Today, I’m going to talk about knitting hooks (sometimes called knitting tools) and tapestry needles. These are the essential tools you need to loom knit, apart from the loom itself. Most looms you buy will come with a knitting hook and a tapestry needle.
The best way to start, is by using whatever came in your kit, but as you begin adding more looms, you start to become discerning about which hooks and needles are going to be the most useful and which to give away or use as a backup in your tool box.
I have over 15 looms at this point, so I have a variety of knitting hooks and needles. At first glance, the knitting hooks look the same, but there are definitely differences in the size and angle of the needles across different brands. I’ll post a few here so you can see some of the differences and why I have certain tools that I prefer.
This picture gives a good comparison of the knitting hooks, though it doesn’t include my favorite hook, which I’ll post about below.
One thing to notice is that the Boye knitting hook and the Loops & Threads hooks are much duller than the wooden KB knitting hook. Generally speaking, I find Knitting Board brand hooks to be sharper than other brands. It may be because they use narrow gauge looms and the sharper hook makes it easier to catch the yarn and pull it over the rounded peg heads.
The advantage of the duller knitting hook is that it is less likely to damage your loom over time. I’ve seen pictures of looms that have been heavily used where the plastic grooves on the pegs are frayed and scraped from long-term use. (Though I have to say that the quality and workmanship of the KB looms is far superior to the cheaper looms out there, so their nylon/plastic pegs are probably more durable).
I can’t remember for sure if the blue knitting hook was a KB hook or a second Loops and Threads hook, but I believe that was a KB hook.
Here is a close-up picture of the red Boye hook.
My first loom (the Boye medium round loom) came with a red hook that had a flattened center, which is for your thumb to rest while you’re using the knitting tool. Overall, I like this concept, and for a while, I really enjoyed using this hook. My hands weren’t overly stressed and I could loom knit for hours, unlike crochet (when I crochet, I have to use ergonomic needles and wrist braces or I’m in a lot of pain).
The only drawback for me with the Boye knitting hook is that it is short. I didn’t notice this at all when I started using it, but compared to the one I use now, there is a noticeable difference.
My second loom was the Knitting Board Adjustable hat loom, which came with the wooden knitting hook (you can see it in the image above). I also purchased the KB Ergonomic Knitting Tool, which is the one I use the most. I’m not a big fan of the wooden KB hook because it’s not comfortable for me to hold. The pros of the wooden one are that it is lightweight and has a long, sharp hook which can be helpful for picking up the yarn. Thus far, I’ve only seen the wooden hook in kits like the KB Adjustable Hat Loom and the Knitting Basics Kit, not with the stand-alone looms.
The Loops & Threads green hook worked pretty well. It wasn’t uncomfortable to hold and it is something in between the dull tip of the Boye style and the pointy tip of the KB hooks. I would definitely use this if I needed a backup or if I was traveling and didn’t want to risk security throwing away my favorite hook because of the sharp tip.
My favorite though is the KB Ergonomic Knitting tool! It’s larger, has a rubberized handle, and the pick is sharp and angled to make it easier to pull the yarn over the loop. It’s very well made and you can get it fairly inexpensively at JoAnn, especially if you have a coupon.
The Ergonomic tool makes it easy to knit for hours and puts less strain on your hands and wrists. It does what it says. If you have severe pain when knitting, you may also want compression gloves or wrist braces, but this tool definitely does help with minimizing carpel tunnel/tendonitis pain.
If you do not like the knitting hooks that come with your loom, another alternative, aside from the KB Ergonomic Knitting Tool, is buying a hook and pick set (the kind you’d find at a hardware store or automotive shop). Here’s an example. I know some knitters like using these. They are inexpensive and there are many brands that make them. I’ve seen them anywhere from $4-$25.
Tapestry / Darning Needles
Another essential tool for loom knitting is a tapestry needle (or a darning needle). Generally, looms come with little plastic needles which you’ll use to close the top of a hat or to sew panels together.
Here is an example of the tapestry needles used for looming.
I mostly use the Super Jumbo Clover Tapestry Needles. There’s an obvious reason why. If you look at the size of the eye of the various tapestry needles, the Clover brand needle is 2-3x bigger than the other ones. This is very helpful when you are knitting something that requires a bulky yarn. It is much easier to get the yarn through the larger eye. The crooked tip of the needle also works well when you’re making hats and you want to angle the needle up the groove of the pegs.
I bought the Susan Bates needles because I’d seen a LoomAHat video recommending them. I think they are a good alternative if your loom comes with a flimsy needle and they definitely have a longer eye than the Boye ones, but they aren’t as large for bulky yarns.
I don’t remember for sure, but I believe the purple needle at the bottom was from one of my KB looms. It does have a nice-sized eye, so I’d probably use that as a backup for my Super Jumbo Clover Tapestry Needle. Clover also has a different “jumbo tapestry needle” which is yellow or gold but I haven’t tried it yet, so I’m not sure of the size difference between the jumbo and the super jumbo size.
I also have metal tapestry and darning needles, but I bought these more for attaching embellishments or for embroidering onto the projects as the eyes are pretty small for using yarn and the tips might scratch up my loom pegs.
Another tool/accessory that many loom knitters use is a crochet hook. They are handy for finishing touches, working in the tail end of a yarn, fixing mistakes in your knitting, and for making decorative edges around a piece. You can also use them to do a chain cast on or a crochet cast on (two slightly different techniques using a crochet hook).
There are various other accessories you can get, like stitch markers, but the knitting hook and the tapestry needle are the two most important tools you’ll need – aside from the loom itself.