Learn the Differences Between Knitting and Crocheting

illustration of knitting vs. crochet

The Spruce / Catherine Song

Learning a new craft can be exciting, especially when it comes to knitting or crocheting and dreaming about all the inspiring projects you can make. You may prefer one technique over the other, or you may enjoy knitting and crocheting equally.

Both crafts use a needle or hook to manipulate loops of yarn to create items from sweaters and blankets to hats and toys. The two yarn crafts share many similarities and common elements, but they are also quite different in terms of techniques and results. Knitting and crocheting both require similar skill sets, such as hand-eye coordination, an eye for color and design, an affinity for fiber, and the ability to patiently plan a project from start to finish.

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The Similarities in Yarns

Both knitters and crocheters use yarn to create items. As a general rule, knitting and crochet use the same type and same basic amount of yarn for similar projects. There are many different types of yarn and they can all be used equally in knitting as in crochet, although some finicky yarns may lend themselves better to one craft or the other. The only variation may be crochet thread, which is typically reserved for delicate projects made with thin crochet needles; it's not something mentioned much in knitting.

Knitting Needles vs. Crochet Hooks

Knitting is performed with either pointed knitting needles, knitting looms, or knitting machines. Looms and machines are largely used to mass-produce items such as knitted fabrics for the garment industry. When you hand-knit, you'll use a pair of pointy knitting needles made of metal, wood, or plastic. Knitting needles may come in varying configurations for different projects. Sometimes the two needles are connected by a cord, called a circular knitting needle. Knitting needles may come in sets of more than two. For example, double-pointed sock knitting needles often come in sets of four or five.

Crocheters use a single crochet hook to create delicate items. A hook, which is a stick with a tiny hooked end, come in all sizes from small to large. They're typically made of steel, aluminum, bamboo, plastic, wood, or bone.

Knitting vs. Crochet Stitches

There are important structural differences between crocheted fabric and knitted fabric. With knitting, you'll need to keep several active yarn loops securely on the needles. Each stitch depends on the support of the stitch below it. If a knitter drops a stitch, the whole column of stitches below it might unravel.

With traditional crochet, there's usually only one active yarn loop that needs attention. With some advanced projects and niches of crochet, such as broomstick lace, multiple loops need attention. That one active loop is what holds your project together and keeps it from unraveling.

Knitting vs. Crochet Projects

The technique of knitting with needles allows for more drape of the finished fabric, which is why garments are usually knit. Crochet creates delicate, yet slightly stiffer fabric, which is ideal for blankets and table runners, for example. However, there's such a vast range of yarns today which makes it possible to create delicate knits and draped crochet projects. You'll also run into projects that can be knit or crocheted, depending on your preference. for example, though socks used to be solely knitted, now there are plenty of crochet sock patterns.

Is It Knit or Crochet?

Some techniques can fool the eye. For example, Tunisian crochet is an advanced technique that creates fabrics with the appearance of knitting.

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