Crochet Hooks; the differences and which is best?

which is best?

From brand to brand, crochet hooks can vary greatly. If you’re baffled by this idea because aren’t all crochet hooks the same– a stick with a hooked end? Well, read on… Every individual portion of a crochet hook has multiple options available. This can be fantastic and fun if you’re new and just beginning your journey but it can also be frustrating if you’ve been struggling with stitches and just want to find a hook that feels better. With so many options out there. How do you choose? Let’s start at the beginning and walk through the differences of crochet hooks and discover which is best for you.

Crochet Hook Style

In-line vs. Tapered

Pinterest graphic of 2 different crochet hooks for Revel Crochet's blog post on the differences and which is best.

In-line hooks are very straight in their design. The hook is placed in line with the shank. The entire hook is the same circumference, except the throat area where it appears to be a slice or cut into a rod to create a hook. This is what gives the slit-like appearance and deeper hook. Notice in the top hook of the picture below, how everything falls within the gold lines. 

Now, take a look at the bottom hook. You can see that the head is shifted a bit off-center from the shaft of the hook and that the throat slopes or tapers into the shaft. The head and hook areas are a bit more rounded, and the depth of the hook is more shallow. 

These are the two main styles of crochet hooks. But what do these differences mean and how does it affect stitching? 

2 crochet hooks on white background showing the differences in styles.
Top: Bates, In-line; Bottom: Boye, Tapered

Crochet hook differences and which is best for you

Title graphic of lime green mug shaped like a fish full of various crochet hooks for Revel Crochet's blog post on the differences and which is best.

Having the right tools makes learning a new craft much easier. Not only easier, but more enjoyable.
If you’re just beginning, or if you have been stitching for a while and are struggling with your crochet hook not feeling comfortable or natural in your hand, it might be the style of hook you are using. 

Crochet hooks differences and which is best for you

Crochet hook differences

Learning about these few seemingly small differences in crochet hooks will help you to understand why one or the other could be the best option for you. Knowing the whats and whys could help to determine how to fix tight or loose stitching, how to possibly speed up your stitching, andor ease hand discomfort.

To better understand the differences, let’s begin by breaking down the anatomy of a crochet hook. I’ll be using this terminology in future posts, so these descriptions and diagrams will be helpful in knowing exactly what the words are referring to. 

Head Shaping

Head│Tip│Point – the very top of the hook; this is the portion that is first inserted into stitches. The head of the hook is either round or pointed or falls somewhere between. 

Drawn graphic of crochet hook labeled and detailed for showing hook head.

Each has their Pros & Cons. It is entirely up to the individual stitcher to determine which is which.
Let me explain.

A pointier head {see the Boye hook below (bottomdarker grey hook)} can make it easier to insert the hook into specific locations for stitch creation. 
The pointy head can also cause splitting of the yarn as the hook is inserted, most noticeable with multiple ply “soft yarns” (bamboo, for example).

A rounded head {see the Bates hook below (toplight grey hook)} can make it more difficult to insert the hook into tighter spaces when stitching.
The rounded head is less likely to split yarns when crocheting, this would be a good choice, especially if your goal is to be a fast stitcher or to work without looking. 

2 grey crochet hooks in showing the differences of in line vs tapered style.
Bates (top) Boye (bottom)

Side Note

Typically, you can count on one brand staying consistent in the head of their hook shaping across all sizes and manufacturing runs. Although, of course, not always. As you can see with the hooks below, the heads are different, with the rose (bottom) having a much rounder head than the pink (top). Both are Boye brand size L-8.00 mm, the rose is a new purchase and the pink I pulled from my supply stash and is several years old. I have reached out to Simplicity, the manufacturer of Boye brand, for insight. I will update if they get back with me.

Susan Bates brand hooks have also recently switched to a more rounded head stating, “We returned to the original, more rounded top of the hooks in response to consumer complaints that the heads had become too pointed and were splitting the yarn…” (used with permission from Ambassador Crochet)

Hook Shaping

Drawn graphic of crochet hook labeled and detailed for showing hook.

Hook│Mouth – the actual ‘hook’ portion of a crochet hook; used for grabbing yarn to pull through stitches.

Let’s refer to that picture again.
The hook can either be rounded and shallow {see the Boye hook below (bottomdarker grey hook)} or more wedgeslit-like and deep {see the Bates hook below (toplight grey hook)} or (again) fall somewhere between.

2 grey crochet hooks in showing the differences of in line vs tapered style.
Bates (top) Boye (bottom)

Yep, you guessed it, each quality is determined to be good or bad by the individual stitcher. 
Some like the deeper hook saying it is helpful in grabbing the yarn, making it easier to stitch without the loop falling off the hook.
While others feel the deep hook holds the yarn too tightly. This is the side I am on. I prefer the more shallow and rounded hook because, to me, it takes less hand movement to release the loops, allowing for faster stitching.        

Throat│Neck – this is the slanted│graduating portion of a crochet hook that is the transition from the hook│mouth into the rest of the body of the hook.

Drawn graphic of crochet hook labeled and detailed for showing hook throat.

Shaft│Shank – the area of the crochet hook where stitches are created and where the loops rest; the shank circumference is how the hook size is determined.

Drawn graphic of crochet hook labeled and detailed for showing hook shaft.

Grip│Thumb Rest – a small depression or flat area for thumb placement, not universal to all hooks.

Drawn graphic of crochet hook labeled and detailed for showing hook grip/thumb rest.

Handle – the remaining length of the hook used for holding and maneuvering the hook.

Drawn graphic of crochet hook labeled and detailed for showing hook handle.
8 different crochet hooks in a row showing the differences.
Left to Right: Knitter's Pride, Tulip, Boye (new), Bates, Turn of the Century, Boye (old), Furls, We Crochet

Hook shape is a funny thing.

Some people are loyalists to a brand and│or shape (like me), while others are indifferent and happily crochet with whichever hook is closest to them at the time.

Because I teach crochet at my local yarn store (LYS), I see hooks in many hands. It’s worth mentioning that how people hold their hook seems to influence which style of hook they prefer. Not always, of course, but from my observation, crocheters that stitch with a pencil grip either use the deeper hooks or tend to be able to use either style with no preference. While people who use a knife hold typically prefer the more shallow hook and have difficulty with the slant style hook. This is likely due to the different hand motions required by the stitching style. We’ll talk more about how you hold your hook in a bit.
For now, let’s continue with the anatomy details. 

Finally, which is best for you.

The Answer

Whew! That was quite a bit of information. 

I did a lot of “This is this & That is that” (🐠 okay, who said that in a Flounder voice from Little Mermaid? 🙋‍♀️), and then followed it all up with “it depends”. 

So, now you know all about crochet hooks and their differences, which is best?
Here’s the true answer: it doesn’t matter which hook you use, either in-line or tapered, and it doesn’t matter which holding style you stitch with.
What DOES matter is that you work in a way that is comfortable to you.

Statistically, crocheters use the style of hook and hold they learned their very first chain with. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try something new.
A lot of crochet movement is muscle memory, it may feel a bit awkward or even difficult to try another method at first, but if you’ve been struggling or have developed strain or fatigue, it could be worth it to push through the awkward feeling of a new hold to get to a place of more comfort. Change can be a good thing. 

The good news is that crochet hooks are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased for around $2 at most big box stores. If possible, pick up one of each to try. You may discover that it doesn’t make a difference to you or you might find one far easier than the other. 
My recommendation is that you try both styles before investing in a full set because it comes in your favorite color or purchasing a “high-end” and│or trendy hook because you see them in pretty pictures on instagram. 


Vanity Hooks ?

My truth: I have a very specific style of hook I prefer to use. I’ve been stitching with this kind of hook for over 30 years (yes, really!). Knowing what I like allows me to make the vanity purchases (when funds allow) of the so, so pretty red and pink hooks by Tulip. Again, it’s because I *know* they are a good fit for me. Do they work any better than my 2buck Boyes from Walmart? Nope.
Vanity hooks. They’re pretty. The do not make stitches better (hint: that’s what practice does).

That said, I *do* prefer to use my pretty hooks because, well, they’re pretty and I enjoy seeing them and having them in my hand. This is my craft, my hobby, and my work, I use them a lot. Maybe it’s silly, but it makes me happy to have them. 

And, the rest of the story on my preference to the Tulip hooks is that they have a little ergonomic handle on them. Oh boy…. more options. 🙃

Read more about the variations in ergonomic handles their benefits and hook materials HERE.

Tulip Etimo Red, scissors & tape measure are not included in set. Can be found in my Amazon store (linked).

A link to all tools I use can be found HERE (the red tape measure and scissors from above, included).

Tulip Etimo Red
Tulip Etimo Rose
Tulip Etimo Gold Set
Tulip Etimo

Crochet hooks differences and which is best for you

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Title graphic of multiple crochet hook heads in a column for Revel Crochet's blog post on the differences and which is best.

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