Knitting Vs Crochet: What’s the Difference? With Photos!

Knitting and crocheting both involve creating a piece of fabric by pulling loops of yarn or thread through other loops, but that’s where the similarity ends. People mistake one for the other, but the techniques and designs that can be created with each method aren’t the same.

So, what is the difference between knitting and crocheting?

While both crafts involve drawing loops of yarn through other loops to create the fabric, knitting involves two or more needles that support a series of loops, and crochet involves using a hook to draw the loops through each other. Knitting unravels a lot easier than crochet, and crochet can only be done by hand, while knitting can also be done using a machine.

Knitting needles and crochet hooks.
Knitting needles and crochet hooks.

Both knitting and crochet can be done with yarns of different thicknesses and different sized needles or hooks to create larger or smaller stitches.

Some of the thicker yarns can be used to make small projects that only take a few hours, so there’s no need for a large time commitment.

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What are some differences between knitting and crochet?

Carol Lopez, owner of Handcrafted Accents,Opens in a new tab. says that some things to understand about each type of needlework are:

  • Knitting takes longer than crocheting to complete a project.
  • Knitting has a better drape and softness to the finished material, so is a better fit for garments.
  • Crocheting is great for items that are going to get a lot of wear, like placemats, potholders or rugs.
  • Knitting really only has about 2 stitches, knit and purl, that you learn for basics and uses two or more needles, while crocheting uses one hook but has quite a number of stitches.
  • ANY project can be knitted or crocheted, and it is usually personal preference on which to choose. I find that most people only know how to either knit or crochet. I love to do both, because I love to be able to fit the method to the project.
  • Knitting tends to be a more solid material and crocheting tends to have more spacing in between the stitches, although you can knit lacy garments and crochet tight solid pieces too!
Chart showing some differences between knitting and crochet based on the preceding paragraph.
Differences between knitting and crochet.

Knitting Basics

Knitting consists of two basic stitches, knit and purl. By alternating rows of these two stitches as you go back and forth, you can create a piece of stockinette stitch fabric that’s flat on one side and bumpy on the other. By combining these two stitches in different ways, and by alternating the order of the stitches, you can create cables and other patterns that give knit fabrics texture and visual interest.

A knitted pattern
Stockinette Stitch is flat on one side with stitches that look like a V, and bumpy on the other.
knitted sweater ribbing
Knit and purl stitches alternate to create ribbing on a sweater.

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It’s even possible to create lacy patterns with open spaces by using more complicated combinations of the two basic stitches.

By knitting two or more stitches together, then casting on new stitches in following rows, you can create openings in the fabric and give the piece the look of openwork lace.

To start a knitting project, you add loops to one knitting needle, then go back and knit into those loops.

The needles can be individual straight needles, or you could use a round needle set that is made of straight needles on the end that are connected by a flexible wire.

Round needles can be used to knit tubes for hats and sleeves, while the individual straight needles are generally used to create panels that you sew together to construct the garment.

knitted sweater with texture
Knitted pattern on reverse stockinette stitch.

There are two ways to knit, referred to as the Continental method and the English method.

The Continental method involves holding the end of the yarn in the left hand and “picking” it up with the needle in the right hand to draw it through the loops on the left needle.

With this method you can usually go faster, but a lot of people have trouble with this method until they get used to controlling the tension of the yarn with their left hands.

Too much tension will create a tight fabric that can end up smaller than you expect.

Knitted pumpkin hat
Knit cap

The English method involves holding the end of the yard in the right hand and “throwing” it over the needle to create a loop that you then draw through the loops on the left needle.

This method involves more motion for your hands, so it tends to be a little slower than knitting Continental-style.

Which method people prefer is usually based on how they learned to knit. If you’re used to doing it one way it can be difficult to switch to the other method.

I learned how to knit in the English style, but I had a friend from Denmark who taught me how to knit using the Continental style, and that’s what I prefer.

I feel like it’s faster, but knowing how to knit both ways can come in handy when you run into a tricky pattern, or need to figure out how to fix a dropped stitch.



knit fingerless gloves
Knit gloves

In recent years, chunky, oversized yarn has been more popular because it knits or crochets up quickly, and you can make a finished project in a short time. These types of yarns are designed to be used with oversized knitting needles or crochet hooks, and the stitches that you make with them are visibly larger than regular yarn.

There’s even a craft called “arm knitting” that you do with chunky yarn that involves creating loops of the giant yarn over your arm to make the fabric. This is used to create thick blankets that can be created relatively quickly, compared to knitting on needles.

Click here to check out these chunky knit blankets on Etsy.Opens in a new tab.

Crochet Basics

Crochet uses a crochet hook to pull loops of the yarn through other loops, and relies on combinations of multiple and single loops to create patterns and texture that resemble knots. Crochet generally has a more textured look than knitting, and can only be done by hand because of the way that you need to build the fabric up. There is no machine that can be used to crochet, so when you see something that has been crocheted, it was made by human hands.

crocheted doily
Crochet stitches

Crochet projects have one “active” loop on the crochet hook at any given time, so it doesn’t unravel as easily as knitting does. If a stitch falls off of a knitting needle (a dropped stitch) it can unravel all the way down the row and will need to be re-woven to fix the row.

Crochet is less likely to fall victim to this kind of mistake, so it’s a little easier to handle as far as unraveling goes.

You can make more complicated patterns with crochet a lot faster than you can with knitting, and crochet is used to make things like the coaster pictured above that’s in the shape of a flower.

Crochet is often used to make shaped items like dolls because you can taper the shapes by adjusting where you add loops.

Crocheted fabric
Crochet stitches often look like small knots.

Crochet goes a little faster than knitting does in general, but that will depend on the complexity of the project and the thickness of the yarn.

You can create very delicate fabrics with a lace appearance using crochet techniques, and can also create thicker fabrics quickly using bulky yarn and a large hook.

Crochet methods usually create rows that are a little taller than knitting, and the fabrics are usually a little thicker because of the way that the loops form knot-like stitches.


Knitting or Crochet: Which one is better?

There isn’t really a “better” or “worse” when comparing knitting and crochet. Each has its advantages, and which one you’ll prefer will depend on which one you think is easier to do, and which type of finished fabric you prefer visually. Knitting is generally less bulky, and crochet is faster, so even though they both rely on drawing loops through loops, the appropriateness of each technique will vary. Some people use both knitting and crochet in the same project, and there’s no reason why you can’t learn to do both.

As far as cost goes, people ask whether knitting or crocheting is more expensive. Based on published experiments that people have done, the two crafts don’t use a tremendously different amount of yarn for similar projects, so one isn’t necessarily going to be less expensive than the other.

The cost of each project will depend mostly on the choices that the artist makes as far as what materials to use.

Nicer yarn will increase the cost of the project, and natural fibers are generally more expensive than synthetics.

To reduce your costs, use a synthetic yarn and be a savvy shopper who uses every discount you can find if you want to purchase a nicer quality yarn.

Most yarn stores have sales, and when you get into knitting or crochet you’ll find yourself “stocking up” on yarn to the point that you start to feel like a hoarder. This is normal and expected behavior!

knitted fabric
Crochet by Sandra Stiches IL Opens in a new tab.

Where to get patterns and supplies

There are many sources for knitting and crochet patterns and supplies, including local craft stores and online shops. For beginners, it’s usually beneficial to buy patterns, as opposed to using random free patterns that you find online. Free patterns from unverified sources can often have mistakes that you won’t be aware of. This can result in you being confused or making mistakes through no fault of your own.

Buying a pattern from an independent artisan seller gives you the opportunity to ask them questions if you have any, and many people who sell patterns also have youtube channels that you can watch to get tips. Many of them also offer some free patterns, too.

For crochet patterns and projects, you can visit Cris Crochet ShopOpens in a new tab., an Artisan Shopper member who’s located in the UK.

She develops patternsOpens in a new tab. and creates ready-made hats for customers, so if you decide that you don’t want to make it yourself, she can also help you with that! She has an active Facebook groupOpens in a new tab. and a Youtube channel with many tutorialsOpens in a new tab., so join her group if you’re interested in learning more about crochet.

There are many places to purchase yarn, including from some of our members. Mommy Market TXOpens in a new tab. sells some, and if you’d like to join the Crochet Club on the Cris Crochet Shop website above, you can get a kit delivered every month to make a new product, including all of the yarn that you’ll need.

Handcrafted AccentsOpens in a new tab. is another shop that sells a wide variety of yarns. You can also go to a local craft store and get yarn, but be careful doing that because when you touch the yarn, you’ll want to buy ALL the yarn.

crochet panel
Crocheted panel

Knitting and crochet are relaxing hobbies, and when you learn how to do them you can start creating unique clothing and home decor for yourself, and to give as gifts.

If you’re interested in learning, check out youtube videos and other online resources, take a class at a local craft store, or recruit a friend to teach you. Fiber arts are fun, and give you a lot of opportunities for creativity.

To see the Artisan Shopper craft supplies directory, click here

Thinking of opening a new Etsy shop? Use my affiliate link for 40 free listings.Opens in a new tab.

Kara

Kara Buntin has run a home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 46,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO.

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