So, say you’ve known how to crochet for a while, like since you were nine years old. And having an eye for the tools of your craft, over the years you’ve acquired a few crochet hooks. Like, about three sets of hooks sized for yarn, quite a few steel hooks (often used with crochet thread), and even a set of Tunisian crochet hooks before they vanished until recently. So with all those crochet hooks at hand, when you start a new crochet project, you probably think about the yarn, you think about the difficulty of the pattern, you think about the gauge, but you don’t think about the hook, other than to note what the size is and retrieve one from the inventory.
Earlier this week, fired with a passion to start some project of some sort, I pulled the Peaceful Pastels Afghan out of my stash and prepared to dive in. As this project came as a kit, it’s good for instant gratification: there’s the yarn, there’s the pattern—just add hook and begin. The afghan uses two strands of Bernat Baby Coordinates yarn held together, and although this is a sport weight yarn, the two strands together make a chunky yarn, and so the pattern calls for a K (7.00 mm) hook. Which of course, if you own enough crochet hooks to open your own crochet supply store, shouldn’t be a problem to come up with.
As it turned out, K hooks I have in abundance, but 7.00 mm hooks are non-abundant. I’m guessing that in the process of standardization—which overall has been a good thing—7.00 mm hooks became extinct, at least in the United States. K hooks measure 6.50 mm nowadays. For my knitting readers, this is the equivalent of a size 10½ needle. Indeed, I’m wondering if all this standardization was meant to bring crochet hooks more in line with knitting needles. The only company that I’m aware of that offers a 7.00 mm knitting needle (size 10¾) is Addi, which is based in Germany. While many places that sell Addi needles sell the 10¾ needles, they haven’t taken the American knitting world by storm, and I don’t recall ever seeing a pattern that calls for them.
Like I said, overall, I believe standardization was a good thing. The letter sizes of crochet hooks still aren’t as fixed to the metric measurements as knitting needle number sizes are, mostly at the ends of the size range, but there’s a lot less wiggle room than there used to be. But did crochet hooks necessarily need to be matched precisely to knitting needles in size? Perhaps it made things easier on the manufacturing end somewhere, but I’d hate to think we lost the 7.00 mm crochet hook just because there isn’t a letter between K and L (the 8.00 mm hook) the way Addi could slip a 10¾ in between 10½ and 11.
So, no concluding thoughts as to the issue itself. As for my afghan project, I started out a bit worried. I’m a tight crocheter, and I was hesitant to use a 6.50 mm hook and still hope to get gauge, but an 8.00 mm hook was probably just going to give me the opposite problem. So I was staring absently at my oldest set of crochet hooks, wondering which to choose, when it occurred to me to wonder why that set had two K hooks in it. I buy multiple sets of hooks, yes, but I don’t buy multiples of any one size in a set, since it’s much easier in crochet to slip your hook out and take it to another project than it is to move a knitting needle from one project to another. One hook clearly said “K/10½—6.50 MM” on it; the other just said “K.” In growing hope, I grabbed the needle sizer. Yes, the plain K hook, bought back in the 1970s when I was first learning to crochet, was 7.00 mm. And using it, I got gauge for the afghan.