Crochet vs. Knit

Written on December 1, 2009 at 9:49 pm
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After recently teaching a classmate how to knit (it’s the first of December and she aims to knit a 6-foot long scarf, with tassels, for her boyfriend – and she wants it to be 30cm wide and expects that she’ll have it done by Christmas day, with only working on it for about half an hour a day), I had to explain the differences (and pros and cons) to crochet and knit to her as she wanted to know what the differences were.

Some differences between knitting and crocheting:

  • For knitting, you generally use 2 (or more) needles that have at least one pointed end. For crocheting, you use a crochet hook (generally only one pointed end). Both use yarn (or other material that resembles string) and both can be used to make just about anything. Anyone who tells you that crochet is too bulky to make decent clothes is a liar.
  • If you’re using the same type of yarn, knitting generally works up a thinner fabric compared to the crocheted equivalent, which is why people generally consider crochet to use up a lot more yarn than knitting does.
  • While standing in a general bookstore, there are generally more knitting books available than crocheting. This concept also applies to public libraries as well as the magazine rack. There is just more knitting publications available. One of my local bookstores has a whole section labeled “Knitting” while the crocheting books are stuffed onto one of the shelves with other general “Needle Crafts & Hobbies” books.
  • For knitting, you generally keep more than one stitch ‘live’ at a time (i.e. in use). For crochet, you (generally) keep only one stitch on the hook at any given time.
  • Knitting has been around a lot longer, therefore it a more diverse history and also more patterns that are published online and in books.

Some pros to crocheting:

  • You “only” ever need to get one hook! (If you only ever use the same weight of yarn…)
  • You (generally) won’t need to try to pick up a million stitches back up
  • If you’re mad into doilies, there are a lot of patterns out there for you (same with making toilet paper roll covers)

Some pros to knitting:

  • Knitting is an old, old, old craft – there’s possibly millions patterns available
  • There are technically only two stitches to learn: knit and purl
  • People say that knitting uses less yarn that crochet does

Some cons to crocheting:

  • People say that it uses (about) 3 times as much yarn as knitting does (however, I haven’t tested out this theory yet)
  • It’s the black sheep of needle crafts – I’ve walked into more than one yarn store and got funny looks when I mentioned wanting to crochet something
  • If you’re not mad into doilies, it is fairly difficult to find decent published pattern books. However, there are a lot of free resources online as well as crochet magazines and online communities that are constantly coming up with new material.

Some cons to knitting:

  • It’s a pain when you drop a stitch. Or all your stitches (I’ve so had that happen to me on more than one occasion).
  • I’m pretty sure that there is about a dozen ways to increase the number of stitches you have, as well as a dozen ways to decrease the number of stitches that you have. And they all look different. All of them.
  • Double pointed needles. Circulars. It’s like a whole new world opens up after you’ve mastered the straight (regular-looking) knitting needles. DPNs make me want to break out into hives just looking at them (not really a con, but my sister finds my fear of knitting things in a circle to be quite… ‘humourous’).

But which one should I pick up?

Why not both (eventually)? I started off with knitting first and then branched out into crochet and I found that I liked crochet better because I “got” it better. For knitting I can cast-on no problem, and I can count my stitches and knit and purl and even manage some decreases and increases if I happen to have my laptop or a stitch dictionary handy (I can never remember how to increase or decrease) but I can never, ever, ever remember how to cast-off/bind-off. It’s just one of those things. I think it’s because I haven’t completed enough knitting projects just yet. For crochet, it clicked with me. I understood how to chain, single crochet and slip stitch quite quickly. And the half-doubles, doubles and triples just built on what I knew from the single crochet stitch, so it was easier for me to wrap my head around it. But for some things, I will knit – especially if I find a pattern that I happen to like or want to get something to look the way I want it to look. There’s no fool-proof way to make knitting look like it’s crochet or to make crochet look likes it was actually knit, at least for someone who knows the difference.

Some things to keep in mind before embarking on your crocheting and/or knitting adventures…

Both crafts do take money, not a whole lot when you’re first starting out, but it does involve some spending. When I started knitting, I got really lucky. My mom used to knit a lot so when my sister and I decided to start knitting, we ‘inherited’ her set of knitting needles (straights, DPNs and circulars) in all sorts of sizes, as well as a lot of yarn (gorgeous stuff, like wool, llama, and even camel wool from a now-defunct company). However, I know that not everyone can get that lucky with a mom or a relative who has a stash hidden away in a closet.

For starting supplies, you can hit up a local thrift store, they generally have some yarn and some needles and hooks available. Or you can go to a local yarn store and get some supplies there (yarn tends to be more expensive at local, independently owned yarn stores – just a head’s up) or a chain craft store, which will have all the basics that you will need as well as some decently priced yarn (hopefully in the clearance section so you don’t break the bank on the first shopping trip).

If you’re not sure that you’re going to really want to continue knitting/crocheting after your first attempt of a project… Don’t buy a book! Public libraries are awesome resources that your tax dollars already go towards, so go the library and find a beginners guide to crocheting and knitting. When I was first learning, I tended to go for the books geared towards teaching children how to crochet/knit because they had very clear instructions and illustrations (which helped a lot). Most knitting and crochet books do have the basics in the front portion of the books (how to start, how to increase/decrease and how to end the project) before the patterns, so it should be pretty easy to find a book that has decent instructions. And if (for some odd reason…) your public library doesn’t have a beginners knitting or crocheting book, make a request for the library to buy one.

Happy crocheting and knitting!

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