigurumi. Maybe -just maybe- the plastic bent needle is less slippery. Well… if I have some spare change and a coupon from Michael’s, I might get the plastic one.

6 bent tip needle

STITCH MARKER

Is it really necessary to buy a stitch maker? It really depends on you. For me, a trusty coloured paper clip is sufficient enough. If I lose a paper clip, I can always grab from my stationary stash. However, if you really want a stitch marker, Clover Lock Ring Marker looks like a good product.

Marker

STITCH COUNTER

As I grow into an avid crocheter, stitch counter is a lifesaver for me. I have this big red stitch counter, Clover Knitting Counter Kacha-Kacha, that I bought when I had a 50% off coupon from Michaels. There is a Mini Kacha-Kacha which can be hung around the neck. When I make repeated rows with the same number of stitches, I tend to forget how many rows I’ve made. However, if you don’t mind a piece of paper and a pen to count your row, a stitch counter is not a must.

Counter

NEEDLE THREADER vs. YARN THREADER

For years, I assumed that needle threader is my saviour when it comes to finishing a short tails. The only downfall was that the needle threader has a very thin wire and it is not strong enough to thread a yarn. As a result, I ran through a LOT of needle threader these years! And this little piece ain’t cheap! In a pack of three, the cheapest I could find was $3.00! It is $1 for ONE super thin wire! Not until I went to Walmart last week that I realized that there is such thing as a YARN threader! Hallelujahhhh…. A set of 2 was just 78 cents!!! I just couldn’t believe my eyes! Since then, I never look back! This thin strip of light metal with holes are my new saviour! I might buy some more for my stash the next time I go to Walmart.

Threader

FINISHING NEEDLE

I know it sucks when I accidentally cut a tail too short and I have to weave it in! I used to use my blunt needle and my needle threader to work around it. Then, I saw this Susan Bates finishing needle at my local Fabricland store. The finishing needle is a plastic needle with a hole at its centre, so when you insert the yarn at one end, you’ll still be able to pull it out from the other end. At first, I hesitated to buy the set. But after I see the youtube demo, I am convinced that I need one! It DOES help to finish a short tail faster.

11 finishing needle

GEL CORN PROTECTOR and HAND MOISTURIZER

When I did a marathon of crocheting, I got a callus on my left middle finger. I have certain way to hold my yarn and the callus is the result of the friction between the yarn and my skin. Not that it hurts, but I just hate having a thick spot on my finger. Last year, I browsed Walmart health section and bought a set of gel corn protectors. Although the picture shows that it is usually used on foot, it does help to reduce the callus on my finger. The squishy gel is very comfortable despite the extra bulkiness when I put it on my middle finger. Due to the nature of my full time job, I already develop dry hands. On top of that, crocheting rips off more moisture of my hands. I hate hate hate having dry cracked skins. It hurts and it is U.G.L.Y! I looked like I am having 100 years old hands 😦 I must admit that I’m so bad to apply moisturizer to my hands *I know I know… one of my friend repeatedly reminds me not to forget the hand moisturizer* However, if it’s getting uncomfortable for me, I usually apply a big dollop of moisturizer. When I crocheting, I use moisturizer with no or little fragrance since the fragrance might transfer to the yarn.

14 gel corn protector 13 hand cream

Take care of your precious hands!

I realized that these are totally my opinion. Some people may disagree with some points of my review since every person has different preference. So, feel free to comment or ask questions in the comment box below!

M.a.J

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s