There are as many ways to hold a crochet hook and yarn as there are hooks themselves. And no matter which one you try, they’re all going to feel super awkward at first. But somehow, there will be one that feels more right than all the rest. Once you get the hang of it and find your flow, your concerns about how to hold a crochet hook and yarn will go out the window. And soon, your yarn and hook will be dancing to the beat of your stitches.
In this article we will talk about the six main ways to hold a hook (two of them are BY FAR the most common), and the two main ways to hold your yarn (including 2 additional variations to solve tension issues). After crocheting for a while with your perfect pairing of these, doing anything different will feel as weird as writing with your non-dominant hand.
How to hold a crochet hook
There are two categories of grip: overhand and underhand. Within those two categories there are three common grips, with two of them being the FAR most common. The goal, is that with a little practice, the one you choose becomes super comfortable and easy for you.
For absolute beginners, here are the six most common ways to hold your hook. Give them a try and see what feels best for you!
I’ve also created a free printable 2-page quick reference guide on all of the 6 ways we talk about here. Find it in the Quick Reference Guide section of my resource library.
Overhand crochet hook positions grip the hook inside of the palm, with the hand OVER the hook. Here are the 3 most common overhand grips:
Knife Grip: This is one of the two most common holds, and the most common hold of all of the overhand grips. You hold the hook just like you would a knife – index finger on top with the hook being held securely between the middle finger and the thumb. The head is controlled with the index finger.
Sometimes, prominent thumb rests aren’t preferred by those who use this hold because, depending on the position of your wrist, it can cause the hook to face an undesirable direction (down). Generally, the fingers stay in the same place on the hook and don’t shift position much.
Saber Grip: This hold leads with the thumb, similar to how you might hold a sword. The other four fingers curl around and grip the hook while the handle rests inside the palm. This hold requires more wrist work (usually side-to-side) than finger work so if you have trouble with pain, this might not be the one for you.
Just like with knife grip, most crocheters using this hold, don’t significantly change the position of their hand on the hook while they work. However, unlike the knife hold, crocheters who use the saber hold, generally like thumb rests since most of the hook stability in this hold is coming from the thumb.
Claw Grip: This grip is also referred to as the “piano” because it is similar to how fingers are placed upon the keys. Rather than gripping the hook with fingers wrapping around like the saber hold, this one places all 5 fingertips on the hook.
There’s a rolling action that happens with this hold – rolling the hook beneath the fingertips to maneuver it. Thumb-rests generally not preferred because they inhibit the smooth rolling motion. This grip normally involves a significant amount of wrist, finger and arm movement.
Underhand crochet hook positions grip the hook where the handle sticks outside of the palm near the index finger, the knuckle or the pad between the index finger and thumb. The hand remains UNDER the hook. Here are the 3 most common underhand crochet grips:
Pencil Grip: This is the second of the two most common holds, and the most common underhand grip. You hold the hook just as you have been taught to hold a pencil when writing which is where it got its appropriate name.
This grip requires you to hold the hook tighter to remain in control, so a lot of crocheters that use this grip really like a thumb rest. This grip uses quite a bit of wrist work – up and down. So, if you’re experiencing wrist pain or finger fatigue it might be because of the tighter grip and the significant amount of wrist work as well. If you hurt, try a different hold.
Pinky Fly Grip: The pinky fly eliminates the use of both the ring finger and pinky finger – although the ring finger likes to stay somewhat involved. Stability is found using the middle finger.
Some like to use this hold temporarily when some finger relief is needed, but there is a definite emphasis on the middle finger, so you may begin to feel pain in that finger during extended crochet sessions. There may be a rolling action from predominantly using just two fingers for control – the thumb and middle finger.
Chopstick grip: Again, appropriately named, this grip is held similarly to how you would hold chopsticks – clamped between the index finger and thumb. The motion is back and forth, with a lot of involvement of other fingers for supporting the hook or even holding part of the working project. There is also a rolling action that is used.
This is a very relaxed grip and allows for the hook to be held loosely. It also allows quite a bit of flexibility between which finger is used dominantly.
How to hold crochet yarn
You hear a lot about “tension” when talking about crochet. Tension is the stress that we apply to the yarn as we use it. It’s critical to have proper tension when you crochet because if you don’t your project will turn out all wonky. It won’t be the right size, the edges won’t be clean – it’ll just look like a proper mess. If you are constantly battling tension issues you will struggle to find a nice free flow which will leave you feeling frustrated and hating crochet.
And we don’t want that now, do we?
That is why figuring out what works for you in terms of holding your yarn is critical. One way of knowing what to try when holding yarn is to identify whether you crochet tightly or loosely.
Here are some hints to look for if you’re struggling with tension
If you crochet tightly, you might find:
- You have a hard time pulling your yarn through as you complete a stitch
- You have a hard time pushing your hook under your stitches as you go along
- Your hands quickly become crampy and sore
- Your projects always end up too small
- You find you’re having to grip your hook tighter than comfortable
If you crochet loosely, you might find:
- Your stitches have unpredictable and uneven gaps and spacing
- You struggle when trying to grab your yarn when you’re yarning over
- Your edges aren’t straight and clean
- Your projects always end up too big
The most common way to correct tension issues is to adjust the way you hold your yarn. If you crochet tightly, you want to hold the yarn in a way where it can flow more readily. If you crochet loosely, you’ll want to wrap your yarn an extra time around your finger so it will be harder for it to slide as freely through your fingers.
Here are four ways to try holding your crochet yarn (it’s really two ways, but each alternative with an added finger wrap for those that need more tension)
Wrap your yarn under your middle finger (or pinky finger or ring finger) and over your pointer finger. Control the tension by squeezing your fingers together as you work a stitch and pull more yarn into your project. The tighter you squeeze, the tighter the tension, the smaller the stitches. Less squeezing pressure will result in looser tension and looser stitches.
And if you want a little built-in yarn muzzle…
Alternatively, rather than squeezing pressure, you can wrap the yarn an extra time around your pointer finger (or pinky finger) which provides a built-in way of adding more tension. This is how I hold my yarn, by wrapping it twice around my pointer finger. It allows for longer crocheting sessions without the hand becoming fatigued from all the squeezing.
When I’m using heavier yarns like bulky weight or heavier, the second wrap ends up causing too much tension so I stick with the single wrap when I’m working with that yarn. How to hold a crochet hook and yarn can change up a bit based on what yarn and hook you’re using, but making those adjustments will be no big deal once your typical hold and grip become second nature.
Although it can seem daunting at first, I hope you feel a lot better about how to hold a crochet hook and yarn. And I’m SOOO glad you started here to learn how to do it! Thank you! Please let me know if you have more questions about how to hold your hook and yarn – or anything else crochet related for that matter.
You might also be interested in these related articles. And all of them have free printable quick reference guides for you to download and save or print to be yours forever!
- The anatomy of a crochet hook
- Yarn weights explained
- The ultimate guide to crochet hooks
- 5 essential crochet tools for beginners