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Crochet Hook Styles

This is the second of three information posts aimed predominantly at crocheters outside North America. See also last week’s Yarn for Amigurumi, and the final post: Crochet Terminology.

the differences between in-line and tapered crochet hooks

Crochet hooks come in two main styles: in-line, and tapered. Within North America, these are often known as Bates and Boye styles, respectively, for the most common brands of each style. Outside North America, the tapered hook shape is used almost exclusively, and you may not be able to find any in-line hooks locally.

I think this is unfortunate, as I find the in-line hook shape preferable for forming uniform-sized stitches, and for not snagging the tip of the hook on my previous stitches as I draw up each loop:

  • The head of an in-line hook has the same size, shape, and alignment as the shank (where your working stitch sits on the hook), so you can draw the hook back through each stitch in one straight line.
  • If you’re not careful when using a tapered hook, you can easily make too-small stitches by forming them over the narrow tapered neck (between the throat and the fixed-width shank).

I should be clear though: although I have a strong preference to use in my own crocheting, there is no ‘best’ style of hook; just as you may hold your hook differently to me, you may also prefer a different style of hook. I can’t guarantee that my preference will work for you, but if you plan to crochet a lot, I do recommend you try more than one hook style, if you have the option, so you can find a brand you find comfortable and easy to use.

Buying In-Line Hooks

Susan Bates hooks (also sometimes sold as Red Heart brand) are the most well-known in-line hook, and my preferred brand, both for making amigurumi and for crocheting accessories and larger items. If you live outside North America and are importing yarn from abroad or buying from an online shop that stocks them (see my Yarn for Amigurumi post for a selection of online yarn shops that ship worldwide), I recommend you add one Susan Bates aluminium (US: aluminum) hook in your most-used hook size to your order, so you can see if you like it. If you do, you can invest in a selection of all your favourite sizes (or even a complete set) in your next order.

Note: I find the bamboo-handed Susan Bates hooks are especially comfortable, if you can find them. This isn’t a sponsored post (I don’t do that sort of thing!) – just my real opinion. 🙂

If you can’t find a Bates hook, or just don’t like metal hooks, there are other brands that also make in-line hooks, so I suggest you look around your local (and online) shops to see what you can find. You can use my graphic above as a handy reference to compare with the hook you’re thinking of buying, so you can tell what you’re looking for.

UPDATE: I’ve done some sleuthing and there’s a shop on amazon.co.uk that sells US craft products – including all the Susan Bates hooks! They do ship from the US, but the postage is free, so if you’re in the UK, you may want to check out SuperMart on amazon.co.uk – that link will show you all the aluminium Susan Bates hooks, so you can find your favourite sizes, both bamboo-handled and the slightly cheaper all-metal hooks. 🙂


Which hook style do you favour: in-line or tapered? (I’d be especially interested to hear why you love tapered hooks, if you do!) Please leave your opinions and brand recommendations below!

22 Comments »

  1. Aine said

    June, my favorite crochet hooks are the in-line. Because of your suggestion I have ordered some of my favorite sizes in the bamboo-handled in-line crochet hooks. Thanks for the heads up re these; never saw them before.

    • June said

      I hope you’ll like them! Do let us know when you’ve tried them out. I love them so much I have 2 complete sets so that I always have the size I need, even if one has been temporarily mislaid 🙂

  2. Lisa Schwartz said

    Hi June,

    Have you tried the Clover Amour crochet hooks yet? I find them to be slightly between the Boye and Bates style hooks and with a smoother/slicker material than others. I absolutely love them. The heads are inline but head shape is more curved and subtle than the Bates.

    • June said

      I haven’t, although I’d like to! There aren’t any interesting hooks available in South Africa, and it’s a bit too expensive for me to import hooks just to try them out (especially when I’m so happy with the Susan Bates hooks).

      But if any hook manufacturers would like to send some hooks or other crochet supplies to my PO Box, I’d be more than happy to test them out, review them and share my verdict 😉

  3. Patti said

    I am totally an in-line, Bates hook fan. I have always felt that my stitches flow better and are much more even with this style. I agree on the bamboo handled hooks. I love them for the larger hooks as they are more comfortable and I experience less fatigue in my hands.

  4. Doug said

    I am a Bates lover too.
    But I concur with Lisa.
    I tried the Clover Amour and they are Amour-azing!
    They are not strictly inline hooks, so I was very skeptical when I tried one out, but I love ’em.
    I will say though, that just this year they came out with the larger sizes (7+mm) and those have a different construction and different feel, and I’m not so sure about them, but the smaller sizes, I love love love!
    Folks in our local crochet group who like Boye-ish hooks and who have tried the Amour don’t like them, for whatever that is worth.

  5. Chrisie (CrochetChrisie) said

    I started on Boyes hooks (inherited from my grandma) and I was happily replacing the boring grey metal ones with the newer coloured ones. Then you suggested trying the Bates style and I stumbled on a Red Heart inline 3.5mm (my go-to size for ami) and I love it now. Sadly it’s the boring grey that I was trying to rid from my collection, but I’ll put up with it. It’s much stronger than the pretty blue tapered one and I find that my stitches flow better.

    When I’m making shawls, I really don’t have much preference though. The looser stitches maybe?

  6. Kate said

    Thanks for this post! I have always used the tapered kind that my Grama had, because that’s what she used. I have seen the in-line style hooks in video tutorials but have never tried one. I had no idea it could make a difference. I have trouble keeping my stitches consistent, they are either so tight it’s hard to get the hook into the fabric, or so loose that my ami doesn’t get the proper shape. I’m going to the craft store NOW! 🙂

  7. John Chapman said

    Like you say “each to his or her own,” I personally prefer the Clover Soft touch. I find I can crochet fo hours with them with no fatigue or soreness…….????

    • Erica said

      Agreed. I like the handle on the soft touch, particularly for tight stitches. I have tried some bamboo single ended and double ended inline hooks that were also Clover and I found them fine for shawls, and tunisian, where my stitches were looser, but I snapped the tip doing tight Amigurumi. I haven’t tried metal inline hooks. I’d like to, but it’s hard to justify the expense of more hooks. I think I find the handle more important than the tip.

  8. NAD said

    I love Susan Bates bamboo handle crochet hooks too. I must agree with the others that in desperate times the Clover is a go to hook. I sometimes need the pointy tip but just refuse to use the Boye!!! Since the bamboo hooks don’t come in the smaller sizes I bought those sizes in the Clover hook. They are easy on your hands too. Thanks for your article!

  9. Kristi Evans Morris said

    I personally prefer the tapered to the in-line with Clover Soft Touch as my go-to brand (although I won’t put my nose up to their Amour line either 🙂 ) I have and use both styles in steels and in aluminum but something about the tapered ones just feel better to me. I agree that one should try both styles with an open mind if you can afford to and see which works best for you. Personally I’ve found dry hands to be more important for uniform stitches but I realize not everybody has hands that sweat as badly as mine.

  10. Joanna said

    My hook preference depends on the yarn I’m using. I have a weird technique for holding my yarn (lost of people ask me things like “who taught you that?” and “are you actually a knitter?”) but I do it because I’m able to get very consistent stitches with all kinds of fiber and both styles of hook with my wacky method. My favorite hooks to use some rosewood hooks and a tunisian both tapered–they are my favorites because they are LONG and I have big hands. =)

  11. Michelle said

    My favorite are the Tulip Etimo! Someone suggested them on the PJ Ravelry group along with Clover Soft Touch. I bought one of each to try, and loved the Tulip so much I never did try the other and gave the Clover to my niece for her to use! I am not sure what kind of hook they are. LOL

  12. Kati said

    I tried Susan Bates hooks, but the way the throat is literally cut into shaft, it has edges that I feel grating the yarn. I hate working with hooks that are not absolutely smooth so inline is not for me.
    Funny enough, snagging was a problem with the Bates hooks, but I’m sure that’s something that would get better after some adjustment time, it also happened when using tapered hooks of different shapes.

    I mostly use Tulip Etimo hooks which have a shape I love and a soft handle to work with all day. Also have some Clover Amours for American-only sizes, they are not too different (a little longer to the handle and a bit deeper throat) so I can change between the two brands without adjustment period. And I can’t overemphasize the soft handles – I can’t work with plain aluminium hooks anymore, they start hurting within an hour and I won’t risk damaging my hands.

  13. Kate said

    I always felt like I wasn’t a proper crochet enthusiast because I love my Bates hooks, and they are so incredibly CHEAP. Friends kept telling me it was time to upgrade, or time to let my hook collection “grow up,” but I am a firm believer that expensive tools are not always better! I’m so glad that there are many others out there like me! I just find the inline, metal hook is better for consistency, it glides through different yarn types easily, and my projects look so much better. ????

  14. Kate said

    I went to the craft store that like I said and it has changed my crochet life! The inline hook is some much easier for me! I’m sure I’ll still use the tapered hooks, but I really love these new ones. Thank you again for this post, it hadn’t occurred to me to try something new!

  15. Peggy said

    I don’t really have a preference when I’m working on something other than amigurumi or socks. I just grab whatever is in my hook bin! But for socks, I have to use the Clover Soft Touch. They are small and so easy to use on something tiny like sock yarn. For ami, I use the Clover Amour hooks. I just love them. Both of my girls, ages 9 and 12, crochet too and come steal my Amour hooks for their own projects! They are so nice and smooth and my hands don’t get tired when I use them.

  16. moses said

    I am making some knew stuff for clothes and knittting and crocheting. Am making some crochet hooks myself thanks for the posts.

  17. Cat said

    I squeeze the hook so tightly when I’m working on amigurumi, and I hadn’t realized how fatigued my hand was getting until I tried a Yarnology ergonomic hook. No way I’m going back! They’re tapered with a nice silicone-like handle, and they feel good whether I’m holding overhand (super-tight decreases, to get my whole arm into jamming the hook in there) or pencil (literally everything else).

    Also they’re super cheap at Hobby Lobby. Can’t beat that!

  18. Angie Pyc said

    I hold the crochet hooks differently than most, and usually prefer the tapered hooks. But thankfully I have both styles in my repertoire, because lately I have been using Caron Simply Soft yarn, and my tapered hook was splitting the yarn terribly, especially with hdc or dc stitches. I switched to in-line, and had no more splitting. So for me, it really depends on the project. I find that with thicker or coarser yarn the tapered is better for me, and with tighter stitches (such as when doing small amigurumi) or softer, looser yarn, such as Simply Soft, the in-line is better. We all have different sized hands and different ways of holding the hooks, etc., so each of us will just have to find which works best.

  19. Ann Scanlon said

    Hello Jane
    I have just discovered your wonderful blogs. I am new to amigurumi and love it because I can finish small sized projects quickly but they are cute enough to be good sellers for my local charity. Your tips are going to take my crochet to a new level and I have subscribed to your newsletter. I am in rural Australia and we don’t have in line hooks available so I will get on to the Amazon site you suggested and try one.
    Cheers
    Ann

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