Stitch Anatomy Part 2: How Hook Size Affects Gauge.

Sooo glad to know I am not alone in my geekdom getting into the gritty stuff of hooking!! Thanks everyone for so much love for Stitch Anatomy Part 1. Today I wanted to talk about how hook size affects gauge. It’s pretty logical to think a bigger hook size will produce a larger stitch and looser gauge (fewer stitches and rows per 10cm/4in) and this is the goal of up-sizing your hook, but it’s not always that straight-forward.


Jumping right in...

As we discussed in Part 1, hooking action can potentially change the size of your stitch immediately after completing it, but for now lets just pop that to one side.

For today's blog let’s initially assume that the post segments and chain-hats are flowing immaculately off the hook so they are matching the hook shaft exactly - and let's look at how the stitch and row size change with increasing hook size… Then we are going to talk about the “golden loop” which can totally mess with your post height.

First let’s have a look at a swatch of those super-exciting dc stitches (UK terms as always). The yarn is a DK (8ply) merino and it has been worked in graduating hook sizes as shown on the photo such that each hook worked 4 rows using the same stitch count throughout. It’s an exercise I had to do for the International Diploma of Crochet a number of years ago, and it was an eye-opener! Look at how much is splays with the bigger hooks!?

Hooks from bottom to top: 3mm, 3.75mm, 5mm, 7mm & 10mm

Observations:

HEIGHTS:

The 4 rows with the 3mm hook measures 17mm

The 4 rows with the 3.75mm hook measures 19mm

The 4 rows with the 5mm hook measures 20mm

The 4 rows with the 7mm hook measures 23mm

The 4 rows with the 10mm hook measures 29mm

Comparing the smallest hook to the largest hook: the increase of 7mm in hook shaft diameter from 3mm hook to the 10mm hook has increased the row height by approximately 70% (29/17=1.706)

WIDTHS:

6 sts with the 3mm hook measures 30mm

6 sts with the 3.75mm hook measures 34mm

6 sts with the 5mm hook measures 40mm

6 sts with the 7mm hook measures 47mm

6 sts with the 10mm hook measures 55mm

Comparing the smallest hook to the largest hook: the increase of 7mm in hook shaft diameter from 3mm hook to the 10mm hook has increased the stitch width by approximately 83% (55/30=1.706)

Conclusions:

I am not claiming any absolutes here – my measurements might be slightly off and I might think my stitches are good but maybe not perfecrt, (and the yarn you are using will contribute as well)… But keeping that in mind we can still identify a general trend:

Even for a short stitch like the double crochet where you would think increasing the hook size would have the most direct effect on stitch/row height, increasing the hook size increases the width of the stitch more than its height.

So why is that?

My logic tells me it is because the stitch width is determined by just the horizontal chain-hat part of the stitch so increasing hook size will have the most direct effect.

Dc stitch height though, is made up of the vertical segment legs and then the chain hat horizontally stacked on top (or taller stitches will have multiple segments with horizontal cross bars and the chain-hat). Increasing hook size will determine the vertical segments, but the horizontal elements will be determined by the yarn thickness not the hook size. The overall effect of changing hook size on stitch/row height is diluted by the horizontal elements of the stitch.

Summary so far:

Increasing hook size will affect the width of the horizontal stitch elements without any contribution from vertical elements so has the most direct influence on stitch gauge.

Increasing hook size will affect the height of vertical stitch elements but not so much the height of horizontal elements of that make up the stitch structure, so it has a smaller influence on row gauge than it does on stitch gauge.


(Having said this, we can now add Part 1 findings back in that scooping during your draw throughs can shorten both vertical and horizontal elements of your stitch as well).


Moving on to…

THE GOLDEN LOOP

The “golden loop” is the last loop you pull up when you load your stitch, and it’s the first of the 2 loops you draw through when you work-off your stitch. As you perform that first draw-through, how much you lift up on the golden loop with your hook, or yank down on that loop with your tensioning yarn determines the height of the lowest post segment.

Fellow Scheepjes Blogger Esther from It’s All in a Nutshell published a great video a couple of weeks ago to demonstrate the golden loop. You can find out if you are a yanker, rider or lifter! …It makes more sense when you see it in action, and she has given me permission to link to it here:

Esther talks about that loop having the most influence on determining stitch height, but I have been playing around with the pulleys in motion and how much you “yank”, “ride” or “lift” influences each post segment, not just the bottom segment. Thanks to Scheepjes for providing me with lovely Organicon yarn (100% Organic Soft Cotton; 50g/170m - Fresh Air 217) for my video demonstration:


The Take-Home Message:

To achieve gauge when swatching in preparation for your crochet garment/other project – assuming you are not scooping in your hooking action - go with the hook that allows you to match stitch gauge as the first step, then modify your tendency to yank/ride/lift the golden loop to adjust row gauge!

Lol – the whole blog is reduced to this one sentence – but I think understanding the background to this plan of attack is important too. That's it for now!

I have some new project blogs coming up next (yay - much more colourful!), and after that I will continue with Stitch Anatomy Part 3 – how gauge is affected when working taller stitches.


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Happy stitch-exploring!

Susan (Peppergoose)

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