by Janice Jones |Published 12/28/2020
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Wooden or bamboo hooks are a newer version of the old, vintage type hooks and lighter.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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