What’s the difference between knitting and crochet?
Kerry Kimber – Education Manager
Kerry Kimber – Education Manager
Hand knitting and crochet look very similar and can be hard to tell apart if you are unfamiliar with the techniques.Both crafts are used to make items like sweaters, hats, scarves and blankets by creating a series of loops and knots out of yarn.
They are enjoyable pastimes which promote a sense of well-being and give crafters the chance to make things that are personalised and meaningful. The pleasure begins when selecting a knitting or crochet pattern and picking out favourite colours from an array of beautiful fibres, and it continues through the rhythmic creation of each loop, until the final satisfaction of completion.
The fabrics created by knitting and crochet look and feel similar at first glance. However, on closer inspection, key differences in appearance become noticeable. Knitting is often smoother and stretchier than crochet, featuring rows of V-shaped stitches made from single interlocking loops of yarn lining up neatly side by side. Crochet looks more like a series of knots and twists and often has a thicker, less flexible and more robust finish.
Crochet stitches are created using a crochet hook - a smooth stick made of wood, bamboo, metal, or plastic, with a pointed hook on one end. One crochet stitch is worked at a time, by inserting the hook into a stitch and pulling the yarn through. Different effects are created by working into previously made stitches specified by the pattern in combination with wrapping the yarn around the hook a set number of times.
There are several core crochet stitches including chain, double crochet and treble crochet. The definitions of these stitches differ between North America and the UK, so keep this in mind when selecting a crochet pattern.
Knitting is created using two knitting needles - smooth sticks, each with a pointy end. Rows of stitches are held on the needles, starting on the left-hand needle and then passed over to the right-hand needle as each new stitch is made. In contrast to crochet, many stitches are held on the needles at once.
There are two basic knitting stitches, the ‘knit’ stitch, sometimes known as ‘plain’, and the ‘purl’ stitch. Working these stitches in a variety of combinations creates different textured effects.
The differing characteristics of knitting and crochet mean that some crafters favour one over the other, either because they prefer the making process of one or because they like the finished effect more. Many like to take advantage of the strengths of each technique and switch between knitting and crochet depending on what they’re making.
It’s not a competition of course, but understanding the general characteristics of knitting and crochet will help you decide which technique will suit you best, whether it’s a matter of personal preference or for a specific project you have in mind.
• Knitting creates a lighter fabric than crochet and uses less yarn than the equivalent crochet project.
• Knitting drapes better than crochet and can create more flattering garments.
• Knitting is stretchier than crochet and is ideal for collars, cuffs and fitted garments.
• Crochet is denser, thicker and stronger than knitting.
• Crochet tends to be faster than knitting.
• Motifs and toys are more easily created in crochet as stitches can be worked in any direction.
• A dropped crochet stitch doesn’t unravel far and is easy to pick up, whereas a dropped stitch in knitting can cause ladders to run down several rows.
• It’s easy and quick to undo mistakes in crochet by pulling the yarn out of the stitches and re-inserting the hook into the last correct stitch, ready to resume. Unpicking rows of knitted stitches is more complex and time-consuming.
Crochet and knitting can sometimes be used in the same project. A crochet trim can be added to a knitted hem, or a crochet motif can be embroidered onto knitting. Crochet is also used to secure knitted seams or protect stitches where knitting is going to be cut in, a process known as Steeking.