Thursday, September 3, 2015

Choosing Your Crochet Hook

I've read lots of posts over the years on various websites and Blogs as people struggled to find the "best" crochet hook and I've always pushed people to realize that the best hook is the hook that works for you.

Early on when I was first starting I took what ever hooks I could find or were given to me. I didn't know enough about my style to understand how hooks were different or how my style of crocheting would influence the type of hook that would work best for me. After some time I also came to realize the type of projects I worked on also had some impact on the type of hook I wanted to use.

For instance while I love bamboo hooks for afghans, they aren't nearly as effective for ami projects where my stitches are tight and I need a hook that can penetrate those tighter stitches. For that a metal tip is important. However, I learned as time went on a metal tip didn't mean a metal hook. I discovered there are blends. For me, my favorite hook blends metal tips with Bamboo handles. I use the Susan Bates Bamboo handled hooks. I get the style of hook I like with the rounded bamboo handles I love.

Knowing what type of projects you enjoy doing can influence the type of hooks you want. While some hooks will work through any project, some are less versatile. The plastic and wooden hooks I've acquired over the years don't work on all my projects. I've broken a plastic hook and a wooden hook working on ami's when I didn't have a metal tipped hook available. However, they worked fine on scarfs, afghans, and prayer shawls when I've borrowed hooks and that was all that was available to use.

As for the tips there is an ongoing debate you can spend hours engaging in or you can find a Bates and a Boye hook and experiment with the tips yourself. I used them interchangeably when I first started. After a while I found Boye was harder for me to work with and Bates hooks became my standard. Other brands have hooks that tend to fall along the spectrum of hook shapes. Eventually you will find what works for you if you keep your head down and avoid the controversy. I've never seen any proof that using one or the other improves the quality of your work. Each person seems to have a personal connection to way the hook works and thus it is reflected in the work created. Thus, if you are less likely to snag your work, you feel it runs more smoothly with one, etc. you are likely to produce a better piece. It doesn't scientifically prove X hook shape produces a better product.

Handle shapes are another huge issue with crochet hooks. Some of it has to do with how you hold your hook. There are two basic standards for the hook hold, the pencil and the knife. However there are people like me who don't quite fit the mold. My style is closest to the knife. I call it a modified knife hold. As a result the most comfortable style of handle is a round one. The flat styles tend to cause problems for my hands. I originally started with the basic metal Bates hooks, but found I couldn't work with the tiny thread hooks at all. Then I also found my hands cramping just working with yarn and realized a switch was needed. I purchased some different styles of hooks, won some in giveaways, and others were kindly sent to me by online friends.

As I mentioned before I loved the wooden hooks, but they weren't practical for much of the work I did. So comfortable in my hand, I loved the way they fit. While friends had raved about the ergonomics of various flat handled hooks I found my hand and wrist wouldn't adjust to working with my modified knife hold and sent them on to new homes of people who clearly raved about how well they worked for them.

After trying various brands I did find a brand that finally allowed me to do thread work. I was thrilled. I worked on acquiring not just a complete set, but extras since it is always so easy to lose hooks, I wanted some for a travel kit, and I end up loaning them when people visit.

From this experience what I learned is try one of a brand you are interested in before buying a set. It is tempting to buy the set, especially when they are offering a really "good" sale. However, a sale is useless if you are never going to use the hooks. It is easy to get excited when everyone is talking about the latest hook and how much they enjoy using it. Trying one gives you the opportunity to evaluate and determine how it works for you. If it is indeed the dream hook set you've been waiting for another sale will emerge.

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