Types of Crochet Hook Materials
The materials used to make a hook can affect your hands and your fibers. Here is a look at the primary materials used to make hooks, with their pros and cons.
When weighing the cost of a hook, consider how the investment pays off beyond the initial outlay. If you spend a great deal of time crocheting, choose the tool that works best with your crochet style. A hook that is kind to your wrist and hands is totally worth the investment, and is a small price compared with the cost of physical therapy, in addition to the loss of time crocheting (which many of us see as mental therapy).
PROS: Plastic hooks are inexpensive and do not rust. They are economical to replace. They have a bit of flex, making them forgiving to hands. Plastic hooks are available in very large sizes. Plastic is fairly easy to sand, stipple, or otherwise modify if desired.
CONS: Plastics cause both static and friction, which affect fibers and strain your hands over time, particularly when crocheting with a plastic-derived yarn; “plastic on plastic” creates a vibration that can be felt through the hook, radiating into your joints. Depending on the level of friction created, a plastic hook can mildly felt fibers. Plastic hooks are not available in very small sizes.
PROS: Metal hooks are strong and long lasting, with consistency in shape and size. Created by forging, casting, or hand-cutting, metal is the least brittle of hook materials; dropping or sitting on metal hooks usually will not damage them. Well-made metal hooks are smooth to work with. Metal is useful for making very tiny, strong hooks.
CONS: Metal hooks are less forgiving to sore or injured hands and wrists because most are inflexible (although some antique metal hooks are forged with a spring flex in them). Length is limited; most commercially available metal hooks in the United States are 5.5 inches or shorter. (Note that length and flexibility restrictions can be mitigated by adding padding or a handle.) Metal hooks are susceptible to rust if they are not stored properly. Some metals react to each other if the hooks are not kept separated. Metal hooks are not impervious to damage, and they are not easily repaired.
Unbuffed metal, especially in the lip and bowl area, can damage fibers, a particular hazard when crocheting lace and miniatures. Some lace workers find that modern hooks lack strength and quality, so they seek out antiques; many tiny antique crochet hooks were forged but have hand-cut heads, and others were shaped by bending or beating into shape.
PROS: Glass hooks offer a sleek, smooth work surface, allowing increased speed and less stress and strain on hands and joints. A glass hook can be custom-made for your hand.
CONS: Glass hooks can break and broken glass can cut; this is not the kind of hook you want to accidentally sit on. Glass hooks cannot be easily modified or repaired.
PROS: Bamboo, a type of grass, is an economical, highly renewable resource. It provides flexible comfort with a polished surface.
CONS: Bamboo quality varies; some pieces splinter more. Bamboo does not lend itself to smaller sizes. Bamboo’s fibers do not adhere to one another, so the hook may not bear up to the torque, pivot, and pressure of crocheting. The smaller the hook, the more likely it will break in the neck and throat. Bamboo hooks are not easily modified, though some mars can be buffed.
PROS: Wood, a naturally flexible and strong substance, is the most forgiving and comfortable material to the human hand. Wood can be buffed to a buttery smooth surface that holds up over time and use; the smoother the surface of the hook, the less strain on fibers and hands. The size and shape of wood hooks can be easily modified. There are many types of wood, with varying qualities, but in general, harder woods are best for crochet hooks.
CONS: Wood hooks are susceptible to moisture; they should be seasoned properly to retain strength. A rough finish can snag fibers. A wood hook can be made only so small before it becomes too brittle to work with. Smaller hooks must be made with harder woods to withstand the energy put into them during use. Wood hooks, especially in the harder woods, can be expensive.
Featured Image: Hook into some love with your next project! Multiple crochet hooks keep company with a handful of knitting needles in this composition by Lisa Guiterrez (Getty Images).
JULIA M. CHAMBERS is a blogger and lifelong crocheter from Texas who has a passion for crochet hook anatomy. You can find her blog at www.aberrantcrochet.wordpress.com.
Get Your Hook On!