I got an email from lovely lady JW, inquiring:
“What is your opinion of bamboo crochet hooks? Do you know if one is allowed to take them onto an international aircraft journey? and finally, where in the UK can one purchase them?”
Thanks for the great question! In general, the tools one uses to knit and crochet can make a huge difference in one’s enjoyment of the craft(s). Everyone is different in their preferences for bamboo/wood vs metal (or plastic, or casein). Some general guidelines:
Metal needles/hooks are more slippery than bamboo/wood, so people say they are “faster”, since they don’t cling to the yarn as much. Fast is good if you’re confident in a craft, but a beginner knitter may choose bamboo/wood because the stitches will be less likely to slip off the end of the needle by accident. I always recommend bamboo/wood needles to my beginner knitters.
Bamboo/wood hooks and needles are warm in the hand, flexible, and less likely to cause RSI problems.
Metal needles tend to have sharper tips (a bonus, in my opinion).
Bamboo is more environmentally friendly than wood.
Metal circular needles tend to have neater joins, making pushing the stitches over that area easier.
All of the above said, I tend to use bamboo knitting needles and metal (aluminium) crochet hooks (I am a fast crocheter and like the speed of metal hooks). There are some exceptions – I very much like ADDI Turbos (metal) for knitting circular needles, and I do have a few sizes of bamboo crochet hooks. Those hooks are much lighter in weight than the aluminium ones, but they tend to have a “wedge” shaped sharp under-hook area that will split the yarn if I’m not careful. However, I keep them around so I don’t have to argue with security people at airports.
Which brings me to your next question, JW! Airline travel as a knitter/crocheter can be tricky. Sadly, this is not due to the airline regulations themselves (nearly every major airline in the world allows both knitting needles and crochet hooks, even metal ones!) but the lack of training of those regulations given to security personnel at various airports. Also, some airports have restrictions, even if the airlines don’t. For example, Heathrow airport doesn’t allow knitting needles, but BA, Air France, Ryanair, EasyJet, all the major American airlines and other airlines flying out of Heathrow DO allow them. Since no one wants to see me on an international flight without knitting (I would go CRAZY trapped on a plane for 7 hours with nothing to do!), I tend to just throw bamboo needles into my hand luggage (with a project on the needles) and hope for the best. I take an identical pair of needles in my checked luggage in case the hand luggage ones get taken off me. I can say that I’ve NEVER been stopped going through Heathrow because of knitting needles. Sometimes I will take a crochet project instead to be on the safe side (you will never have a problem with a crochet hook, JW, not even a metal one). I was making a sock on double pointed knitting needles recently and was concerned I’d be stopped because those needles are particularly pointy and aggressive looking. So I put the project on a spare piece of yarn, slid the DPNs into a closed small umbrella (so the x-ray machine would show the spokes of the umbrella and not the needles), passed it through security that way, and then put my project back on the needles when I got on the plane. I would feel bad about defrauding airport security personnel, except that I am ABSOLUTELY NO RISK TO ANYONE with my 2.5mm bamboo DPNs, and also I am ALLOWED to have them on the plane, it’s only the airport that has that restriction.
So to answer your questions specifically JW, I like bamboo crochet hooks, but not as much as metal ones. Yes, you CAN take them on an international flight (double check your carrier, but it’s a rare one that doesn’t allow them).
Re: purchasing hooks/needles, I buy all of my materials online, as the prices are MUCH better than in-store. For crochet hooks, I use Purple Linda Crafts and this seller (that’s metal-only) on eBay. There are loads of people selling brand new bamboo crochet hooks on eBay.
Thanks for the question, JW! Keep them coming, all!