Contrary to what common sense might tell you, crochet hooks have not been around as long as crochet has. No one knows how long the simple art of crochet has existed. While pictures indicate that crochet stitches were used in ancient Egypt, the materials used in crochet usually don’t hold up as well as pyramids do.
Crochet hooks as we know them, first appear in history during the nineteenth century. The use of metal for hooks and the need to make some of the work more uniform probably led to tools made from enduring material that could be identified as crochet hooks.
Modern crochet hooks are made from modern materials of course and are made to standard sizes. As important as it is to find the hooks that work best with your preferred materials, fit your hand comfortably and make the required stitches, it is more important to understand how to determine which crochet hooks are right for you and your project. The ability to easily find free patterns on the Internet means having to understand what materials is called for in each pattern.
The size of crochet hooks is written differently in America and England. American hooks have a number and a letter to identify the size. The metric size is usually found on the package and on the hook as well. The English system uses a number. If an American crocheter found a pattern using English notations, the size of the hook given as 10 would translate to an American D/3 which in metric is 3.25 mm. Fortunately, the ease in finding free patterns is matched by the ease in finding tables to translate from one type of system to the other. All systems use larger numbers for larger crochet hooks.
Finer yarn and crochet thread calls for smaller hooks. Using the same weight of yarn with different sized crochet hooks will result in tighter and looser results. The size of the hook also affects the gauge. Changing the size of the hook can be a simple way to change to change the size of the finished product. Just be sure to experiment with the gauge first.
When a pattern calls for a steel hook, it is not telling you to avoid plastic ones. Steel hooks are the very small crochet hooks used with crochet thread to make lace. You can find pictures of the different hooks in pattern books and on the Internet to make sure. If a pattern calls for an unfamiliar hook, ask someone who is experienced or check a book or the Internet. Make sure you use the right crochet hooks for your projects.