Parts of a Crochet Hook | Materials | Specialty Hooks |
All About Hooks, Part 2 - Hook Sizes
All About Hooks, Part 1 - General Info
© 2012 Sandra Petit, http://www.crochetcabana.com
Buying hooks can be confusing. Did you know that there are dozens of different kinds of hooks? I’m going to take some time to show you a few. I’m sure I will just touch the surface of this subject, but at least it will be a start.
Parts of a Crochet Hook
First, you should know the parts of your hook to aid in discussion with other crochet fanatics.
Obviously the head or hook is an essential part of the entire tool and a large part of what makes it different from knitting needles. While some people do refer to it as the “hook,” it is often called the "point" or "head" to distinguish it from the hook as a whole.
There are two basic hook types. I call them Bates and Boye, but they are really inline and tapered. This refers to the shape of the head and throat of the hook (though sometimes you will hear me say the "hook part" which might refer to the head or the throat interchangeably). Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between inline and tapered hooks. Most crocheters, however, have a strong opinion of which is better, meaning which one they prefer to use, often exclusively. I am a Boye or tapered gal. I do use Bates, but not as often as I use the tapered hooks. I have a good number of both in my collection. Neither is really better than the other, it is a matter of personal preference.
You’ll notice the difference in Bates and Boye hooks as to the size of the shaft. Bates has a very small shaft, whereas Boye has a longer shaft. This, again, is a matter of personal preference.
Not all crochet hooks have a grip (also called the thumb rest). Some are straight or made in other ways, such as the wooden or clay hooks.
The handle is often the part of the hook where hook designers let their creativity flow. Many small business owners take aluminum hooks and add clay handles in various colors and designs. There is also a line out now by a major manufacturer featuring hooks with bamboo handles. A very popular hook is the Etimo, which features a rubberized handle. These are nice to work with as they are kind to your fingers, similar to the way in which your feet prefer to walk on carpet than a hard floor.
We know that hooks vary in diameter, circumference and length which makes a difference in the size of our finished products. However, hooks vary also in material. This may or may not affect the size of your finished product, but it may well affect your enjoyment of the process if you are using an uncomfortable hook or one that doesn’t work well with the materials being used.
Some of the common materials from which hooks are fashioned include various types of wood, plastic, Corian, steel, brass, gold, silver, and aluminum. Some also may have a handle made of different material than the hook, such as rubber or clay. The difference in material may also greatly affect the price of the hook.
I have in my own collection hooks made with walnut, rosewood, cherry, maple, eucalyptus, holly, bamboo, plastic, Corian, steel, bronze, aluminum and some with rubber, clay or bamboo handles. I don’t know the material used for many of the hooks I own, but I appreciate each of them for their own unique qualities. I have two favorite hooks - My L hook made of venaro rose Corian is precious to me as is my Inox made in Germany aluminum hooks. Both of these are irreplaceable as they’re no longer made.
I received an e-mail from someone who told me she has a bone hook from her grandmother. A quick online search showed a few bone hooks available for purchase (Feb.2013) but they are rare. The descriptions of the items I saw did not say what type of bone it was.
Why choose one material over the other? Well, from my view I like to have many different types around. To a degree the type of hook that works best for you in most circumstances will be a personal choice. but I can give you a little insight into them.
Metal hooks are generally cold and hard, but also allow the yarn to slide easily off your hook. This can be good or bad depending on how fast you crochet and how skilled you are.
Wood or bamboo are warmer to work with. The yarn may slide over the hook well too if it is smooth and well made. Many wooden hooks have a straight body without a grip or thumb rest.
Corian feels cold to the touch when you begin using it, similar to the metal hooks. If you need a warm hook because of a health condition like arthritis, you might want to stick to wood or rubber coated hooks.
Plastic hooks vary among the type. I have found some plastic hooks to work very well and last a long time while others don’t work so well and break easily.
Sometimes how the hook works depends on the yarn or thread you are using. Some threads just seem to work better with a particular hook, so if you are having trouble just switch to a different hook of the same size. You might find a difference.
Similarly hooks with a clay handle give a lot of variation in color and design. They can also be made with thick handles which are nice for those who have trouble gripping small handled hooks.
There are pros and cons to working with a hook with an added handle as opposed to hooks made in one piece. There is no standard among them in that sometimes the shaft of the hook is short and sometimes it is longer. If you are having your hook custom made you might be able to specify how you want your hook. Otherwise you just have to try different hooks and see which suits your needs. I prefer a longer shaft myself. The little short ones don’t seem to work well for me.
Smaller hooks, used for crocheting with thread, are made of steel, and are usually called “steel hooks” to differentiate from those used with yarn.
I have a number of interesting steel hooks in my collection. This is one has a price on it--15¢. The price is right on the hook! I have a number of these with different prices on them. I have also noticed in videos on YouTube that some other crocheters have these antique hooks which they use in their tutorials.
Besides the normal hooks shown here, there are specialty hooks to work with Tunisian crochet (afghan stitch) and Crochet on the Double.
The Afghan hook uses the same basic sizing system as a regular 5" to 7" hook, but it is generally much longer, 10" or 14" long. You can also get afghan hooks with a flexible wire so you can hold more stitches. It is similar to the knitting system of using circular needles.
The hook used for Crochet on the Double and Crochetnit has a hook on both ends of the tool. The hook is the same size on both ends.
A new tool on the market is the Knook. It is generally made of bamboo and has a hole at the top where you thread cord. It is used to "knit" with a crochet hook.
Next: All About Hooks, Part 2 - Hook Sizes
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