Yesterday's lion was a lot of fun to make except for one small matter: the hook.
The suggested size was a 4.25mm hook, and the only company I know of that makes this size hook is Boye, and while I love the 4.25 mm size, I find hooks without ergonomic handles to be a bit difficult to work with: awkward at best and painful at worst.
What is a crocheter to do?
The first time I ever came across anyone altering a crochet hook in 1998 when I acquired a copy of Mark Dittrick's book, Hard Crochet.
First published in 1978, Mark Dittrick describes his approach to crochet as "a new technique for making crochet that is rigid." In this book he details his personal explorations in the technique we now know as tapestry crochet. And just like the tapestry crochet of today, Mark Dittrick found that to do the work well, it was necessary to alter the handles of the crochet hook.
In the crochet exercises outlined in his book, Mr. Dittrick notes, "How well you are able to grip or hold a tool has a lot to do with how well you are able to control it," and over the course of several pages (complete with illustrations) he details how to use masking tape, cloth, and a needle and thread, to fashion a more comfortable and easier to use hook handle.
What a difference three decades make!
Today, using these instructions from another tapestry crochet enthusiast (Carol Ventura),
I added polymer clay handles to two crochet hooks using Sculpey® III.
I started this adventure with the purchase of this sampler pack of the clay:
Next, I sorted through my hooks and picked a few that would be improved if they had larger handles:
and then, after watching the video a couple of times, I finally gave handle making a whirl. I decided to start with just two hooks in case there was something I needed to learn that was not covered in the video or the other directions I had seen, and indeed there was:
The black and white handle on a 1.25 mm steel hook is just about perfection, and for the first time, I was able to successfully use the hook without major difficulties. My Mondrian influenced effort with the 4.25 mm hook, however, was not as successful. While it is easier to use than a 4.25 mm hook without a handle, I used too much clay, and the handle is both too heavy and does not come up quite as high as I need in order to crochet comfortably.
Then I found this article that details another approach to forming handles. In as much as I still have handleless hooks and plenty of polymer clay, I will definitely try this again, particularly on the unhandled hooks I own that are 3.75 mm or less.