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What Happens When Using a Smaller Crochet Hook?

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Choosing a crochet hook for your project can be confusing. There are so many sizes to choose from! Maybe your pattern specifies a certain size of crochet hook and you only have a smaller one. Or, maybe you just want to experiment with a smaller hook. What should you expect? What happens when you use a smaller crochet hook?

Crochet stitches made with a smaller hook are tighter and smaller than stitches made with a bigger hook. That said, the tension and yarn used has an impact as well. That’s why it’s always important to pay attention to your gauge, no matter what size hook you’re using.

At the most basic level, a smaller crochet hook will create tighter and smaller stitches than a larger one. The smaller the hook, the less yarn you’ll be using to wrap around your hook to create each stitch. 

For example, here you’ll see a swatch created with a 9.0mm hook and one created with a 4.5mm hook. Both swatches used the same yarn. You can see a noticeable difference between the appearance of the stitches created with the smaller hook vs. the bigger hook.

crochet swatches with small and large hooks

So, smaller hook=smaller stitches is a great, basic principle, especially if you’re comparing a tiny hook to a huge one. This isn’t the full story though, especially if you’re comparing crochet hooks of similar sizes. 

Before you choose a smaller crochet hook for your next crochet project, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Is Size a Factor for Your Project?

Using a smaller crochet hook will impact the size of your crochet project. If this matters to you, you’ll want to be mindful about what this could do to your final result.

For example, if you’re crocheting a sweater, using a smaller crochet hook could lead to a sweater that doesn’t fit the way you expected.

I made this mistake with a hat once. I spent so much time and effort making an adorable pumpkin hat, only to find that it was way too small to fit the head of the person I gave it to. Whomp whomp.

This is because crochet hooks of different sizes create stitches of different sizes. If you have a pattern that says to single crochet 10 stitches, that chain of 10 stitches will be different lengths depending on the size of crochet hook, yarn, and tension you use.

For example, I crocheted two swatches and tried to keep them roughly the same size. To do this, I couldn’t depend on stitch count. The swatch made with the smaller crochet hook hds 15 stitches, while the one made with the larger hook had 12. 

closeup crochet swatches with small and large hooks

If I was following a pattern, using a smaller hook than indicated, I would likely end up with a smaller end result than intended.

If the size of your project matters to you, don’t change your crochet hook size without careful consideration. Read your pattern and understand its description of the gauge.

The gauge will tell you the number of stitches and rows needed in a specifically sized swatch of crocheting. Do some sample swatches and see how your smaller hook impacts the resulting size of your crocheting. 

Understanding your gauge will also help you account for your unique style of crocheting. Some of us will crochet with a lot of tension, while others will have a more loose style. Even if two crocheters are using the same size hook and type of yarn, their subtle differences in style will have an impact on the size of the final result.

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Checking your gauge will also help you account for the type of yarn you’re using.

I made another swatch, roughly the same size as the others, with a thicker yarn that only required 9 stitches. 

Here we can see swatches of similar sizes, but the one with the smallest crochet hook required 15 stitches, while the one with the largest crochet hook and thickest yarn only required 9. In this case, choosing a smaller hook and type of yarn made a 6 stitch difference. 

crochet swatches differnt types

That’s a big deal if I’m trying to follow a pattern so, again, be very mindful if you’re making adjustments to a pattern. Not only with your hook, but with your yarn as well.

If the size of your project doesn’t matter to you, simply be aware that your end result will be smaller if you use a smaller hook than if you had used a larger one. 

If you’re making something that isn’t highly structured, like a scarf or a blanket, this could mean that you need to create more stitches to get your project to the size you want it to be. This is why blankets made with bigger hooks can be faster to make because they have larger and more airy stitches than blankets made with smaller hooks.

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Do You Want Smaller, Denser Stitches?

Aside from the size of your project, choosing a smaller crochet hook plays an important role in the style and functionality of your project given that your stitches will be smaller and more dense.

From a style perspective, smaller stitches look different than larger ones. Depending on the stitch you’re using, you may like the look of a certain stitch at a certain size. 

The two swatches I crocheted have different aesthetic appeals, despite being made with the same type of stitch. You can easily see the holes between the stitches of the swatch made with the larger crochet hook. On the other hand, the stitches of the swatch made with the smaller hook are so small that they aren’t clearly visible.

showing holes in crochet swatches

Also, from a functionality perspective, smaller stitches are more dense than larger ones.

Crochet is warm because of how the holes within each stitch trap air and work as insulation. Smaller crochet stitches have more yarn and more holes than larger crochet stitches. Stitch type and choice of yarn aside, this often makes smaller crochet stitches warmer than larger ones.

So, if you’re thinking about using a smaller crochet hook, think about how this will impact the style and functionality of your final project. Do you want stitches that are more dense or that are more airy? 

Your yarn will impact this as well. If you don’t want to use a smaller crochet hook, but don’t want the holes to be visible in your work, choose a thicker yarn. This swatch was made with a large hook but, because the yarn was thick, the holes aren’t visible.

crochet swatch with large hook and thick yarn

Are You Ok with Your Crochet Project Taking Longer?

As we saw with our two swatches that used the same yarn, the swatch with the large hook required 12 stitches, while the one with the smaller hook required 15. While 3 stitches doesn’t seem like a lot, they can add up over the course of a full project.

If you choose a smaller crochet hook, while trying to have an end result of a certain size, it might take you longer. This is simply because you’ll have to make more stitches.

Crocheting with a smaller crochet hook doesn’t seem like a big deal at first. But, once you dive into it, there are a number of factors to consider before making the switch. I hope this article has helped you understand if a smaller crochet hook is right for you and your next project!

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