Choosing your first Tunisian Crochet Hook

Photo of Chiaogoo TSPIN Interchangeable Crochet Hooks in their case. The case is a black background with red fabric, printed with small, black, floral designs.
Various Tunisian crochet hooks are displayed. On the left is the Clover interchangeable set - light wooden hooks in a tan case with purple edging. On the right is the ChiaoGoo TSPIN set - light wooden hooks in a black case with red accents. On the table lie various tunisian crochet hooks - long straight wooden ones, one interchangeable head, a double ended one, and a metal hook with a flexible cable attached.
Clover Interchangeable tunisian crochet hook set (left), Chiaogoo TSPIN interchangeable tunisian crochet hook set (right) and assorted other tunisian crochet hooks – straight, double ended, and Knitter’s Pride Interchangeable.

If you’re at this post i’m guessing by now a pretty nifty Tunisian Crochet design (maybe even one of mine) has caught your eye! But, you’ve been told you need a special hook that will likely need to be ordered online.

Which hook is the best? Which size do you buy? Should it be straight, double ended, or with a flexible cord?

Don’t worry, i’ve got you! In this post i’ll cover a few of the basic details you need to know about choosing your first Tunisian Crochet hook as well as my personal favorites (which are NOT affiliate links – just my opinions)!

Types of Tunisian Crochet Hooks

A long, hand carved tunisian crochet hook by Roux Studios. The hook is painted to mimic a chalkboard - a black base coat of paint with intricate floral designs painted in white.
Hand carved tunisian crochet hook by Roux Studios
http://www.handcarvedhooks.com

A traditional Tunisian crochet hook is a long straight version of a standard crochet hook. This type of hook you likely have seen your Grandmother using to do what she calls “afghan crochet” or “afghan stitch.”

What do you use it for?
It’s excellent for making wide pieces of fabric such as blanket panels, scarves, or even an infinity scarf worked flat. Think of it as the straight knitting needles of tunisian crochet.

Where can I find one?
1) A craft store. You can find a traditional tunisian crochet hook in just about any craft store, but you won’t have many choices for sizes. Likely you will have the option for a US J (6.0mm) or US H (5.0mm) and that’s about it. (Cost: about $6)
2) Furls crochet hooks just started carrying Tunisian crochet hooks. They have plenty of sizes, and lovely wood color choices. (Cost: about $25)
3) An artisan hand-carved hook. These have a wide price range depending on the intricacy of the work. The one in the photo above was $90 because it’s an absolute work of art!

Interchangeable crochet hooks & flexible hooks

Chiaogoo TSPIN interchangeable crochet hook set. 11 crochet hook heads sit in a black case with red floral fabric accents.
Chiaogoo T-SPIN interchangeable crochet hook set

You’ve probably seen interchangeable hook sets around if you’re active on social media. Hook sets like these are popular on Facebook, Instagram, Ravelry, and YouTube.
They feature a solid crochet hook (hook length varies depending on the brand) with a flexible cable that screws into the base of the hook.

What are they used for?
Interchangeable and flexible hooks are excellent for making very long pieces, or shaped pieces. For example, if you want to crochet a triangular shawl like my Dayspring Shawl

A white woman with brown hair stands in front of a weathered barn door. The door is half gray, weathered wood, half painted deep red. She holds a shawl that is striped yellow and speckled red in front of her, looking proud of her work.
Dayspring Shawl by Ruth Brasch

A flexible crochet hook allows you to work around the point of the triangle, from one edge to the other on a single flexible crochet hook. It also allows you to hold a large number of stitches on the cable without the weight of a long straight hook, so the flexible hooks are a little more ergonomic and user friendly.

Where can you find them?
1) The set above is from Chiaogoo; it’s called T-Spin, and is about $135
2) Individual hooks and cables can be bought from WEBS (yarn.com). These are the Knitter’s Pride Ginger hooks, which you’ll hear more about slightly further down this page when I talk about my hook/brand preferences. These were the first hooks I tried, precisely because I could try them without buying a full set.
3) Clover/Takumi also has an interchangeable bamboo set that is very similar to the Chiaogoo set (more comparisons below). My set of these I found at Michael’s. They retail for about $75, but if you catch them when the store has a 40-50% off coupon, it makes the set much more affordable. That’s how and when I got my set.

Double Ended Hooks

A hand holds a double ended Clover, Takumi crochet hook size 6.0mm (USA Size J hook).
Clover Takumi double ended bamboo hook for Tunisian Crochet. Size US J (6.0 mm)

What are they used for?
Double ended hooks are used for working Tunisian Crochet in the round. It’s a super fun technique that I plan to write more about soon!

Where can they be found?
1) You can typically find these in craft stores like Michael’s and Joann’s. The last time I looked in one, I saw about 4 sizes in the store (US H-J/4.0-6.0mm) and a few more online.
2) Online. The google is your friend!

But Ruth, what’s the difference between sets, and which do YOU use?

I’m so glad you asked!

Three tunisian crochet hooks are held up to compare with one another. The left hook has a larger head and shallower throat, the middle and right hooks are almost identical except the right-most hook is pointier.
Comparison of three Tunisian Crochet Hooks
From L-R: Knitter’s Pride Ginger, Chiaogoo T-Spin, Clover/Takumi

Check out the photo above – You can see a hook from each of the three interchangeable sets I mentioned. Here are some of the biggest differences i’ve noticed while using them:

Knitter’s Pride Ginger ($129)
* 12 Hooks, Sizes 3.5-12mm
* Gloss/Sealant on hook for a smoother feel
* Heaviest of the three
* Largest head of the three
* Shallowest throat of the three
* Point on end of head to help with catching yarn
* Medium length
* Comes with standard Knitter’s pride cables – these are the least flexible of the three.
* Has a key for tightening the join between cable and hook
* Storage: Flip cover, snap shut case (plus a matching pen)

Chiaogoo T-Spin ($135):
* 11 hooks size E-N (3.5-10mm)
* No gloss or sealant, but very smooth feel in hand
* Light weight bamboo
* Throat is the same as the Clover set, but with a rounder angle
* Slightly larger and rounder head than the Clover set, much smaller head than the Knitter’s Pride set
* Comes with the standard red Chiaogoo cable with a metal wire inside it – This helps reduce cable kinking.
* Has a key for tightening the join between cable and hook
* Storage: Zip up travel case

Clover Bamboo Interchangeable Set ($179):
* 9 hooks size E-L (3.5mm-8mm)
* No gloss or sealant, but very smooth feel in hand
* Light weight bamboo
* Throat is the same as the Chiaogoo set, but has the sharpest angle to it
* Smallest head of the three, with a medium point – less pointy than Knitter’s Pride, more pointy than Chiaogoo.
* Comes with a clear, VERY light weight cable
* No key for tightening the join between cable and hook
* Storage: a roll up fabric case with a tie


Yes, Ruth, but which one?
If you have the budget for it, I’d go for the T-Spin set. While the T-Spin and Clover sets are very similar, the Chiaogoo set comes with another hook, a tightening key, and a zipping case that’s super compact for traveling and storage.

For a budget friendly option, the Clovers are an excellent choice. They’re very similar to the Chiaogoo set, and if you have a coupon for the store, can be VERY budget friendly.

The Knitter’s Pride set is my third choice. I enjoyed them for my first hooks, and they’re excellent if you want to buy a single hook without needing to buy the full set.

I hope this was a helpful article for you! I’d love to hear which hooks you end up choosing and how you like them!

Goals

Many skeins and cakes of yarn stacked up on each other on a wooden table. A gray stone wall is in the background. Yarn colors are green, pink, purple, blue, orange, and white.
A pile of yarn being de-stashed by Ruth!

Goal writing posts are everywhere this time of year, and apparently my blog is no different! This year I’m making goals that are more general and attainable, rather that super specific.

Goal 1: Finish or Frog all WIPS started before 2020. I did a lot of this already, and I’m down to about 9 WIPS/UFOS. So I’m excited to get some of these super old ones resolved one way or the other!

How? Finish or frog one old project per month.

Goal 2: Purchase With Intent. This means I want to buy yarn only when I have specific projects in mind for it.

How? Self control!

Goal 3: More Out Than In. 2019 was a little heavy on stash acquisition. I’m really happy with the things I bought, but now I want to use the pretties I already have!

How? I’m using an excel spreadsheet to track yardage in and out. Yardage will be logged when yarn is bought, or projects are completed.

That’s it! What are your goals for this year?

What’s Up With All the Mohair?

4 angora goats stand on grass in front of a gate.
Angora Goat – The source of mohair yarn.
Photo copyright domesticanimalbreeds.com

Edit (12:07 PM, 11/20/19): It has come to my attention since I wrote this article that I have sorely neglected to mention a very important mohair source – small, local farms! I plan to correct this lapse in a future article.

Every so often trends pop up in the fiber arts community that cause questions. You might hear things like “what’s brioche?” “What does HOTH mean?” Or, in this case, “what’s up with all the mohair?”

That last one was me. Recently, a fairly popular designer named Andrea Mowry published a pair of socks that are knit with 1 strand of sock yarn and 1 strand of lace weight mohair/silk held together. Holding mohair with another strand of yarn has been a growing trend for a few years now; if you do a Ravelry search for mohair held double, there’s currently 34 pages of results, but only 9 of those patterns are socks. It’s safe to say that mohair socks are fairly unusual. However, with AM’s socks only having been published for 8 days, they already have the most projects of all the 9 patterns.


If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that i’m very interested in the various bandwagons going around but I don’t hop on quickly – I like to check out the trends, see what people think, etc.

I did a little research on the various mohair yarns out there, as well as having a lovely Instagram Live chat (which sadly I managed to not download!) and I’m sharing my research and chat notes below. I hope these help!


Why hold mohair with anything?

This is an excellent question that comes up frequently. Why do people hold mohair with other yarn, what are the benefits of it? One benefit is that yarns with lots of open space in them (as opposed to being very dense) trap the air, which in turn adds a significant amount of warmth.

Secondly, as noted above, mohair is trendy. When something becomes trendy, designers tend to ask “what can I do with this?” So, when brioche was beginning to return to popularity, it was suddenly on socks, hats, shawls, gloves – anything you could slap the stitch on, designers did. I suspect mohair is the same right now: designers are adding it because they can, which leads to the second point.


What does mohair yarn cost?

This varies significantly depending on the source you purchase from. In general, and in the trendy sense we are typically seeing patterns that call for one strand of lace weight mohair/silk blend. Mohair and silk are both considered “luxury” fibers, and any time you see the word “luxury” attached to a product you can expect a fairly high price. Usually it means the fiber is less available, or requires more time/effort/care in the sourcing of it.

While there are tons of yarns with mohair in them, I want to focus on a few yarns I talked about during the Instagram live – a few low cost, a few medium cost, and a few higher cost. The list below is definitely not exhaustive, but hopefully it’ll give you a few helpful details. All prices are in US Dollars, as converted at the time of writing the post.

1. Drops Kid Silk ($4.92/25g ball)75% mohair, 25% silk. 218 yds/200m.
2. Knit Picks Aloft ($7.99/25g ball) – 72% super kid mohair, 28% silk. 260 yds/237m.
3. Valley Yarns Southampton – ($7.99/25g ball) – 72% kid mohair, 28% mulberry silk. 230 yds/210m.
*Note: WEBS (yarn.com) has a discount on many yarns on their site: 20% off a purchase of $60+ or 25% off a purchase of $120+ so if you utilize that this yarn would be $5.99-6.39/25g instead, making it the second most affordable option i’ve found.
4. Rowan Kidsilk Haze ($14.99/25g ball) – 70% kid mohair, 30% silk. 225 yds/205m.
*Note – this one is also eligible for the WEBS discount if purchased through them, making this yarn $11.24-11.99/25g instead.
5. Indie Dyed Mohair/Silk Blend – Here you’re going to find a wide range of options and prices. The mohair blend I dye is $29/50g hank – 459yds/420m. I’ve seen it as high as $32 and as low as $27.
6. Manos del Uruguay Cabrito ($19/25g ball) – 80% kid mohair, 20% polyamide. 230 yds/210m.


Lets talk about sock yarn

Since we’re talking specifically about knitting (or crocheting) socks, I think it’s helpful to have some sock yarn prices listed here too. Some of these i’ve tried, some I haven’t.


*Note: I realize that listing brands like Cascade is controversial.
Please take a moment to think about the fact that being financially able to boycott a certain brand is a privilege that not everyone has. Some makers, including myself sometimes, need to choose the most locally available or financially friendly option, thus it is important to include these in a list of lower price options.
Yarns on this list are included because of availability, not as a statement of support for any company.


Snuggly Stripes Wool by Loops & Threads ($8.99/100g ball) – 75% wool, 25% nylon
*Note: This yarn appears to only be available online, and at Michael’s in Canada.
Paton’s Kroy ($5.99/50g ball) – 75% wool, 25% nylon
Knit Picks Stroll ($5.49/50g ball) – 75% fine superwash merino, 25% nylon
Valley Yarns Huntingdon ($5.49/50g hank) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon
*Note: this yarn is eligible for the WEBS discount noted above in the mohair list.
Knit Picks Felici ($6.99/50g ball) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon
Cascade Heritage Sock ( $11.00/100g hank) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon
Knit Picks Hawthorne ($13.99/100g hank) – 80% fine superwash highland wool, 20% nylon
*Note: this yarn is thick for sock yarn, and is more of a sport weight yarn.
Regia Pairfect ($17.50/100g ball) – 75% wool, 25% polyamide
*This yarn is eligible for the WEBS discount
Malabrigo Sock ($19.49/100g hank) – 100% superwash merino
Indie Dyed yarn – Again, ranges from about $20-35/100g depending on fiber content, dyer, dye technique, etc.


Whew! What a list, right?
Take a minute, go get some chocolate, coffee, whatever, and come back. I’ll wait!


Price per project

This is the portion i’ve been leading up to. The entire reason for listing a large range of yarns is so we can talk about the total cost per project. Using the prices listed above, and assuming a pattern requires more than 50g of sock yarn per pair, that means you’re buying in 100g quantites for socks, and larger quantites for shawls, cowls, sweaters, etc.
Mohair is laceweight, so you need roughly. 25g of mohair for every 50g of sock yarn.

Socks (no mohair): $8.99-$35
Socks (with mohair): $18.83-73.98
200g Shawl (no mohair): $17.98-70
200g Shawl (with mohair): $35.96-140
*Note: this is assuming the fingering weight yarn is one of the sock yarns listed above. There are many fingering weight yarns with luxury fibers like silk, yak, alpaca, angora, etc that would raise the price considerably.


Price to make garments

Pullover Sweater (I’m using the yardage/size information from Spector by Joji Locatelli because it’s long sleeved, has total yardage for sizes from 32-63″ (80-158 cm), and is a good representation of a sweater from a popular designer.

Information will be listed as follows:
Size (yarn amount required) = cost without mohair/cost with mohair
Lowest prices listed use the Sunggly Stripes Wool for fingering weight ($8.99/100g) and Knit Picks Aloft price for mohair (4.92/25g)
Highest prices listed use the high end of indie dyed yarn for fingering weight ($35/100g) and the Manos del Uruguay Cabrito for mohair ($19/25g)

32″ size (300g) = $26.97-105 / $56.49-$219
34″, 38.75″, 42.75″ sizes (400g) =$35.96-$140 / $75.32-$292
46.75″, 50.75″, 54.75 sizes (500g) = $44.95-$175 / $94.15-$365
57.5″, 63.25″ sizes (600g) = $53.94-$210/ $112.98-$438

*Note: Crochet sweaters require more yardage than knit ones purely by nature of the technique used, so for crocheters these are also low end prices.


Ruth, why are you telling me all this?


I’m giving you this information because knowledge is power.
When a trend comes along it’s good to have information no matter who you are:
maker, designer, or yarn dyer.


Makers: Please consider that designers and dyers *are* somewhat required to keep up with trends to make a living. Designers and dyers often collaborate together and depend on one another for mutual support. This is not a condemnation of designers and dyers collaborating together to create lovely, fuzzy patterns.

Designers: Please consider that your customers and test knitters/crocheters may not be able to make the financial commitment to your garment if mohair is included. As a designer, I understand the importance of checking that a pattern works as written.
*First Thought: Would you consider allowing testers to substitute a yarn that is the equivalent of your two yarns that are held together? I guarantee some of your customers will be doing this anyway, so it’s actually more thorough testing to allow testers to substitute a yarn that works for their budget and meets your requirements.
*Second thought- I hear overwhelmingly from makers that they’d like to *try* mohair, as opposed to jumping right in to a full garment, so they can find out if they like it before committing to a garment (or because a $400 sweater isn’t realistic for their budget).
Food for thought.

Dyers: Love you. You’re making lovely colors! I know you get lots of pressure to give quantity discounts so your yarns are more affordable. I have mixed feelings about the level of discount some are offering, because I know you need to stay in the black. If you discount too much there will be no profit. If you are unable to do give a discount, would you consider making alternate kits that don’t include mohair and offering both (in all sizes!)? This way you can support the designer you’re collaborating with AND have a more affordable option. That means you’ll gain customers you never would have had – more customers = more profit. It’s a win.


Wear & Care

To finish this up quickly, one last thought to consider is the wear and care of mohair.

Mohair is a non-superwash fiber that *can* felt. That means you will need to carefully handwash any item you make, including socks. While you can get away with the very rare washing of outerwear sweaters, shawls, and maybe even hats, you may begin to get some sideways glances if you never wash your socks.

Lastly, mohair is slippery. If you make mohair socks, please be careful (and don’t blame me if you slip! My official recommendation is to not wear mohair socks on slippery surfaces).


Good golly that was a lot of information!
I’m always here if you want to chat.

If you want to catch the next instagram live where I chat about topics like this one: follow me at @ruthbrasch