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Choosing Needles and Hooks for Knitting & Crochet

When it comes to creating functional textile art, no skill is beyond reach. By being diligent and practicing consistently, anyone can master techniques that make knitting and crocheting fun and productive. Such accessibility is a huge part of the reason why these crafts are so popular.

Of course, this doesn't mean that talent and perseverance are the only important factors. Having the appropriate tools for the job will ultimately make it much easier to create something you like. Here are a few quick pointers on selecting the right options for your next project.

Crochet vs. Knitting: The Tools

Although the term "needle" is sometimes used to apply to both crafts, only knitting uses a genuine needle. Crocheting is performed with tools that are curved at one or both ends. These are commonly referred to as hooks. While you can crochet with a single hook, you'll need two needles for most knitting tasks.

Why would you choose one option over the other? Whether you choose knitting or crochet will ultimately be matter of personal preference. For instance, if you want to complete a project that only includes a knitting pattern, then you'll probably stick to that method. Or, you might play around with both and find that knitting comes more easily. It's up to you, but first let’s delve in a little deeper.

Needle and Hook Distinctions

What distinguishes individual needles from each other or makes confusingly similar hooks different? Two important considerations are material and size.

Needle Material

Crochet hooks and knitting needles can be constructed from a variety of materials. These distinctions affect the way they feel when you're using them and how easy they are to use.

  • Aluminum hooks and needles come in a range of sizes. Their smooth surfaces let you work quickly without snagging your yarn.
  • Steel tools are more expensive and hardy than aluminum. They're commonly used for finer work and may be less effective with larger tasks.
  • Plastic tools come in all sizes. Although they have minimal friction with yarn, they're usually not as smooth as metal.
  • Bamboo and wood needles and hooks come in a variety of medium sizes. Some people prefer the organic, easy-to-grip textures and claim that these tools' warmth helps them avoid hand cramps.
  • The Importance of Needle Material

    The materials we mentioned are just some of the options you’ll find when researching hooks and needles. For instance, more modern manufacturers are including features like soft grips and other ergonomic perks. Individual models also have distinctive weight characteristics, and this can impact the speed at which you work.

    Although comfort is usually the primary concern for choosing a tool material, it's also smart to think about yarn compatibility. For instance, natural, unprocessed or heavily textured yarns may be more prone to snagging on a bent needle's tiny surface imperfections or fraying while passing through a cheap, rough hook.

    Needle Size

    Needles and hooks are available in a variety of sizes, and there are different sizing systems. For most people, looking at the metric diameter, given in millimeters (or mm) is easiest.

    The British and American numbered sizing systems are incompatible with each other. This can be confusing, but the metric standard stays the same no matter what. When reading a pattern that calls for a given tool size, first confirm whether you should be using the American or British scale. Then, look for a metric equivalent just to be sure.

    Why Does Needle Size Matter?

    When you wrap yarn around a crochet hook or knitting needle, the diameter of your tool determines how big the resulting loop is. This, in turn, decides how the finished piece looks, stretches and wears.

    Hook and needle sizes are also important because they determine how closely the end product resembles the original plans. Patterns for items like clothing are made to fit people based on the hook sizes, amount of yarn, yarn weight and type of stitches that you use. If you want to create something predictable, then you should adhere to the hook and needle recommendations of your pattern. When you're eager to tackle a new project, being able to count on consistency can lower the starting hurdles.

    Specialty Knitting & Crochet Tools

    Some hooks and needles include special features for specific tasks. For instance, circular knitting needles come in pairs with flexible connections that make it easy to knit tubular items, such as socks. Although specialty tools are handy for certain jobs, you'll still need regular hooks or needles for most work.

    Choosing the Right Needles and Hooks

    With these rules of thumb in mind, you should be able to find crochet and knitting tools that make your next craft endeavor fly by successfully. On the other hand, there's no better teacher than experience, and mixing things up can really boost your creativity by forcing you to think of new solutions to challenges. For instance, if you decide to mix another yarn into a pattern, then you might benefit from having a few extra needles and hooks on hand for the switch. If you're just starting out, larger-diameter tools often make learning simpler until you get the motions down. Good form is important when performing techniques such as casting on, purling, chain stitching and binding off, so it's best to begin with whatever you find easiest.

    Exploring your options is always a good start. To learn more, check out some of our products or contact us with your questions.

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