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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.