Two hooks: Same size, different gauge

Sep 16, 2009

So here's a curious thing about that purple crochet hook.

The pattern for the project I'm working on recommends an H / 5 mm hook. The yarn I used recommends a knitting needle size of 5-6 or 3.75-4 mm. Frequently yarn balls give only knitting needle sizes (though this is changing among more enlightened yarn producers). To figure crochet hook size from a recommended knitting needle size, bump up the mm by at least 1.

So, all this suggested that I ought to do my swatch with an H/5mm. I did so. I usually have to go up a hook size to get gauge, so I was rather expecting to be off. But as it turns out, I was just a shade off the gauge, a wee bit too small. If I went up a hook size, it would be too big.

I thought, like Pooh bear, for a moment, then decided to search out my other H hook (I say "other," like I have only one other H hook. I have at least six H hooks. But it was the one I had in mind).
I found the hook, stashed in a project. I checked the size.

Because here's another curious thing: Crochet hooks are marked willy-nilly. The same letter size might have a .5 mm difference. That's a big difference when it comes to getting gauge.
Anyway, the letter and mm sizes matched on the hooks.

The only difference was in the hook itself. The first hook has a sharp lip; the second hook has a round lip. (for an anatomy of a crochet hook, see here.)
I made my second swatch. And the gauge was perfect. I did a little dance in the airport, then I took this picture:


(Ok, so a measuring device would help here, but I worked with the tools I had at the time.) The swatch on top was done with the sharp-lipped hook on top of it, the swatch on the bottom with the round-lipped hook. Look at the right side. See how the bottom swatch is about 1 row wider? It's also longer in the other direction, though that's hard to see. And the fabric on the bottom is happier -- looser with better pattern definition. The round nose made the difference.

Try this yourself if your gauge is just a shade off. Let me know what you learn.

Happy crocheting,


btw, this is the start of a sweater from the Fall issue of Interweave Crochet, out on the stands Oct. 6. Look for a full preview on Friday, Sept 18 and in the next few enewsletters, where we'll also give tips for projects in the issue. 


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easbrooke wrote
on Sep 18, 2009 9:27 AM

Holy, mackerel! This is going to be so helpful! Thank you so much!

I had no idea that crochet hooks, not matter if they have the same letter, could be different sizes in mm.

There's been times when my gauge is perfect for the width but is too long in the height. I, for the life of me, couldn't figure out what was going on or how to fix it. So I've got really long shirts that fit width-wise.

Ha! You're a life saver. Thanks again!

taichidenise wrote
on Sep 19, 2009 1:14 PM
Here in Scotland I have found that I need to keep to the SAME hook for the whole of the project. Even hooks from the same firm sometimes give a slightly different gauge. I use Clover hooks by choice but they are difficult to get here, the prym ones have such a small flat area it is more difficult for me to use.
I have given up trying to use certain hooks for a worsted weight, instead I go by the feel or the look of a sample piece. If I want the garment to be longer I add rows, if it has to be wider then I will add often 2 patterns if they are small or I will make a smaller or larger size so that I get the fit I want.
If you have a narrow back and an ample bust try making a smaller sized back e.g 32" and a 34" front it may give a much better fit especially if you like your clothes to show off your figure.

Once you have an idea of how the garment is to look and all your measurements then it is fairly easy to alter a pattern this way.

The project of the moment is a tapestry "hand bag" 2 hands on front, but I have 3 colors in the rounds so it is a bit of a trial, still enjoyable though

Enjoy your projects

Denise Carroll

CapnHook wrote
on Sep 20, 2009 7:13 PM

I wonder, then, if patterns shouldn't include what type of hook was used in the design process. I have Boye, Susan Bates, and several artisan hooks all purporting to be the same size, but I get dramatically different results with each kind.

on Dec 3, 2012 1:00 PM

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