Today I’m bringing you the first lesson in my beginner’s crochet series!
There are LOTS of crochet videos and websites that show how to do the stitches and all that, but I’m taking you from square one in case you haven’t had experience around crochet, knitting, or any other needle craft.
In a future video I’ll take you to the craft store (hello comfort zone) and show what options are widely available. Even Walmart has crochet hooks and yarn. Of course you can get everything online also.
There are sellers on Etsy who customize hooks with polymer clay in all kinds of different shapes and characters. I have resisted them thus far, but they just keep getting cuter and cuter!
You absolutely DO NOT have to spend a lot of money on hooks, more expensive doesn’t mean better quality (yarn is a different story, but that’s the topic of the next lesson). A single hook is less than $3 or $4 for a basic one.
(psssst, if you want to skip to exactly what you need to know, scroll down to the bottom of the post! You can read the rest later if it seems like TMI right now).
Let me show you my favorite brand.
The brand I use 90% of the time is Boye. They are very inexpensive, I’ve never had to replace one, and they are easy to use. The shape of these make them easy for a beginner. If you can see the very end of the hook part, they are slightly pointy. This makes it easier to put the hook where it needs to go.
They come in a multitude of different sizes, I’ll get to that in a second.
The other most common brand is Susan Bates.
Not sure if you can tell the difference between those and the Boye hooks from those pictures. (I’ll show this much better in the video). Guys I had to research the difference between these because I have always used Boye because that’s what my grandma uses…
These are more blunt and rounded at the top. So the top is the same diameter as the rest of the hook. This is actually GREAT for beginners, why didn’t I think of this before. Later I’ll be discussing the importance of tension (how tight you hold the yarn) so having all parts of the hook the same size will help. Just trust me.
There are of course lots more brands of hooks, but these two are the ones you’ll always find at stores like Walmart, Joann, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc.
Those stores generally also have hooks with rubbery grips which do cost a bit more and are definitely not necessary just starting out. But they are worth the investment if you see yourself doing a lot of crocheting in the future. I only have one rubbery one in the size I use to make dolls (size F if you’re curious) because the small hook hurts my thumb after a bit. Also great if you have sweaty hands.
Let’s talk about hook materials for a second.
The most common is aluminum. They are light weight, cheap, and the yarn glides over them smoothly. Just make sure you get the shiny ones. I have a few that look kinda dull and they don’t play nice with the yarn.
The second most popular/widely available is plastic. I have maybe 2 or 3 plastic hooks. These are unpleasant (in my opinion) because they squeak, especially with acrylic yarn. I don’t know why, but they do. The only benefit to plastic hooks is they’re the cheapest ones to use with HUGE yarn, or even more than one strand at a time. The aluminum ones don’t come in very big sizes.
You can also find hooks made of wood. These also are good for the bigger sizes but can be super expensive. They’re definitely not available at any chain stores, but some Etsy sellers make them and some smaller yarn shops. However, I have found hooks that are aluminum with wooden/bamboo handles which are good for arthritis and such, as they heat up in your hand.
The last material I’m aware of is steel. You’ll only find steel hooks in SUPER TINY sizes, like for crocheting with embroidery thread or regular sewing thread (Google micro crochet if you wanna know how that is possible). I strongly suggest you do not use these as a beginner.
Now onto the different sizes.
Don’t get caught up in the numbers and all that. If you’re in the US, hooks are referred to by their letter. If you happen across a pattern from a different country, just check the millimeters. All hooks will have the letter and millimeters either on the flat part in the middle (thumb rest) or on the end. That picture doesn’t show every single size but you get the idea.
For your first hook(s) I would go with one between H and K (so H, I, J, or K). Any smaller or larger will be difficult to work with. If you’re interested in amigurumi, go ahead and get F and G. Hook sets usually include from D to K so getting a set would be the best value. You really only need one to start with though. Totally up to you if you want to go ahead and invest in a set or not.
Why are different sizes important?
The size of the hook directly relates to the size of yarn you should use with it. It also affects how tight the stitches are. I like to relate it to painting, if you want to paint a small surface, you would use a small paint brush. If you want to paint a large surface, you would use a large paint brush. The bigger the hook, the looser the stitches will be. The smaller the hook, the tighter the stitches will be.
Items like blankets and scarves would use larger hooks (maybe I and above), while amigurumi, dolls, etc would use smaller hooks (between D and H, personally I use F but it depends how tightly you hold the yarn). Then for doilies and things like that, you would use the small steel hooks.
There really is no “right or wrong” with picking hook sizes, it just will affect the feel and look of your finished piece. Obviously though you want to make sure the yarn fits in the hook part!
Some patterns will specify what “gauge” you need. If you’re making something that needs to be a specific size, such as a sweater or hat, it will help you pick the right size hook for the project. Do not worry about that right now, totally not important, I’ll explain in a much later post.
And all yarns will have a suggested hook size on the label. This is helpful if you get a type of yarn you’ve never used before.
I will definitely explain all this better in the video and show you actual hooks and how they look side by side. And if I can remember, I will make simple squares with a bunch of different sizes so you can see what it does to the finished piece.
If you didn’t want to read alllllll that, here’s what you need to know.
For now just starting out, you’ll want an aluminum crochet hook, either size H, I, J, or K. You can get a set if you want, but totally not necessary at the moment. That’s what I’ll be using in the following videos.
Thank you for reading this far, I really hope I didn’t scare you away! It seems like a lot of stuff to remember when it’s all written out like that, but you can always refer back to this post later on.
Check out the video also, hopefully I can find all of my hooks to show you…. it would make too much sense to keep them in a centralized location.
We’ll be talking about yarn next, then I’ll take you to the craft store!
Please leave a comment below if you have any questions, or any suggestions for future topics! You can receive email notification whenever I make a new post, just put your email address in the form at the top right of the page! 🙂
With love and yarn,
Note: This post was originally published on my previous blog A-Street Crochet. I simply copy-and-pasted it here so that it was accessible to anyone visiting Cruelty-Free Stitchery.