How to Hold a Crochet Hook

It was with abject horror that I learned my twin sister, Deborah Bagley, and I hold our crochet hooks differently. I know that sounds extreme. Why the shock? Our grandmother distinctly instructed us that there was a right way and wrong way. She taught us how to hold a hook properly; therefore, why would one of us knowingly hold it the wrong way?

crochet hook

Knife vs Pencil Hold

Crocheters generally hold their hooks in one of two ways: like a pencil or like a knife. Enter the twins: one of us holds the hook like a pencil, with the hook pinched near the head between the thumb and index finger resting on the middle finger and the back of the hook resting on the skin at the base of the thumb and index finger. The other holds the hook like a knife, overhand, with the hook pinched between the thumb and the pads of all the other fingers.

Pictured with the Quirky Crochet Hooks, Deborah (right) with the Here Comes Treble hook held like a knife and me (left) with the Granny Life hook held like a pencil.

Our Mother Weighs In

Our mother was there when we learned how to crochet. I thought perhaps she could help correct the misguided sister. When I asked her if she holds her hook like a pencil or a knife, my mother’s answer was—both ways. Really? How is that possible? I watched her crochet and, sure enough, she starts her stitch with a pencil hold, pauses, and adjusts her hand to finish the stitch with a knife hold. Her unique style gives her a looser gauge, but her stitches are uniform and her projects always turn out great.

The Right Way to Hold a Crochet Hook

Since my mom did not tilt the scale toward one way or another, I decided to do some more research on the right way to hold the hook. I am a little bit competitive, so while knowing which of us is right is not really that important, I still had to know.

I found my answer in the article “Know Your Craft: Know Your Hands” by Julia M. Chambers from Interweave Crochet Spring 2014. She explores 6 of the most popular holds in detail, including variatons on the pencil and knife options. And both holds are acceptable. In fact, whatever way feels most comfortable and natural is the way you should hold your hook.

Our Grandmother Settles the Debate

Knowing that there is no right or wrong way to hold the hook, it shouldn’t matter to me that my sister and I hold our hooks differently. But out of curiosity, I did give my grandmother a call to find out how she held her crochet hook. She was an avid crocheter most of her life, stopping only when she lost her eyesight. Her answer? Drum roll, please . . . like a pencil.

Yahoo! Drop the party balloons! I hold my hook the right way and my sister is wrong. Okay, so it still doesn’t matter, I tell myself. All it really means is that I hold my hook in the tradition of my grandmother. And to be perfectly honest, I sometimes hold my hook like a knife; particularly when I’m crocheting the loops stitch or Clones lace.

It’s fun to see how others hold their hook and compare notes. How do you hold your crochet hook: like a pencil, a knife, or some other way? Leave me a comment below.

Yours with the pencil grip,


Quirky Hooks & Projects for You!



  1. Dawn P at 6:13 am April 10, 2017

    Since I began using Furls hooks, I now use the knife hold. What a difference in how my wrist feels! Thank you Furls hooks!

    • Eleanor V at 12:32 pm April 10, 2017

      I can’t remember when I learned to crochet, but probably am self-taught. I’ve seen pictures on how to hold a crochet hook and I can’t use the ‘correct’ hold. The pics show the long finger extended along the shaft. I use the knife hold as I am unable to do the pencil hold due to arthritis. I am probably not holding the hook correctly even yet as I eventually get aches in my shoulder of my right hand. I really want to learn continental crochet because the yarn is held differently. (I currently do the ‘throw’ method. Same for knitting.) I have to learn the continental method for knitting which is on the DVD I bought recently.
      Eleanor V

  2. Naomi G at 6:22 am April 10, 2017

    My grandmother taught me to crochet with thread making lace edges on hankies very long ago. I only knew the pencil style. We didn’t crochet yarn then only knitted it. However, when I began to use yarn I automatically used the knife hold.

  3. Lisa S at 6:32 am April 10, 2017

    Knife hold! I used to think that being a lefty had something to do with it, but then I realized that my grandmother held hers like a pencil and she is a lefty too!

  4. martha h at 6:33 am April 10, 2017

    I taught myself to crochet so I choose the pencil hold as I have short stubby fingers and this was the easiest for me to hold. Now that I have arthritis in my fingers I sometimes use the knife hold. Not as easy to use this method as it feels really awkward. But I love to crochet and I guess I will do it until my fingers fall off….lol…..

    • Kathleen S at 10:04 am April 10, 2017

      I use the pencil grip but much more relaxed that the photos above. My index finger lies along the length. The hook is held very lightly and my hand never gets tired.
      I can’t bear bulky hooks like the Furls. Much too clumpy for me.

  5. Yvonne D at 7:43 am April 10, 2017

    This article was interesting but none really apply to me. I’m 69 and way back when I was 18-years-old I decided I would like to learn to crochet. I had no one at the time that could teach me. I knitted and had for many years because that is what my mother did and we were taught that in school (in England). I found one small and fine crochet hook that had belonged to my deceased grandmother and figured I could do this. I could only use fine thread with this hook and the task was hard but enjoyable and fulfilling. One problem I didn’t realized existed was the correct way to hold hook and yarn. I just carried on in the same position I used for my knitting and it worked. Yarn is held like a pencil grip but my yarn is also in that same hand, wrapped around my fingers, just like a person who knits. Hey, it works for me and I have even taught other people to crochet too. I do always tell them that this is not the correct position, but I can and do show them the correct way but just don’t like using it myself after all these years. My work comes out good and people have been pleased with the many things I’ve made over the years.

    • Yvonne D at 5:11 am April 11, 2017

      Sorry, I meant hook is held like a pencil and yarn wrapped around my fingers (for tension)

  6. Ruth C at 7:46 am April 10, 2017

    There is no right or wrong way to hold your hook, why are you perpetuating this argument and making people feel bad for what is right for them?

    • Emily Y at 9:00 am April 10, 2017

      She already said there was no right or wrong way. Don’t get so bent out of shape!

  7. Victoria G at 7:48 am April 10, 2017

    I taught myself to crochet too, and somehow I made the connection in my mind that crocheting is just like doing a latch hook rug, so I hold my hook as if I was holding a latch hook: all fingers gripping the hook, and index used for guidance occasionally only.

  8. Anne H at 8:51 am April 10, 2017

    Knife hold. My older sister taught me how to crochet when I was 40, but I don’t remember if she taught me a certain hold. Also, I am left-handed, but I hold the hook in my right hand – after all, both hands have to be used.

  9. Emily Y at 9:02 am April 10, 2017

    I have always held mine like a pencil. I found it very interesting when watching how-to videos the different ways I saw people holding their hooks.

  10. Sandra G at 9:03 am April 10, 2017

    I picked up crocheting about 8 years ago. Since a child, I could always chain but never knew where to go from there. My grandmother and youngest aunt crochet and it must have been one of them that taught me to chain. Anyway, by my late teens I started picking up other crafts like Swedish weave, sewing, then by my late twenties, cross stitch and by my thirties, beading ornaments and then jewelry. Sometime along there, I sat down (before my first born came along about 28 years ago) with my only G hook from childhood (which I still have) and fiddled around with it. I managed to create miniature stockings for my Christmas tree. Took me years to realize I was doing a slip stitch, but, hey, it worked. Just happy I could do more than a chain. But, I could never go beyond this as I could not read crochet lingo. So, I tackled other crafts. It wasn’t until 8 or so years ago I finally decided it was time to learn to crochet. I bought a DVD and have been crazy with it ever since even to the point of adding Tunisian and now, learning to knit.

    It wasn’t until 3 years ago, however, when I met another crocheter that I ever thought I may be doing it all wrong. She made fun of the way I held my hook. She’s an older lady and all I could think of was she must be right. I was quite embarrassed and after she left, I did some research on the web. To my wonderful surprise, I discovered there are 6 different ways (probably more but 6 are accounted for) to hold a crochet hook. I brought this to her attention and she was surprised, as well. Now, after reading the others commenting here I feel even more vindicated since most are also knife holders, Yeah!! She is a pencil holder and even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s just not right to make someone else feel bad because they don’t do it your way. I did try to hold my hook like she did and just cannot do it. It’s like being left handed or right handed. We are who we are. Do what’s comfortable and it’ll all work out. She did tell me later that my knife hold helped her with a project she was working on that required a much bigger hook. Yep, it all works out.

    I’m happy where I am in all I’ve learned to do and still learning to do. I even get to sell some of the things I make (I must be doing something right). It’s all fun and I get to meet a lot of wonderful people and even inspire some to try something new.

  11. Rebecca E at 9:06 am April 10, 2017

    As a child and teen, during visits to Michigan, I was entranced by and would sit next to my Aunt June, so I could watch her crochet – at warp speed. She rarely looked at her work, but would slow down to show me a stitch or pattern within a project. She held her hook like a pencil and I recall that the movement she made into stitches was a bit of a “scooping” motion. Fast forward a few years. I married at 21 and we moved into a 4 room apartment, which was at the top of an old Victorian house. Our neighbors downstairs were a family of 4 and the wife, Ruth, crocheted like there was no tomorrow. I asked if she would teach me and that’s where it all started. During our first session together, she told me, “I’m going to teach you the German way to hold a crochet hook. I’m German and learned from my mother (who happened to be our next door neighbor). On that side of my family, we all crochet holding our hooks in the German way.” Turns out this is like a knife, but not quite like the photo above. We truly caress the hook. It would be interesting to address how we assist creation of our fabric with our other fingers. For instance: I don’t know how this developed, but I use the index finger of my right/hook finger to help ease the new loop onto the hook in one fluid motion. There are probably countless motions our fingers do all in concert with eachother to make our fabrics. I’ve noticed the same when I knit Continental.

  12. Sandra B at 9:29 am April 10, 2017

    I hold mine like a pencil. But if my wrist is hurting, I’ll wear my brace and stick the hook down the brace to hold it. LOL! Like I always say, if there’s a will there’s a way! I love to crochet and I won’t let something like a brace stand in my way.

  13. Malynda A at 9:33 am April 10, 2017

    I learned to crochet as a young mother and naturally held my hook like a pencil. I’m left-handed, so just did my best learning from a right-handed teacher. Years later, I learned to knit. I quickly figured out that I could knit comfortably for a long time, but after a short period of crocheting, my wrist hurt. I started to pay attention to the differences in how I used my crochet hook vs. my knitting needles.

    I found that I held my knitting needles more like the knife hold above. I tried crocheting this way and the pain went away. It was awkward at first, but after a long project of straight single crochet to practice and adjust to the knife-type hold (where my wrist was straight with my arm, like playing the piano), I dropped the pencil hold, which caused my wrist to bend and cause pain.

    Now, strangely enough, I find it difficult, if not impossible to crochet with the pencil hold.

  14. Kathleen S at 10:08 am April 10, 2017

    Sorry – it seems I have inadvertently ‘replied’ to someone else’s comment.
    I’ll post it again here! 🙂

  15. Kathleen S at 10:09 am April 10, 2017

    I use the pencil grip but much more relaxed that the photos above. My index finger lies along the length. The hook is held very lightly and my hand never gets tired.
    I can’t bear bulky hooks like the Furls. Much too clumpy for me.

  16. Laura M at 10:56 am April 10, 2017

    The knife hold keeps your wrist in a neutral position, meaning you can crochet longer before having to rest your wrist. I learned this when I had to wear splints for wrist stress many years ago. Yeah, I even crocheted a little in the splints, but then I had to take more breaks.

  17. Marty M at 2:06 pm April 10, 2017

    My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 5 years old, and I use the pencil hold most of the time. When I am working with bulky yarn, though, I’ll sometimes change to the knife hold. I find that the pencil hold gives me more control of the hook – I don’t have to twist and turn my wrist to make the stitch. But a lot of the control and “movement” or lack of “movement” is connected to how one holds the yarn. I wind it around the fingers of my left hand, with the forefinger raised, and when I insert my hook into a stitch, I just move my forefinger a little so the yarn is wrapped over the hook, and that’s that. There’s very little movement – saves my wrist!

  18. Rosemary D at 3:08 pm April 10, 2017

    Nearly fifty years ago I watched a lady crochet a granny square and went home and taught myself to do it. I held my hook like a pencil for years, but always had dents in my fingers from crocheting so much. I went to a workshop on free form crochet and the teacher said her Mum was being operated on as she spoke, to remove burrs on her finger bones. They was caused by the way she held her crochet hook – pencil-wise. I went home and taught myself to hold the hook knife-wise. I find I can crochet much quicker, and I don’t get sore dents on my fingers!

  19. Janet F at 4:52 pm April 10, 2017

    I have been crocheting for more than 60 years. I use both methods to hold my hook. It all depends on the size of the hook I’m holding. All sizes up to size M I use the pencil method. Above size M I use the knife method. There is NO RIGHT or WRONG way to hold your hook. The right way is the way that works correctly for you. I have a friend who holds her hook and yarn in the same hand. It blew my mind the first time I saw her method; but it works for her and she can crochet faster and better than my with her method.

    Please don’t tell a person who is just learning that they are holding their hook wrong. Though I never said that to a new’be I have encountered a couple of people who quit trying to learn because someone used the word “WRONG”.

    Go for it! Learn to crochet and enjoy.

  20. Clare S at 8:33 pm April 10, 2017

    I’m a lefty and absolutely adamant about it. 🙂 My grandmother taught me me how to crochet when I was 9 (many years ago). She passed away 13 years ago at the age of 94. Every time I pick up a crochet hook like a knife, I thank her for teaching me to do it right handed. Not only has it made it easier when reading patterns but it’s also made me more ambidextrous.

  21. Dyan M at 6:13 pm April 14, 2017

    I’m a lefty and I have always used the pencil grip. I was taught this way as you use your fingers (on the flattened finger grip areas) to move the hook back and forth keeping the wrist straighter while twisting the whole lower arm.
    This alleviates the strain and repetitive motion from the wrist.
    I have friends who use the knife grip and they had to stop crocheting due to RSI and carpel tunnel problems from overusing their wrists.
    Sometimes there’s a reason you don’t try to teach granny how to suck eggs, their methods have been tried and tested (and passed down) from a lot of years of experience.
    It does come down to personal preference but I think it’s the wrist action that needs the attention to prevent fatigue and injury.

  22. Dyan M at 6:55 pm April 14, 2017

    Hi again,
    As a p.s. Having said that I’m a lefty I live in a majority R.handed world and have had to become pretty much ambidextrous. When I have to use the hook right handed ( some patterns are too hard to transpose) I seem to instinctively grab it overhand,lol.
    The pencil grip in the image above with the bent wrist and what looks like a death grip on the end of the hook makes me wince!

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