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Knitting and crocheting are both yarn crafts that use yarn and stick-looking tools to create a variety of household items, clothing, and accessories and so it’s natural that people often confuse them with each other.
So, what is the difference between crochet and knitting?
First, let’s see what are the similarities between knitting and crochet.
The Similarities Between Knitting and Crochet
As different as knitting and crochet might look, they have a lot in common.
- They are both yarn-based crafts, they use yarn to create the fabric of the project you are working on
- They are both portable crafts and only need yarn and a crochet hook or needles to make
- Both crochet and knitting are inexpensive crafts that can be started the same day
- Both let you to create a variety of projects using only basic stitches
- Both crochet and knitting use specific words and abbreviations for stitches and combination of stitches
- Both use patterns to describe how a specific project is created
- Both can be used with no pattern to create simple projects
- Both use gauge to make sure you get the size of the end-project you need
- Both knitting and crochet are relaxing crafts that have great benefits
- Both crafts use a number of different yarns to create a variety of projects
- Both use stitch markers to note an important place in the project
- Both create items you can use, gift or sell
The major differences between crochet and knitting are that in crochet you use just one tool, a crochet hook, to create loops and stitches, and how those crochet stitches are used to create the “fabric” of the crocheted items.
Crochet hooks come in different lengths, shapes, and thicknesses, but in general, a hook used in crochet is a stick, about 6-8 inches long, with a rounded curve/hook on one end of it. This curve is often called the head or point of the hook.
Crochet uses a large number of different stitches. There is a number of basic stitches that, once learned, could cover all of your crochet, at least in the beginning.
The basic stitches that can be used in an amazing number of crochet projects are:
You can create complete projects using just one stitch and they will look amazing, or you can use a different stitch in every row.
The total number of all the crochet stitches can run into hundreds, but don’t let it intimidate you. You can create all of your crochet projects with just the stitches mentioned above and never run out of ideas.
The fabric produced with crochet can vary from very dense and tight (like the one used to create toys, aka amigurumi) to very loose and lacy (like the one used in doilies and intricate shawls) and everywhere in between. In general, the fabric created using crochet will be denser and stiffer than the one with knitting.
Crochet fabric grows faster as the crochet fabric is more porous and has more holes in it. Because of that, crochet is often used to create items like shawls, wraps, scarves, blankets (also called afghans), tablecloths, and in general, items that have intricate designs or designs going in circular or multiple directions.
Number of loops:
Crochet is worked one loop at a time and offers a variety of ways of pivoting in the design, hiding potential miscalculations or mistakes, and allows to hide the ends and yarn joins without being too noticeable. Because crocheted fabrics are done with only one loop being on your hook at all times, it’s very easy to take the hook out, place a stitch marker to hold the space, and put your work away without worry. Because of that, you can use a single hook in more than one project at a time since it’s not “stuck” in your project.
Because crochet patterns are worked one stitch at a time, you can go in any direction you want. With crochet, you can make projects that are square, triangle, round, shaped like a ball, and so on. Your finished project can be of any shape. Because of that, crochet is widely used with toys, shawls, hats, bags, and so on where you can easily achieve the shape and the curve you need.
Types of projects:
Because of the way crochet works, there are types of projects that are specific only (or mostly) to crochet:
- Amigurumi (crochet toys)
- Granny squares
- Certain types of heats like berets
- Doilies or any project worked in a flat cirle
- Shaped items like bucket bags
Otherwise, you can crochet pretty much anything:
- Kitchen Towels
- Bathing suits
Unlike crochet, knitting uses two (or more) needles to create its fabric.
The pair of knitting needles come in several varieties:
- short and long
- double-sided, with a needle-like point on both ends (like the needles used to crochet socks or make cables)
- needles with a point on one side only with the other side being a small ball or cube to prevent your knitting work from sliding off and unraveling
- circular needles where two needles are connected to each other with a plastic tube or cord and allow to work on large or circular projects
There are other tools you might need, like stitch markers or stitch holders, small rings that mark an important spot in your knitted project like a spot where a sleeve separates or where the center of the shawl is.
Another tool that can be used to knit is a loom. Loom knitting is an easy way to do some basic knitting and kids often take up loom knitting.
A knitting machine is another way to knit basic items, especially when speed and even quality of stitches are desired.
Knitting is based on just a handful of basic stitches:
- Cast on
- Knit stitch
- Purl stitch
You can create a knitting project with just these basic knit stitches. There are knitting patterns that use only one type of stitches (just knit stitches or just purl stitches).
There are a number of stitches in knitting that are built based on the basic stitches using techniques like yarn over (YO) or knit two together (K2TOG), etc.
Knitted fabric is denser and more even, with fewer holes and spaces than the crocheted fabric. Knitted fabric is perfect for wearable items, especially something you don’t want to be see-through, like dresses, sweaters, jackets, and skirts.
Knitted fabric has a clean, even look and it drapes really well, especially with smoother, silkier yarns.
Because the knitted fabric has smaller loops that are closely placed together, it takes longer to grow. It is in general slower to knit than to crochet unless you learn a speed knitting style like Russian Continental style, and then you can knit fast without looking at your work which is harder to do in crochet.
Number of loops:
Knitting is worked in multiple loops (called active loops or live loops) at the same time, requiring you to have as many loops on your needles as wide as the knitted piece should be.
This introduces some issues when you are not experienced, such as:
- having too many or not enough loops for the final result and having to redo the piece from scratch
- having a needle to slip out of your live work, and drop the stitches causing the work to unravel
- it is harder to hide and weave in the ends of yarn without it being noticeable
Knitting is perfect for projects that have straight lines like scarves, blankets, wraps, cowls.
Knitting, however, has shaping techniques to grow or reduce the width of the project and that lets you create knitting items like sweaters with rounded necklines and fitted sleeves, hats that are rounded at the top, triangle shawls, and so on.
Types of Projects:
Knit fabrics have advantages over crochet fabrics which make them perfect for these knitting projects:
- Projects with a lot of drape
- Projects with a very fine yarn that require small even stitches
- Projects with dense fabric and small to non-existent holes
- Projects with braids
- Textured braided blankets
Of course, you can knit many other projects:
- Mittens and gloves
- Tank tops
Crochet and Knitting: Which to Choose
Each of the craft techniques have their advantages and disadvantages, often producing fabric that is unique to that specific craft only, but at the same time, there are ways to “fake” the knitted look with crochet and vice versa, so if you like of craft but not the other, don’t despair, you can often replicate the look of what you want with the tools you already have.
Despite their fundamental differences, both crochet and knitting offer the convenience of a craft that is portable, requires a minimum amount of tools that you have to own, is relatively inexpensive to get into, can be taken on a go, is not noisy or smelly, or needing electricity to work and deals with yarn as a medium, something that is a huge advantage right there! (oh soft, cuddly, beautiful yarn…)
Besides that, both of these crafts offer an activity that is relaxing, gets your creativity flowing, gives you fulfilling results, and can be very mindless and meditative, something that we can all use at the end of a long day. 🙂
To decide if crochet or knitting is for you, give each one of them a try and see. Some people swear by crochet and never touch knitting needles, some are the other way around, some start with crochet and find knitting much easier to learn after that and end up going between the two. Try these two wonderful crafts and decide for yourself which one it will be.