Knitting Versus Crocheting: What's the Difference and Which Should You Learn?

Depending on your skills, you may be better suited to learn the tools and method of one over the other.

Some of us enjoy knitting, while others prefer crocheting. Both techniques of needlework use yarn to create beautiful pieces—garments, accessories like hats and mittens, blankets—that adorn our homes or fill our closets. The beauty of both is that you can really connect with the yarn and the pattern for the project, and the end result is truly a personalized labor of love. The meditative act of stitching in repetition is one that tends to be very relaxing and mentally stimulating, too.

One of the questions you might ask yourself is whether to learn how to knit or how to crochet, and is there much of a difference between the two? As a beginner, you can choose either one. The techniques and tools are different from one another, but both of them require practice in order to excel in skill; and to the untrained eye, the end results can appear to be very similar.

Branchardiere's knitting book
Bryan Gardner

Knitting Tools and Techniques

Knitting uses a pair of long needles to form the stitches. There are different types of needles: straight, circular, and double-pointed. Needles are categorized by size (as determined by the tool's diameter) and the type of stitch that you can do with them. For example, larger needles are perfect for making the large loop stitches you want for certain projects like a knit blanket, whereas you would want smaller needles for making baby accessories like socks and beanies. On straight needles, you can make flat pieces with a back-and-forth stitching movement. Circular needles let you knit in a circular motion, ideal for projects like cowl scarves and hats. As you progress in projects, you will find that having one size of each needle is not necessarily sufficient in knitting.

You also have a few options for technique: English knitting, German/Continental knitting, or the specialty lever knitting. In knitting, the "V"-shaped stitches of your work hang off the needle and are transferred from one needle to the other, loop by loop. Starting and stopping your knit project in the middle of progress means that stitches could be left on both needles making it slightly unwieldy. And keeping the knit stitches from falling off both needles in transit will require needle stoppers. It also means, you may be required to offload your work onto stitch holders while another piece gets knit on the same pair of needles.

Crochet Tools and Techniques

Crochet requires the use of a hook, which comes in a range of sizes. You make loops with the hook to create the essential crochet stitches such as the single, double, and treble stitch. The initial loop is a slip knot that is followed by a chain. Unlike knitting, crochet stitches resemble a chain of small knots. You can create several slip knots and chains for your project, but should try to keep an even tension as you work through each stitch.

You choose the size of the hook based on the size of the stitch needed, and it's a good idea to consider the weight of the yarn for your project, too. A small hook won't work very well with a yarn that has a higher weight. For example, you should use a B/1 toE/4-sized hook when working with superfine yarn weights to create delicate items like baby clothes. But you would want a Q hook to crochet larger afghans, sweaters, and rugs with jumbo weight yarn. Oftentimes, one basic set of hooks will be enough to most of your crochet projects. 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 in the round. In crochet, the stitches are simply looped onto the piece so there's no transferring of stitches from one tool to another.

Which Should You Choose to Learn?

Both are really methods of stitching yarn together, just in different styles. In knitting, the stitches form a "V" shape. In crochet, the stitches are more like knots. Knitting uses a pair of long needles to form the loops, moving a set of loops from one needle to another; the stitches are held on the needle. Crochet uses a single hook to hook the loops together directly on the piece. It is this major difference that makes crochet much easier to work with than knitting.

For beginners who seek convenience and versatility, we suggest crochet. The tools and techniques are minimized, and, therefore, slightly more accessible. It's very easy to pick up as a self-taught hobby. For those looking to master a wider range of tools, then consider knitting. Children who learn how to knit from an early age can develop more complicated skills. The great benefit of knitting is that, it supports sophisticated designs in intermediate to advanced stages. Some projects combine techniques—such as our shawl in stockinette stitch and embellished with a crochet trim. And you could always consider Tunisian crochet, which many consider to be the best of both techniques.

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