Today, I want to discuss some of the differences between crochet and knitting, specifically ways to achieve different results. How often have you seen a design for a knit garment and wondered, “Why couldn’t I crochet the same design?” And indeed you probably could. You will sometimes see patterns published for both crochet and knitting and many crocheters lament the fact that this is not done more often. What we need to keep in mind is that there is an inherent difference between the resulting fabric from crochet to knit. In sewing, we refer to this as the hand of the fabric. This means the texture, weight, and way the fabric drapes. This should be the first consideration when you make a crocheted project.
Crochet fabric is usually denser than knit fabric because of the nature of the technique. It is thicker and stiffer than knitted fabric when the same fiber and needle size are used. So, not only will you need more yarn or thread, but you will need to think about whether this heavier result will be acceptable to you in the finished garment. If it is a winter coat, you may like the thicker fabric which will result in a warmer garment. On the other hand, if it is a light summer top with draped neckline, just changing the pattern to crochet using the same fiber, weight, and hook will not give the desired result.
But there is another side to this issue. Do we want to copy and adapt knit patterns because there are so many more sophisticated stylish designs available? I would say, only if you just adore that pattern and you have a reason why you think it would be better as a crocheted garment. One of my goals in starting this website is to point out the beauty and strengths inherent in crochet. It is versatile and has a beauty all it’s own. It is not the ugly sister of knitting, but a similar craft that can be used to create fabulous projects that work best as crochet.
So, what are the considerations we need to keep in mind when deciding whether to knit or crochet? Some people find that one is easier than the other, but among people who do, I find they usually say one is easier than the other only depending on which they learned first. For those that do both crafts on a regular basis, they tend consider which technique works best for the project they have in mind. I’ve already mentioned the heavier weight and stiffer hand of crochet, but there are some obvious advantages, too. Crochet works well for light lacy patterns. It offers just a bit more stability and you can see the pattern developing as you progress. With knitting, a heavily textured or lacy pattern is harder to visualize until several rows down because of being bunched up on the needles.
This brings up another advantage with crochet. You can lay it out flat to measure your progress at any point. You have only one live stitch, so it is easier to frog back should you decide you want to redo a portion. As for finishing, there are hundreds of pretty crocheted edgings and these can be used on knitted projects, as well.
Another advantage I see with crochet is for three dimensional objects like amigurumi. Since you can see your progress as you go along, you can easily make adjustments to get the desired shape. Crochet’s dense fabric leaves smaller holes and in many cases you can stuff a toy without a fabric lining. And when working smaller items, the hooked crochet project has a distinct advantage over trying to work a small item on knitting needles.
Fiber is also a consideration. You can crochet or knit with just about any fiber, but the less stretchy fibers, such as cotton or linen are easier to work with in crochet. Really stretchy fibers or loosely stitched patterns on larger garments may not work as well in crochet because the weight tends to pull the garment down. That tunic length top may be down to your knees by the end of the day if you have crocheted it in medium weight cotton.
What are some other reasons to choose crochet over knit? Do you prefer to change hook size, choose a lighter weight yarn, or adjust the gauge? Next time, I will write about some of these choices, how to decide, and also give you a list of references that will help you learn the different techniques.