If you’re looking for a new hobby, knitting and crochet are both great options! But what’s the difference between them, and which one should you try first? In this blog post, we’ll compare knitting and crochet, and help you decide which one is right for you.
Spend a little time clicking around our website, and you’ll soon find that we love knitting AND crocheting! Both crafts are incredibly fun and relaxing and can be used to create everything from cozy blankets to delicate lace.
But we often get asked, “What’s the difference between knitting and crochet?” and “Which one should I try first?” To answer those questions, let’s take a closer look at knitting and crochet, and compare them side-by-side.
At a Glance
- Knitting is worked with two knitting needles, while crochet is worked with one crochet hook.
- Knitting moves sets of live stitches from needle to needle. Crochet works with one live stitch at a time.
- Knitted fabric can be smoother and stretchier than crochet fabric. Crochet fabric is often highly textured, and a bit sturdier than knitted fabric.
- Both crafts can be used to make a variety of projects, from garments to home decor.
- Both crafts are a great way to relax and unwind.
Knitting vs. Crochet
Let’s start with the basics: knitting and crochet are both popular needle crafts that use yarn to create fabric. While you can make a variety of projects with either craft, each one has its own unique characteristics.
What is knitting?
Knitting is a needle craft that uses two knitting needles and yarn to create fabric. The stitches are moved from needle to needle, creating a fabric of interlocking loops.
Knitting stitches are usually uniform in size and shape, and the finished fabric has a bit of a stretch to it. The texture of knitting can be smooth or highly textured, depending on the stitch pattern you choose.
Read our beginner’s guide to knitting here.
- uses two knitting needles held in both hands
- knitted fabric is usually smoother and stretchier than crochet fabric
- often used for sweaters, socks, and gloves
To knit, you’ll need yarn and a pair of needles. Knitting needles come in a variety of types and sizes, from very thin needles used for delicate projects, to thick needles used for quick-knit projects.
- straight knitting needles
- circular knitting needles
- double pointed needles
- cable needles, tapestry needles, and other notions.
Each type of knitting needle has its own particular uses, and you may need more than one type of needle for any individual project. You can learn more about knitting needles here.
Here are basic techniques you’ll need to know to get started knitting:
- Cast on: This is the first step in knitting, and it creates the foundation stitches for your project.
- Knit and purl stitches: The knit and purl stitches are the basic building blocks of knitting.
- Binding off: This is the last step in knitting, and it secures your stitches, so they don’t unravel.
- Stockinette stitch: This is the quintessential knitting stitch pattern, created by alternating rows of knit and purl stitches.
- Garter stitch: This is another basic stitch pattern, created by knitting every row.
Knitting Pros and Cons
Now that you know a little more about knitting, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
- Knitting is portable, and you can knit just about anywhere. We love being able to take a project to work on while waiting for appointments or passing the time on long car trips.
- Once you know the basics, learning new stitches and knitting techniques is relatively easy. Most stitch patterns build upon the basic knit and purl stitch.
- Knitting can create a variety of fabric types, from light and airy to thick and cozy. You can knit with thin lace-weight yarns to create delicate shawls, or bulky yarns to create chunky hats and scarves.
- Knitting can be very methodical, and some people really like the repetitive structure of knitting each stitch across the needle. (As a side note: This can make it easier to craft while watching TV, too, since you don’t have to count each stitch.)
- Knitting with multiple colors is a beautiful way to create patterns. For more on knitting colorwork, check out Intarsia and Fair Isle knitting.
- Cables and other textured knitting stitches add interest and dimension to your knitting projects.
- Knitting can be more difficult for beginners because you have to hold two needles and manage multiple live stitches simultaneously. It takes a while to figure out how to hold the yarn and needles, and manage everything all at once.
- If you drop a stitch or make a mistake while knitting, it can be difficult to fix.
- Knitting requires a larger set of tools than crochet.
What is crochet?
Crochet is a needle craft that uses a crochet hook and yarn to create fabric. The yarn is wrapped around the hook and pulled through to create stitches one loop at a time.
Crochet stitches can be of different sizes and shapes, and the finished fabric is usually less stretchy than knitting. The texture of plain crochet is not quite as smooth as knitting, but that’s not always a bad thing! In fact, crochet has some unique textures that you can’t get with knitting.
When it comes to projects, crochet is very versatile too. You can make garments, accessories, home decor items, and more. Some people say that crochet is too bulky and stiff for garments, but that’s not always the case. With the right yarn and stitch pattern, you can make a beautiful, drapey garment.
Read our beginner’s guide to crochet here.
- uses one crochet hook held in the dominant hand
- crochet fabric is usually a bit denser than knitted fabric
- often used for blankets, amigurumi, and home decor projects
When it comes to tools, crochet is much simpler.
There are many different sizes and styles of crochet hooks, to be sure. Aluminum, wood, plastic, and resin hooks are all popular. But in contrast to knitting, you don’t need to have circulars or DPNs for crochet.
Here are the basic crochet stitches you need to know:
- Chain stitch: The chain stitch is the foundation of a crochet project.
- Single crochet: The most basic crochet stitch.
- Double crochet: A taller stitch that works up faster than single crochet.
- Treble crochet: An even taller stitch, for when you really want your work to grow quickly!
- Half double crochet: Taller than single crochet, but shorter than double crochet.
- Slip stitch: This stitch is used to move along the row without adding height, or to join rounds.
Crochet Pros and Cons
Now that you know a little more about crochet, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
- Crochet is just as portable as knitting. Common crochet motifs like granny squares are even easier to work on the go.
- After you understand the basics of crochet, learning new stitches and techniques is easy. Even the most intricate crochet textures are made up of combinations of basic stitches.
- You only need one crochet hook for most projects, rather than multiple needles. And, unlike knitting, crochet is easy to pick up and put down in the middle of a row.
- Want to use a hook for another project? No problem. You can take the hook out, place a stitch marker to secure the last stitch, and come back to the project whenever you’re ready.
- Crochet stitches are very stable, and less likely to unravel if they accidentally slip off your hook.
- Crochet really excels when it comes to 3D shapes and amigurumi. (You can make amigurumi with knitting, too, but it requires more advanced skills.)
- Crochet can feel less “strict” and more forgiving than knitting. In fact, freeform crochet is a popular technique for creative makers who want to experiment beyond traditional patterns.
- Some people find crochet hard to get the hang of because you have to hold the hook in one hand and manage the yarn in the other. It can take quite a bit of practice before you feel comfortable tensioning the yarn in your non-dominant hand.
- In the same way, it takes practice to learn exactly where to insert your hook to make your next stitch. And, at least in the beginning, you’ll need to count the stitches in each row to make sure you’ve crocheted the correct number of stitches.
- Crochet uses more yarn than knitting. In general, you can expect crochet projects to use 25-30% more yarn than a knitting project of the same size, depending on the stitch pattern. This means that crochet garments may feel a bit heavier. And, of course, it means you’ll need to buy more yarn.
- Crochet fabric is generally less stretchy than knitting – but with the right yarn and pattern, you can still create beautiful wearable garments.
Crochet vs. Knitting: Similarities and Differences
So, what are the similarities and differences between crochet and knitting? Let’s take a look:
|Tools||Two knitting needles (or DPNs/circular needles)||one crochet hook|
|Yarn||any yarn, from lace weight to jumbo weight||any yarn, from laceweight to jumbo weight, and crochet thread|
|Fabric||smooth and stretchy, can be textured.||less stretchy, usually textured|
|Texture||a variety of textures, including ribbing and cables||a variety of textures, including ribbing and cables|
|Colorwork||intarsia, fair isle, slip-stitch/mosaic knitting, entrelac||intarsia, fair isle, mosaic crochet, tapestry crochet, granny squares, c2c crochet|
|Patterns||a wide variety of free and paid patterns, including over 400,000 on Ravelry||a wide variety of free and paid patterns, including over 700,000 on Ravelry|
|Ease||harder to manage two needles||easier to manage one hook, but harder to “read your stitches”|
|Speed||usually slower than crochet||usually quicker than knitting|
|Fixing Mistakes||can be harder to fix mistakes||easy to rip out and redo mistakes|
|Cost||knitting needles can be more expensive than crochet hooks, and you need more of them||crochet hooks can be used for more than one project at a time, so you only need one set|
|Portability||often portable, except for large blankets||often portable, especially smaller motifs like granny squares|
Is one better than the other?
There’s a misconception that knitting is prettier or more sophisticated than crochet – or that crochet is only for toys and granny square blankets. But we don’t think that’s true!
You can make beautiful items with both knitting and crochet. In reality, both knitting and crochet have their own advantages and disadvantages.
To be clear, one craft is not inherently better than the other. There are no winners or losers here. It really just comes down to personal preference and finding the right pattern.
Which is Easier to Learn?
Beginners often want to know, “Which is easier to learn, knitting or crocheting?” And the truth of the matter is that both crafts are going to feel tricky at the beginning. That’s just the nature of learning something new!
Here are a few aspects that make one craft easier to learn than the other.
Some people find crochet easier than knitting because there’s only one hook to deal with, rather than two knitting needles.
But on the flip side, crochet requires you to tension the yarn with the non-dominant hand. And knitting gives you the choice of tensioning the yarn with either the dominant or non-dominant hand.
Number of Basic Stitches
Knitting can be easier to learn because, at least in the beginning, there are only two stitches to learn: the knit stitch and the purl stitch. Compare that to crochet, where there are quite a few more basic stitches to master: chain stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, treble crochet, and slip stitch.
Making Stitches Across the Row
In the same way, some people find knitting easier to learn because all of the live stitches are neatly lined up on the needles. To make a row of stitches, you just go down the line, working each stitch on the needle.
Compare that to crochet, where you need to develop the skill of “reading your stitches” to see where to place your hook for the next stitch. It’s not rocket science, of course, but it does take a while to develop that skill.
When it comes to fixing mistakes, crochet is the easier of the two crafts. It’s very easy to rip out (or “frog”) your work and start over again. You can also easily add or remove stitches as needed.
Knitting, on the other hand, can be more difficult to fix because the stitches are all interlocked. You can still frog your knitting, but it’s a bit more time-consuming.
So, which is easier to learn? It really depends on your learning style. If you like structure and learning just a few stitches at a time, knitting might be the better choice for you. If you want the freedom to fix mistakes quickly, crochet might be the way to go.
Which is Faster?
Another common question is, “Which is faster, crocheting or knitting?” The answer to this question is a bit more cut and dry.
Crochet is the faster of the two crafts. Part of the reason for this is that crochet stitches are generally taller than knitting stitches, so you can cover more ground with each stitch.
But just like anything else, it’s all about practice. The more you knit or crochet, the faster you’ll get. And if speed isn’t your goal, then take your time and enjoy the process!
Which is Cheaper?
Finally, some people want to know which is cheaper, knitting or crocheting. Personally, I don’t find that one craft is that much more expensive than the other – at least once you have a full set of tools.
When it comes to tools, knitting needles tend to be a bit more expensive than crochet hooks. For example, you can pick up a full set of crochet hooks for $50. But, a nice set of interchangeable knitting needles will run you upwards of $100. And, even if you get a set of interchangeable needles, you’ll probably still need a few sets of DPNs, cable needles, and other small notions.
But keep in mind, crochet projects tend to require more yarn than similar-sized knitting projects. And once you have your hooks or needles squared away, the primary expense will be the yarn.
Which Should Learn First?
So there you have it—a brief overview of knitting vs. crochet. Which one should you try first? Why not try both and see which one you like better? After all, they’re both fun!
Here are some things to consider as you decide:
- What type of projects are you interested in? If you want to start with amigurumi, then crochet is the best way to go. If you’re interested in making socks, then we’d recommend starting with knitting.
- How much time do you have? If you want to finish a project quickly, crochet might be the better option. Crochet generally works up a bit faster than knitting (at least at the beginning, until you master speed-knitting!)
- What’s your budget? As I said before, a complete set of knitting needles can be a bit more expensive than crochet hooks. If you’re on a tight budget, crochet might be cheaper.
How to Get Started with Knitting
Ready to get started? If you’re interested in knitting, there are a few things you’ll need to get started.
- First, you’ll need some yarn. We recommend starting with smooth, worsted-weight yarn.
- Second, you’ll need a pair of knitting needles. We recommend starting with wood or bamboo needles. You can find yarn and knitting needles at any craft store, or you can order them online.
- Third, you’ll need some free knitting tutorials. Check out our archives for lots of knitting resources, including tutorials and free patterns.
How to Get Started with Crochet
Likewise, if you’re interested in crochet, here are the supplies you’ll need to get started.
- First, you’ll need some yarn. Look for a smooth, worsted-weight yarn in a light color (so you can see the stitches better.) Avoid anything too fuzzy!
- Second, you’ll need a crochet hook. Aluminum is fine to start, but we’d recommend ergonomic hooks like these if they’re within your budget. You can find yarn and crochet hooks at any craft store, or you can order them online.
- Then, once you have your supplies, you’ll need some free crochet tutorials. Check out our archives for lots of crochet resources, including tutorials and free patterns.
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Sarah Stearns has helped thousands of makers find their next craft project with free patterns and step-by-step tutorials on her blog, sarahmaker.com. Read more.
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