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So, you've got your favorite hook and just want to be able to use it for any project you are working on. Well, you might want to rethink that if you are struggling -- the material of the hook can affect how easily you are able to work with certain types of yarn. A slippery yarn, like rayon or silk, might be easier to work with if you are using a hook that "grabs" the yarn, like one made of wood, bamboo, or plastic. For a yarn that is more textured, you'll want a slippery hook, like a metal one that's been coated with nickle-plating. A change in tools can make all the difference with a certain yarn project, but don't forget to go back and create a new gauge swatch because a change in hooks, even of the same size, can affect how you crochet (more tensely or more loosely), which will affect your gauge!
Both letters and numbers are used to tell you the size of a crochet hook, though, with the small steel hooks used for creating lace and crocheting thread, only numbers are used. The "basic" hooks range from D to K (or 3.25 mm to 6.50 mm), which go from smaller to larger. Unfortunately, even though this sounds like a system of ensuring uniform hook sizes, the same size hook can actually vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so please take the time to get to know your hooks and crochet those gauge squares in order to ensure that your crochet items come out the right size!
The crochet hook obviously is the single most important tool you are going to be using to crochet. All crochet hooks are not created alike, so here are some basic features of a crochet hook that you need to know about in deciding the type of hook that you want to use. There is no right or wrong type of crochet hook -- the choice of the type of crochet hook to use is very personal, so I would recommend experimenting with the different variations to decide which ones you like best.
A crochet hook has a head, a throat, a shaft, maybe a thumb rest, and a handle. The head will be either round or flat (also called "in-line"). Some crocheters prefer the round head because it is a little pointier and makes entering stitches easier; some prefer the flat head because it can make catching and pulling through the yarn easier. The throat of the hook starts from the indent of the head and tapers out to the round, uniform part of the shaft. Whether round or flat head, it is the width of the shaft that determines the size number of the hook and thus the size of the stitches you make. The shaft measures about an inch to an inch and a half in length from the head to the thumb rest, if there is one. Many hooks have thumb rests or an indentation at this point in the hook to make the hook easier to hold and to keep the hook from shifting in your hand while you are crocheting. The remaining part of the hook is called the handle, and a regular crochet hook is usually about six inches in length (as opposed to a Tunisian crochet hook, which is usually much longer) .
It's tempting to just throw your project into your bag when you're tired of working on it, but you might have a painful reminder when you reach back in later! To protect your needles and hooks (and yourself) when not in use, get some point protectors the next time you are in the craft store or your LYS, but in the mean time, you can use those pink erasers that fit on the end of a pencil. Your needle or hook might not fit snuggly, but you can jam it on enough that it will stay in place.
Beginners have asked me which hook(s) they should buy when first learning to crochet. If you're going to buy just one hook, the H hook is probably the most common and versatile hook to get. It is the hook that you will use to crochet with worsted weight yarn. I would also recommend considering a kit that includes at least 5 hooks (E, F, G, H, and I) because those hooks will cover the range of yarn from lighter weight DK yarn (the E and F hooks) to a bulkier, heavy worsted weight yarn (the I hook) and help you discover if you are a tight or loose crocheter and what kind of yarn weight/crochet hook combinations you like working with.
When you first started crocheting, you may have just picked up any old crochet hook at the store, not knowing about the characteristics of different hooks and how they affect your ability to work that yarn. From the material the hook is made from to its size, these considerations affect your ultimate choice of a hook for your work.
Crochet Hook Types
One of the first things for you to think about is what your hook is made of. When you visit the crochet aisle of your favorite crafts store, browse through the selection. You should find aluminum, steel, bamboo, plastic and wood. The aluminum hook moves more easily with the yarn, making it easier for you to slip the head into and out of each stitch. If you are working with a silk or ribbon yarn, a hook with more texture to it makes it easier for you to keep those stitches from slipping off the hook and out of each other. The next time you choose a project requiring a slippery yarn, look for a plastic, bamboo or wooden crochet hook.
Look at the head of your crochet hook. If it has a rounded head, this makes it easier to use with a loosely spun yarn. Using this hook, you are less likely to split the yarn plies. A crochet hook with a sharp head allows you to slip the head into each stitch, but it also tends to split yarn plies.
The throats of your hooks are either inline or not inline. Inline hooks have a sharper angle leading to the head, making it easier for you to grab and hold the yarn as you work the loops. a not inline hook has a gentler slope that makes it easier for you to work stitches without the hook getting caught.
Match Hook to Yarn
When you first begin a new crochet project, your printed instructions tell you what yarn weight to use, as well as giving you a recommended hook size. This is an important distinction, because, if you use a hook that is too small, the gauge, or stitch and row sizes, will be wrong. You will have too many stitches and rows for the recommended gauge. If you use a hook that is too large, you will not have enough stitches or rows and your item will be too small. Of course, your own individual crochet style affects your gauge. Always, always, always crochet a test gauge swatch first. Use different hook sizes until you have crocheted the correct swatch size. Write this down so you know what size hook to use in the future.
If you are using a very light yarn weight, such as sock-weight or a baby-weight yarn, use a smaller hook. For a chunky or aran-weight yarn, use a larger hook.
Thinner yarns need the smaller hooks. Choose hooks ranging from B-1 to E-4. Sport-weight yarns require hooks sized E-4 to 7. Light worsted yarns require hooks sized 7 to I-9. Worsted yarns require hooks sized I-9 to K-10 1/2. Chunky yarns need the larger hooks, which are sized K-10 1/2 up to M-13, and bulky yarns need the largest crochet hooks, beginning at M-13, going all the way to the largest sizes.
Crochet hooks can be made out of so many different types of material. Older hooks were made from wood, bone, metal, and even ivory or different shells. Most hooks today are made of aluminum, bamboo, plastic, and even glass. You can find crochet hooks these days with ergonomic handles and ones that light up from inside!
Steel hooks are usually the tiny ones that are used with crochet thread to make lace, filet crochet, or other small items. These hooks have their own numbering systems as well, with US, UK/Canadian, and metric sizes all being different. To give you a sense of the sizes, a size 13 (US) steel hook is a .75mm hook, which is the same as a size 7 (UK/Canadian) hook and is considered one of the smallest hooks available.