Crochet Hooks; the differences and which is best?

Crochet hooks differences and which is best
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If the Bates vs Boye debate baffles you, read on. There is much discussion among crocheters as to which hook style is better. Let’s walk through the differences of crochet hooks and discover which is best for you.

Bates (top) Boye (bottom)

Having the right tools makes learning a new craft much easier. Not only easier, but more enjoyable.
If you’re just beginning, or 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. 

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. It could be as significant as easing hand pain or as minor as adding a few stitches per minute.

Crochet hooks differences and which is best for you

For a quick rundown of crochet hook anatomy, go HERE or keep reading for more detailed 

Left to Right: Knitter's Pride, Tulip, Boye (new), Bates, Turn of the Century, Boye (old), Furls, We Crochet

Crochet hooks differences and which is best for you

Crochet hook differences

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. 

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

A pointier head 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 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. 

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

Let’s refer to that picture from the top, again.

Bates (top) Boye (bottom)

Hook│Mouth – the actual ‘hook’ portion of a crochet hook; used for grabbing yarn to pull through stitches. The hook can either be rounded and shallow {see the Boye hook above (bottom hook)} or more wedgeslit-like and deep {see the Bates hook above (top hook)} or (again) fall somewhere between.

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.        

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 just a minute.
For now, let’s continue with anatomy details. 

Crochet Hook Style

In-line vs. Tapered

Before we jump into in-line vs. tapered, we need to cover a couple more areas of the crochet hook. 

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.

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

Okay, on to in-line vs. tapered and back to the picture- this time, I’ve added lines. 

in line and tapered crochet hook
Top: Bates, In-line; Bottom: Boye, Tapered

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 that appears to be sliced or cut into a rod to create a hook. This is what gives the slit-like appearance and deeper hook. Notice in the picture above, 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 a bit more rounded, and as we’ve already discussed, the hook is more shallow. 

These two styles are the main crochet hook differences. This is the first decision that needs to be made in your search for which is best for you: in-line vs tapered.

To help in that, you need to try out the different holding styles.

Stitching style

Pencil vs. Knife & more

The 2 most common ways to hold a crochet hook are like a pencil or like a knife. So, what determines whether a pencil grip or knife hold is best?

Pencil grip
women holding crochet hook with knife grip
Knife hold

Guess what? Yep. It depends.

The best way to hold your hook is how it feels best in your hand. 
If you’re brand new to crochet, try them both. Use whichever is more comfortable to you.
If you’re searching for something to make your stitching smoother, try the other hold and see if it works for you. 

A quick true story: During a private lesson a bit back my student (Hi Jules! 👋  ) kept twisting her project (in the non-hooking hand) in an awkward way. I observed for a while and then asked her if she’d ever tried stitching with the knife hold rather than pencil grip. As someone who had learned to crochet on a video from the internet, she didn’t know there was an option. She just did as the video instructed. Turns out, changing her holding style made a significant difference to her- no more project twisting!

Just because you learned to stitch one way, doesn’t mean you can’t change.

Finally, which is best for you.

The Answer

Whew! Ya’ll still with me? 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, 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. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try something else.
A lot of crochet movement is muscle memory, it may be difficult to try another method at first, but if you’ve been having difficulties, 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 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. 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.

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 ergonomic handles and hook material 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

Crochet hooks differences and which is best for you

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Crochet hooks differences and which is best

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