Margaret Kavanagh

Bates or Boye? Which hook brand rules them all?

Boye or Bates crochet hooks? Which should you use?

Since the beginning of history, this has been an ongoing debate: Susan Bates or Boye hooks? If you are just starting, which should you choose?

Some people use both brands, and some pick one and are loyal for life. But why? What are the differences? What are the pros and cons? Aren't all hooks the same? 

Nope! We'll explain the differences between these popular hooks and why you might prefer one over the other. And why it might not make a difference to you. As they say, it's not always all about the size —it's how you use it!

strings of yarn

Speaking of hooks: We have a great subscription bonus — a free set of hooks! When you subscribe to our magazine, you become part of the happiest family out there.  Check out the prices and your free hooks here.

strings of yarn

What's the difference?

bates vs boye crochet hooks parts labeled

Knowing the hook parts can help you figure out why one feels more comfortable and works better for you than another.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means we may garner a small commission at no cost to you if you choose to make a purchase.

Boye Hooks

Boye hooks have a tapered throat. The head and shaft are not a perfect cylinder and gently taper down the shaft of the hook. They also have a tapered, more pointed hook head — that's the part that goes through the yarn first. 

Boye hooks have a long shaft, so the thumb rest is slightly further down on the handle. They, in turn, have a shorter handle.

crochet hooks boye bates inline

Bates hooks have an inline hook with a rounded top, while Boye hooks have a more pointed top with a tapered throat.

Susan Bates hooks

Susan Bates hooks have an inline throat. This means that the head and shaft are basically like a cylinder with a notch in the hook for the yarn. Some instructors recommend in-line hooks because it can help a beginner to maintain tension better. Bates hooks also have a rounded point on the head of the hook.

Bates hooks have a short shaft, and the thumb rest is closer to the hook's head. They, in turn, have a longer handle. 

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Happily Hooked hooks: At Happily Hooked, we give new members a full set of crochet hooks in the most commonly used sizes with soft grips to keep your hands comfortable longer. These hooks are similar to the Boye style hooks.  

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So, how do you choose?

The answer really boils down to personal preference. 

When many people learn, they use hand-me-down hooks. Or, it's whatever is available at the craft store. To figure out which hook type you prefer, here's what I recommend you do: 

Step One: Buy a hook size in both brands and test each for yourself. Which feels best in your hand with your own grip?

Step Two: Make a small swatch with a few different types of yarn with both hooks. Test out some cotton, wool, and acrylic. That should give you an idea of which hook is best for you. You may also find that your hook brand preference depends on what fiber you are working with. (Mine definitely does. Some yarns split a lot, so a pointy-headed hook is annoying. More on that in a minute.)

Step Three: You can also get a FREE set of crochet hooks (hooks similar to Boye-style) when you join Happily Hooked. Free goes a long way towards making a hook your favorite—wink wink. 

happily hooked free crochet hooks

These hooks each have a silicone handle on them, which makes them ergonomic so you can create in more comfort.

A few things to keep in mind

Basic hooks, right off the shelf, are usually aluminum, and that's true of the Susan Bates and Boye crochet hooks we've discussed here. When you're shopping around, here are a few more notes you'll want to know

Handles help

Plain aluminum (or wood, bamboo, plastic, etc.) hooks are usually very narrow. Gripping them for any extended amount of time can cause tired hands. You can purchase handles separately, purchase hooks with handles already installed, buy custom hooks with fancy handles from independent sellers, or even create your own handles.

It's in your head

The yarn you use for a project may determine the hook you use, so you may want more than one hook brand on hand. (Or, if you're like many yarn artists, you may have ALL the brands! And multiples of them!) For instance, if you're using a yarn that tends to split into separate strands, you probably want a hook with a rounder head, so it doesn't accidentally go between the plies.

But, if you're working with tight stitches in your pattern, like slip stitches, a pointy hook head can help you ease the hook into the tight spaces. You may also find that a deeper notch holds on to slippery yarn better. Trial and error will show you which hook makes the most sense for your project. 

Many more makers make more hooks

There are other hook manufacturers outside of Boye and Susan Bates. They are just the most recognizable brands that are most commonly found in craft stores. Other brands include Clover, Tulip, Addi, Furls, Denise, and many more.   

More info

There's more to hooks that choosing them. You need to care for them, as well. Check out this article for hook tips, and enjoy this handy hook size chart, which tells you which hook size is which.

crochet hook conversions

Click on the picture thumbnail for a full-size version of the hook conversions chart that you can save to your own device.

Here's the hook

No matter what you hear from anyone else, the hook(s) you choose must be those you feel most comfortable with and that work best for you. And don't feel like you have to stay with one brand. There are plenty of hook collectors … dare we say, ADDICTS out there. Our own Courtney is one. 

The most important tip we can give you is that you keep experimenting and keep an open mind. This should always be fun and make you happy. And that even includes the hooks you use. 

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In case you missed it, you get free hooks when you sign up with Happily Hooked. But, of course, there are so many MORE reasons to join us. You get 16+ patterns every single month. And a great group of artists to hang out with. VIP bonuses and surprises! And more, more more! 

Author Info

Blog Manager & Columnist Coordinator at Happily Hooked | + posts

I've been crocheting since my mother taught me as a little girl. I'm lucky to be working with Happily Hooked and I can't wait to share everything yarny and hooky with you! Yarn over, peeps! Yarn over!

Margaret Kavanagh

I've been crocheting since my mother taught me as a little girl. I'm lucky to be working with Happily Hooked and I can't wait to share everything yarny and hooky with you! Yarn over, peeps! Yarn over!

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