Monthly Archives: February 2016

Athena's Elements Crochet Hook Set

Unbiased Review of Ergonomic Crochet Hook Set by Athena’s Elements

This is an unbiased review of an ergonomic crochet hook set by Athena’s Elements. FYI, I have not been paid for this review; I have not received free product in exchange for my opinion; nor have I been prompted in any way to write these comments. This was written purely on my own accord to help those who are shopping for ergonomic crochet hooks to help them in their crafting endeavors. Now that the facts have been made clear, I hope the following will help you in making your decision on what YOU should get!

I have been crocheting since I was very young (and I am now considered a senior citizen by some criteria). I have always used the standard thin metal crochet hooks. I have gravitated toward using the Boye-style hooks because that’s what I learned on and have used for many years, so I’m used to working with them and hence, prefer them over other style hooks.

In the last year or so, I started an online business selling crochet cloths. The business has blossomed into more than I imagined and hence, I’m doing a LOT of crocheting! Recently I noticed my hand (left hand, that is…I’m a lucky leftie) was feeling very “tired”, was starting to ache and my finger tips felt numb. It was obviously from all the crocheting I was doing. So, I decided to see what I could do to help the situation before I seriously damaged my hand. Hence I shopped for ergonomic crochet hooks. I ended up buying a set of hooks from Athena’s Elements. Here’s what I found…

Crochet Hook Case

Crochet Hook Case

Nice Set with a Handy Case
The set I purchased came with a cute case with a Velcro closure. There were color options to choose from, so there should be some color that will appeal to most anyone.

The set comes with 11 crochet hooks ranging from size B (2.25mm) to size J (6.0mm). The case holds all the hooks in their own small slots, and also come with a packet of stitch markers (like plastic safety pins), a hook size conversion chart, and a nice letter from the founder of the company.

Crochet Hook Size Conversion Chart

Crochet Hook Size Conversion Chart

The case feels sturdy and I imagine it will outlast my lifetime. The hooks seem to be of excellent quality and as long as I don’t lose them, they should also outlast me.

Color Coded Handles
The hooks all have different colored handles, so that makes it easy to find the hook you need if you’re working with the same few sizes routinely.

Hook Length and Style
There is 1-1/2″ length of the metal hooks before the start of the grip handle. I have found this to be enough length when making my crochet cloths. I have not tried it with some of the elaborate stitching techniques that may require more hook length. You would need to determine if that’s enough length for projects you typically make.

The hook end is a Boye-style tip. I find that easy and desirable to work with. However, that may be simply personal preference.

Hook Size Markings
The hook size marking on the handle only indicates the mm size, not the US conversion (ie 5.0mm=size H). The mm size is marked on the upper handle of each hook by being cut into the grip on the hook. This way the marking should never wear off nor wear down because it’s on a part of the handle that you don’t hold consistently.

The fact that only the millimeter size is indicated on the handle is only a slight inconvenience for me, since I’m used to using the US lettering system rather than millimeter sizes. As long as I don’t lose the conversion chart, I should be OK. However, I’m sure that conversion information could easily be found on the Internet if the guide does get lost. This may be an issue for some people, but overall I feel like it’s only a slight problem that can be shrugged off.

Crochet Hook View 1

Crochet Hook View 1

Ergonomic Grip Handles

Above all, the ergonomic grip handles are why someone would purchase this set in the first place. I don’t know what the grip handles are made from…probably some type of rubber or vinyl with a texture or “gripiness” to it.

 

Crochet Hook View 2

Crochet Hook View2

The “gripiness” prevents the hook from slipping in my hand or along my fingers. I will admit that the feature took some time to get used to. However, after a few days of adjustment, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That feature allows me to release my “death grip” on the crochet hook and hold it much more loosely because it doesn’t slip in my fingers. This relieves any tension in my hand and has virtually stopped my numb fingers. I no longer have a “tired” hand after crocheting for some period of time!

Also, the grip handles have a shape to them where you hold them allowing for a good yet light grip, again without having to hold it tightly, and without it slipping in your hand as you work.

Crochet Cloth

Crochet Cloth

Allow Time to Adjust
It took me several days of using these hooks to actually adjust to working with them comfortably. During that time, I wondered if I could really use them in my work. But with time, I adjusted and regained my speed and accuracy in making my stitches. Other people may not need such an adjustment period. I feel the effort was well worth it because of the relief I feel in my hand with the thicker, non-slip, easy grip handles. No more death-grip on the hook. No more numb finger tips. No more tired hand and wrist muscles. No aches and pains!

The time it took to adjust to these new ergonomic crochet hooks was well worth it, and I don’t believe I’ll ever go back to standard less-than-pencil-thin crochet hooks.

I truly hope this information can help you in making your personal decision about any changes you need to make in your crochet tools. The change was worth the effort for me and I highly recommend these hooks!

Let me know (in the comment section below) if this information has been helpful to you!

Happy crafting,
Judi

Hot Cross Buns (Bakery Recipe)

Hot Cross Buns (Bakery Recipe)

There were a few holidays where I would literally stay up all night baking to meet orders due to be picked up the next day. Easter was one of those holidays. I had countless orders for hot cross buns. If you’ve never tried these rolls, you’re missing something! The recipe is below, followed by a video demonstrating how I make them.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Enjoy!
Judi

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 12 Buns

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 oz (4 Tbsp) butter

15 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 oz (2-1/4 tsp) RapidRise yeast1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 large eggs
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup sweetened dried pineapple, finely chopped

1 egg white, beaten
2 Tbsp water

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120-130°F.

Meanwhile, place flour, sugar, yeast, salt, lemon peel and nutmeg in a mixer bowl; combine dry ingredients. Add warmed liquid mixture and eggs to flour mixture. Stir to combine ingredients. Add currants and chopped dried pineapple. Mix with stand mixer (or hand knead) on low to medium-low speed for 8 to 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Scrape sides of bowl, coat dough with nonstick spray, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

On a lightly floured board, with a knife, cut dough into 12 equal size pieces. Roll dough pieces into balls and place them in a greased 9×13″ baking pan. Place on the rack in the middle of an oven that was warmed by only the light bulb and a pan of boiling water placed on the bottom rack (or cover the pan and allow the buns to rise in a warm place of choice). Allow buns to rise for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Brush rolls with a mixture of one beaten egg white and 2 tablespoons of water. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Pipe a cross on each bun with vanilla glaze.

To Make Vanilla Glaze
Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl, adding only a small amount of milk at a time. Add enough milk to make it a piping consistency. Adjust consistency if needed by adding more milk (if too thick) or powdered sugar (if too thin). Place in a piping bag with a small round tip and pipe a cross (or other design, if desired) onto buns.

Handmade Quilted Table Runner2040

Handmade Quilted Table Runner, Patchwork Tapered Blue, 13″x52″

To my great delight, the color blue is once again becoming fashionable in home decor. Blue is my husband’s favorite color and I too enjoy blue. So, the color blue has always been in our home. It’s nice to have it “fashionable” again, so I can enjoy making more table mats in blue. The following is my latest and it’s a gem!

The runner measures 13″ x 52″ from longest point to longest point. The sides are 38″ long before tapering starts. The assorted blue cotton fabrics were aligned in an angled pattern moving outward from the diamond centerpiece. The runner is bordered in the same dark blue as the diamond center. It’s truly striking AND is a one-of-a-kind item! If you would like to adopt this runner, it’s available on my website (as of the date this post was written), http://www.handmadeiniowa.com/over_40_long.html

Enjoy the pics!

Judi

Handmade Quilted Table Runner2040 (13"x52")

Quilted Table Runner2040

 

Center view plus backing (Runner2040)

Center view plus backing (Runner2040)

 

Close view of tapered end (Runner2040)

Close view of tapered end (Runner2040)

 

Close view of centerpiece (Runner2040)

Close view of centerpiece (Runner2040)