The Right Way to Hold a Crochet Hook

Mar 3, 2014

I taught myself how to crochet, so when I first picked up a crochet hook, I simply held it in the most comfortable position. Now I know that this hold is called the Piano "Claw" or Cupped hold. I didn't realize that there were so many different possibilities. And all of them are right. In the Interweave Crochet Spring 2014 issue, Julia Chambers explores six of the most popular crochet hook holds. Julia notes that I probably prefer hooks that have minimal thumb rests and that my wrist can become sore during long periods of crocheting. She is spot on!

 

Here is an excerpt from her informative article:

Know Your Craft: Know Your Hands

The way we hold our hooks-and the reason we find one hook and handhold more comfortable or effective than another-is determined in part by the shape of our hands, the length of our fingers, and muscle memory development. Our lifestyle affects how we use our hands. Someone who swings a hammer every day will hold and use a crochet hook differently from someone who types all day. By being aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we may even be able to prevent repetitive-motion injuries.

I have short fingers and wide hands with a lot of muscle development from playing piano. When I was a child, I did a lot of hand and finger exercises so I could play an octave, because my fingers were so short. My hand-muscle development likely makes the way I hold and use a hook different from someone else who also has short fingers but does not have the muscle development I do from piano. I prefer long crochet hooks and an underhand hold.

 
  Lattice Pullover by Andrea Graciarena, Interweave Crochet Spring 2014

Think about your experience in using your hands, and watch what your hands and fingers do when they use a crochet hook.

The best hold is very individual, reliant on the size of your hands and fingers as well as your muscle memory. If your hook hold works, by all means continue using it. But if you find yourself experiencing pain or strain-in your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, or back-try variations of your favored hold or experiment with another hold altogether. Consider, too, that a particular yarn or required gauge may call for a different hook hold.

-Julia M. Chambers, Interweave Crochet Spring 2014


 

Interweave Crochet is always full of fascinating and helpful articles on crochet techniques, designing, crochet stitches, and more. Plus you will find innovative and stylish designs to apply all of your new-found knowledge. And now you can carry your new issues with you digitally. Subscribe to Interweave Crochet today and find out for yourself.

Best wishes,

P.S. How do you hold your crochet hook?


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Comments

Mischa13 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:09 PM

I've always held my hook overhand. I also play the piano and organ. My Grandma taught me to crochet, and she held her hook like a pencil. That never worked for me.

Mischa13 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:10 PM

I've always held my hook overhand. I also play the piano and organ. My Grandma taught me to crochet, and she held her hook like a pencil. That never worked for me.

mh6703 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:17 PM

I learned the underhand way and find it very hard to use the overhand way even tho it saves on repetitive hand injuries.

giuliacorte wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:28 PM

Oh how nice it would have been to have had your comment at hand some 50 years ago. I was a schoolgirl then and used to hold my crochet hook overhand like the rest of my family. And then a new teacher arrived and tried to force me to hold it underhand. Not only that I had enough difficulties holding it in my right hand (being a suppressed left-handed), now I should have learned the impossible ...

Well, I continued the overhand way. Onjy when she came near, I fumbled with the crochet hook underhand.

Best greetings from Langenlois, Austria (not Australia)

Ulrike

on Mar 3, 2014 12:29 PM

I have always held my hook underhand because overhand felt too clubbish to me.  My grandmother taught me when I was about 7 and that was over 60 years ago.  Guess I will stick with her teachings and continue with underhand.

StuartLohe wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:33 PM

Overhand. My teacher tried to made me use underhand, because "that´s the right way!", but I could never do that.

CBzzz wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:34 PM

I didn't get my spring issue, so I didn't see the 6 ways of holding the hook yet ... I knew of the pencil and the knife techniques.  I have short fat fingers and wide palms, so the knife hold suits me best and  is the style I use.

MARY@394 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:44 PM

I hold my hook like a pencil  and hold the yarn in my righ hand too almost like knitting with one hand lol Wish I could do it the other way , I was born in Ireland so am wondering is that  the method the Irish use:)

Skid wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:44 PM

I hold my hook like the underhand, but not exactly like I hold a pencil.  With a pencil, my third finger is under the pencil.  With crochet, that finger is on top of the hook.  I rely on the flat part of the hook for the grip between my thumb and index finger.

MARY@394 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:47 PM

I hold my hook in my right hand like holding a pen , I also use the thread from my right hand too , I wonder if this is the Irish way as I was born in Ireland and that is where I learned to crochet. I just use my left hand to hold the piece I am crocheting

bfmama wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:54 PM

Interesting article. I loved to draw from the time I was little, and most of my favorite activities involved drawing or writing. I hold my hook the same way I hold a pencil. It's always annoyed me when people try to say there are 'right' or 'wrong' ways to hold the hook. Whatever is comfortable and works for you is right! :-)

Edna M wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:54 PM

I have small hands and was about to give up learning then I found the Susan Bates hook which is shorter and easier for me to hold. I use my hook like a pencil. I could not get the other way it felt like I had a crowbar in my hand. Thank you to Susan Bates.

I also like the Interweave and the Crochet mags. I have been crocheting for about 35 years and I learn something each time I read them.

Edna

wjj wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:54 PM

I hold my hook overhand and hold my knitting needles the same way.  I'm trying to teach myself to crochet underhand.  I just started a crochet entrelac blanket and find my thumb joint is very sore.  The blanket may turn into a lap blanket for the car rather than the larger blanket I intended...

Ingquisitive wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 12:57 PM

I never would have thought to analyze my grip, but it makes so much sense. I use the knife method in my non-dominant hand. A result of growing up lefty in a righty household.

ladytroll wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:02 PM

I hold mine like a pencil.  I started out holding it in the pianp grip but later taught myself to hold it like a pencil.

on Mar 3, 2014 1:08 PM

I never realized anyone used a different grip until I read your article! My grandmother taught me to crochet, and she showed me how to hold the hook - using the underhand grip. Her hands were, like mine, wide with shorter fingers. She had also been playing piano and organ since she was a child. (I had taken lessons, though I never learned to play well.)  I am so comfortable with a hook in my hand that I can crochet for hours and not feel any strain.

trystan830 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:09 PM

not having seen the whole article: i hold mine in what i think is called the knife hold.  

KarenA@629 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:16 PM

I hold my hook like a pencil with the hook facing me.

SharonP@8 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:20 PM

Years ago when I was a little girl, I wanted  badly to crochet like my mother, grandmother and aunts could.  I could not hold the hook the way they did it...it just wouldn't work for me.  Finally my mother suggested I crochet like my paternal grandmother with a 'knife' hold.  What you seem to have renamed as overhand or something like that.  Since my mother was English, they all used the 'pencil' hold or whatever you've renamed it now. I've crocheted now for almost 40 years using the knife hold, and no matter how you think you can rename these, it will still be knife hold to me. At the time I learned the 'pencil' hold was of English origin, and the 'knife' hold was German origin. Did you think you're teaching something new by changing the names of the way crochet hooks are held?  Why is it you think you're teaching people something new by renaming it?  All these things, techniques, stitches and the way you hold your hook have been known for years. What do you gain (except a way to sell old patterns and make money) by changing the names of everything.  Once I learned to crochet with a knife hold, I've learned all of this by the names it had been known for years and years!  Why change them now?

Granny0103 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:29 PM

I am a typist and have strong fingers.  I am not sure if that is the reason I crochet the underhand method, but that is my preferred way.   A few years ago, my granddaughter wanted to learn to crochet, and she could not get get comoftable with my underhand method.   She kept trying the "club" style.  I did not know then, there were so many ways to do it.

ksbennett40 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:29 PM

I use overhand. I do have a lot of injuries in my hands because of a disorder

MartyG wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:33 PM

SharonP: Please keep in mind that names are highly variable. Just because everyone you knew had a certain bane for something doesn't mean that everyone else used that same name. I have enjoyed reading the comments as I find the array of names and experiences really interesting, and I wish I had a picture of people who are able to hold their hook and their yarn in one hand!

SharonP@8 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:43 PM

After reading my comment, I could have made it shorter by omitting a few sentences.  Now I do have a question that would make another interesting article.   Are the way we hold our hooks known by different names, depending on the country our ancestors came from? Have people in different areas or states of the US have different names for the way they hold their hooks. I'm half English, half German and only know the two names for holding hooks, knife and pencil.  But now I'm curious, what about other countries?  Do they have different names in different countries?  Just a suggestion.

on Mar 3, 2014 1:47 PM

I was taught to crochet overhand at school by a European needlework teacher in Australia in the late 1960s. It seems to be faster than the underhand hold, which I find too uncomfortable use anyway. Also, I wonder if Tunisian crochet is even possible using an underhand grip as Tunisian is all about side-to-side movements.

Toni Rexroat wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 1:55 PM

SharonP, that is a fascinating idea. Julia Chambers looks at 6 different ways of holding your hook, 3 overhand and 3 underhand, including the knife hold which is not one of the two I pictured above. Julia includes multiple names for each method, but it is entirely possible she hasn't been able to cover all of the names used. That is one thing I have found about crochet, there are a great many names for some of the stitches.

MartyG, I am now also really interested in looking into how our Irish crochet friends hold their yarn!

taborri wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 2:03 PM

I was a suppressed left-hander who had much trouble learning how to write and had Great-Aunts try to teach me to crochet and knit, only to give up in disgust and tell me how useless I was. Years later, at age 50, I taught myself how to crochet and found that I held the hook overhand, with my pointer finger held out. I've tried to hold it like a pencil but that position doesn't work. I'm glad you said "the best hold is very individual". Thank you!

wendygoerl wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 2:19 PM

I think your first few projects have more to say than the shape of your hands. When I first learned to crochet, I just stuck my hook through  the loop and pulled. But that often dropped the thread on my second project, a doily. so I learned to YO when I grabbed through the loop. I notice "Pencil-holders" are usually threadworkers, where the pencil hold offers more precision. Overhand grip offers more force when working stitches in stubborn places--I've got a book, Hard Crochet, that warns you MUST use an overhand grip--working rug-weight with a 00 hook--in order to work the stiff fabric.

Kat12345 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 2:23 PM

I use a pencil grip and Boye hooks. I find the length of the grip works much better than the Susan Bates hook.

Brio wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 2:37 PM

I'm looking forward to reading this entire article because my way of holding my crochet hook is different from both of the two pictured. I hold mine in a somewhat overhand position but grip the hook between my thumb and middle and ring fingers and use my forefinger to guide the hook through the stitches. Unlike the overhand position pictured, my hook is held entirely by my fingers and doesn't touch the palm of my hand. This is the position that felt most comfortable and offered the greatest control for me when I taught myself to crochet about 40 years ago. I have somewhat small hands with long slim fingers. It's a totally comfortable position that hasn't caused any pain or fatigue, so it works well for me. I used to play the piano and do a lot of typing and illustrating but don't know that these activities have had any influence on my crochet hook position.

Curlgirl1022 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 2:54 PM

Comments made about being a child piano player were as if they were written about me!  I use and overhand grip since I was a child who played piano and crocheted.  Although I now have MS and my dexterity is somewhat compromised; the piano playing, exercises to strengthen my hands to reach a full octave have helped me in maintaining function in my hands to continue crocheting.  My next challenge? To learn how to crochet left handed!

on Mar 3, 2014 3:02 PM

I use the overhand method mainly because arthritis in my hand won't let me comfortably use the underhand method.  If I want to keep my grip on the hook I have to use the overhand.  I guess it's because of the arthritis that I find 'regular' length hooks too short.  Just not enough there to get a grip on.  I'll have to look around for longer hooks - until I read every ones comments I wasn't aware there were longer hooks (other than Tunisian).

Sher

katnee13 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 3:12 PM

I hold mine overhand, but my Mother who taught me to crochet holds hers underhand.Don't really know why I hold  mine different from her ithas been 50 some years since I  learned, it just must have easier for me at that timr.

katnee13 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 3:13 PM

I hold mine overhand, but my Mother who taught me to crochet holds hers underhand.Don't really know why I hold  mine different from her ithas been 50 some years since I  learned, it just must have easier for me at that timr.

linlal wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 3:19 PM

I didn't learn to crochet until my twenties when I took a night course at the local high school. The teacher kept telling me I was doing it wrong but, since she couldn't figure out how I was doing it and the finished product was right, she gave up trying to correct me. I've never had any problem with a pattern but my work sometimes looks a bit different.

Now, forty years later, I've seen video tutorials and I think it's a combination of the way I hold the hook and that I don't yarn-over - I yarn-under. The teacher probably couldn't see it because she couldn't conceive of anyone doing such a thing! As long as what comes out of the hook is right, I don't think it matters much how you hold your hook or what you call it.

Ilnara wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 5:01 PM

I crochet underhanded using the pencil grip as my grip matches the picture perfectly. I was writing for years before my sister taught me to crochet. I don't know how she held her hook but she told me to hold the hook in a way that felt comfortable and let me figure out a grip. I need to use both hands though as my left controls the yarn. I never could manage the one hand technique. But I don't find the position hard to work with for hours. I also find it easy to work Tunisian with an underhand grip.

With age creeping up on me I found that my wrist  was losing some of it's flexibility so that certain projects were harder to do. I went back to baton twirling and found the flexibility came back so now I have no problem with doing any project no matter what the weight of yarn, size of hook, or technique in use.

Eva76 wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 5:07 PM

My Mom was left handed & so was I. She taught me to crochet & she always said to hold the hook underhand, pencil style, because it was much faster than overhand. I always got compliments about how fast I crocheted, but I really don't know. My mom could not read or write , so she could only follow what someone else had crocheted & she always held the hook overhand even though she insisted I hold it overhand.

                                                                             <<<Eva>>>

Anne Guevara wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 5:30 PM

Thank you for your article!  

I was once ridiculed by a woman who went on and on about never seeing someone hold their hook the way I do (underhand).  I was taught by my grandmother  and that is how she held her hook.  I now feel vindicated.  

Thank you!

tamelask wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 5:38 PM

i hold mine like my pencil- similar to, but not exactly like your picture (my hook goes down, not up), and my index finger is further along it).  i taught myself to crochet using books and vids online about 8 years ago now (in my late 30's).  My arms/hands/wrists do get fatigued if i do it for too long- hours- but that's unusual.  Probably partly b/c in my day to day work i use a wacom pen and tablet like pencil, too.  

Susan_Oregon wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 6:11 PM

I use a pencil grip, and I don't grab the yarn between my thumb and forefinger the way I was taught. I slip the hook under the yarn but on top of my forefinger. The Crochet Dude appears to also use this technique (on YouTube). I was always told I was holding my yarn the "wrong" way---but my tension is even and my projects go very quickly, so I guess it isn't that wrong...

balestraccig wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 7:43 PM

Pencil grip.  My mom held it that way, and she taught me when I was 4 years old (now 58), so it's a habit of long standing.  

levelin wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 9:03 PM

I am an underhand holder, and a sworn Susan Bates loyalist, except when doing Tunisian crochet and then I use overhand. I am partial to the Susan Bates type in-line hook regardless of actual brand, but Susan Bates are preferred. I am right handed, with left hand feed.

Mama K. wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 9:32 PM

I taught myself to crochet out of my mom's Woman's Day magazine the summer I was 10, because I was bored and it had *left handed* instructions in the "teach yourself" article.  I use an overhand hold in my left hand, and let the hook kind of roll between my fingers, braced in the first joint of my little and ring fingers.  My right hand controls the yarn and the growing fabric.  I have long narrow hands with extremely long fingers and play both piano and classical guitar.  My hands have always been very strong.  I don't know how a pencil hold would work - I never learned to hold my pencil that way either!  I find I can't use Susan Bates hooks because of the shape of the throat, but Boye hooks work perfectly for me.

micahmakes wrote
on Mar 3, 2014 9:44 PM

This article is so interesting - can't wait to get my copy of the magazine! I also hold my crochet hook underhand, like a pencil. I've had people tell me it looks bizarre, but it feels so uncomfortable to me any other way.

whiteamvd wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 12:40 AM

I learned the underhand method, holding the thread in my left hand. I switch to overhand for a break, but feel like it causes more stress in the shoulder because it seems more stiff and clumsy.   Being a typist I prefer controlling the hook action with my fingers.

whiteamvd wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 12:46 AM

I learned the underhand method, holding the thread in my left hand. I switch to overhand for a break, but feel like it causes more stress in the shoulder because it seems more stiff and clumsy.   Being a typist I prefer controlling the hook action with my fingers.

Vickiad wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 2:14 AM

My stepmother taught me to crochet with thread & a size 7 hook, at age 9 no less.

I hold my hook like a pen or the European hold, unless I'm using a bulky yarn or several strands of  worsted weight, then its the overhand grip. I hold the thread or yarn in my left hand. as that is the way i was taught.  I had a hard time getting use to yarn after learning with thread.  My hand got tired very fast at first.  Now I crochet with just about any weight yarn or thread, just have to remember to take rest time with the heavy yarn.

on Mar 4, 2014 3:01 AM

I find this so interesting.  I've crocheted for 50 years taught by my mother and paternal grandmother.  I crocheted  with the underhand grip until about a year ago when my arthritis hit big time.  I couldn't crochet at all for a while, but was able to start again using the overhand which gives me better control,  When it's really bad I use Clover hooks because they are shorter and I can control them more easily.  I had some difficulty before with them, they felt awkward to me, but I have fairly large hands.    The hooks with a bigger handle, either bamboo or ergonomic are wonderful.  It all depends on how flexible I can get my hands.  I find I get some pain relief from crocheting if I don't overdo it.  When I get I into the "zone" I almost forget the pain.  Crocheting is great mental therapy, too!

bactobac wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 7:19 AM

I hold my crochet hook underhand.  I find it easier that way.  I will try the overhand way with my next project.

Birdie1970 wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 9:24 AM

I'm a lefty who was taught by my right-handed Mom when I was about 8. I hold mine overhand, which is the most comfortable for me.  My Mom holds hers underhand.  I always thought  my way was "wrong", but I'm glad to see it isn't.  I would love to see the other holds, but I don't have a subscription.

zadeerae wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 9:56 AM

I have always held my hook the underhand method.  Recently after a lot of years not crocheting, I picked it back up and sat 4.5 hours making a scarf.  To my dismay, I now have crocheter's elbow and can't even hardly move my arm.  Maybe if/when my elbow/arm gets better, I will try some of those new fangled ergonomic hooks in the overhand method.  I'm writing this as I sit in my office with ice on my elbow :-(

zadeerae wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 9:57 AM

I have always held my hook the underhand method.  Recently after a lot of years not crocheting, I picked it back up and sat 4.5 hours making a scarf.  To my dismay, I now have crocheter's elbow and can't even hardly move my arm.  Maybe if/when my elbow/arm gets better, I will try some of those new fangled ergonomic hooks in the overhand method.  I'm writing this as I sit in my office with ice on my elbow :-(

Netagene wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 11:16 AM

I am 69 and one g'mother taught me to crochet when I was 6 or 8 years old. She did fancy doilies and table cloths with what I suspect now was about a size 10 thread (might have been a 20!). She held her steel hook like a pencil, so that's how I learned. I have longish fingers, and also took piano lessons when I was about that age (music major in college). Try as I might, I can't seem to crochet using the "knife" hold! I try once in awhile. When my hands get tired (I crochet a LOT), I simply take a break and knit some, read awhile, work a crossword puzzle, write a poem or an email, play on the computer (LOL!), etc. ... then go back to crocheting! And BTW, I have been high partial legally blind for 10 years - but I learned that I can still crochet, even with poor eyesight! I made a whole afghan on a 4-day train ride several years ago, using worsted weight yarn and an "I" or "J" hook!

Char55 wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 12:06 PM

I'm left handed and hold my hook underhand pencil style for the short hooks. When I'm working a tunisian charted design afghan I have to use the overhand grip to work with the long flexible afghan hooks.

aasara wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 12:23 PM

I use the overhand method. It's the most comfortable position to use for all the tightly woven amigurumi toys I make for my 2 year old granddaughter.

on Mar 4, 2014 2:30 PM

I've always held my hook in the overhand position because the booklet I learned from (when I was about 12, some 52 years ago, I still have that little booklet)showed me that way.  My mother-in-law always used the underhand position which I never understood or could accomplish.  However, she was of the old school that forced left-handed children to be right-handed so I wonder if how she held her hook was determined by her original left-handedness.

on Mar 4, 2014 2:30 PM

I've always held my hook in the overhand position because the booklet I learned from (when I was about 12, some 52 years ago, I still have that little booklet)showed me that way.  My mother-in-law always used the underhand position which I never understood or could accomplish.  However, she was of the old school that forced left-handed children to be right-handed so I wonder if how she held her hook was determined by her original left-handedness.

on Mar 4, 2014 2:30 PM

I've always held my hook in the overhand position because the booklet I learned from (when I was about 12, some 52 years ago, I still have that little booklet)showed me that way.  My mother-in-law always used the underhand position which I never understood or could accomplish.  However, she was of the old school that forced left-handed children to be right-handed so I wonder if how she held her hook was determined by her original left-handedness.

on Mar 4, 2014 2:30 PM

I've always held my hook in the overhand position because the booklet I learned from (when I was about 12, some 52 years ago, I still have that little booklet)showed me that way.  My mother-in-law always used the underhand position which I never understood or could accomplish.  However, she was of the old school that forced left-handed children to be right-handed so I wonder if how she held her hook was determined by her original left-handedness.

lewisa8 wrote
on Mar 4, 2014 3:05 PM

I hold my hook similar to the underhand method but with thumb and middle finger on the flat leaving the pointer free to hold the picked up loop in place so it doesn't tighten up on the hook. Your picture shows the hook in both pictures to hook up.  Mine hooks down.  I wrap the hook around the yarn not the yarn around the hook.  How can you pull yarn through two loops with the hook in an upward position.

caladenia wrote
on Mar 6, 2014 8:36 AM

i was taught the "pencil grip"  method, and have done so for many years. i have seen ladies crochet like they aer holding a knitting needle, most interesting.

n7lqk wrote
on Mar 7, 2014 3:49 AM

I use an overhand style of grip.  My grip can vary greatly depending on the individual hook.  Grip can affect your gauge and even how your stitches look.  I keep the same hook with the project until the project is completed or frogged.

Mootika wrote
on Mar 20, 2014 9:44 AM

My Mom taught me to crochet using a variation of the underhand hold....

with the opening of the hook facing DOWNwards.  

I've recently started to crochet again & after watching technique videos or in-person crocheters, I have not seen anyone else crochet with the opening pointing down.  I've tried, but it feels awkward to me to flip the hook over...does anyone else use the upside down hook method?