Nancy has taught beginning and intermediate crochet classes at the local community college. Her collection of hooks and needles is huge.
Different Crochet Hooks
Crochet Hook set
Basic tool for Crochet is the Crochet Hook
Hooks are the basic implement needed for making crochet items. Crochet is French for “hook”. They are also used to pick up dropped stitches in knitting, so are a staple for all yarn crafters’ bags.
Popular patterns for Finger Crochet do not need a hook, just fingers as the names suggests, but can also be done with some of the larger hooks available.
Fingers can substitute for some hooks.
I made a chain scarf using Red Heart Sashay (no longer available) that was considered a Finger Crochet pattern, but said that a Q size crochet hook could also be used. There is some difference in how the chain turns out depending on if you use fingers or the Q hook.
The Crochet Hook makes for a more even and consistent chain than can be done with fingers. It works up as fast as I can crochet which is less awkward than trying to do it with my fingers.
All shapes, sizes, and materials.
Crochet hooks come in a variety of materials and sizes. The basic Steel Crochet Hook is usually used for crocheting doilies, lace edgings, and such. They run in sizes from 14 to 00 (double zero). The size 14 is the smallest of the Steel Hooks and has a very tiny crochet hook. In the olden days of polyester pants, this was our hook of choice for pulling in the snags that invariably happened with anything polyester or polyester double knit.
Steel Crochet Hooks
I have made several doilies, and sold many of them, using the size 5 or size 7 crochet hook. A lot of the Steel Hooks sizes depend on the type of crochet thread being used. Crochet thread runs any where from size 10 (the usual size called for in patterns for doilies) down to a tiny size 80 which is about the size of sewing thread, and more often used for Tatting projects than for Crochet.
Most crocheted items are using thread size 10 or 20 (fine) or 30 (finer). There are also larger crochet threads in sizes 3, 5, or 8, but they are not usually used for doilies or edgings which require a finer thread.
With the trend toward larger hooks and yarns, the Steel or Thread Crochet Hooks are often mislabeled on places like eBay as “tatting hooks”. Most people do not recognize the Steel Crochet Hook as a “real” crochet hook. Yes, even though the smaller Steel Hooks are used to help join picots (loops) in tatting, but they are still technically a Crochet Hook. There is no such thing as a “Tatting Hook,” unless you count the built in hook that is available on some brands of tatting shuttles.
Parts of a Crochet Hook
The regular crochet hook.
Common or Regular Crochet Hooks come in many different materials. I have seen or I personally own ones made in plastic, aluminum, wood, and bamboo. Different materials also mean different prices. Since aluminum crochet hooks are the most common they are also the lower priced version of most hooks. The fanciest hooks are in fine wood like black walnut.
I even have a set of 24k gold plated crochet hooks. I believe it was a limited time offer from Boye, as I found it on eBay. These gold plated hooks came in a set like the regular aluminum hooks and these are the same sizes as the aluminum crochet hooks.
Types of Hooks and Sizes of Hooks
Aluminum crochet hooks tend to be less prone to rust than Steel crochet hooks. I have seen paint chipped off or worn off from a lot of use, but Aluminum hooks hold up to a lot of use. The very old Aluminum crochet hooks had just the size (usually a letter for US hooks) and maybe the price in cents stamped on the finger grip area.
Today’s crochet hooks have the standard sizes listed in Letters and may include a Metric Number or hook size number. Crochet Hook sizes go from B/1 of 2.25mm, to U of 25mm.
There are a few letters skipped between sizes as other countries have sizes between letters, such as between B and C, C and D, or 2 sizes skipped between G and H. For these sizes there is a UK size but not an available USA size on the list. Often times there is a size 7 hook listed between the G and H hooks on tables of hook sizes. Depending on the supplier, there is also the rare size O or 11 mm crochet hook. Not a lot of patterns call for the odd sizes that are rare or not commonly found in the major stores or online yarn suppliers.
Lion Brand Yarns make the S size crochet hook, but not Boye or Susan Bates. For Lion Brand they put out size 50 knitting needles and size S hooks by listing them as “speed” hook or needles, and they created patterns that use them.
In shopping on eBay, I have obtained a hook labeled 4.0mm which is not on any of my lists. Also, I found one that said “Afghans G Rugs” on one side, and in measuring it the actual size fits more with the current H size hook than the G size it is stamped with on the finger grip.
It is best to size old hooks to make sure they are the size they say on the hook, and not what was one considered that size when sizes were not standardized universally. It could be that hook manufacturers went with the size they “needed” to send with their patterns or kits, and not what the hook size might be if found elsewhere such as a hobby shop or yarn shop.
Chart of Crochet Hook Sizes, Letters, Numbers, and Notes
|Crochet Hook Conversion Chart||Notes:|
B or 1
C or 2
D or 3
Some show this size.
D or 3
Some show this size.
E or 4
F or 5
G or 6
Klutz put out this size hook, probably for their book on crochet.
H or 8
I or 9
j or 10
K or 10.5
Found this in Clover Brand hooks
L or 11
M or 13
Clover brand has it labeled M/N size.
N or 15
Some list N-13. Clover brand has it labeled N/P size.
no information on this
P or 16
Some list P-15, or some as P-16 and 11.5mm
Some list as Q-16, or some as Q-19 and 15.00 mm
no information on this
S or 35
Lion Brand is the one who started with this size. Others now available.
U or 50
Susan Bates Extreme size 50. Hobby Lobby Yarnology size U.
Michael's craft store Loops & Threads brand, discontinued.
Crochet Hook Manufacturers
Some hooks come with a bamboo grip on the handle, others with a soft vinyl for an ergonomic grip, and others are just the material that the hook is made from such as aluminum. I have even seen people put a polymer clay handle on their hooks to make them more comfortable. There are directions as well as finished hooks with clay handles available online. There are also slip-on foam rubber covers to cushion crochet hook handles. Search for “crochet hook covers” online.
Different manufacturers charge different prices for the same size of crochet hooks. Sometimes it is because of the materials, sometimes the style of hook (like ergonomic). Sometimes a set that is marked "Made in China" is the cheapest price but also the least consistent in sizes or finish. And if you search eBay you might even find the vintage Boye set of 23kt Gold covered crochet hooks (size D through K). There are also wood craftsmen who make wooden hooks for sale on places such as Etsy.
I find that Boye and Susan Bates as well as Lion Brand are the best long time manufacturers of crochet hooks. Clover has been around a while and their hooks seem to be made in Japan. There is also a size difference between US and foreign made hooks, even if the US hooks are made in other countries they have the same US sizes as previous versions.
Antiques and Rusty Steel Hooks
Very old antique hooks might be made of bone (sometimes whale bone), ivory, or an old plastic called Celluloid. Depending on whether you are getting hooks for display or use, some of the antiques are better to look at than to use due to their delicate nature. Also, steel hooks exposed to moisture will rust over time. Don’t use a rusty hook as that could be as dangerous as a rusty nail. You would need to make sure your tetanus shots are up to date if you handle rusty crochet hooks.
How to Check Crochet Hook Sizes
A handy needle and hook sizer or Knitting Gauge (if you are searching for it use this term) has holes in sizes to fit knitting needles or crochet hooks (the hook size holes have letters next to them, knitting has numbers). You can find them by Susan Bates, Boye, Clover, Lion Brand, and some by crafters.
I found some made from recycled plastic by a man in Finland (the country). They can come in all shapes and sizes, like Sheep, Owl, rectangular, square, hat shaped, etc. They come in bamboo, plastic, and metal.
For knitting needles that have no end caps with the size, or double-pointed knitting needles, these are a handy gadget to have to check sizes. It also helps if you are looking for the Letter crochet hook a pattern calls for and have only Metric Number ones to chose from in your stash.
Why so many hook sizes?
Most crochet hooks started as smaller hooks since the people using them were making laces out of thread. Only in the middle of the last century did yarns become larger and crochet patterns developed for them. For a detailed Crochet History visit this site: http://www.crochet.org/?page=crochethistory
Yarns started out as wool and most of those yarns were used for knitting. Cotton thread was used for most crocheting. When acrylic yarns became available, then crocheting took on new patterns and larger items to use larger hooks with that type of yarn.
The Granny Square is one such pattern that was extremely popular in the 1960s-1970s. With the advent of Hygge (a Danish term), the yarns are now in the Jumbo size (a #7 on the yarn label) and need the larger U size hook in order to be crocheted. Knitting needles in size 50 are similar to the U hook and are used with the Jumbo yarns.
And in Conclusion...
Whatever your choice of material for your crochet hook, your yarn size and pattern gauge will be what determines which size of crochet hook you need to use to create your design. It is fun to change hook sizes by changing materials, like using a larger hook and 2 strands of crochet cotton instead of one strand and a steel crochet hook.
I hope that I have covered the crochet hook so that you are informed, entertained, and aware of your choices. Maybe now you will be more likely to explore the crochet hook section of the craft store rather than just grab one and go.