Tools of the Trade: Crochet Hooks

Looking for a crochet hook? That should be simple, right?

There are actually a number of different types of crochet hooks to choose from. Today I will tell you more about what is available.

Like with knitting needles, crochet hooks come in various sizes to accommodate working with different weights of yarn. They are also available in a number of materials. Each has its own particular characteristics. Crochet hooks are usually about 5 or 6 inches long. The body of the hook is sized to a particular diameter. They are sized by mm, or by US sizes. Some refer to UK sizes although I find that is less common. As a Canadian retailer I generally just see the first two. The shank has a flat area about half way along and then after a round section that establishes the gauge, it tapers down to the hook at the end. The flat area allows the user to hold the hook firmly (without it rolling or slipping) so they can index the direction of the hook easily and consistently. This allows for good control over the hook. Some have attached handles, some don’t.

Aluminum

Aluminum crochet hooks are sturdy, strong and smooth.

These are work horses.

They can take what you dish out. If you crochet tightly, aluminum hooks will stand up nicely. The smooth texture allows the hook to be moved easily through the loops of the work without catching and without much effort. The downside is that as you get into the bigger sizes (6.5mm and up) they tend to feel heavy. This can tire out your hand or lead to cramping.

Steel crochet hooks are generally only in the very fine sizes. Aluminum is too soft to stand up to the work of very fine gauges. It is much more likely to bend than steel. These are usually 2mm or less in size.

Acrylic

Acrylic crochet hooks are very light weight. They often come in fun colours. I wouldn’t recommend these for individuals who keep their tension really tight. If you have a gentle tension, you may find these quite nice to work with. They are fairly sturdy, however they are prone to snap when strained. Because they are so light, they can be a nice option to minimize fatigue.

Plastic

Plastic crochet hooks, even at the largest diameters are fairly light. For the most part they are quite strong and sturdy.

For large gauges, these work well.

Most of the feedback I have received from my customers is that they stand up, even to the tightest hand, quite well. The yarn doesn’t move as smoothly on plastic, however they are so much lighter than aluminum (especially at the large sizes) that you may be happy to overlook this.

Bamboo

Bamboo crochet hooks are also available. I have personally not been particularly fond of them. There tends to be a fairly sharp cutaway to the hook. If your tension is tight, this can wear away at the yarn, and in the smaller sizes the actual hooked end has been known to snap off. They are lightweight, and if you are looking for a hook that will give you some friction, bamboo is a good choice. In the larger sizes they offer a lighter alternative to aluminum hooks.

Wooden

Wooden crochet hooks are usually more sculpted than bamboo. The shape of the hook itself is more like that of the metal, plastic and acrylic hooks. This is nice as it is less likely to cause any abrasion to your yarn as you work. They are usually pretty smooth. Like the bamboo, wood has a grain to it.  If your tension is really tight, you run the risk of snapping the tip off the hook in the smaller sizes. These will have more friction than an aluminum hook, but usually less than bamboo.

Handles

If you have challenges with arthritis, or you just crochet a lot and get sore, you may want to consider crochet hooks with handles. Handles can be hard plastic or a soft rubbery texture. I have seen some handcrafted ones with big wooden handles. Handles are designed to make indexing the hook easier, and to give the user something big enough to comfortably hold in an effort to minimize fatigue.

Sets

Sets of crochet hooks usually include the most commonly used sizes of hooks. It’s nice to have a set that is neatly contained in a pouch or case. Besides giving you a way to (at least in theory) keep them organized and together, it means that there will be a consistency in the feel of all the hooks you use. If you generally only work with one or two gauges of yarn, buying a set is really unnecessary. This is one of those items that you might want to put on your Christmas wish list for someone that wants to give you something special.

crochet hooks2

Everyone has their own preference. Crochet hooks are inexpensive, so it won’t break the bank to try a few different types. That way you can take turns with them and really get to know which you like the best.

Who knows, you may just fall in love with something new.

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