by Janice Jones |Updated 03-13-2021
If you go into any big box craft shop, you may be overwhelmed by the variety of hooks available.
With hooks coming in different colors and designs, the first thing to consider is the material they are made. That is the easy part because most modern crochet hooks are made of metal, plastic, or bamboo.
Two common types of hooks are plastic or aluminum. Both are fine for most yarn types and smooth, making the yarn slip over the hook easily.
If you plan to make very fine or delicate lace-like pieces, you'll likely run into hooks made from steel. These are tiny hooks, the smallest created, and many also come with plastic handles to make it a bit easier on your hands.
Wooden or bamboo hooks are a newer version of the old, vintage type hooks and lighter. They make excellent choices, as most are relatively comfortable to hold for long periods. Some are a little longer than the average aluminum or plastic hook.
Japanese hooks are very comfortable because they are made with wide plastic handles. Other hooks may have more extensive, ergonomically shaped handles that fit into your hand, making the rhymical motion of crocheting much more comfortable. Some hooks come with rigid plastic handles, and others are cushioned.
There is no right or wrong hook, but rather, it is the hook that feels best for you. It is best to experiment to see which one feels good and makes it easy to crochet without any hand strain.
You probably don't need an anatomy lesson, but if the vocabulary pops up while you are in the middle of a project, here is a quick guide to identify the different parts of the hook.
Handle This is the part that rests in your hand. Is it comfortable? Be sure it is not too long, not too short, but just right. A very long hook can lead to fatigue and pain. The same is true of a too short handle. Let the Cinderella principle prevail when choosing a hook.
Grip This is the part of the hook that you grab with your thumb and hand. Sometimes they are decorative and other times they are functional. The grip becomes very important for people who are suffering from degenerative joint conditions or for those people who experience pain and hand fatigue when crocheting for long periods of time. If this is you, consider a hook with a wider handle or one that is cushioned.
Shaft The shaft can be inline or tapered. The size of the hook is determined by measuring the width of the shaft. Sometimes the shaft can be shorter and feel less comfortable depending on how you hold the hook and also how you move the hook when you are making stitches.
Throat Types The throat is located just under the hook and behind the head. Throat types can either be tapered or inline. Tapered throats are narrower than the shaft. Inline shafts are the same width as the shaft.
If the throat is too wide, it may create looser stitches. If the throat is too narrow, you may end up making tighter stitches. If you are having trouble creating the right gauge, this may be solved by using a hook that has a different throat type.
Head Type Head types can either be pointed or rounded. If your head type is too pointed you may end up splitting the yarn, If it is too rounded, you may struggle to get into the stitches easily which will slow you down.
So you can see that all parts of a crochet hook can help or hurt you and the only way to know which is right for you is through experience. For this reason, I never recommend buying an entire set of hooks from one source. Decide which sizes you will use the most and then experiment with different manufacturers. Speaking of sizes...
In my opinion, size is one of the more complicated parts to understand because the sizing of hooks is not universally the same. Before we get into the U.S. versus U.K. (English /Canadian) sizes versus metric, let's discuss size in general.
The hook's size and the type of yarn you choose will determine the size of your stitches. Larger hooks are intended to be used with thicker yarns and will, therefore, make larger stitches. You should be able to identify the hook's size because they are stamped somewhere on the hook.
All U.S. hooks are labeled with a letter. Some also include a number. As you progress through the alphabet, the hooks get larger. Larger hooks are used with thicker bulkier yarns, and smaller needles use fine yarns.
If you are taking up crocheting and depending on the internet for tips and tutorials, it's important to understand where the instructions are originating. Here is an online conversion chart, but if you would prefer to download and print one out for your records, you are welcome to do so. See below.
Q (16 mm)
Old UK Sizes
Some people hold the hook in the dominant hand as if they were holding a pencil. Another way to control the crochet hook is to grab it as if it were a knife.
You can try it both ways to see what feels best to you, but I find it more comfortable and less straining to hold it like a knife. Experiment with both methods using a short piece of yarn to see what feels best for your hands.
We've already discussed the type of hooks and what materials are used to make them, but we haven't touched on the various type of hooks you might encounter.
These are the most common and the ones you will likely encounter in your craft shops. They are generally around 6 inches long and have a hook at one end.
As mentioned earlier, they are made in a wide range materials from steel to aluminum, bamboo, wood, plastic and even bone if you can get your hands on a vintage style hook.
This is a more advanced hook used to work Tunisian crochet. There is a hook at one end and a stopper at the end of the other side. They are longer, usually 10 inches in length, but can also be even longer.
These types of hooks are intended to hold multiple stitches. As with other types of crochet hooks, they are made of a variety of different materials ranging from plastic, resin, aluminum , bamboo and others.
You can purchase them individually or in sets. You can also purchase them as a stand-alone hook or as a set of interchangeable hooks that come in a variety of different sized cords or cable. Here are a few I found on Amazon.
Click on any set to check the price on amazon
These hooks have a hook at either end and is about 14 inches long. It often comes in a version with a flexible cable or as a stand-alone hook.
Check for price and availability on Amazon.
The Crochet hook is the essential tool in your crochet toolbox for creating that next outstanding project. Still, without the other supplies, you won't get very far. Here are a few more critical tools to consider purchasing before your next project.
Vintage projects such as laces and doilies will call for cotton or other types of fibers. These are still manufactured and available both online and in large retail craft stores.
You won't get very far with your crocheting without some form of fiber. Unless you are making very fine lace, you will want to learn a bit more about the various types of yarns available today, and options are abundant.
Learn more about crochet tools and accessories
The instructions or pattern will advise which size hook and thickness of yarn to use in most cases.
The design is a good starting point; however, it may be that you will need to make alterations to the pattern. For example, if you create a garment that requires precise sizing, you will want to ensure that the final project, whether it is a sweater or coat, fits well. That is where gauge comes into play.
Scrutinize the pattern or the hank of yarn you are planning to use. You should find the gauge instructions that might look something like this:
This label tells you that the yarn is best used with a number H/8 (U.S.) or 5 mm (Metric) crochet hook. If you crochet a 4 x 4-inch square using single crochet (sc), you should end up with 14 rows and 13 sc stitches per row.
If you crochet a four-by-four-inch square and it doesn't appear that you have the correct gauge, you may need to use a crochet hook one size larger or smaller to meet gauge. For this reason, I recommend purchasing a set of crochet hooks to be ready for any project.
Understanding gauge in crochet projects