Tip Tuesday: Hook Brand vs. Gauge
Hook Sizes, Brands and Gauge
Did you know that not all crochet hooks of the same size will give you the same gauge in your project? One brand of crochet hook may give you a bigger or smaller gauge than a hook in the same size that’s made by a different company. For instance, my gauge is larger when I use a Laurel Hill crochet hook than it is when I use a Susan Bates crochet hook of the same size.
Stay True to Your Brand
Crochet hooks are not all created equal. Besides being made in different materials (such as wood, metal, or plastic), different brands have a different anatomy. Next to hook size, this is the biggest factor affecting gauge in your crocheted fabric.
Anatomical features affecting gauge:
• The head of the hook is larger in one brand than another.
• The throat tapers at a different rate in one hook brand than another.
• The shank has a different circumference from one brand to another.
Changes in gauge across brands can be a real problem if halfway through a project the crocheter switches to a hook from a different company. For a rectangular blanket, this shift might create a section that looks a bit like a trapezoid. And on a sweater, the results would be even more disastrous: half of it would fit perfectly while the other half could end up an entire size too big or small!
Tip: Use the same hook for the entire project. Either leave the hook with your project or write yourself a note that identifies brand as well as hook size. Some crochet patterns require multiple hook sizes. There are several reasons this may be done:
1) a project that has different elements, like a crocheted sweater with appliqué flowers, may call for different gauges for each element;
2) a project may use yarns of different weights which require different hook sizes;
3) a different hook size in the same project will create a different gauge to create shaping.
For example, Margaret Huber often uses this last reason: a smaller hook in the waist area creates shaping without having to change stitch count. It’s a neat trick, but again, it works best if you use the same brand of hooks for the entire project. Otherwise you may be adjusting your gauge too much or too little, and the section meant to have a slimming taper could taper too much or not enough. Two beautiful sweaters that create waist tapering by using different hook sizes are Margaret Hubert’s Perky Peplum Top in Vintage Crochet (a special issue of PieceWork magazine) and the Brave New Flower Shell in Interweave Crochet Spring 2015.
Tip: Use the same brand of crochet hooks when the project calls for multiple hook sizes. If you start the project with a Furls hook, for example, then use Furls hooks for every size the pattern calls for.
Finding Your Brand
For the first several years I crocheted, I had no idea that a hook’s anatomy impacted gauge. I thought all H/8/5.00mm hooks were pretty much the same and that they gave the same gauge. It felt like an epiphany when I learned that the heads and throats on crochet hooks are different from one brand to the next. And it was a real shocker to learn that my gauge changes from one brand of crochet hooks to the next.
So now you may be asking, “Which brand of crochet hooks is the best?” This is like asking which breed of dogs is the best or which of your kids you love the most. The “best” crochet hook is the one that works best for you. My recommendation is that you experiment with different brands of crochet hooks. Either buy or borrow hooks from your friends and make a project or two. Do you like something with a foam grip like those from Clover? Do you prefer a wood hook like those from ChiaoGoo or Deborah Norville? Maybe you want an ergonomic hook like those from Skacel. Or maybe a metal hook like those from Boye or Susan Bates is more to your liking.
At the end of the day, the brand of hook you use is less important than consistently using the same hook or brand throughout a project. You’ll be much happier with your finished project knowing that your hook delivers the result you expect.