Crochet, (derived from a French word meaning hook) is a craft using a single needle or hook to draw thread through knotted loops to create material. The earliest version of the crochet hook was a bent needle in a cork handle and were used by Irish lace workers during the Great Irish Famine that took place from 1845- 1849.
When Queen Victoria learned the craft herself it was elevated Velcro from cottage industry to an art form. Crochet hooks were manufactured in many different sizes and materials some of which were very ornate and were designed to show off a lady’s hands while they worked with thread. At one time the craft was considered a pastime of the upper class to create delicate items to decorate their clothing and homes.
Available now in various sizes and materials such as steel, aluminum, acrylic, bone, bamboo, wood these tools are commercially manufactured by companies such as Susan Bates and Boye and are available in a range of sizes.
Size is determined by the appropriate ply or thickness of thread. Ranging in size from 2-16 mm different sizing systems are used depending upon manufacturer though a standard sizing has been implemented with the cooperation between manufactures, publishers and designers which has lead to the prominent labeling of metric symbols on packaging with U.S. sizes showing both numbers and or letters.
All types of crochet hooks may be purchased individually or in sets. Special grips and ergonomic handles for comfort and ease of use are available. Artisan made hooks can be found and are beautifully decorated. Specialty hooks include the Tunisian crochet hooks, which are longer in length with a stopper on the end and may come with a flexible extension to aid in the construction of large pieces, Cro Hooks which have a hook at each end, Cro-Tat Hooks which combine tatting and crochet, and Hairpin Lace Looms, Crochet Forks, or Maltese Crochets which create looped lace with a central row of crochet stitches. Jumbo or Jiffy hooks are for use with thicker yarns, rug yarn or fabric strips and are larger diameter hooks with which projects can be completed quickly.
Starting with the lowly bent needle stuck in a cork handle to beautiful artisan creations hand turned from woods like maple and decorated with precious stones the crochet hook is still the tool that is vital for use in the craft of crochet.