Guide to Crochet Hooks
Crochet hooks are not created equally and different features appeal to different folks for different reasons. What works beautifully for one crocheter may end up being a nightmare for another, so this guide is not meant to prescribe what the best hook according to me is, but rather give some information and observations I have noted, that can help make the selection process a bit less mysterious. An unsuitable hook can be detrimental to the crocheting experience, so read up, shop around and don’t be afraid to try a few out before purchasing.
Crochet Hook Anatomy
Inline vs. Not Inline The difference between an inline hook and not inline can seem subtle visually but have a huge impact on a crocheter’s stitching technique. Inline hooks are basically like a perfect cylinder, think along the lines of an unsharpened pencil with a notch removed to hold the loop. No portion of the shaft tapers in and out or bulges. The notch that holds the loop is passive in that the yarn sits in there but can slide in and out because there is no hook shaped overhang. Not inline hooks are any crochet hooks that don’t fit the definition of inline, though I refer to hooks that have the best of both worlds as “middle of the road”.
Handle – the portion of the hook held by the crocheter. Standard hooks offer a thin handle the same dimension as the shaft of the hook however crocheters with arthritis or stiffness and pain after crocheting should consider hooks with larger or ergonomic handles.
Thumb Rest – not identified in the picture because it is fairly self explanatory. Some hooks have the size of the hook or the brand name stamped on the thumb rest. It is not however, necessarily where you must put your thumb.
Shaft – the shaft is essentially the long, elegant neck of the crochet hook. Shafts are usually shaped in one of two ways, in inline hooks, the shaft is like a perfectly symmetrical cylinder that does not taper at all, and in not inline hooks, the shaft is tapered. Cylindrical shafts that do not taper can be helpful for crocheters that have problems with uneven application of tension and overly tight stitches.
Throat – the throat is a gap the loop of yarn is held in. In not inline hooks, the throat can have a significant taper and a rounded out cavity to hold the loop securely which can be helpful for crocheters that routinely pop their hook out of their work and drop loops. In inline hooks, the throat can often be more like a notch or slit in the perfectly rounded and symmetrical cylinder which can sometimes be helpful for crocheters that often snag or split yarn.
Point – the very tip of the hook that is pushed into loops of yarn.
1. Generic Aluminum Hook
2. Generic Aluminum Hook
3. Boye Hook
4. Addi Comfort Grip Hook
5. Kollage Square Hook
6. Tulip Etimo Hook
7. Hamanaka Raku Raku Hook
8. Clover Soft Touch Hook
9. Susan Bates Bamboo Hook
10. Generic Bamboo Hook
11. Susan Bates Hook
The hooks shown are arranged from left to right starting with not inline hooks, progressing to middle of the road and ending with inline hooks. I have provided a review type commentary on some of the hooks pictured, but ideally, find the features you are looking for and select a hook based on that, because it is different for everyone. Ideally you will be able to find one to try, either borrowed from a friend or tried out in store if the packaging allows removal and use of the hook without damage. If you are unable to try out a hook you are considering, don’t feel obliged to buy a full set. Start with a single hook of your most commonly used size, then if it works well for you, buy the sizes you anticipate needing to avoid wasting money on crochet hooks you may never use.
1. and 2. Generic Aluminum Hook – Most generic, cheap aluminum hooks you find in dollar stores will be non-inline. Depending on the thickness of the hook there can be problems with too much flexing or bending when crocheting if you work type. It’s not a bad idea to test them out as some really cheap hooks can have issues like paint wear that leave discoloration on yarn while you work with them. They can do the job but your average crocheter deserves better.
3. Boye Hook – Boye is the non-inline hook brand most often mentioned when talking about styles. They are made by the same company that makes Crochet Dude merchandise and can be found in most craft box stores. In all honesty I don’t see much difference between these and cheap non-inline hooks such as 1 and 2, other than there aren’t really the same quality control issues. Folks crocheting for extended periods or working tightly will likely have fatigue from gripping such a thin handle and may wish to look into handled hooks.
4. Addi Comfort Grip – This hook has the same hook end as the Addi Swing, an ergonomic hook with a toothbrush like handle that would probably be more comfortable than the supposed Comfort grip hook. The handle on this hook is really short, not allowing for a natural grip and the plastic is hard with grooved notch grips that just dug into pressure points in my fingers and felt uncomfortable. I don’t recommend the Comfort Grip but the Swing might be better for people looking for a comfortable handle. I didn’t care for the head and slipped quite a few stitches when I was using it, possibly because of the rounder hook tip. These usually can be found online and in Local Yarn Shops as Addi is a European manufacturer of quality knitting needles that are a favorite amongst knitters.
5. Kollage Square Hook – The actual hook is a roundedish non-inline hook. The handle is surprisingly comfortable, especially for knife style hook holders, but the product itself is poorly made. The metal hook is glued into a rosewood handle which tapers at the end. The hook itself is not very deeply sunk into the handle making it very delicate. The first hook I got broke by the 18th stitch, the hook busted right out of the wood handle. The company was very nice and mailed me a replacement immediately with impressive customer service. The replacement hook which arrived in the mail a week later (they did not ask me to send them the broken one either) did the exact same thing. The hook has potential in it’s design but is essentially a waste of money. Not recommended.
6. Tulip Etimo Hook – This hook is manufactured in Japan by Tulip and used to be very hard to find but is now imported to North America by Caron, making it much easier to purchase. It is an impressively sturdy hook that is halfway between inline and not inline, leaning a little bit toward the inline style. The handle is made of a grippy almost silicone like finish meant to reduce slippage and the need to grasp tightly. It is probably best suited to pencil grasp as a knife style grasper it does feel a little bit awkward for me. The hook has a slick polished finish that I find doesn’t play all that nicely with cotton yarn (similar to acrylic hooks but not as bad) but would like help alleviate slippage with synthetic yarns. The metal portion of the hook extends all the length of the handle so there is no risk of glue loosening or the metal portion popping out. It’s a great hook definitely worth a try if you are working primarily in synthetic yarns, use pencil grasp or just want to see what else is out there.
7. Hamanaka Raku Raku Double-Ended Hook – Manufactured in Japan by Clover, these double ended crochet hooks are usually fairly pricey due to the lack of availability and importers. They are double ended hooks with a slick, polished finish similar to the Tulip hooks, with silicone jelly like comfort grips. They are comfortable to hold both in a pencil or knife grasp, but they are shorter than your average hook, making the end not in use somewhat cumbersome depending on your grasp. When I use these hooks, the unused end digs into my wrist as I crochet and ends up hurting. They are good hooks but the cost coupled with the difficulty in locating and the discomfort of a shorter handle makes them less than ideal. Clover Soft Touch and Tulip Etimo hooks are in my opinion, superior hooks.
8. Clover Soft Touch Hook – The head on this hook is a middle of the road between inline and not-inline, taking essentially he best of both worlds. The finish on the hook is a shiny matted paint that allows natural fibers worked tightly to slide back and forth without squeaking or friction so it is well suited to amigurumi worked in cotton. The handle is hard plastic with a small brown thumbrest that is more of a soft material but has little impact. The width and shape of the handle make it very comfortable to hold without requiring a firm tight grasp and is very well suited to knife style grasp. These hooks are manufactured bu Clover in Japan but have been exported to other markets and is readily available at most online craft retailers and some big box craft stores like Michael’s. Of the ergonomic crochet hooks this is in my opinion the best, most accessible and affordable.
9. Susan Bates Bamboo Hook – These are inline hooks with the addition of a bambo handle which is cylindrical in shape. The bamboo handle is really short and the rest of the hook is long so it is awkward to hold. I found myself holding the middle part that is stamped with the size because the bamboo handle was too far down the hook for me to work comfortably. These are fairly inexpensive and may be easy to find so depending on your grasp style they may be worth a shot.
10. Generic Bamboo Hook – Bamboo hooks may provide too much friction depending on the type of yarn you use. Smaller hooks will flex and bend quite a bit so depending on the size hook you use, bamboo is not likely ideally suited to amigurumi.
11. Susan Bates Hook – The basic Susan Bates hook is the inline alternative to Boye and offers an inexpensive and usually easily accessible option for crocheters that don’t need a fancy handle but prefer an inline hook.