Yarn Barn Blog

​Shall I Knit or Crochet?

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Both crochet and knitting are crafts enjoyed by millions around the world. Generations have created everyday items and family heirlooms using just yarn and a hook or a pair of pointy sticks. If you wish to join those who have gone before you, here is a comparison of the two crafts for your consideration.

Knitting

Knitting at its most basic is a process of putting loops of yarn on one needle (casting on) then looping yarn through those loops with a second needle. Flat knitting moves loops from one needle to the other, then back again. New loops are made by the needle in the knitter’s dominant hand, while the other hand holds the rows already completed. At the end of each row, the knitter switches needles from one hand to the other to begin a new row.

In past centuries even preschool children were expected to do plain knitting. Waldorf schools still have knitting in their curriculum for young children. Anyone with the desire can learn to knit. Once the basics are mastered, knitters can move on to color work, lace, cables, and circular knitting. Crocheters may want to learn knitting to create ribbing for cuffs or necklines.

In general, knitting is slower than crochet for the same number of stitches/size of yarn. Knitting also requires less yarn for the same size and style of item. The biggest problems beginners face are:

  • Dropping stitches (letting a loop fall off the needle)
  • Accidental yarn-overs creating extra stitches (holding yarn incorrectly)
  • Knitting so tightly they cannot slip a needle in to make a new loop.

None of these problems are insurmountable with the aid of a good teacher.

Crochet

Crochet uses a hook to pull loops through one another. Rather than holding all the stitches on the hook, stitches are worked one at a time. It begins with a chain of loops. The first row creates stitches in these chains. At the end of a row, a turning chain is worked, and a new row of stitches is worked into the tops of the previous stitches. Many knitters learn some crochet for decorative edgings.

Crochet is versatile, as stitches may vary in height or be worked in the round or flat. Chains can be made to create loops and stitches may be layered to create a textured fabric. If the hook slips out of the work, the single working loop can be easily placed back on the hook—the work will not run like a snagged stocking.

While crochet can go more quickly, it also presents some challenges for beginners. While knitting is simply moving loops, crochet involves knowing exactly where to place the hook for each new stitch. Beginners, being unfamiliar with stitches, often make two stitches in one stitch, skip stitches at the end of a row, or make an extra stitch at the end of a row. Beginners need a teacher to help them learn to keep a consistent stitch count and proper hook placement.

Whichever craft you choose, make sure you have a book with good illustrations and a friend to guide you. Your persistence at the beginning will soon be rewarded, and you may find after learning one craft you also want to learn the other!

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