To Knit or Crochet? That is The Question!

Jan 14

Crochet Samples in Single Crochet

Crochet has always been less popular than Knitting. It’s like the forgotten sibling, the child left behind. Kind of like how Solange is to Beyonce. I began Knitting first as a teenager. I went to the library and took out every “knitting” book I could find in the meager knitting section. No one I knew did such a thing, perhaps it was my ironic wit coming out pre-Hipster era. I tried to get my friend Helen Lee to try a few stitches on the back of the Q27 bus. It’s what I’ve been doing the longest. What got me into the “needle arts” in the first place.

It was by pure chance (let’s call it) that I chose Knitting over Crochet as my entree. I figured I wanted to try “knitting” so that was that. What else is there? I never thought about looking into Crochet really. All I thought was nubbly potholders. It was in the Macrame category for me… Until years later, circa 2004, when my friend Juni Pinks, a mad free-form Crocheter not unlike the Mad Hatter of Crocheters in both fierce style and creativity, did I consider looking into Crochet. Once I did, I found that I loved it even more than Knitting! Yes indeedy, it appealed to me even more!

So why’s Knitting so much more popular than Crochet?

What’s The Difference?
Two Things: The way the stitches are “looped” and the tools. In Knitting, the stitches make a “V” shape and it’s more like stitching for lack of a better word. In Crochet, the stitches are more like knots. Both are really methods of looping yarn together, just in different styles. Knitting uses a pair of long needles to form the loops, moving one set of loops from one needle to another. The stitches are held on the needle or “live”. Crochet uses a hook, hooking the loops together directly on the work in progress.

In the first photo below, you can see the traditional “V” shaped stitch in Knitting called “Stockinette Stitch”. In the second photo, you can see the traditional square-ish “flower” shape stitch in Crochet called “Single Crochet”. The 2 most basic types of stitches in each discipline and what defines them!

Knit Samples in Stockinette Stitch Crochet Samples in Single Crochet

What’s Great About Both
Neither require lots of space, special machines, or a huge expense to start. At the bare working minimum, all you need to start is: a pattern, yarn, and a hook or needles. That’s it. Scissors, if you don’t want to bite off your yarn to bind off! It’s not to say they can’t require more tools down the road or get expensive. But kids, teens, or anyone who doesn’t have the resources for extra hobbies can find a free pattern and acquire some economy yarn and a hook or needles at any halfway decent crafts store for well under $10 and you’re off!

The possibilities for this one hook (or needles) and some yarn are endless and all in a very accessible medium. You could potentially Knit or Crochet almost anything you can think of with your own 2 hands and some patience. No band-sawing or welding or any heavy tools required like say Woodworking or “Shop” would be associated with. Less 2 dimensional and more practical than say Painting would be. But just as creative. Crafty! How cool is that?

Another bonus is, learn the foundation concepts for one and they can carry over to the other. At the beginner level, they share very similar concepts. They even share similar pattern abbreviations. The main difference being in the stitching style. Two birds, one stone etc.

Knit Samples in Stockinette Stitch

Knitting vs. Crochet – Tools
Crochet tools are slightly more efficient. One set of hooks, that’s right, is enough for all your Crochet projects for the rest of your life. Get one set in all sizes and you’re ready to go. You can have multiple projects going that require the same hook without having to worry about the project size, holding stitches, or if you’re crocheting regular or crocheting in the round! Large or small pieces, circular or regular crochet – if a pattern requires a hook Size H8 and you have one, then you can use it. Eventually as you get more advanced you may need more supplemental tools but this goes for Knit or Crochet tools in general.

In Knitting it’s a different story. Knitting needles aren’t really interchangeable. The size and type of project affect the length of needle required: short, long, longer etc. For example, a baby sized blanket or an adult sized blanket of the same pattern knitted on Size 10s will require a different pair of Size 10s! Also, the knitting technique required in the pattern affects the type of needles needed: Straight, Circular, or Double Pointed. You might be knitting a hat pattern that requires a Size 10 but you’ll need them in Circular! Straight Needles just won’t work. So having one size of each needle is not necessarily sufficient in Knitting. You can have anywhere from 1-9 different pairs of knitting needles in the same size. So you could have Size 10s in long, short, circular (long or short), or double pointed (long or short) etc.

Tips: Although knittings needles are less “interchangeable” Circular Knitting Needles can be a better value over Straight or Double Pointed Needles. They can be used in place of Straight Needles. And if you choose wisely, one length could potentially work out for a wider variety of pieces. Less redundancy, less clutter, less expense! For circs, the Addi Turbo Click is a big investment but a nice set! My favorite Circular Knitting Needles are Addi Turbos (nickel plated) and Clover Takumi Velvets (bamboo). The wire that connects the 2 needles on the Addi Turbo is so liquid and pliable. It’s wondrous! It is wonderfully quick. The Clover Bamboos are light, delicate and have a great feel!

If every penny counts, Knitting needles are also slightly more expensive per piece. One pair of knitting needles is roughly double the price or more of one crochet hook. And you will potentially need many lengths of the same needles (see below) depending on your project. Yet, Crochet sometimes tends to use more yarn.

Knitting Needles - Straight Needles - Crystal Palace, Clover, Susan Bates; Circular Needles - Hiya Hiya, Clover, Addi Turbo; Double Pointed Needles - Susan Bates, Crystal Palace Crochet Hooks - Crochet Hook Sets - Clover Takumi, Boye; Crystal Palace, Boye Size Q

Knit (Left): Straight Needles – Crystal Palace (bamboo), Clover (bamboo), Susan Bates (aluminum); Circular Needles – Hiya Hiya (aluminum), Clover (bamboo), Addi Turbo (nickel plated); Double Pointed Needles – Susan Bates (aluminum), Crystal Palace (bamboo)
Crochet (Right): Crochet Hook Sets – Clover Takumi (bamboo), Boye (aluminum); Crystal Palace (bamboo), Boye Size Q (plastic)

Knitting vs. Crochet – Methods
Crochet techniques and concepts are slightly more accessible. Knitting projects are held on the needle. Crochet is not, the crochet piece is independent of the hook. This major difference makes Crochet much easier to work with.

In Knitting, the loops hang off the needle and are transferred from one needle to the other. Starting and stopping your Knit project in the middle of a train ride means stitches could be left on both needles making it slightly unwieldy. And keeping the stitches from falling off both needles in transit will require needle stoppers. It also means, you may be required to off load your work onto stitch holders while another piece gets knitted up on the same pair of needles. You’ll need stitch holders first then have to transfer the stitches carefully without twisting or dropping stitches onto the stitch holder until ready to work the piece again. You may need them in various lengths and sizes as well depending on the size of the piece and the size of the stitch!

In Crochet, the stitches are simply looped onto the piece. So there’s no transferring of stitches from one hook to another. Stopping your work is simple, just remove your hook then take a stitch marker and pop it onto the last loop. When ready to start again, unhook the stitch marker and continue on. So in Crochet, stitch markers can double as a stitch holder. It also means that same crochet hook is then free to swim around your bag or to use for whatever other projects you have going on in tandem. All these things together make it much less frustrating for a beginner to learn!

Knitting vs. Crochet – Mistakes
So what happens when you miss a stitch, drop one, or forget where you are? Backtracking is very different from Knit to Crochet. Backtracking to a certain point in Knitting will require you undo your stitches by transferring them back to the old needle. This can be slightly complicated depending on the stitch style you’re working with and has more room for error because you may make a further mistake while transferring the stitches back to the first needle. In Crochet, again it’s quite simple. You simply remove your hook and pull the yarn to undo the loops until the desired point. That’s it.

Knit Sample - Stockinette, 1x1 Rib, Picot, and Seed Stitches Crochet Sample - Single Crochet Crochet Sample - Flowers and Leaves Crochet Sample -  Bobbles

Swatches (L to R): Knit – Stockinette Stitch, 1×1 Rib Stitch, Picot Stitch, Seed Stitch; Crochet – Single Crochet; Crochet – Flowers and Leaves; Crochet – Bobble Stitch

Knitting vs. Crochet – Round Up
So what’s better?

Well for beginners with a budget who like convenience and versatility, I would suggest Crochet. It’s just as satisfying for a lot less effort and investment. Very easy to pick up as a self-taught hobby. It’s also a great springboard into Knitting. I’m finding more and more that it can be just as sophisticated as Knitting.

For those looking to the “needle arts” for something more serious and perhaps with a focus on fashion or garments, then skip straight to Knitting. The great benefit of knitting is that, in it’s more intermediate to advanced stages, it has the ability to be more intricate and support more sophisticated looking designs.

My personal pick? Crochet all the way! I love the balance of versatility without sacrificing creativity. I feel it can be just as sophisticated and fashionable. It’s most definitely underrated and since of course I’m never about the trend but about the inspiration Crochet suits me doubly so.

Get Started!
Here is my quick start guide on Beginning Knitting or Crochet.
My list of Yarn Shops in NYC.
My list on Where To Buy: Knit and Crochet Tools in NYC.
How to read patterns in Knit and Crochet Terms
My list of Beginner Crochet Tools and Beginner Knitting Tools.

Crochet Samples in Single Crochet
Viva la Crochet-volution! All for Crochet and Crochet Hooks for all!

  • Tumblr
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us

12 Responses to “To Knit or Crochet? That is The Question!”

  1. [...] Sewing vs. Knitting or Crochet It was very different from Knitting or Crochet in that sense. Neither require lots of space, special machines, or a huge expense to start. And both are great entrees into the Fiber Arts. To find out more about Knitting and Crochet, read my post, To Knit or Crochet? That is the Question. [...]

  2. Aubre says:

    I just found your blog and it’s been incredibly helpful. I’m trying to decide whether I want to learn to crochet or knit and your blog has THE best info on the web! Thanks for sharing your know-how with all of us!

    • Alice says:

      Dear Aubre,

      Thx so much! I’m so glad you found it helpful. I’m curious what you decided? hehe :) Really you can’t go wrong with either and hopefully you find it as fun and addictive as me! It’s always a great feeling to not only work at something you love but have it be beautiful and wearable!! :)

      Happy Knitting and/or Crochet!

  3. Andrea says:

    Hi, I really enjoyed this article and would like to share some thoughts:

    I literally just learned how to knit yesterday. Unlike most other people, apparently, I learned how to crochet before I learned how to knit, about a year ago.

    While I still like crochet better, I have an interesting observation: It took me two months to figure out how to crochet, and only six hours to learn how to knit. Huh.

    I’m not sure if this is because crocheting laid a foundation for me to learn how to knit, or if it’s just coincidental.

    • Alice says:

      Hi! Thanks for sharing! Wow that is fast, picking up knitting in 6 hours! Awesome!

      Perhaps crochet did help lay the foundation! Or maybe since they share so many similar concepts the first one you try is always hardest, making the second one you try much easier to pick up! Hmmm…

      Well glad you tried knitting and it was so easy for you. Hope you enjoy it too!

  4. Pam says:

    I’m new to your blog and have enjoyed everything I’ve seen so far, including this knitting/crochet comparison. I, too, learned to knit first (taught by my mother when I was very young) and didn’t discover crochet until well into my 20s.

    I’d like to contribute some information in answer to the question of why knitting is done by more people:

    Knitting has been used to make garments of one kind or another for over a thousand years; crochet is at *most* 220-230 years old. (Although some see crochet as related to macrame (12th C.), but it does not utilize actual knots in its creation and requires the use of a tool (crochet is the French word for hook), which macrame does not.)

    Knitting is stretchy in all directions, making it easier to create items that will return to their original shape, even when pulled on over a larger body part than their intended destination (a neck edge being pulled over your head, for instance); crochet is generally much less flexible, even when composed of finer materials.

    The texture of knitting is often perceived as smoother or softer (maybe partly due to the above noted flexibility?), while crochet is more often seen as having a rougher or harder texture. Modern materials, however, may be doing their part to chip away at this perception. I just finished a cloche made from an acrylic chenille that is “minky” soft (even though it is chunkier than it would have been if I’d knit it.)

    Hope these tidbits are helpful.

    • Alice says:

      Hi Pam,

      Thx for your nice note and so glad you enjoy my site! Very true about the stretchability and texture of knitting vs. crochet which is likely why knitting is more popular for things like apparel and crochet is more popular for objects like dolls/toys, accessories, and home dec.

      I had read somewhere on wikipedia or something about how crochet can only be traced back to a couple of hundred years. Something tells me though Crochet, or its original incarnation, has been around for much longer than that. I know in East Asian countries, Crochet is a more popular and seemingly more traditional. It sparked some digging on my part and I’m still exploring but it’s a really curious question to me!

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and opinions!! It’s awesome to have fellow crafters “join the conversation” as they say on Twitter!

      –Alice

  5. Heather says:

    I definitely agree with you about loving crocheting more than knitting, I too first started with knitting. In fact I don’t think I even heard of crocheting before I started seeing crocheting books around the knitting books. It’s quite weird I think, that knitting would be more popular anyways with its difficulty compared to crocheting. I enjoy crocheting more because I don’t have to worry all the time about my stitches falling off the needles. Just as you said you just take off the hook and mark your spot, and there are no worries that when you come back your work is totally messed up. This is a great article and very accurate to me, and probably a lot of other people as well.

    • Alice says:

      Thank you Heather! And thanks for sharing your thoughts on Knitting vs. Crochet!! YAY!

      I do feel Crochet is quite the underdog sometimes as far as needle arts go! It is just so much easier and efficient. Because it’s so much easier as a craft, it makes is so much more enjoyable! And it can be just as creative and versatile as knitting (and much more unique given it’s less popular)!

      Happy Crocheting!

  6. Maria Tobias says:

    Love your report. Can you please tell me the difference between easy, intermediate and experience.
    Thanks alot.

    • Alice says:

      Hi Maria! Thanks so much for your inquiry. That’s a good question! My Beginner Level projects tend to be borderline Intermediate. But usually they are given in a fashion where they can be stripped down to remain Beginner. Anyway, here is what I base my levels on:

      Easy or Beginner includes only the most basic foundation techniques. For example, scarves and hats. Anything square that does not require sizing. I do sometimes include things like Color Changes and Circular Knitting in Beginner Level projects. I feel they are both achievable at Beginner Levels. It is for anyone who has never tried Knitting or Crochet before and would like to try it for the first time. Or for those who have tried it before but need a refresher.

      Medium or Intermediate includes the fundamental techniques as well as some variations and additional special techniques. For example, sock knitting or color changes, special stitches, and some more substantial pattern reading. Larger scale projects might also be included in here like say a blanket or afghan. It’s a square but on a very large scale. An introduction to sizing and gauge could also be included in this level. It is for anyone who has tried Knitting or Crochet before, even if it’s just a few projects. Or for Beginners who feel they would like a more substantial challenge.

      Experienced or Advanced will include things like more difficult patterns, intricate stitches, sizing, gauge swatching, understanding yarn weights, fibers, and tools, and assembling of pieces. A simple sweater project would be a good example of an easy Advanced project. An intricate sweater with highly stylized designs and shaping would be an example of a difficult Advanced project. It is for someone who has an excellent understanding of all foundation techniques and is extremely comfortable with them who also has some experience doing any or all of the Intermediate range techniques.

      Expert or Master would be for someone extremely experienced in most major skills and techniques at the Intermediate Level, can read and translate difficult patterns, and/or can create their own designs and modifications. A substantial understanding of working with textiles and related materials and tools is also an Expert Level skill.

      Well I hope that helps! If ever there are any questions about a certain pattern on my website, please feel free to email me. I would be happy to help figure out if it’s suitable for you!

  7. [...] Where To Get It All Get some yarn! Yarn Shops in NYC. Ger your tools! Where To Buy: Knit and Crochet Tools in NYC. See also Beginner Crochet Tools. Learn how to read patterns! Knit and Crochet Terms. Then google it all! There will be videos too! Still can’t decide between Knitting or Crochet? See Knit or Crochet? That is The Question! [...]

Leave a Reply