Sweaters, scarves, socks, and blankets—between knitting and crocheting, you can make yourself a whole new wardrobe or a cozy set of bedding. 

But which of the two crafts is right for you? You’ll need to learn the distinctions between them (and the pros and cons of each) to find out. 

 

The Difference Between Knitting and Crochet 

Although they both involve creating fabric using yarn and a stick or two, knitting and crocheting have fundamental differences. 

Knitting 101 

Knitting is the art of creating fabric using two long, pointed needles, one held in each hand. With those needles, knitters can create two kinds of stitches: knit stitches and purl stitches. New stitches are formed by inserting a needle into an existing stitch, wrapping yarn around the needle, and pulling it through the original stitch. 

While simple projects like scarves or washcloths generally don’t require a pattern, you’ll find more complex items such as sweaters and shawls are much easier to tackle if you’re following a pattern. Fortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of knitting patterns you can download online, plus many more printed in knitting books and magazines. 

An overhead view of a man’s hands knitting a green cowl with metal knitting needles.
In the Skillshare class Knitting 101: Everything You Need to Knit With Confidence, teacher Vincent Williams knits a cowl.

Crochet 101

Crocheting is also an art resulting in hand-stitched fabric, but the hook used in crocheting is very different from knitting needles. Specifically, crocheting only requires one hook rather than two needles. New stitches are formed by inserting a crochet hook directly into an existing stitch, wrapping yarn around the hook, and bringing it back through the original stitch. Only one hand needs to manipulate the hook, while the other hand can simply hold the existing stitches steady. 

As with knitting, very simple projects don’t require patterns, but more intricate designs do. You can find hundreds of thousands of crochet patterns online, but there are fewer crochet patterns than there are knitting ones. On Ravelry, the largest online pattern database, there are 362k knitting patterns and 235k crochet patterns as of Feb 2023.

Toni Lipsey walks you through a few basic crochet stitches to get you started. You can learn more in her Skillshare Original class, Modern Crochet: Essential Skills for Getting Started.

Is Knitting Easier than Crochet (or Vice Versa)?

After learning the basics, many people find crocheting easier than knitting because they don’t have to move the stitches back and forth between needles. However, don’t take that to mean that knitting requires more skill than crocheting, or is significantly more difficult. 

On the contrary, anyone can learn to knit or crochet—the basic stitches of both are fairly straightforward, and can be learned in under an hour. To know which one feels more natural to you, you’ll simply need to try both. You may find holding two needles to be easier than holding one, or you may find the motion of crocheting more intuitive; it all depends on your personal preference. 

When to Knit and Why 

An overhead view of a woman’s hands measuring the sleeve of a gray knit sweater.
In the Skillshare class Next Level Knitting: Knit a Sweater, teacher Davina Choy checks the dimensions of a sweater she’s in the process of knitting.

Regardless of whether you find knitting easier or more difficult than crocheting, knitting is simply  better-suited to some types of projects. 

Why? Knit fabric is generally more soft and flexible than crocheted fabric, which makes it ideal for items you want to flow, drape, or wear against the body. For example, you might be better off knitting items such as: 

  • sweaters 
  • cardigans 
  • shawls 
  • gloves 
  • cowls 
  • hats
  • socks

In other words, if you’re planning on wearing your projects, knitting could be the best option for you.

When to Crochet and Why 

An overhead view of a woman’s hand crocheting a round, dark teal coaster using a blue metal crochet hook.
In the Skillshare class The Essential Coaster – Learn the Basics of Crocheting in the Round,”teacher Jane Snedden Peever shows students how to create a basic coaster.

Since crocheted fabric is typically stiffer and thicker than knit fabric, it’s ideal for projects that benefit from some structure. For example, you might want to break out your crochet hook if you’re planning on making: 

  • blankets 
  • coasters
  • washcloths 
  • tote bags 
  • plant pot holders
  • baskets 

None of that’s to say you can’t crochet soft, wearable items, or that you can’t knit large and structural pieces. But by knowing which craft is best-suited to certain projects, you can better prioritize the one you’re going to focus on.

Knitting Pros and Cons

Like any other craft, knitting has its own unique set of pros and cons. 

Knitting Pros

  • Knitted items of clothing have more drape, which tends to make them more flattering and aesthetically pleasing. 
  • Knitted fabric can be very stretchy, depending on the type of stitches you use. 
  • A huge variety of both free and paid knitting patterns are available for knitters of every skill level. 
  • Advanced knitters can create complex articles of clothing resembling those you might buy in a high-end store. 
  • Knitting uses about 25–30 percent less yarn than crochet, making it a more economical choice. 
Vincent Williams will help you choose the right yarn for your knitting project. Learn more in his Skillshare Original class, Knitting 101: Everything You Need to Knit With Confidence.

Knitting Cons

  • Since knitting requires manipulating a needle in each hand, it requires more dexterity and can be difficult for those with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other such conditions. 
  • Knitting stitches are small and tight, which means some projects can take a long time to finish. 
  • Knitting needles tend to make a clicking sound, which some people may find unpleasant.
  • If you make a mistake, knitting projects can be difficult to unravel and fix. 

Crochet Pros and Cons

There are also several advantages and disadvantages to crocheting. 

Crochet Pros

  • Crocheting only requires you to use one hook, which means fewer tools to drop and lose. This also makes it easier for people with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. 
  • If you make a mistake, crocheted fabric is usually fairly straightforward to unravel and fix. 
  • Crochet stitches tend to be big and open, which means crocheted projects can come together quickly. 
  • The stiffer nature of crocheted fabric makes it perfect for items that need strength and durability. 
  • Crochet hooks tend to be much less expensive than knitting needles. 

Crochet Cons 

  • Crochet projects tend to use more yarn than knitting projects, making them more expensive in the long run. 
  • Crochet patterns tend to be more difficult to find than knitting patterns. 
  • Crocheted fabric isn’t well-suited to articles of clothing. 

Knitting and Crochet: Two Crafts Worth Learning

At the end of the day, neither knitting or crocheting is objectively better than the other. Rather, each is a relaxing and rewarding craft worth learning and appreciating. The one that can best meet your needs is entirely up to you.

Get Started on Your Crochet Journey

Modern Crochet: Essential Skills for Getting Started

Written By

Carrie Buchholz-Powers

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