When it comes to making textiles, it’s easy to get confused by the different techniques out there. After all, beginners can hardly see a difference between a knitted and a crocheted sweater. Still, these two methods are very different, and it’s helpful to know the distinction when choosing which you will learn. Knowing the difference between knitting and crocheting can be really helpful when deciding which craft to start with.
One difference between knitting and crocheting is the tools used. Knitting requires two needles, while crocheting uses a single, hooked needle. The techniques used are also different. Both use loops of yarn to create items, and both require planning and dexterity. Beginners may find crochet easier.
We’re going to explain the history of these crafting techniques and discuss how beginners can get started on the road to mastering knitting and crocheting. Stay until the end for answers to some frequently asked questions.
History of knitting
It may seem strange at first, but some scholars believe knitting first began in the Middle East. Hey, the desert gets cold at night!
Knitting began in the 5th century and moved to Europe through trade routes, just like spices, oils, scents, dyes, and other common things we use in the crafting world. Knitwear was especially popular for fishermen and sailors who needed to keep warm out on the ocean.
The clothing industry uses machines for knitting, so most hand-knitting nowadays is done at home by crafters and hobbyists. Brittanica tells us the first knitting machine was developed way back in the late 1500s when a member of the English clergy made some silk stockings for the queen using his invention. We can’t even imagine trying to hand-knit silk!
In Iceland, knitting is basically a way of life. People knit in coffee shops, and children learn to knit in school. They even have a pattern that is totally unique to the country. We’ve probably all seen the famous snowflake print on Icewear sweaters, and it helps that there are over 2 million sheep living there to provide the residents with wool.
The Icelanders are onto something. Knitting is a great way to pass the time and create socks, sweaters, hats, even blankets, and more to keep yourself warm.
History of crocheting
It seems like no one’s totally sure when crochet began, but the Crochet Guild of America dates the techniques we learn today back to the 16th century.
Crochet was invented when the French decided to alter an existing technique of crafting known as tambouring, which is essentially crocheting on a background. They ditched the background somewhere in the 18th century and used crochet to make beautiful lace designs.
During the Irish Potato Famine, many families used crochet as a way to make some money, selling lace collars and cuffs to nobles in other countries. The families who saved up enough to escape Ireland went to America – and brought crochet with them.
How to learn to knit for beginners
For a beginner, knowing where to start can be a challenge. Here are three elements you need to have in order to learn to knit.
First and foremost, when you learn how to knit, you need to be patient.
Many knitting projects take months to complete, so beginners should avoid impatience at all costs. Start with a small project that won’t take too long. Scarves and cowls are perfect knitting projects for beginners. They both use basic stitches, and you’ll enjoy being able to wear your project proudly.
Tension and gauge
Beginners should also know the importance of tension and gauge.
In knitting, tension will determine whether your knitting project has tight or loose loops. It’s important to have good tension, or your project might unravel. Finding a good way to create tension in knitting comes down to personal comfort level. Experiment with postures to find what works best.
When you knit using a pattern, it is critical to look at the gauge the author has set for the project. It may be tempting to skip the math, but gauge tells you how large your item will be when it’s finished. There’s nothing worse than a cardigan that comes out looking like a circus tent!
A final tip is to find a good teacher. Learning how to knit for beginners is much smoother when you have a helpful guide. Many craft stores offer lessons, but you can always turn to your good friend Youtube.
How to learn to crochet for beginners
Generally, crochet is easier for beginners to learn. We’ll talk about why a bit later, but for now, here are two tips to get you started.
To learn how to crochet, beginners should pay attention to tension to create tight knots. Hold the yarn in your non-dominant hand by looping it around your pinky and middle finger. Good tension is important, particularly for potholders. Loose stitches mean burnt hands!
Beginners should pay careful attention to their counting.
Once you’ve made a mistake in your crochet project, you need to catch it as early as possible. Unlike knitting, you cannot go in and fix it without undoing a lot of hard work first. There’s nothing worse than watching your scarf turn back into a ball of yarn because you made an early mistake.
Here’s a great Youtube tutorial for a basic, crocheted potholder.
Is crocheting easier than knitting?
This is a question that gets asked a lot. Though you can make the same kinds of items with both techniques, one is certainly a little easier to start with than the other. When considering the difference between knitting and crocheting, ease of entry might be something to really think about if you’re a beginner.
Crocheting is easier than knitting, according to most crafters and experts. You only have to work with one needle, and it’s easier to keep stitches from slipping since crochet loops are knotted directly onto the project. Martha Stewart herself recommends it for those who plan to teach themselves.
Crochet is similar to macrame because they use the same technique of creating knots to make a textile design. You can read our guide to macrame here.
Knitting doesn’t have to be hard, of course. With practice and persistence, anything can become easy to you. Just because crochet is a bit easier for beginners doesn’t mean you won’t become frustrated from time to time, just like you will with knitting.
Like anything, you won’t master either of these techniques on your first try, but both can be incredibly rewarding to a crafter with the right attitude.
Best yarn for knitting and crocheting
Makers will have totally different opinions on the best kinds of yarn for projects, but here are some great guidelines to get you started.
When it comes to picking yarn for beginners, bigger is better.
The best yarn for a beginner project is a large one. In knitting, it will be a size 5 and up. Crochet sizing is by letters, but all options will be clearly labeled in the store. Chunky and super chunky thickness is great for beginner scarf projects, as they’ll be easy and faster to work with.
Note that you need to select the right needles for your yarn. To pick knitting needles, sizes must match. A thick yarn needs bigger needles. Thinner yarns will need smaller needles. This is easy to remember. Beginners won’t want to go too thin, however, as smaller needles are harder to work with.
Even though it has nothing to do with the difference between knitting and crocheting, the color of your project will be one of the most fun choices you make in the store. It’s also one of the most personal. However, there are some general guidelines to consider.
The best yarn color for a beginner will be a simple, flat color. Ombre yarn and sparkly yarn will be trickier for your eyes to see. They might look great in the bundle, but stay away from sparkles and tinsel yarns until you master the basics of knitting and crocheting first.
Pick a color that looks good on you. You’ll be looking at your project for a long time and living with it for even longer. Find a color yarn for a scarf that goes with your coat or matches your bag. A color might look good in a store, but if it doesn’t work with your wardrobe, you’ll never use it.
Since knitting and crocheting involve a lot of hands-on work, you should select your yarn carefully for a good hand feel.
The best yarn material for beginners is one that feels good in your hands. Don’t pick wool if you have a sensitivity, even if you love the color. Test the yarn in the store by running your fingers and palms along the strands. If you don’t like it now, you’ll hate it in a month.
Lion Brand is our pick for the best-feeling yarn, and we avoid Red Heart. Others will feel differently, so this is a very individualized choice. A good rule of thumb, though, is to look for quality over price. Cheaper brands won’t have a very nice hand feel.
Best beginner crocheting and knitting projects
So, you’ve considered the difference between knitting and crocheting, and you’ve decided which one to start with. Here’s a little advice on the best projects for beginners.
The best knitting or crocheting project for a beginner is a small one. A beginner project should be a relatively simple shape, and you should ideally be able to complete it in a few sittings. Nothing is more discouraging to a beginner than a long, drawn-out process.
Should you use a knitting pattern?
There are so many great patterns for both knitting and crocheting out there, in stores and online, but they may not actually help a total beginner.
Beginners should avoid patterns to start with if they can. Learning the language of knitting and crocheting patterns can be difficult, even if a key is provided. Start with an easy, 10 by 10 potholder to get the feel, and then graduate to patterns when you’re ready.
The best project for beginners is a potholder. A simple square means you’ll have the same number of stitches on each side. You can also use a smaller version of this project as a drink coaster.
A scarf is a wonderful first project for a beginner since it’s basically just a long potholder. Something people can see and compliment will really give you a boost.
A hat is a great choice for a beginner project, especially if you pair it with the scarf you’ve already made. You’ll be able to add a little flair to the top with a tassel or pom pom.
Best intermediate knitting and crocheting projects
You’ll be able to tell when you’re ready for the next step when you’re ready to start visualizing turns. You’ll see what we mean in a moment.
A good intermediate knitting project is a pair of slipper socks. A sock will feel similar to a hat at first, but making the heel is tricky for many. You need to visualize what your pattern is telling you to do for the heel, and if you can’t, then you need a bit more practice first.
Another intermediate knitting and crocheting project is a pair of mittens. Only having the thumb to contend with will keep you from feeling the frustration that comes with making gloves, but you’ll still have a stylish, homemade way to keep your hands warm.
Advanced knitting and crocheting projects
Joann’s and other craft stores categorize their projects fairly well by skill level. Typically, there are rudimentary, beginner, intermediate, and advanced patterns for sale.
Some advanced knitting projects are sweaters, cardigans, and blankets. Sweaters and cardigans are difficult, especially if a design is involved. Blankets may seem simple, but the time they take to complete makes them advanced. A beginner will not have the patience to spend a whole year on a single project.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about knitting and crochet.
How long does crochet take to learn?
Crochet does not take very long to learn. Quick learners may pick up crochet in a single sitting.
How long does it take to learn to knit?
Knitting takes a bit of time and patience to learn, but it’s very worth it. Unlike crochet, knitting offers a whole, open world of possibilities for customization.
What’s the easiest thing to crochet?
A potholder is the easiest project to crochet. It is symmetrical and fairly quick to produce.
Is crochet or knitting better for beginners?
Crochet is better for beginners. Most authorities recommend beginning with crochet. You can try knitting once you’ve developed a knack for working with yarn.
Difference between knitting and crocheting – final thoughts
Hopefully, our guide has made it a little easier to understand the difference between knitting and crocheting. These are great crafts to learn because once you have the techniques down, you can take them anywhere. Knit on the bus, in the coffee shop, or while you watch TV.
We hope you enjoyed reading this guide! Let us know where you take your knitting, and what you think the very best knitting projects are.