First, let's take a look at the parts of a crochet hook. The following image was taken from the Crochet Guild of America's Hook Standards page:
There are three things that can make a crochet hook unique:
There are actually two groups of crochet hook sizes, depending on the type of crochet you'll be doing. These are:
- Steel (or Thread Crochet) Sized Hooks
- Standard Crochet Sized Hooks
My domain is usually within the standard hooks used to work with yarns from lace weight on up to super bulky. In US terms, standard crochet hooks are usually identified with a letter from B (smallest) through Q (largest) and range in size from 2 mm to 15 mm. The following chart gives you a list of the US/UK/metric conversions:
|Crochet Hook Conversion Chart|
|2.25 mm||1 / B||13|
|3.50 mm||4 / E||9|
|5.00 mm||8 / H||6|
|5.50 mm||9 / I||5|
|6.00 mm||10 / J||4|
|6.50 mm||10 1/2 / K||3|
|9.00 mm||15 / N||00|
|15.75 mm or 16mm||Q||-|
If you are ever in double about a hook size, it's best to go with the metric measurement rather than the assigned letter/number. This will ensure that you get the best match for your pattern.
We already know that steel is most commonly used for thread crochet hooks, but a lot of other different materials are used for crochet hooks as well. The most common materials used in standard crochet hooks are:
|Plastic hooks by Lion Brand|
- Many plastic hooks have a seam that runs the length of the hook. In some cases (for example, with Lion Brand's hook line), this is not an issue because the seam is smooth. In other cases, the seam is jagged and the yarn catches and splits while you're working.
- Plastic hooks tend to bend and may even snap off. I once purchased a set of plastic hooks for a young friend while teaching her amigurumi crochet. A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to visit her and see how her work was coming along. She sadly showed me the last two hooks remaining in her set (there had been 8 to start with).
|Hummingbird hook from DyakCraft|
Wood and bamboo hooks have the added benefit of feeling almost warm in your hands. With use, they build up a very smooth surface and the yarn seems to pass over them effortlessly. I do stress the words, "with use" here, because some of these natural hooks can have rough edges from varnish or other finishing techniques. When purchasing any natural hook, I recommend checking the underside of the lip and the bowl carefully to make sure you select the smoothest possible -- otherwise, you may have to spend some time "breaking in" your hook with a bit of sand paper before you can really get to crocheting.
For me, the grip or handle of the hook is the most important piece in deciding whether or not to purchase a hook. I spend a lot of time crocheting and I need a handle that gives me a good grip on the hook but still feels comfortable in my hand after several hours.
Hook handles are as different as the day is long and range from very plain to decorative or purely ergonomic. For example, Provo Craft offers a crochet tool kit with two interchangeable, erconomic handles that looks more like a surgical tool set.
|Polymer clay handle by polymerclayshed|
Another neat option that has started to show up a lot more recently is an aluminum hook with a natural wood/bamboo handle. Susan Bates offers an affordable line of these hooks that give you the sturdiness of aluminum and the feel of wood.
Of all the handles, I've found that my favorite is still the Soft Touch line by Clover. These hooks are lightweight, have a defined thumb grip and a great shape. While I do find myself longing for some of the other beautifully-finished hooks available out there, nothing comes close to my Clover hooks for ease of use over several hours of crochet.