Crochet vs. Knit: Which do YOU prefer?

As the title of this blog implies, I am, by heart, a crocheter.  I learned how to crochet when I was a kid.  I’ve spent countless hours teaching myself new tricks and stitches and feel pretty comfortable saying that I am fairly advanced.  That being said, the world of knitting had always loomed (ooh look! a pun!) mysterious in front of me – for some reason knitters always used that fancy expensive yarn you had to wind yourself (which I still really don’t understand – if I’m going to pay a 400% markup from the ‘craft store’ yarn, can’t you just freakin put it in a ball for me??), their projects always involved CLOTHES, something that, unless you wanted to drape yourself in granny squares, crocheters really just don’t do.  I came up with the title of “classy” crochet because my motto when I started was “just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you should.”

I just had to. I mean, really. It’s amazing.

Knitting always seemed the more ‘sophisticated’ of the two, and certainly more people know how to knit than crochet.  When people hear you knit, they nod their head.  Nobody ever asks “so what’s the difference between knitting and crocheting?” When people hear you crochet, they always, always ask how it’s different from knitting (not that they understand one word of your yarn terminology), and at some point there always comes some joke about crotches and old ladies.  It’s just inappropriate.

So, finally, tired of being informed that I wasn’t good at my craft because I didn’t know how to do a different one, I decided to tackle the seemingly insurmountable.  I was REALLY going to learn how to knit.  I had tried several times before with 100% failure rate.  But, we got stuck in D.C. with no visas to China and our things had already been packed up and literally put on a slow boat, and there I was, trapped in a hotel room for three weeks.  So… I learned how to knit, very laboriously.  I have since picked up on several tips and tricks (and I worship the magical soothing voice of whomever runs the videos on knittinghelp.com) and can say that I now understand the need for ‘nicer’ yarn when knitting.  Consequently, my yarn expenditures have trebled this year (but don’t tell my husband, he doesn’t technically know).

That being said, when I now semi-triumphantly tell people I can do both, I don’t get the appreciative That’s so cool! that I was hoping for.  Rather, I now get the repetitive demanding response of So which is better?  Well… as in all arguments, the answer is always going to be:  “It depends.”  In my long years of crocheting, and my short not-quite-year of knitting, here is my run down.  Let the great debate begin!

Technique

Crochet Knit
ONE active loop!  This means that at any given time, at any given point in your project, you only have to worry about ONE loop that might come undone.  This means if you want to start a new project, just yank your hook out, stretch out that one loop, and your project can sit for months, peacefully, undisturbed. VS The hardest concept of knitting for me to grasp was “live stitches”.  You mean, ALL of the length of my project has to be on a needle THE ENTIRE TIME??? This seemed very tedious and arduous to me.  And really stressful – what happened to the one hook to rule them all?  What happens when you want to start a different project with said needles and don’t feel like finishing the one you’ve got on (yet)?  I ended up buying several different sets, lengths, widths of needles before I finally sucked it up and bought an interchangeable set.  Seriously, they need to tell you these things right off the bat.
One hook.  With a HOOK on the end.  This means if you drop said hook, or you accidentally yank on your project, the worst that happens is a few stitches come undone and you pick it up  and redo the stitches.  When I did something wrong, the saving grace of crochet was that I could simply rip it back to the mistake, insert my hook, and start over again. VS omg. If I had to say the one thing that made me want to fling knitting across the room, it’s the process of fixing mistakes.  And with needles with no hooks and hundreds of slippery, live stitches, mistakes abound when you’re a newbie.  What happens when you make one?  Well… you can slip your needles out, and insert them back in. one. stitch. at. a. time. (of course, making sure to twist them the right way while you do it), all the while hoping and praying that the stitch (which is connected to the next stitch) doesn’t get too loose and (gasp) slips down to the row below.  Just writing this stresses me out.
Finishing: when you’re done, you’re done.  You take your hook out, slip your yarn through, and weave your end in.  The end. VS You have to cast off an entire row of stitches.  This means if you’ve carefully counted equal rows of x vs. y, and didn’t factor in your cast off row, you’re out of luck.  Or even better, calculated *just* enough yarn to finish your project… and then ran out when you had to cast off.  Yep, that’s happened.
Hats: Since I started my crochet ‘career’ with hats, it is my main focus in both crochet and knitting.  With crochet, you start from the top down.  This means you start small and work big.  You can decide on the length and add/subtract rows accordingly.  If it’s too big or small – rip it out and do it again. VS With knitting, you start at the brim and work your way up.  This means you’d better have calculated your width exactly right from the beginning, otherwise there’s no way to fix it.  And then when you get to the top?  Every time I pull out my DPNs my husband winces and says “that looks dangerous”.  It is – I’ve poked myself in the eye with stray needles more times than I can count.

Summary: when it comes to the actual technique of crochet vs. knitting, crochet wins, hands down, any day, every day.  Also, I’ve discovered it’s much easier to crochet small, freeform objects (such as stuffed animals, appliques and whatnot) than it is to knit.  There are just. so. many. needles.

Yarn

Crochet Knit
This is where I can go either way.  Crocheting uses up a LOT of yarn.  Plus, the stitches are usually pretty thick and several times the actual width of the yarn.  Therefore, buying really expensive, nice yarn to crochet with is kind of a waste of money, because 1) you need so much of it and 2) the quality is mostly lost in the texture of the crochet.  So, if you really want to be frugal, buying cheap yarn and crocheting it away is a good way to go.  (Note: I own almost all cheap yarn.  And by all I mean… I own a large portion of the cheap yarn in ze world). VS I will say, finally having worthy projects to use the occasional ball of alpaca I had saved up was really nice.  Nobody admires a crocheted alpaca hat.  The drape and more sheer texture of knitted fabric really showcases high quality fibers.  That being said, you kind of almost have to have ‘really nice yarn’ when you knit.  Spending all that time and effort to create something that’s lumpy and scratchy (something that gets covered up in crochet) at the end of the day isn’t worth it.  Also: NEVER knit with Red Heart Super Saver.  EVER.

Summary: if you want to stick with cheap yarn, crochet it all away!  Also, crocheting tends to hold up better if you want to chuck things in the machine vs ‘buy expensive delicate wool washes and soak by hand’.  Or, when you knit, buy the wool/acrylic blend.  Baby schtuff = machine washable.  A must.  I don’t understand these women that are like “oh, I knit this sweater for my infant niece out of 100% cashmere alpaca blend, it’s so soft”.  And then when the baby pukes on it, what is the mom supposed to do?  Does she really want to spend time soaking it, swirling it, rolling it gently up in a towel to blot out extra water, and then carefully lay it out to dry, rearranging the shape of the sweater so it doesn’t warp?  If you are that mom, I tip my hat to you.  Kudos, props, gold star.

Projects

Crochet Knit
Crocheting has its pros and cons with projects, but I have to say, the things you can make are limited.  Baby hats can be ADORABLE.  Afghans are super easy (probably because you don’t have to haul a 56″ cable needle to knit one with).  For the last three years I’ve found cute womens’ crocheted accessories in stylish (read: expensive) boutique and chain stores. But mens’ hats?  I’ve seriously struggled.  Clothing?  I can’t say that I’ve found a single piece of crocheted adult clothing that I would ever actually wear.  No wait that’s a lie.  I found a bolero once at Forever 21, but the time it would have taken me to recreate it wasn’t worth the $12.99 I could have spent just to buy it. VS This is where I have to say that knitting wins, no doubt about it.  It is a much more versatile skill.  As before mentioned, you can actually knit CLOTHES that people might actually put upon their (or their childrens’) bodies.  I’ve discovered a whole new world of manly mens’ hats.  Knitting is much more stretchy, so hats for babies are much more forgiving. This means I only have to knit one hat for every three (in different sizes) for a baby.  Score!

Summary: knitting takes home the prize for actual versatility of projects.  HowEVER… having said that, I have to mention the following: I’ve spent all of my time trying to create products that are professional looking and something that you could possibly ‘buy in a store’, if that makes sense.  Classy stuff, right?  I’ve crocheted hats and scarves, knit hats and scarves and cowls, and worn all of them out and about.  Here’s the kicker: while I’ve received countless positive compliments about my crocheted things, I have not once ever gotten any feedback about my knitted ones.  Zero.  Not even a “oh did you make that yourself?  Cool.”  Knitted things look nicer because they look like something you would have bought from a store, and therefore apparently when you knit it nicely enough, people assume you did buy it from a store, or better yet, from the lady on the street selling dusty, dirty hats spread out on the sidewalk for $2 each.  Right now, it’s freezing in Beijing and the little Chinese girls are all traipsing about with the most awesome collection of crazy colored knit hats.  I look at them every day and wonder if I can recreate them, but then is it worth it to spend all that time to have someone think that I picked it up in the market for $1?

Additionally, I’m having a hard time reconciling myself with “knitted looks nice” and “there is not a single item of adult clothing I would ever knit that would be more worth it to me than buying something tailored from Banana Republic on clearance for $19.99.”

SO.  Now that I’ve debated the merits of knit vs. crochet to death, which one do you prefer????

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