Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Difference Between Knitting and Crocheting

I still remember the first time it happened.

I was in college. A friend and I were comparing some crocheted hats we had made for a charity fundraiser. I mentioned that I had just purchased some needles because I wanted to get back into knitting, a craft I had learned many years before but then stopped because I discovered crochet. Her response? "I don't know why you'd need to know both. They look the same to me."

From that point on, I encountered even more people who either thought learning the other craft was useless or were just too uneducated in fiber arts to know the difference. Lucky enough for these people, I've learned to let their comments roll off my back and reply with a smile and a, "Sure." Because I can both knit and crochet fluently, it also probably doesn't bother me as much when people confuse the two as it would someone who knits or crochets exclusively. Unfortunately, as far as anyone's concerned, if you're holding a skein of yarn in your hand, you're knitting.

My job today is to educate you all about the different techniques. Not only will your friends in the fiber arts be pleased that you know what they're doing, but maybe you'll decide to pick up one of these crafts yourself!

  • First things first: knitting and crocheting use different tools. Knitting is usually done on two needles. Or anything that looks like needles. You can do it on two, four, five, circulars, you name it. But if it has a sharp end and you are using more than one, it's knitting. Crocheting, on the other hand, uses one hook. That's it. Take a look at what your fiber-loving friend is using. Are they digging a hook into fabric, or are they working loops off one needle with a second needle?
  • The stitches look completely different. While knitting most commonly looks like a bunch of braids (or interlocking v's), crochet uses what are called "posts" to create its fabric. This is because a crochet hook is inserted into a stitch and yarn is looped around a specific number of times. It's kind of like loosely tying a bunch of knots on top of each other. If you look closely, you can see the actual posts in crochet, and it's usually a more open weave. Knitting is done much more tightly than crocheting and creates either the aforementioned v-stitches or a series of small bumps.
  • Knitting is a thinner fabric. Because of all the posts in crocheting and the way the yarn is wrapped around each post, its creations tend to be much thicker, and therefore heavier. Knit and crocheted fabrics thus drape differently. Don't let that fool you, though - both techniques can be used to make sweaters and other clothing that are wearable year-round! That said, the rule of thumb someone taught me is that if you have a small skein and want to make a hat or something tiny, knit it so that you don't use as much yarn. That way, you're ensuring you have enough yarn to finish the project.
  • Crocheting makes granny squares. I know several knitters (and non-knitters, for that matter) who have taken up crocheting just to make granny squares. These squares, most often seen in afghans, can range from ugly to tacky to beautiful. The basic pattern is so simple that merely changing colors can enliven your whole design, but there are many intricate patterns available. I'm sure there is some way to duplicate this effect with knitting, but why bother when the crocheted granny square is so easy and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes?
  • Crocheting is insanely quick, while knitting can be mind-numbingly slow. I don't have a preference in what I do - if I see a great pattern, I just use whatever the pattern calls for. But if I'm making a baby blanket for someone whose shower is in a month, you'd better believe I'm crocheting it. For example, a good friend of mine crochets and her friend decided to learn knitting. They would sit together and work on their craft every week, watching TV and just having a grand old time. By the end of the night, my friend would have a nearly-completed anything on her lap, while her knitting friend would have about five rows done. Now, perhaps a more advanced knitter could have done more, but the piece still wouldn't have been as finished as my friend's.
  • Knitting uses numbers; crocheting uses letters. Okay, so this isn't entirely true, but look at any knitting pattern and compare it to a crochet pattern. Now look at the materials. On the knitting pattern, it might say to use size 10 US needles, and the crochet pattern will usually say to use a K hook. Most hooks also have a numeric size to accompany the letter, but many patterns only refer to the letter.

The fact is, both knitting and crochet are great. Some people will argue that one is better than the other, but I truly believe anyone says that because they don't know the other craft well enough to think it's easy (or they've only seen really ugly items using that technique). They can even be done together on the same project by perhaps knitting a sweater and crocheting a great edging; I love combining the them and seeing what I come up with.

So the next time you see someone working with yarn and can't tell what they're doing, simply ask them. We love showing off our crafts and talking about it in general, and we'd be excited you're taking an interest in something we're proud of. But don't forget to print out this cheat sheet first!

This article was published on ArtFire.

3 comments:

Cristin Marie said...

I LOVE your post! It's so accurate. I only knit, but that's because I've never learned to crochet. I always get the old, 'oh I wish I could crochet.' and I feel like screaming and saying, 'do you see a hook?!?!?!' Mind if I link this page to several of my dear friends who constantly confuse the two?

JennyHats said...

Of course :) Feel free to pass it along to as many people as you like. Maybe someday, everyone will be educated about yarn, haha.

Carlos said...

Completely accurate! I must add that normally a crafter will always be biased towards the first one they learn. I can do both, but I'm a true knitter at heart.

In my opinion (trying to be as unbiased as possible) knitting has more eye flow in terms of design of the stitch. Crochet tends to be more blocky and stern (thats why crocheted toys are the best, and granny squares are so durable).

Knitting always use way less yarn than crochet.

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