A New Trend
The resurgence of crochet has sparked an age old debate about the benefits of crocheting vs. knitting. Crochet has been put back in the limelight, not only in the arts and crafts world, but the fashion world as well. The 2010 runway displayed numerous outfits that showcased the art form at its best with a modern twist. The materials used for this revived style of clothing have expanded to include things like hemp, banana stalks and even very fine stainless steel thread; producing a very shiny tint to high fashion clothing. This trend is sparked from the belief that crochet can now work free-form; thus allowing an individual to be more creative and take more liberties with their crochet patterns. In addition, the tools for crocheting have improved as well. The hooks used to create the loops have become a form of artistic expression. Decorated with beads, hand painted or carved, the once plastic or aluminum hooks can be made from exotic materials such as bamboo wood or bone.
Here we will examine the features of the crochet stitch and the knit stitch, so you can decide for yourself which one you prefer. Though there is no reason you can’t practice both techniques, as many experienced knitters and crocheters can alternate back and forth, while appreciating their differences.
It is unknown where crochet first originated, but we see a height in its popularity in Europe during the 19th century. One reason is due to the Great Famine in Ireland from about 1845-1849. Crocheted items were a source of making money and saving money for the Irish, by producing things themselves. At the end of the 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century we start to see elaborate Victorian textures created through crochet patterns. For a long time though, the art of crochet remained something reserved for our grandmothers and their doilies. Today, because of the rise in do it yourself projects and the reasons mentioned above in this introduction, it’s becoming admired and widely accepted again.
The art of crocheting typically is faster than knitting, because it tends to have an “airier” quality, with more holes in the pattern; therefore taking up less time (usually) than a similar project would take if knitted. You can above in our Crochet Pillowcases, the intricate detail highlighted by a series of exposed loops. The open design creates an appearance of lace and is a feature you can find in all of our crochet bedding at Sturbridge Yankee Workshop, including our Crochet Bed Skirt.
Crochet is actually French for hook, because the hook tool is the star of creating the design. Crochet uses one needle and a single hook that feeds the thread in a loop over your finger and is then repeated by pulling loops through the previous and so on. The hook assists in gauging the desired and accurate size of each loop. There are over 100 crochet techniques, but the majority of them involve wrapping around a single loop more than one time to create a thicker line. Especially with crochet, it is very important that the yarn or thread come from the same dye lot to ensure a continuous color throughout and not distract from the elaborate details.
In contrast to crocheting, knitting uses at least two needles or more to create its patterns. Although typically slower to produce than crochet, knitting can offer more versatility to the experienced knitter. Knitting is better suited for sweaters and socks than crochet is, because the technique creates a “stretchier” material. Some say that the two formats lay differently and that crochet has a stiff or boxier appearance; therefore better suited for a cardigan or table cloth. Both can create clothing and bedding, so depending on your skill level and comfort, you can choose accordingly.
Our Snowflake Knit Throw seen here to the right, showcases the heavier look a knit has over a crochet. What makes knitting a bit more difficult than crocheting, is that when you make a mistake (or “drop a stitch”) you run the risk of loosing what you have already done, because each loop relies on the other to exist. (Although connected by loops as well, crochet’s loops are done with the one individual loop and one needle, making it much easier to fix just the one).
When knitting there are a couple of things going on at once, being the need for more than one needle. A course refers to the path the yard or thread of additional stitches will follow; acting as the guiding stitch. A wale or wales are the stitches, or loops that are suspended from either side of the course and is what is repeated over and over. The repetition of wales is what forms the “stretch.” The two or more long needles create a pattern from a typical combination of two basic stitches:
1. Weft Knitting
The more common of the two, occurs when the wales run perpendicular to the course.
2. Warp Knitting
Here, the wales and courses run more or less parallel to each other, creating a different and more interesting look.
A benefit to knitting is that many of the patterns can be simply done on a sewing machine, whereas the majority of crochet patterns have to be done by hand. As with crochet, the dye lot is important; though some prefer the mix of different dyes when knitting, to create a blended or faded appearance in some sections.
Whichever you choose know that both have many positive effects on your life. Firstly, it is cost effective to produce your own goods, whether that be clothes or linens. Even with the price of materials varying because of different grades or weight, what you make yourself will for the most part be less expensive than retail price of the same item. Secondly, these hobbies can relieve stress. The concentration needed to produce these tiny loops and work with multiple needles, will divert your attention to the task at hand and away from other thoughts. Knitting and crocheting are an art form and could spark other artistic ventures in your life. Lastly, practicing either of these on a daily basis will extremely improve your hand eye coordination.