Many of you might be thinking of asking for a set of crochet hooks for Christmas this year. But how can you be sure that that investment is worthwhile and that you will love what you asked for?
Finding the right hook for you is a joy: your crocheting becomes smoother, faster and more even, the hook glides across the yarn and doesn't snag on every stitch, you can crochet for longer without getting niggling aches and pains.
Everybody crochets slightly differently and so different hooks will suit different ways of working as well as different hand sizes and shapes. Let's look at the anatomy of a crochet hook so we can discuss how to find the perfect one.
Different hooks have different shapes at the hook from very rounded to very sharp. The one that suits you depends partly on how you support your work as you crochet (ie do you stab the hook into your hand a little with each stitch) and the types of fibres you like to work with (eg cottons that split easily are better worked with a rounder point)
The angle and depth of the lip of the hook vary a lot from hook to hook. The angle to the work which you crochet at will determine what suits you best. A larger lip that is closer to the neck will let the yarn slip out of the hook less and your style of working will determine whether this is desirable or not. Lips can be rounded or sharp and this will have an effect on how the yarn glides over the hook and whether it snags in the same way as the point does.
The neck is the narrowed portion of the shaft. Look here at the length of it. To get consistent gauge your stitch needs to flow across the shaft not the neck so a long neck might affect your tension.
Again this is about length. If you have small hands a shorter shaft may be more comfortable but if you work a lot with bobbles and other textured stitches you will need a shaft long enough to accommodate all the loops comfortably.
These range from a smooth extension of the shaft to a soft grip handle with thumb rest and everywhere in between. Choosing the right handle is arguably the most important as it reduces strain in the wrist and fingers. The right handle will be determined by how you hold the hook, a pencil or a knife grip, and how large your hands are. If you use a knife grip, the handle will probably be more comfortable if it is short enough to fit across your palm.
So how do I choose?
Our best advice is to try a wide range out. Ask friends what they use and ask to borrow their different hooks for a test run, pop to our stand at a show where we always have a selection you can try before you buy, or order a small selection in the hook size you normally use.
Don't buy a whole set without having tried them out. Its much better to ask for a range of lots of different 4mm hooks for Christmas and then ask for the set for your birthday. Unloved hooks can always be sold on using ebay or ravelry, or hang onto them in case a change is as good as a rest or a yarn doesn't seem to be playing nicely with your preferred hook.