Knit Simple subscribe now & save
Home Preview Learn How Patterns Corrections Charts Subscribe

Beginner Basics: Crochet.101

Before You Get Started...

Ready to crochet? Get informed and equipped with this useful prep section, focusing on yarn and hook know-how.

HOOKS

crochet hook
It’s quite amazing that such a simple tool can do so much, considering it has no moving parts. Let’s look at a crochet hook to get familiar with its five different sections.

The tip and the throat (the hook) are used to make a stitch; the diameter of the shaft section determines the size of the hook; and the grip and the handle are used to hold the hook.

Crochet hooks come in two classifications: yarn hooks and steel (or thread) hooks. Yarn hooks are designed specifically to be used with yarn. They are manufactured in manmade materials such as aluminum, plastic and acrylic, and natural materials such as bamboo, abalone, bone and hardwoods (birch, maple, rosewood and ebony). Some are available with ergonomically shaped handles and comfort grips, as well as other special features. But as a beginner, you should opt for aluminum hooks first. They are easy to hold, inexpensive, durable, and readily available. After you have a few projects under your belt, you may want to experiment with other types and styles to see if any suit you better.

Yarn crochet hook sizes are always listed from the smallest (used with thinner yarns) to the largest (used with thicker yarns). In the United States, hooks are sized by letters of the alphabet, except for the size 7. The number next to the letter is the equivalent knitting needle size. For most sizes, you’ll find the size of the hook stamped on the grip.

You might want to explore finer crochet projects someday, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with steel hooks as well. Steel crochet hooks are designed to be used with certain types of crochet thread, such as cotton and linen. These hooks are always listed from the largest (used with thicker threads) to the smallest (used with finer threads). Note that unlike yarn hooks, the lower the number, the larger the hook. For this type of hook, the size can always be found on the grip.

yarn crochet hooks
U.S.
Metric
U.S.
Metric
U.S.
Metric
B/1
2.25mm
H/8
5.00mm
P/16
12.00mm
C/2
2.75mm
1/9
5.50mm
D/3
3.25mm
J/10
6.00mm
E/4
3.50mm
K/10½
6.50mm
F/5
3.75mm
L/11
8.00mm
G/6
4.00mm
M/13
9.00mm
7
4.50mm
N/15
10.00mm
   



steel crochet hooks
U.S.
Metric
U.S.
Metric
U.S.
Metric
00
3.50mm
5
1.90mm
11
1.10mm
0
3.25mm
6
1.80mm
12
1.00mm
1
2.75mm
7
1.65mm
13
.85mm
2
2.25mm
8
1.50mm
14
.75mm
3
2.10mm
9
1.40mm
4
2.00mm
10
1.30mm


YARN

You’ll be like a kid in a candy store when you step into a yarn shop. Never before has there been such a vast variety of gorgeous yarns to choose from for every taste and budget. See all the wonderful natural fibers to explore like wool, mohair, alpaca, angora, cashmere, cotton, linen and silk. Today’s latest high-tech synthetics include the most affordable acrylics and the more pricey novelties like metallics, furs and even yarn that looks and feels like suede.

Adding to the variety are the textures that abound, from smooth classic plied yarns to loopy bouclés. Now multiply them all by the colors. Just about every solid color imaginable can be found—from clear brights to dusty pastels to rich earth tones—plus amazing multicolor yarns like tweed, variegateds (lengths of different colors alternated within the same ball), stripes and more.

YARN WEIGHTS

All yarns are classified by their weight (thickness of the yarn), no matter what fibers the yarns are made from. They range from superfine (the thinnest) to superbulky (the thickest). Each weight yarn has a recommended crochet hook size and a range of how many single crochet stitches you will get to the inch when you crochet using that size hook. This is called the gauge and it will be discussed in detail starting on page 40. The basic rule of thumb is that the finer the yarn, the smaller the hook size, and the bulkier the yarn, the larger the hook size. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. There are lace patterns that call for a fine yarn and large hook to achieve a light and airy fabric. The chart below will help you familiarize yourself with what size hook to use with what weight yarn. This chart will always come in handy when choosing the right yarns and hooks for your projects.

standard yarn weight system
Categories of yarn, gauge ranges, recommended crochet hook sizes
Yarn Weight
Symbol &
Category Names
Type of
Yarns in Category
Sock,
Fingering,
Baby
Sport,
Baby
DK,
Light
Worsted
Worsted,
Afghan,
Aran
Chunky,
Craft,
Rug
Bulky,
Roving
Crochet Gauges in
Single Crochet to 4 inches
21-32
sts
16-20
sts
12-17
sts
11-14
sts
8-11
sts
5-9
sts
Recommended
Hook in U.S. Size Range
B-1 to E-4
E-4 to 7
7 to I-9
I-9 to K-10½
K-10½ to M-13
M-13 and larger
Recommended
Hook in Metric
Size Range
2.25-3.5
mm
3.5-4.5
mm
4.5-5.5
mm
5.5-6.5
mm
6.5-9
mm
9-12
mm
and larger


YARN PACKAGING

Tip:
Save the paper label! This little piece of paper (called a ball band) is packed with important information that you need to know before you begin a project and after you finish it. There’s fiber content, color, dye lot, yardage/meters, ounces/grams, suggested hook size/gauge, and care instructions. And many pull-skein labels have free project directions, too!

Yarn is available in three forms: pull-skein, pre-wound ball and hank. To use a pull-skein, simply poke your fingers inside the center of the skein to find the end, then carefully pull it out. At first you might have to tug a bit to get the yarn to come out, but after a few yards have been used, the yarn should flow freely.

For a pre-wound ball, remove the paper label. To prevent the ball from rolling away while you work, you can contain it in two ways. First, you can place the ball in a plastic bag and either tape the bag to your worktable,or pin it to the arm of your chair. Second, place the ball inside a plastic bag (to keep it clean) and place it in a work bag or basket that sits on the floor.

A hank must first be wound into a ball before you can use it. The easiest way is to have a helper. Remove the paper label and have the helper hold the hank fairly tautly over outstretched hands. As you wind the yarn, the helper should move his or her hands back and forth, allowing the yarn to come off his or her hands one wrap at a time. Make sure to wind the ball loosely. Winding it too tight might cause the yarn to lose its elasticity. If you need to go it alone, you can place the hank around the back of one or two chairs (depending on the circumference of the hank) and wind it from there. Place the ball inside a plastic bag same as for a pre-wound ball.