Previously, in “Knitting for crocheters who just can’t” we had an overview of Knooking, or knitting with a crochet hook. (Also an explanation of why I kinda hate the term Knooking but will use it anyway.)
So I’d gone and committed to Knitting Stuff, but none of the commercially available knit-hooks worked for me, so obviously I had to make my own. Simple, yeah? I began by modding a cheap set of bamboo tunisian hooks and that… mostly worked. But the hooks themselves were annoyingly shallow and I wanted to get into sock-making, which meant 2.0 mm and possibly smaller. Bamboo does not hold up well at those sizes.
What I really wanted was a set that closely replicated the characteristics of the Susan Bates Silvalume aluminum hooks I was more-or-less addicted to for most of my crochet work.
“Shut up, brain.” I said. “We work with metal already.” As I reminded myself of the large amount of chainmail and jewelry I made over the winter.
So, having kicked the dumber side of my brain into silence, I picked up a Silvalume intro set. What you should be able to see from that closeup shot, is that these hooks, like most crochet hooks, have a wide flat section that helps you hold the hook. That’s no good for sliding knit stitches back off the hook. Also, the tip is rounded and blunt. A more pointed tip works better for knitting. Finally, I would need to modify the back end of the hook to allow for way to thread a cord through. (more on that shortly)
- Jewelers metal file
- Small clamping vise
- Jewelers saw
- Metal tubing (I use K&S brass)
- Cut Lube (it will make the cutting and filing a lot easier)
- Plumbers putty
- Medium weight wire
- Fine sandpaper
- Optional: a nice day outside. (You’ll be producing a decent amount of metal dust – this is best done outside or in a ventilated workroom)
Using the file, remove the “bumps” so that you can roll the hook smoothly on a flat surface, and sharpen the tip to your desired preference. When shaping smaller hooks you do need to take care not to make the hook area too thin. While aluminum is a strong metal, this is still craft grade. If you make it too thin it can snap under pressure. Finally, file down about a half inch section on the back into a round-ish “insert”. You will be fitting this into your brass tube. Depending in the diameter of the tube (which should be at least slightly smaller then the dia. of your hook) you will need to take off a varying amount of metal. This can take some elbow grease. If you are working outside, remember to hydrate. Also remember sunblock. (I didn’t.)Test fitting the tube and insert. Yay! It fits.Cut tube to desired length. I was aiming for about 3/4″.And now a quick sidebar: this could probably be done a lot faster with power tools. In fact, I even have a dremel and grinding wheels. Unless pressed though, I prefer the finer control I have with hand tools. Even though it takes longer.
Next step, sanding down the front end of the hook. Any roughness on the metal will catch on your yarn while knitting. I used 3M 225 U Very Fine, which is pretty spiffy (and purple!), but any sandpaper or steel wool of comparable fineness will do. You shouldn’t have to sand for more than a few minutes. The hook surface should have a matte finish now – smooth enough so that you can’t feel any roughness or defects. It doesn’t have to be 100% uniform. You will probably have a few little pits that are hard to sand out – don’t worry to much about them. So long as the surface feels smooth to your finger tips, it’ll be smooth enough for yarn. (and you can always go back with a finer grade of sandpaper or steel wool if you want to work the details)
You can now move inside, if you are so inclined. Now we set up and attach the cord-end to the hook!
Snip about an inch of wire, bend in half, and insert into one end of your tube section. Test fitting and layout.Now we pull out the plumbers putty. Or as I like to call it, the smelliest godsend ever. If these were steel hooks, I would be tempted to solider the wire and tubes in place, but soldiering aluminum requires (very) high temps and specialized equipment that is well beyond the “so you wan to play with stained glass” hobby model I have.
All you need to do is slice off a bit and mix the dark and light parts together until it’s a uniform gray color. This will not take long, and once it’s completely mixed you do not have a lot of time before it sets up, so I mix tiny batches and work in stages. Also, it will smell nasty when it’s fully mixed, and when it’s just about ready to set up you might notice it getting warm. If you are not done molding by the time this happens, toss the bit you are using and mix another one.
I like to insert a bit of putty into each end of the brass tube, fit the pieces together, and then smooth a bit of extra putty around the outside of the joins. (Not shown: the ugly lumpy putty setting up – I coulda sworn I took a shot of this step but apparently not.)
Although it will be hard to the touch in minutes, you should let the putty fully cure for at least half an hour. So clean your hands up (rubbing alcohol works very well to remove the putty residue from skin) and take a break.
Once the putty is cured, you’ll need to file it down and then sand smooth. There will be a lot of putty dust, so either work outside or over the sink. (If you keep the hook and file wet, it will control the dust and make it easier to see your progress.)