mental health Elizabeth Howard

Crocheting vs. Knitting: What is the Difference?

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Crocheting and knitting are two popular forms of working with yarn or thread to create clothing, decorative items, and useful objects such as tote bags and blankets. Each form has its merits, and either can provide a fun, creative outlet and a meditative respite from your daily grind.


Although each involves yarn, they differ in various ways, and many people lean toward one favorite. Read on for some background on crocheting and knitting and the main differences to help you decide which one is right for you.

A Quick History of Crocheting and Knitting

Crocheting’s origins are a bit hazy, and some speculate that it originated in Europe in the 16th century. Some historians think the craft was developed in ancient China, South America, or Arabia. A common theory says crocheting evolved as a less expensive alternative to lace-making because it used less thread and took less time.


Crochet is a French word that means “hook,” which is the tool used to work the yarn. As crocheting grew in popularity during the 19th and 20th centuries, more people worldwide learned and practiced the beloved craft. Crocheting techniques can produce items ranging from clothing and accessories to toys and home décor.


Knitting’s history is unclear, and historians believe it originated in Egypt or Arabia around 1000 CE. During the medieval period, knitting spread throughout Europe and was used to create warm garments and textiles for other purposes.


Knitting produced a tighter, more durable fabric than other methods used in medieval days, and over time became more sophisticated as crafters invented new stitches and techniques. Today, knitting is another yarn art form that is embraced by many and practiced worldwide. Knitted items include clothing, accessories, home décor, and art.

The Differences Between Crocheting and Knitting

So far, both forms of yarn work seem similar, right? They each produce similar types of output using yarn. They do have several differences, however. If you want to know which is better, the answer depends on whom you ask.


When it comes to the basic technique, crochet is like making a series of knots, while knitting resembles a bunch of loops that create “V” shapes and link together.


Each craft is suited to different types of outputs, depending on the results you prefer. One might argue that crocheting takes less time to learn than knitting, but both yarn techniques are relatively easy to learn when producing a simple item, such as a square potholder.


On the other hand, many crocheters and knitters have taken their craft to expert levels, producing spectacularly beautiful, complex works of fiber art using techniques that take tons of practice and know-how to make.


Some artists have even created crocheted jewelry using fine-gauge wire instead of yarn and working in beads and gems.


So now, consider the following, which describes some of the differences between basic crocheting and knitting.

  1. Crocheting uses one hook, while knitting uses two needles.
  2. Crocheting produces a fabric that is sturdier and thicker with a little stretch, while knitting produces a thinner, stretchier, and more flexible fabric.
  3. In crocheting, each stitch is taller, and you can add more variations to increase the stitch height compared to knit stitches.
  4. Crocheting is usually faster than knitting, as each stitch is completed individually, whereas knitting requires a completed row of stitches to finish a section.
  5. Crocheting can be learned faster than knitting because there are fewer stitches to master.
  6. Different types of crochet techniques can create more intricate shapes and patterns, such as three-dimensional items more easily using basic techniques than knitting.
  7. Crocheting is often used to create the edging on a knitted garment or for finishing details on accessories.
  8. Crocheting can use a wider variety of yarns and fibers than knitting. However, crocheting also uses more yarn which might matter if you want to use expensive wool or other high-end fibers.
  9. Crocheting uses fewer stitches per inch than most knitting, making it easier to see individual stitches, find and rework mistakes, and make other adjustments.
  10. Crocheting is an ideal craft form for creating stuffed toys such as amigurumi due to its easy production of three-dimensional shapes. Knitters more commonly make garments such as sweaters and accessories like blankets.

Aren’t Crocheting and Knitting Hobbies for Retirees?

In the past, many people took up one or both of these crafts to pass the time, such as the stereotypical Grandma, crocheting baby blankets, and knitting booties.


These days, others have come to appreciate crocheting and knitting for many reasons, and you would probably be surprised by the number of women and men of all ages who crochet and knit regularly and why.


For example, a former NFL player, Ryan Shazier, suffered a serious spinal cord injury in 2017. As part of his rehabilitation, he took up crocheting.


The Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe is a knitter, and he has worked on his knitting projects during interviews and on movie sets.


Former pro tennis player Chris Evert and actor David Arquette are also avid knitters, with Chris Evert publishing a book of knitting patterns and David Arquette selling his creations to raise funds for charity.


An orthopedic surgeon in Michigan crochets blankets for his children and work colleagues. He embraced crocheting to keep his fingers nimble and channel excess energy.

Everyone Can Use a Little Yarn Therapy

We’ve been talking about the differences between crocheting and knitting, but one similarity is worth mentioning. Both yarn arts have several mental and physical benefits, which continue to encourage and grow their following.


Crocheting and knitting can both help with insomnia and anxiety due to the soothing, repetitive nature of the stitchwork. Focusing on stitches and counting rows can give your mind a break from dwelling on the day’s issues.


Scientists believe that crocheting and knitting can also relieve depression by helping the brain release dopamine. The cognitive exercise and brain stimulation that comes from learning a new stitch or figuring out a new project can reduce Alzheimer’s risk by 30-50%, according to some sources.


The gentle, repetitive motions of each craft can also reduce arthritis symptoms and keep hands and fingers nimble and functional.

Which is Right for You?

Simply put, crocheting and knitting are two methods for stitching yarn together to make objects. For beginners just getting into fiber crafts, crochet can be slightly more accessible. The basic hooks and techniques are minimal, and you can quickly produce your first projects.


You can easily learn how to crochet on your own with the help of videos or book instructions. If you want to master a broader range of tools and stitch options, consider giving knitting a try. You can also try Tunisian crochet, which some people consider a blended technique that integrates the best of both forms.


You can also decide based on the type of project you want to create. Knitting produces sheets of fabric with a flowing feel and fine gauge. The vast majority of sweaters are made using knitted fabric. Try crocheting to create pillows, blankets, three-dimensional objects such as toys, or durable items like potholders or tote bags. The durable fabric you’ll produce is excellent for these projects and more.


Once you start, you might switch from one to the other and back. And as your expertise progresses, you will find that crochet and knitting offer ways to make anything you want. The stitches and techniques may require more advanced skills or different types of yarn, but the possibilities are endless.

To Wrap This Yarn Up…

Crocheting and knitting have much in common, although they still have plenty of differences. Each yarn craft has been in use for hundreds of years or more, and practitioners and hobbyists continue to develop new stitch patterns and techniques to stretch the boundaries of these crafts to new heights.


Understanding the differences helps you decide which craft forms you want to investigate, and you can’t go wrong with either. Crocheting and knitting can offer mental and physical health benefits, and you might even decide to sell your hand-crafted items as a side hustle.


Whichever you choose, and that could be both, you’re bound to enjoy plenty of benefits from crocheting and kin, including the fun of learning something new and the gratification from completing some really cool projects.

Photo by Margarida Afonso on Unsplash

Elizabeth Howard
Author: Elizabeth Howard

Lizzie Howard is a Colorado native who after graduating from the University of Colorado spends her time as a freelance writer. When Lizzie isn’t writing, she enjoys going on hikes, baking for her friends and family, and spending time with her beloved yellow lab, Sparky.