Sunday, March 21

What's "Hook-Led Gauge"? Why is it Important?

Use extra-fine lace weight alpaca yarn and
a big Tunisian crochet hook. for the
Convertible Smokestack Vest
2018 Update: I revised this post and created a permanent page for it at my new website.

Learning how to let your crochet hook determine your stitch gauge is possibly the most valuable skill a crocheter could develop.


Why?

A hook-led gauge is necessary for making fashionable-looking crochet fabrics with dramatic drape and textures. Sometimes I think of it as "crocheting with air" -- that's how it might feel to use a very big crochet hook with a fine or very stretchy yarn.
    It comes in handy when making Love Knots and other intermediate-level stitches that depend on being able to "eyeball" a loop size.
      You'll be ahead of the curve if you'd like to someday crochet professionally as a teacher, designer or as a valuable pattern tester for other designers!

      Weightless Tunisian Wrap
      It breaks a habit that many crocheters develop: they make their chains and slip stitches tighter than their other stitches, regardless of their hook size. 
      The Eva Slip Stitch Shrug

      Sometimes the crocheter simply crochets much more tightly or loosely no matter what size hook they're using. Other crocheters are actually using the yarn as a gauge guide. Crocheters who are used to using a lot of cotton yarn or thread, which is not stretchy to work with, tend to do this.
      Every crocheter starts out with a natural gauge, often called the "crocheter's hand." With enough practice, crocheters can have more control over their natural stitch gauge. This is actually an intermediate skill that leads to advanced crocheting, although it's not listed in any of the standard skill level descriptions.

      To maintain the best stitch gauge throughout, use the diameter of your hook to judge if your stitches are the right size: as you crochet, the space between the two top loops of each stitch should look large enough to fit the size of the crochet hook you're using. 
      The stretchy slip stitch Pullover Shrug

      See issue #59 of Crochet Inspirations Newsletter about it: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=8d9b0b0df0b73f0fdcb7f4729&id=9c8df8dd87
      Starwirbel Cowl. See newsletter 
      issue #60 for more.
      You might feel a bit outside of your comfort zone at first. If so, just tell yourself that you're making an important investment in your hobby: a world of exciting new stitches and designs will open up to you.