Choosing the right crochet hook sizes is a critical first step when making a crochet project. The hook that you choose, combined with the yarn and your tension, will impact the gauge of the piece. This, in turn, gives you the finished project size. If you choose the wrong crochet hook, you might end up with a sweater that is much smaller or larger than intended.
Consult the Pattern
Your crochet pattern will tell you what hook size the designer used. You should start with this. For example, many worsted weight projects use H hook crochet patterns. In theory, the same crochet pattern made with the same yarn and the same crochet hook sizes should produce the same gauge.
While that seems logical, it doesn't always match what can happen in real life. This is very important to understand because so you don't complete a project before realizing the size is wrong. That's why you have to check your gauge.
Let's look at a scenario in which the same materials were used, including the same crochet hook size, but with the result being two squares of measurably different size.
Crocheting Motifs for the Same Project
This all happened when the crafter in question was working on making an afghan out of different crocheted squares. At the end of the project, the crafter realized that some of the squares were different sizes from one another. The same pattern was used to make each of the squares. The squares were made using the exact same yarn. There was no apparent reason why they should have been different sizes. While a shift in size doesn't matter for some projects, it certainly mattered for this one. Consider what a challenge it is to join the squares together to create a blanket when the squares are not the same size. This is not good. What could have happened?
Two Hooks: Same Size, Different Manufacturers
The problem came about because the crafter wasn't paying attention to using the same crochet hooks for each square. The same crochet hook sizes were used—a size H / 5.0 mm hook. However, halfway through the project, the crafter misplaced the first hook used and replaced it with another of the same size. Unfortunately, the two H crochet hooks were made by different manufacturers. One square was made with a Boye crochet hook, size H / 5.0 mm. The next was crocheted with a Clover Soft Touch hook, also in the same size.
If you take a look at the two crochet hooks side by side you will easily see that they are very different from one another. The only common element is the labeled crochet hook size. Everything else about these hooks is different. The heads are shaped differently; the handles are different shapes, and they are also different thicknesses from one another.
These differences might not seem like a huge deal, but they were enough to affect the project gauge. In theory, the H hook should be the same regardless of the shape of the crochet hook. In practice, the way that you hold the crochet hook and work with it can be very different from one hook to the next. In this case, the design of the Clover Soft Touch resulted in a looser, more relaxed piece. The tension was different, the gauge was different, and therefore the final crochet square was different from those made with the Boye hook. The Boye squares were tighter, denser and ultimately smaller.
Two Squares: Different Sizes
If the difference between the squares was not very significant, it might have been unnoticeable. Certainly, the practiced crocheter can cheat the joining a little bit to create a finished project that looks polished even with slightly different square sizes. However, even the crafter who isn't a perfectionist would have looked askew at this particular project because the size of the squares was just too different. Both the stitch gauge and the row gauge had been affected by the change in tension and how the crochet hook was held. The square made holding the Boye hook was about half an inch smaller than the square made using the Clover Soft Touch crochet hook.
Never Switch Hooks
Here are a few things we can learn from this story:
- Once you've started a crochet project, be sure to keep using the same crochet hook you started with. Do not think that switching hooks is acceptable just because you have several of the same sizes in different brands.
- Note the brand, model, and size of the hook you are using at the start of a project. Keep a record of it in case you lose the hook. You want to be able to replace it with the same exact hook. One quick way to do this is to take a photo when you begin a project and email it to yourself with further notes. This is always smart at the start of a project anyway so that you have a good record of what you've made.
- Buy multiples of your favorite crochet hook. Once you have one that you love to use, you should make sure that you have extras in case it ever gets lost or broken!
- If your crochet work is consistently too tight, or too loose, try crocheting with hooks made by a different manufacturer to see what effect they may have on your work. You can also try different hook sizes as well.
- Check your gauge. Whenever you start a new project, check that your gauge matches the designer's before you get too far into the project.