At first glance, a crochet hook looks quite innocent. Just a piece of metal with a hook. And yet, the variety of available models, their shapes, colors or sizes can make one’s head spin. So, what is the guiding principle in choosing a crochet hook? Do various variants have their own practical applications? And finally – does the perfect crochet hook exist? I will try to answer these and other questions in this article.
Anatomy of a crochet hook
Let’s start with the anatomy of a crochet hook. Regardless of the model, each and every hook is composed of a head, throat, shaft, thumb rest, and handle.
Head, the hooked part, is used to grab the yarn and pull it through.
The head may be aligned with the shaft (the so-called inline hook) or it can be slightly tapered (the so called not inline or tapered hook). In Europe, the majority of the hooks are tapered. The inline hooks are not very popular in Europe but can be frequently encountered in the USA, where a lot of people use them. Tapered or not, it does not have much effect on the quality of our work. It is rather a matter of personal preference.
The head can be rounded or pointed. Depending on what yarn you are using and what project you are working on, one or the other model might be a better choice.
When working with delicate yarns (such as mohair) or yarns that are prone to splitting (such as cotton), a rounded head will definitely do a better job. It will go smoothly through the yarn without destroying its structure.
On the other hand, a slightly pointed head will be useful if you want your crochet stitches tight (as it will be easier to insert such a hook into the work) or if you want to crochet on the surface of fabrics, for example to create an edge to a fleece blanket.
While crocheting, the throat holds the loops before they are worked off.
Just like the head, the throat can either be inline with the shaft (in the so-called inline hooks) or tapered (in the so-called not inline or tapered hooks). A throat in an inline hook will be more cut, and thus the yarn will not slip off easily. However, a deeply cut throat may cause delicate yarns to split at the same time. The edge of a throat in a tapered hook, on the other hand, will be more rounded, and therefore yarn will be more prone to slipping (especially if you are working with a slippery yarn, such as bamboo).
The shaft is the part of the crochet hook that is located between the throat and the thumb rest. Contrary to what you might think, it is the shaft (its diameter) and not the size of the hook that determines the size of the crochet hook.
The shaft can be short or very long. A long shaft is desirable when making stitches requiring multiple loops (such as bubble or bullion stitch).
The grip is the part of the crochet hook that you hold with your index finger and your thumb while crocheting. Theoretically, at least, because there are as many ways to hold a crochet hook as there are crocheters. I, for example, when working on amigurumi projects, hold my index finger somewhere right next to the crochet head as it helps me to insert the hook into tiny stitches. Larger crochets, on the other hand, I hold in a different way than the tiny ones.
The grip should primarily be comfortable for the user. Since everyone holds a crochet hook in a slightly different way, what is comfortable for one person, might not be comfortable for another. This issue is quite personal. Before buying a crochet hook (especially a more expensive one), it is always worth trying to hold it in your hand for a while and check how it “sits”. On the market, you can find many manufacturers of crochets hooks, who praise the ergonomics of their products: they provide bizarrely-shaped handles covered in soft material. For some crocheters, however, such unconventional hooks are a nightmare.
What is interesting is that not all crochet hooks have a handle, especially very simple ones.
The handle is simply the remaining part of the crochet hook. As with the grip, the most important thing is that it is comfortable. The handle is also a space for manufacturers (but also crafters!) to use their creative imagination: you can find crochet hooks with handles in all shapes, colors and with all sorts of accessories. Some of them are really small works of art.
Crochet hook sizes
As I wrote above, the diameter of the shaft (that is, the part between the throat and the thumb rest) determines the size of the crochet hook. This means that the diameter of the shaft of a crochet hook marked 4 mm is exactly 4 mm.
The size of crochet hooks ranges from 0.35 mm to 25 mm. At least that’s what Wikipedia states. I personally have never seen either such a small or such a large crochet hook.
The system of classifying crochet hooks by direct reference to the diameter of the shaft is convenient, but it is used mainly in continental Europe. In the United States, UK, Japan or New Zealand, completely different systems of classifying crochet sizes are adopted. Below is a table indicating the American and British (approximate) equivalents of the metric system.
|metrical system||American system*||British system|
As a rule of thumb, the thicker the yarn, the larger crochet hook should be used. And vice versa, the thinner the yarn, the smaller crochet hook will be appropriate. What is important, the yarn label often contains manufacturer’s suggestion as to the recommended size of the crochet hook. It is certainly worth taking these recommendations into consideration, as they can help us estimate the size of the stitches. If the manufacturer recommends the use of a 2.5 mm crochet hook, we know that it will be a thinner yarn than the one for which the recommendation would be 3.5 mm. Of course, these recommendations are non-binding and depending on the effect we want to achieve, we will use different crochet hooks. A good example is amigurumi, where we always choose a crochet hook smaller than recommended.
What material are crochet hooks made of?
Most often, you can find crochet hooks made of steel, aluminum, plastic, wood or bamboo. Occasionally, you can also come across crochet hooks made of glass. Which material is the best? Well, it largely depends on personal preference and the yarn that is to be crocheted.
The smallest crochet hooks (i.e. those under 2 mm) are made almost exclusively from steel. This is because this material has the right strength and break-resistance to protect a relatively thin hook from breaking. Plastic or bamboo crochet hooks in small size such as of 1.5 mm could easily break during work (which, of course, sometimes may also happen with larger crochet hooks).
Crochet hooks larger than 2 mm are more likely to be made from materials other than steel. As their size grows, so does their weight. A crochet hook that is too heavy can cause wrist pain and general hand fatigue. Hence, most crochet hooks over 2 mm are made from lighter materials than steel – such as aluminum, plastic, bamboo or wood.
Bamboo and wood are undoubtedly the most eco-friendly of all the options. However, it is worth noting that these materials have a natural roughness. This will be of particular importance if the yarn you are working with is not very slippery. In this case, work will go much slower, because the yarn will “stick” and not slide over the crochet hook. In addition, thin bamboo or wooden crochets are very delicate and extremely easy to break.
Tunisian crochet hooks
It is worth mentioning that in addition to the traditional crochet hooks presented in this post, you can also find Tunisian (sometimes called afghan) ones. Such hooks are much longer than the traditional ones and are used for special projects, in which crocheting is more similar to knitting (i.e. we have many loops on the crochet hook). Works made with this technique will look more like works made with knitting needles than with traditional crochet hook.
So to summarize – what crochet hook to choose (for amigurumi)?
As you have seen, the variety of crochet hooks is enormous and choosing one is largely a matter of individual preference. What is important, however, whether you prefer bamboo, metal, decorative or straight crochet hook is its size. This is because it is of key importance and poorly chosen will not only affect the comfort of work, but also prevent you from achieving a satisfactory effect.
To make amigurumi, generally we use crochet hooks in sizes from 2 mm to 3.5 mm, sometimes also 4 mm or 4.5 mm, but toys made with the latter will be relatively large. Of course, you will also find fans of miniature projects the size of a fingernail (who will perform them with crochet hook 0.6 mm) or giant two-meter projects (crochet hook probably about 20 mm), but these are, however, extreme cases.
The range from 2 mm to 3.5 mm narrows the field of choices significantly, leaving us with 6 options available on the market (2 mm, 2.25 mm, 2.5 mm, 2.75 mm, 3 mm, 3.5 mm). That doesn’t look so bad anymore :). Bearing in mind that working with a larger crochet hook is easier (stitches come out larger, and therefore are better visible), I would recommend to start from 3.5 mm and slowly go down. The difference between 3.5 mm and 3 mm is much smaller and it is easier to transition than from 3.5 mm to 2.0 mm.
And what is my favorite crochet hook?
Clover amour 2,25 mm. 🙂