Honestly, I don’t like playing into the whole knitting vs crochet rivalry thing. Both crafts have their pros and cons and it’s up to each crafter to find which one they like, or rather which one likes you. If you’re very lucky you might like and be good at both and then you can rule the world with your enviable yarn crafting skills. Having said that, you do need to start somewhere so explaining the differences and pros and cons of knitting vs crocheting will help you to make the right decision for you.
If you’re only just starting out in the yarn craft world and you have no idea whether or not to start with crocheting or knitting, here are a few things you should know.
Knitting vs Crocheting
Tip: I’m a pro-crocheter and a very average knitter so this is information I’ve gathered from personal experience and my yarn craft buddies – both knitters and crocheters. If you’ve had different experiences to the ones outlined below, do let me know!
What is knitting?
Knitting is where the crafter uses two needles to create their fabric. Stitches are transferred from one needle to the other and back again to create the weave of the piece. Knitting is built row by row – like you’re stacking one magazine at a time on top of a pile of magazines.
What is crocheting?
Crocheting is where the crafter uses one hook to create their fabric. Crocheters create one stitch at a time using a series of yarn overs and inserting the hook in different areas of their project. Crocheting is built stitch by stitch – like you’re building a brick wall one stitch at a time.
Knitting – The Good Stuff
Knitted ‘fabric’ is soft, stretchy and light
You can make beautiful draped garments in knitting and the overall look of the fabric is denser (less holes) and thinner than traditional crochet. Knitted fabric works best for items worn close to the body where you don’t wish to have excess bulk like fine sweaters, gloves and socks.
The yarn craft world is set up for you
Most yarn stores will have at least 70% knitting needles, knitting patterns, knitting classes and knitting accessories. There will be a small dusty shelf in the corner where they have a few crochet hooks and discount crocheted patterns. I don’t know why this is but I’ve been to dozens of yarn stores across the world and the crochet section is always less prolific than the knitting section. So if you knit – enjoy!
Everyone knows what it is you do
If you’re holding knitting needles and yarn people will think you’re knitting. Which is great if you’re a knitter. If you’re crocheting, people will think you’re knitting. If you’re embroidering, people will think you’re knitting. If you breathe on a ball of yarn, people will think you’re knitting. If you knit, you won’t have to explain what you’re doing. The world of yarn craft is a knitters wonderland – enjoy it!
There are less knitting stitches than crochet stitches
Which is great if you’re learning – you can get skilled up really quickly. There are many different ways to knit – circular knitting, loom knitting – but there are less actions and stitches to wrap your head around when you’re learning to knit.
Crocheting – The Good Stuff
Crochet fabric is thick, strong and often more intricate
Some people say they think knitting makes a ‘nicer’ fabric but I think crochet fabrics and knit fabrics are just different. Crochet is certainly chunkier but sometimes that’s what you want. Also you can make the most beautiful and intricate lace designs which are very difficult to replicate in knitting. So crochet fabric can be finer and drapier when in lace form and chunkier and sturdier in most other forms than knitting fabric.
You only have one ‘live’ stitch
With crocheting you work one stitch at a time and you will rarely have more than six loops on your hook at a time. It can be easier to keep track of the one live stitch when you first start a yarn craft, rather than trying to keep track of twenty loops of yarn on a long knitting needle.
You can use one hook for multiple projects
You just pull the last loop on your project until it’s really long, place a stitch marker in it with a note of what hook size you were using and you’re good to go. With knitting, you need to keep your project on your needles until the project is finished. You also need less stuff in general – My hook collection is VERY healthy but it’s nothing compared to some of my knitting mates’ needle stashes. I can chuck a hook in my bag and it’s the same size as a pen but knitting needles are bit more cumbersome and it seems harder to transport knitting projects where you need to protect twenty plus loops on your needles, rather than crochet projects that can survive being flung across the room or shoved in a bag with no worries.
It’s much easier to recover from a mistake in crochet
In both yarn crafts you have to undo stitches to correct mistakes but in knitting, you have thread all the loops back on your needles which is tiresome and quite difficult depending on what project you’re working on. With crochet you you just pull your working thread back to the mistake you made, pop the one working loop back on your hook and you’re good to go.
Crocheting is quicker than knitting
My mother is a knitter and I’m a crocheter and in one week of staying at her house I made almost an entire lap blanket in the time it took her to knit a baby sweater. There’s no way to prove this definitively but from knitters and crocheters, I’ve heard countless reports about how much faster crocheting is to knitting in general.
Crochet is (probably) more versatile than knitting
It’s difficult to replicate the fine stretchy fabric of knitting in crochet but it’s equally as hard to replicate amigurumi, lace work, and homewares like baskets and the durability of crochet handbags in knitting. You can also create flowers and little motifs very easily with crochet, something that’s very difficult with knitting.
Crocheting DOESN’T use up more yarn than knitting
This is a rumour that’s been flying around for years but it’s actually not true. Bonza.
Knitting – The Bad Stuff
Knitting has more ‘live’ stitches to look after
When you knit, you move a row of stitches from one needle to the other. If you’ve cast on twenty stitches, that’s twenty stitches you need to pay attention to. Over time you do get better at not dropping stitches but the learning curve can be quite steep to begin with.
It’s harder to make homewares with knitting
It’s certainly do-able but all those gorgeous chunky baskets, hanging planters, pretty circular place mats, bathmats and jar covers are really hard to duplicate in knitting. So if you want to make cute homewares – crochet is the yarn craft for you.
It’s harder to make knitted toys
Crocheting is really the king of toys because you can work in the round and get cleaner shapes and lines. Knitted toys are still lovely but they don’t have the traditional amigurumi finish you can achieve with crochet.
You can’t use knitting needles for two projects at once
If you’re half way through a project and you need to use the needle size you’re using for another project, you can’t just pull the needles out and use them. Needles are as good as married to a project until you finish it.
You’re much more likely to lose a needle to airport security than a crochet hook
Depending on where and what airline you’re travelling on, needles are seen as a bigger security threat than crochet hooks. Which makes sense. Crochet hooks aren’t that different to pens but knitting needles are long and pointy and I’ve heard of lots of poor knitters losing their (metal) needles at the scanners. This point doesn’t apply to everyone but if you travel a lot, it’s something you might like to consider.
Crocheting – The Bad Stuff
Colour work isn’t as clean in crochet
There are many different ways to do colour work in crochet but tapestry and intarsia crochet colour work doesn’t look as neat as knitting. You can certainly work with it and there are some incredible artists doing amazing things with crochet colour work but when you see clearly defined colour work yarn sweaters, they’re usually knitted, not crocheted.
Crochet clothing in general is less flattering than knitted clothing
You can create flattering, draped fabrics in crochet but most knitting is flattering and drapey. A crocheted jumper is likely to be bulkier than a knitted one. It’s certainly possible to make flattering crochet clothing but it’s usually in lace form.
There’s less crochet ‘stuff’ out there
I don’t know why this is but as I mentioned earlier, yarn stores cater much more strongly to knitters than crocheters. Same with op shops and thrift stores. I frequently have to sift through boxes of knitting needles to find even one vintage crochet hook. This isn’t a huge issue as you can get everything you want and more online but retail shopping is slightly less fun as a crocheter. Thankfully you can always buy yarn though! Even just searching for images for this post there were hundreds of knitting images and about ten crochet ones. Just something to think about. If we’re arguing over the whole knitting vs crocheting thing, knitting wins the retail category.
Pros of both knitting and crocheting
Yarn craft makes you happy
Hobbies dramatically increase your mood and quality of life. Hobbies create strong relationships, they keep you involved in your community and they give you a sense of purpose. Plus you can make totally useful things while you’re binge watching your favourite TV show. Awesome.
You will always give the best gifts
If you’ve ever given someone a beautiful hand knitted or crocheted scarf you’ll know what I mean. It’s something money can’t always buy and so many people really appreciate the time and effort you put into making something gorgeous.
Yarn crafts are a great way to break a bad habit
If you’re trying to quit smoking, snacking or Facebooking – yarn craft will be your greatest tool. It will keep your hands busy when you’re trying to stop them from doing something else.
As you can see from the pros and cons of knitting vs crocheting, one isn’t better than the other, they’re quite different and I highly recommend you give both a try.
Of course crocheting is my one true yarn craft love so I’m obviously going to suggest you try that one first because I’m totally biased – if you are keen to learn to crochet you can join Crochet Coach here.
Over to you – are you knitter? Or a crocheter? Or both? Which do you prefer?