I received the following question by email:
My Granny says “crochet needle” when she’s talking about the hooked tool she uses to crochet. I came across an article online that says there’s no such thing as a crochet needle, and that the only correct terminology is “crochet hook”. So I told my Granny she was using the incorrect terminology, and that she should say “crochet hook” instead of “crochet needle”.
Granny laughed and said the Internet is full of all kinds of wrong information, and she assures me that blogger doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She continues to insist that “crochet needle” is the correct terminology.
Crochet pattern designers like yourself are using the term “crochet hook,” so I’m really confused about this and would appreciate clarification. Thanks for your time and help with this.
Laura Lee Yates
Here’s my response:
Hi Laura Lee,
Thanks for getting in touch. Great question!
I learned to crochet from my Great Aunt Nancy, who also referred to her hooked crochet tools as “crochet needles” — so your Granny is not alone in thinking that “crochet needle” is the correct terminology.
To answer this question definitively, I turned to my extensive library of antique, vintage and contemporary needlework texts.
What I found: Historically, crochet pattern designers in books and magazines both in the USA and UK used the terms “crochet hook” and “crochet needle” interchangeably. Some used both terms in the same publication; the editors at some publications seemed to have a preference for one term over the other.
Nowadays, crochet pattern designers are consistently using the term “crochet hook”.
My conclusion: Currently, “crochet hook” is the more popular terminology, but your Granny is absolutely within her rights to continue using the term “crochet needle”. A large amount of historical evidence exists validating the use of the term “crochet needle” when referring to a hooked tool used for crocheting. In light of all the existing evidence, it is obviously historically incorrect to insist that there is no such thing as a crochet needle. Anyone who says otherwise is demonstrating ignorance of the craft’s history and existing body of literature.
However, Granny would not be within her rights to insist that everyone must call it a “crochet needle”. Both terms are correct.
Let’s take a look at the language used in some vintage publications so you can see why I came to these conclusions. I invite you to judge for yourself whether you agree with my findings.
6 Vintage Crochet Books That Use the Word “Needle” to Refer to a Crochet Hook
1. The Girl’s Own Indoor Book
From the Picot Wheel Section, Page 105:
“Work 5 chain, and to set the loop, turn, miss 3 chain, and into the 4th make one single, repeat this seven times, which will give you 8 loops, with 1 chain between each. Your row is straight; now pick up the other end, and, turning the loops inward, draw the first chain through the loop on the needle…”
From Section XII, Wool Crochet:
2. The Priscilla Filet Book No. 2
This book was edited by Mrs. F. W. Kettelle. The Priscilla Publishing Company published the book in 1915. The title page includes a note that says ” Copyright in Great Britain and the Colonies”.
From the Introductory Section of the Book Entitled “Filet Crochet” on Page 3:
Filet crochet takes its name from filet brodé which it resembles. It is at its very best when done with fine thread and the finest needle, yet it is handsome in coarse thread….
Explanation of Terms. — Chain (ch). With a slip knot on the needle, pull a loop through, then a loop through that, etc.
Slip Stitch (sl). A loop on the hook, hook through work, pull loop through both.
Again, you can see from these excerpts that the editor has allowed both the words, “needle” and “hook” to be used interchangeably.
3. How to Crochet Cluny Laces: Book No 5A
Copyright 1915, by John J. Dvorak; published by Novelty Art Studios of Chicago, Illinois.
From the Section on Crochet Abbreviations and Their Meanings on Page Four of the Book:
Sl. st. — Insert needle into work — draw thread through work and the lp. on the needle at the same time.
4. Royal Society Crochet Lessons, Book 7, 1916
The H.E. Verran Company published this book in New York in 1916.
From the Crochet Stitches Section, Page 3:
Catch thread with needle, forming a loop. Pull the thread with the needle through this loop to form the first stitch. Continue chain to any desired length.
5. Corticelli Lessons in Crochet: Book No. 9
The Corticelli Silk Mills published this book in Florence, Massachusetts in 1920.
From the Abbreviations and Explanations of Crochet Stitches Section of the Book, Page 3:
Chain: Make a slip loop on crochet needle. With the hook, draw the thread through this loop. Continue, always drawing the thread through the last loop, to form a chain of the desired length.
You can see from this brief excerpt that the author of the book has used both “needle” and “hook” interchangeably.
6. Collingbournes Yokes: Filet, Cluny, Tatting; Book no. 9
Collingbourne Mills published this book in 1920 in Elgin, Illinois, USA.
From the Daffodil Filet Slipover Yoke Pattern, Page 7 of the Book:
Make 65 ch sts. d.c. 7th from needle…
So here you have 6 different books by different publishers, editors and authors — all of which use the word “needle” to refer to a tool that contemporary crochet enthusiasts would call a “crochet hook”. Hopefully this clears up the confusion on the topic of crochet hook vs crochet needle for you. As I stated above, you can see from these examples that, historically, these two terms have been used interchangeably. Hopefully this demonstrates to your satisfaction that there is, indeed, such a thing as a crochet needle — and that your granny is correct in saying so.