Knitting vs crochet – how to find out which craft is right for you

Is knitting or crocheting easier? A closer look at the facts, the pros, and the cons of each craft.

So, you want to create your own sweaters, scarfs, socks, toys, or blankets? Or are you just looking for an accessible and reasonably inexpensive hobby that some say has very calming, even meditative, aspects? And now you are wondering about the differences between knitting vs crochet?

Let me take you by the hand and guide you through the pros and cons of each respective craft. You are probably wondering which of the two is easier for beginners and possibly even which hobby might be better for you. And this post will answer all of these questions and address a couple of facts you might not even be aware yet.

I particularly want to look at the commonalities of knitting and crochet because I personally believe that there’s more that unites these two crafts than there is that divides them.

Anyway, let’s dive right into it.

Reading tip: Learn how to knit – complete free course for beginners (+videos)

Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.

The differences between knitting and crochetting at a glance

the difference between crochet and knitting as shown with two swatches
Left: a knitted swatch | right: a crochet swatch

Ravelry and Etsy are by far the most popular places when it comes to researching patterns and even a quick glance will easily show you that there is not a single garment, toy, or household item (like blankets, sweaters, etc.) that you cannot produce with either craft.

So, when it comes to choosing between the two, I feel it’s very important to understand that neither will limit your creativity or the number of choices. What will be different, however, is the fabric you create and the ease (or difficulty) of certain constructions. Let’s take a closer look:

The techniques & tools

knitting and various supplies and tools needed for this craft
Working on a little piece of knitted fabric

Knitting is done with two needles using both hands. Essentially you are using one needle to store loops and the other to scoop out a fresh row of loops from this fundament. Initially, this requires quite a lot of muscle memory and dexterity, especially as all stitches can unravel at any time or fall off your very pointy and slippery needles.

It also means that knitting patterns often require various means and additional tools to shape fabric, put stitches on hold, or for picking up stitches. 3-Dimensional objects can be particularly difficult to create and may require a full set of five double-pointed knitting needles.

crocheting a square to show the general technique
Crocheting a basic little square

Crocheting only uses one hook and one main hand to create the fabric. While both crafts require you to pull yarn through loops, the hook facilitates this process tremendously. On top of that, the resulting stitches are stable (essentially a chain of knots) and only the currently active stitch could possibly unravel.

This also makes fixing mistakes as easy as pulling on the yarn to unravel a few stitches, while in knitting fixing mistakes requires a lot more skill (and actually a crochet hook). On top of that, for crocheting, you typically do not need any other tools for even the most complex patterns.

The fabric

different kind of knitting fabrics on a wooden table
Three different and very popular knitting stitch patterns

These days, most commercially available garments in retail stores are knitted – even those that may not look like they were. T-shirts, sweaters, socks, or undergarments are typically made out of jersey – a particular fine machine knit fabric.

Most people will associate knitting with garments and there’s a sheer unimaginable amount of patterns available to hand-knitters. If that’s what you are looking for, crocheting will probably disappoint you.

As the fabric is constructed solely using the loops (stitches) on the needles, knitting patterns typically follow a very logical form. This makes it is very easy to create uniform smooth fabric (like a rectangle or a tube) but considerably difficult to knit more elaborate structures. Intricate colorwork can be a lot easier, though.

swatches showing different crochet techniques and fabrics
A typical crochet square and a swatch of double chain stitches

In crochet, stitches are mostly formed by piercing through previous rows. The result will typically be a thicker and bumpier fabric with quite a lot more texture or one with lots of decorative holes in it. It typically also uses more yarn compared to knitting and is quite a bit less stretchy as adjacent stitches are not connected in a direct way.

Especially when it comes to garments, most people will associate crochet fabric with old-fashioned doilies or hippie kinds of bralettes – a bit more whimsical one could say. Since the fabric is typically a lot denser, it can be used to support 3-dimensional forms (like toys or home decor) a lot easier.

Is knitting or crocheting easier?

someone crocheting a swatch showing the basic technique

Crocheting requires a bit less dexterity and multi-tasking and can thus be said to be easier. Handling the many live stitches and correcting mistakes can be a lot harder for knitting beginners. On top of that, crochet stitches are typically larger than their knitting counterparts, so it is quite a bit faster to create the same surface area (but uses more yarn).

On top of that, knitting typically differentiates between the right and wrong side while this kind of question is less of a concern in crocheting. So, for very young children (below 8 years), basic crocheting is probably easier. The same applies to adults who lack delicate fine control in their hands. More or less anyone can pull a loop of yarn through another loop using a hook. Knitting needles don’t have a hook so, at first, stitches will frequently slip off the needles.

It’s very important to note, however, that advanced crochet projects or knitting projects will be very similar in difficulty. So, it’s only the initial learning curve. This basically means, if you are just looking for a little distraction for an hour or two, knitting might be a bit too hard. Later on, the differences in difficulty are negligible and it’s not as if the knitting basics are truly hard to learn. Millions of people did it before you.

One very important topic that needs to be addressed is the tools you need. Crocheting, as I said, basically just needs a couple of hooks and yarn. For as little as 50 USD you can basically access almost all beginner and intermediate patterns.

When it comes to knitting, costs can quickly add up. A single set of quality interchangeable knitting needles, arguable the most cost-efficient investment of them all, can be 100 USD or even more. And that does not include all the other knitting tools you might needle.

Of course, you don’t need all these supplies as you start and a knitting beginner kit will roughly cost as much as the crocheting equivalent. Later on, the differences can be noticeable if you want to knit a wide range of projects that require different types of needles and special tools. Then again, knitting is a lot more yarn efficient (uses around 30% less) and often yarn is the most important cost factor.

Pros and cons of knitting vs crocheting

Now let’s wrap things up and put it all together in one table. I do, however, want to be clear that the decision will ultimately largely depend on your personal preferences. There’s no one clear winner here:

Things to considerKnittingCrocheting
Will (by common acclaim) look best for these projects:Sweaters, socks, hats, shawls, and anything squareToys, home decor (blankets, doilies, baskets), shawls, and anything circular
Kind of fabric it can create with easedrapey, soft, lacy, smooth, delicate, stretchylacy, sturdy, rigid, textured, whimsical/intricate
Projects that are more difficult for beginnerstoys and tubular/spherical shapesintricate colorwork, drapey, smooth rectangular projects
Amount of patterns availableVery large libraries of (free) patterns, books, journals, magazines availableFewer patterns but you probably never run out of ideas either
Speed to finish a projectKnitting can be slower initially, even if you use big needles and chunky yarnInitially a bit faster as basic crochet stitches are quite big
Fixing mistakesA bit more complicated but possible to fix mistakes multiple rows belowSuper simple to fix basic mistakes and very difficult to fix mistakes farther down
Starting costsaround 30-50 USD for a decent starter kit25-40 USD for a decent starter kit
Advanced costsKnitting requires much more tools but also uses up around 30% less yarnCrocheting doesn’t need many supplies but uses more yarn and yarn can be very expensive
SeamingA lot of intermediate projects require extensive seaming. On the plus side, this will allow a very precise fitting.Most crochet projects are seamless as you can basically continue anywhere in your fabric with a new ball of yarn.

Again, I absolutely want to stress that both crafts will be able to produce the exact same projects. You absolutely can crochet a sweater but the majority of people will favor the smooth and drapey look of a knitted sweater.

You can totally knit amigurumi and home decor. In fact, these creations will have a much more delicate look – but they will also be ten times harder to create. In crochet, toys actually count among the simple beginner projects while in knitting you probably need maybe even years of experience.

Which one is faster?

Now, I have read quite a lot of times that crochet would be faster than knitting. And I’d like to contest that view – or rather put that into perspective. As I said, forming a crochet stitch is a bit easier due to the hook. So, as a bloody beginner, you will probably knit the same area much slower than you would crochet it.

On top of that, you can easily stack multiple stitches (e.g. treble crochet) on top of each other in crochet (stacked increases are possible in knitting too but that’s a very advanced technique), and that makes it even faster. However, it’s very important to note that these kinds of techniques create a different, much lacier fabric with holes.

Later on, it will be much slower to create the SAME kind of fabric with crochet. Special speed knitting techniques will allow you to move on at a tremendous speed – forming 2 stitches per second. A speed that will be virtually unattainable in crochet (fastest knitter creates 118 stitches in 1 minute) – except you do trebles and count them as three stitches.

Either way, each of them can be fast but they will excel in different areas.

Crochet vs knit blanket

crochet vs knit blanket a couple of examples decorated on a couch
A knitted blanket and a pillow cushion and a granny square crochet blanket on the right

One heavily debated topic is the difference between knitting versus crochet when it comes to blankets. Both crafts will be able to produce stunning blankets. Crocheting is, obviously, famous for multicolored granny squares and it’s very difficult to create something similar with knitting (mitered squares are similar but don’t even remotely have a similar range of options).

three swatches with three different cable stitches
Various knitted cables

Cables are, on the other side, much easier to create in knitting. While it’s possible to crochet them, they won’t look as crisp, and more advanced cables will be quite difficult. The same applies to intricate colorwork. While not exactly easy, intarsia and Fair Isle basically allow you to transfer any picture or design into knitting.

Another thing to consider is the creative process itself: Blankets can be huge and in knitting all stitches, so the full width, need to be on your needles. This can mean 400 stitches or more. A single row can take as much as 30 minutes and it’s often very difficult (or ill-advised) to interrupt this process. In crochet, you can basically stop wherever you are and you typically construct a blanket out of smaller units.

seaming garter stitch with the mattress stitch using a red contrasting yarn

You can, of course, construct an afghan out of many little squares in knitting as well, but this means a lot of seaming and sewing later on. While not difficult a lot of knitters feel it’s very annoying. Most crochet blanket patterns typically crochet the squares together.

Things BOth crafts have in common

Up until now I mostly talked about the differences between crochet and knitting but there are also many things that unite them. First of all, a lot of knitting techniques require a crochet hook (like a provisional cast-on or some ways of picking up stitches) and vice versa. So, no matter which of the two you pick, you will benefit a lot from dabbling a bit in the other craft as well.

On top of that, both hobbies are incredibly relaxing, some say even a bit like meditation. Only recently I read a lovely quote:

“One of the most powerful things about knitting is that it makes you feel very happy to be in your own company”.

Kaffee Fassett

And the same can be said about crocheting. The hours working on a project can be very restorative and relaxing.

Naturally, you will end up working with fabulous yarn and you will be able to express your personal style, preferences, and personality with each of your projects no matter if you learn knitting or crocheting. Both crafts can also help you to build up a sustainable, slow-fashion wardrobe or decorate your home.

Knitting: my personal story and why I picked it

me wearing the ribbed hat pattern

I learned how to crochet when I was around 6 years old and knitting a couple of months later. At first, I was obsessed with crocheting little bags and toys and all these sorts of things. The relative ease and speed of even complex-looking patterns were what had me hooked (please excuse the pun, haha).

In the years to come, both were part of our school curriculum but as I grew older, I noticed that the kind of fabric crochet creates isn’t what I was really looking for. And even today, I personally feel it looks strangely outdated and old-fashioned or not delicate and smooth enough.

A couple of knitted fly agaric mushrooms

I love knitting socks and complex home decor (like my flowers and mushrooms) and, despite being a proficient crocheter, I never was able to create something that even remotely satisfied me. Most crochet amigurumi look very clumsy and cartoony to me. Obviously, this is what a lot of people like about them, but it’s not for me.

a beautiful cable knit sock pattern modeled on feet so you can see all sides
One of the many free sock patterns here on my blog

I’m not saying this to tell you you have to start knitting. Quite to the contrary, even though this is a knitting blog and I only show you how to knit here. That’s precisely the reason why I put this section about my personal choices here at the end and not at the beginning.

So, here’s what I would recommend: First, think about the projects you want to create. Sweaters, toys, blankets, you name it. And then use Google or Pinterest and search for the respective crochet and knitting patterns. I guarantee you that one craft will probably speak more to you.

Besides, it’s not like you cannot learn the other craft later on. In fact, I personally believe that the synergies between crocheting and knitting should be explored in greater depth. Knitting a blanket and adding a delicate, lacy crochet border can look as stunning as adding a beautiful little crochet cuff to knitted socks.

Anyway, that’s was my post about knitting vs crochet. Comment below in case you have questions or doubts.

knitting vs crochet which is easier - a detailed analyis

7 thoughts on “Knitting vs crochet – how to find out which craft is right for you”

  1. Another great article Norman, thank you. I am learning both knitting and crochet. I am finding some aspects of both of them tricky to pick up and others easy. Everyone can decide what they are most comfortable doing and enjoy the most but I am finding that by being able to do both I can choose from so many patterns and can make almost anything. I will carry on doing both.

    PS I wouldn’t complain if the odd crochet article appeared on this blog 🙂

    Reply
  2. Thank you Norman for your detailed explanations. Although I knew a bit about both crafts years ago, it is only since the pandemic that I have picked them up again. Last winter it was crochet madness for me lol. But this fall I decided to try my hand at knitting. At first it was very frustrating especially when losing stitches mid row and I almost threw it in a couple of times. Now I’m working on a sweater and happy that I’m making less mistakes ( I also learned about lifelines which keeps me sane). Anyway I’m just picking my way through your website and tutorials and learning lots. Your calming approach makes me want to learn to knit well. Thank you for taking the time to put this website together.

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  3. Totally agree Norman, I find crochet a bit heavy on my projects, love knitting but don’t mind using crochet in it when needed. Thank you for your article 🙂

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  4. Oddly enough, I read this article at the end of an evening which I had spent teaching myself Tunisian crochet! I completely agree that whilst both crafts have their plus points, for me the denser fabric of crochet is not as pleasant as the lovely drape and comforting feel of a knitted fabric. I completely get why my friends enjoy their crochet, but personally I don’t find the process as meditative or balanced as knitting. This was a lovely balanced article and I can hear your voice reading it!

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