What Gripes Me (Crochet Hook Shapes) – Crochet Ruminations


The inconsistency of the shaft and work space issue is exactly what gripes me about many hooks being sold on the market today, and it’s present in wood hooks as well a metal. When I give lectures/demos about hooks, I talk about this. That widening of the shaft causes a lack of consistency in the stitch loops, which besides causing strain on your hand, also causes changes to your stitch appearance.

I don’t know why this is happening in hook-making today, but I suspect it has to do with the time involved in making the hooks and in the case of metal hooks, strength. (And perhaps lack of knowledge?) So many of the older hooks I find are just better made. The quality of the metal is better. My favorites metal hooks have hand-machined and cut heads. The shafts are strong and they will flex, not snap or permanently bend like modern hooks will.

And you know what it reminds me of? How good knives and swords are made.  Good knives and swords are strong and will flex with pressure, but not break. And especially in miniature crochet, we put a lot of torque on those hooks.

Perhaps part of all this points to the possibility that metalsmithing and true metallurgical knowledge is not what really goes into our metal tools anymore?  

What about you?  I’m intrigued to know.  What quirks do you notice about crochet tools that get under your skin? And what can we do about it?


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14 Comments

Filed under Crochet Education, Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, Random Thoughts

14 responses to “What Gripes Me (Crochet Hook Shapes) – Crochet Ruminations

  1. What gets me is the cushion grips on some manufacturers’ hooks. After a while the metal hook tends to loosen up and there’s slight movement between the hook and the grip. Also I loved Addi’s hooks (not the Swings, I adore those), the metal hook would actually COME APART from the plastic (non-cushioned, mind you) handle.

    Now the Swing hooks I adore. Love them. Good for a majority of hooking uses; however, for stitches like bullions or double trebels or quad-trebels etc, or essentially any stitch with a lot of yarn overs, the Swings are not good because the shaft isn’t long enough.

    What bothers me about some of the wood hooks is how some of them are TOO hooky (where the yarn actually catches on the hook) or in the case of Clover soft touch (not to be confused with the Amours) they aren’t hooky ENOUGH. In either case, both hook types end up causing delays in overall hooking/project completion time, due to slowing down to deal with slippage or snags.

    That being said, If I had to pick ONE hook for every single possible need, I cannot go wrong with a Bates or Silvalume. I can do smaller tunisian entrelac projects using a basic Bates hook, I can use any type of yarn without fail.

    But for garment work, I find for myself, my Etimos, or Clover Amours, or Addi Swings work just fine.

  2. That is a lot of really detailed and helpful information Maven! I wish you were here so I could take photos of your hooks and what you are describing!

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  4. sofablue

    I prefer Susan Bates, too. The finger rest is closer to the head and the head has a good size consistency, unless you are talking very large or very small, then all the heads are the same. Any of the hooks that are “ergonomic” are a problem for a knife style holder like me. There are some good bamboo hooks out there.

  5. Carmel

    Maven, I have a 6mm Addi Swing hook for sale- I love the shape but it’s not proportioned correctly for my tiny hand.

    My main gripe is that with all these great attempts at ergonomic shapes and materials, the handle still gets narrower with the smaller hooks. One of the reasons I want the special handle is preventing the strain from holding a small hook for so long, and yet the special handles on the smaller hooks are still smaller than the ones on the bigger hooks!

    The hooks I go to are either my Tulip Etimo hooks (also with the shrinking handles, but they glide soooo nice) and Clover’s plain bamboo hooks (when I can find them).

  6. Amy

    I agree with you, Julia about the widening of the shaft of the hook. Why do they do that? I’d love Laurel Hills if it wasn’t for that. The other thing that gripes me is that a lot of the hooks on the market shape the head similar to Boye hooks – blunt and rounded. I prefer the Bates style, not only because it’s inline, but also because it’s pointed and the lip/chin is nicely tapered. I really haven’t found this shape in any other commercially made hook that I’ve seen.

  7. My main hook gripe has to do with the larger diameter sized hooks – around 8mm and up. The neck or shaft of the hook is important – it is where the loops are made for consistent sizing of the stitches. However, hook manufacturers have it in their collective heads that total length of the hook must be absolutely the same regardless of the diameter of the hook, and as the hook diameter size increases, the neck or shaft of the hook shrinks to a point where a stitcher is lucky to have room for one correctly sized loop on the hook itself. So much of the space needed for the shaft is gobbled up between the length of the throat on the hook and the thumbrest that these hooks are almost useless.

    The hooks I turn toward using the most are my Tulip Etimos, mostly because the shaft size is pretty consistent. I’m also a fan of my Kollage square-handled hooks, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they can start producing them again here in the US.

    • That’s a really good point Laura! I’m redoing some hooks for someone (she’s given me permission to blog of about them, so it won’t be long before I compile a post on it) that don’t have the bowl necessary for the larger size they supposedly are. It does make you think a bunch of people who don’t crochet are making our hooks. :/

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  10. Steve

    I am a toolmaker and I have it in my head to make some crochet hooks for the ladies in my life.

    I was interested you read your words here and the reply, but wish I could have a conversation about what is important in a hook’s shape.

    Crochet hooks at local fabric stores seem to vary all over the place, and it looks like a lot of the differences are due to poor workmanship rather than by design, at least to my toolmaker’s eye.

    I have 7 axis machines in my machine shop and I can make most any shape with clever programming. My trouble is figuring out what is important in a crochet hook. If you have some time to school me in this, I’m happy to send one when I am done for your use and critque. Or perhaps you have some links to the proper geometry for crochet hooks?
    Thanks
    skm
    smitchel@bnin.net

    • Hello Steve,

      Thanks so much for your query. The answer is not a simplistic one. It’s not even always easy to explain to someone who crochets, without the use of visual aids and comparisons. When I create hooks for people, I do a lot of listening and watching. What goes into making a good hook involves more than just hook shape, but also takes into consideration fibers, hand shapes, muscle memory and variations in crochet techniques. As to the hooks at the store, differences in shapes have more to do with patents and branding design. But what makes them good or bad is often the quality of how those shapes are rendered. A lot of us find issues with hooks that are cast. Of the wood ones, I’ve seen OK shapes that aren’t finished well, or really bad shapes that have ok finishes. It’s a toss up. There’s only so much attention to detail and polishing we seem to get anymore out of mass produced hooks from cheap facilities.

      As to important considerations to hook making, the best way I can help you more immediately is to have you read my articles in Interweave Crochet. I recently published two fairly comprehensive articles for them, complete with detailed photos. You can find the first article on crochet hook shapes in the Winter 2013 issue, including the use of different shapes for different crocheters. The second article is on hand holds (which also becomes important to hook shape) and can be found in the Spring 2014 issue. Both articles are detailed, organized and full of photos that I think will be of great use to you. (You can order back issues or get them in digital format or borrow from one of your crochet friends.)

      Beyond the Basics: Know Your Craft, Know Your Hands, pg 50 – by Julia M. Chambers – Interweave Crochet Magazine, Spring 2014

      Beyond the Basics: Be Captain of Your Hooks, pg 54 – by Julia M. Chambers – Interweave Crochet Magazine, Fall 2013

      I hope this helps and that you will share your results! :)

      Blessings,
      Julia

      • Steve

        Sure, I’ll share, whatever I come up with.

        When a crochet hook says 4mm, for example, what are they measuring? The size of the round shank behind the head? Can’t be the head, as it is narrower one way and (not-inline at least) bigger the other way.
        Is it something to do with the size of loops it makes?

        Also, the shape of the neck (below the head). It can easily be a cone, optionally centered on the shank
        or “bent” on an angled axis at the base of the neck, or other shapes such as oval, or the subtraction of two cylinders, a couple degrees offset at the bottom of the neck, forming a cross section of a football shape. which if cast, or lightly deburred, can result in a largely oval cross section. Or could it be that crocheters want the neck to have a largely round shape?

        The length of the neck is another dimension that I have seen vary wildly. some, especially wooden hooks, have a very short gash to create the inside of the hook and very quickly become the diameter of the shank, others are twice as long and there is a long transition between the head and shank. Maybe that is a relative dimension to the diameter? Is there a ratio of diameter to neck length that works best? I can see that a different transition length here can change the consistency of stitches.

        I will follow the kinks you suggested to learn more.
        Steve Mitchell

        • Hey Steve,

          The size of a hook should be the measurement of what’s called the throat and sometimes shaft area. Here’s a link to my crochet hook anatomy chart. https://aberrantcrochet.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/aberrant_crochet_hook_anatomy_smaller.png. You will find this and more graphics in those printed articles I mentioned, which I think will be the most help to you.

          The throat is the work area of a crochet hook. There are technical reasons to have crochet hook heads that are smaller or larger than the throat. And in general you will find that crocheters will prefer one or another largely due to the way they use their hands and secondly due to the type of fiber or technique they are using. (For instance, miniature and lace work will almost always have tiny heads vs. throats and shafts.) And bullion hooks need smaller beak-like heads in order to do what they do best, make flawless bullions.

          In the U.S., we tend to have the typical “Bates v.s Boye” discussions, because they are significantly different and the most common shapes available to us. It is also because Bates is inline and Boye is not. A hook that is “inline” has a head that is in line with the shaft of the hook. Boye on the other hand has a different patented design. A Boye hook tapers drastically to the neck and head and then expands out to a bulbous head which is designed to make up for the drastic slope, but also hangs onto stitches more in many types of stitches and techniques. And Boye heads stick out further from the shaft, making them not in line with it. Bate and Boye are not better or worse than one another, but they are different and they are arguably better than the other for certain tasks or hand positions.

          As to what crocheters want – largely they want a smooth surface to work with that won’t damage fibers or tire out hands as easily. But they also want a tool that can manipulate stitches well; hang onto stitches through loops, release stitches when done. And the yarn needs to flow through the bowl easily. Some crocheters like a pointy head and some like them rounder. However, too round with no point makes it more difficult to insert the hook into a stitch. Same with the bowl, some like it deep and round, some like it shallow and wedge-like. And some like short throats and some like long. I prefer long throats because I think it makes my stitches more consistent. But I’m also a chopt-stick hold crocheter. Some overhand crocheters do not like long throats.

          So basically, if you’re wanting to custom make hooks as perfectly as possible, it would probably be best to sit down and watch how your crocheters are actually using their tools.

          It’s difficult to explain all this over text alone, but see if you can get a hold of those articles I mentioned and see if they don’t answer a lot of your questions. I wish I could post the articles here for you, but I cannot. Those rights belong to Interweave. If you are in the Austin area, I’d certainly be happy to sit down with you over coffee sometime and show you my collection of hooks, compare their shapes and explain their quirks and uses.

          Blessings,
          Julia

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