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, scarves, 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 of 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)
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The differences between knitting and crocheting at a glance
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 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 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.
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 might be more likely to disappoint you (e.g. Ravelry lists 150.000 knitted sweater patterns but only 16.000 crochet sweaters).
As the fabric is constructed solely using the loops (stitches) on the needles, knitting patterns typically follow a very logical form. This makes it 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.
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.
Note: The true reason for the popularity of knitting fabric is, however, that there are no true crochet machines making large-scale crochet fabric uneconomical. If it is on sale, it typically comes from a sweatshop. This also means, your hand-crocheted items will be a lot more unique by default.
Is knitting or crocheting easier?
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. Pulling a simple loop through another loop using a hook is, initially, a lot easier and often less frustrating. 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, arguably 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 need.
Of course, you don’t need all these supplies as you start out 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 consider
|Will (by common acclaim) look best for these projects:
|Sweaters, socks, hats, shawls, and anything square
|Toys, home decor (blankets, doilies, baskets), shawls, and anything circular
|Kind of fabric it can create with ease
|drapey, soft, lacy, smooth, delicate, stretchy
|lacy, sturdy, rigid, textured, whimsical/intricate
|Projects that are more difficult for beginners
|toys and tubular/spherical shapes
|intricate colorwork, drapey, smooth rectangular projects
|Amount of patterns available
|Very large libraries of (free) patterns, books, journals, and magazines available
|Fewer patterns but you probably never run out of ideas either
|Speed to finish a project
|Knitting can be slower initially, even if you use big needles and chunky yarn
|Initially a bit faster as basic crochet stitches are quite big
|A bit more complicated but possible to fix mistakes multiple rows below
|Super simple to fix basic mistakes and very difficult to fix mistakes farther down
|around 30-50 USD for a decent starter kit
|25-40 USD for a decent starter kit
|Knitting requires much more tools but also uses up around 30% less yarn
|Crocheting doesn’t need many supplies but uses more yarn and yarn can be very expensive
|A 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 might need 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
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).
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.
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 granny square blanket patterns typically crochet the squares together and that only leaves weaving in ends.
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
I learned how to crochet when I was around 4-5 years old and knit 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.
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.
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.