Knit vs. Crochet

Knit and crochet have a few things in common and a lot of things different. Let’s talk about crochet first.


Crochet hooks and fabric

Crochet is done with yarn and a single hook. This hook can be any number of sizes (just like knitting needles, as I discussed earlier this month). The size of the hook will determine the size of the stitches. Crochet has dozens of different types of stitches, and they each look a little different. Building them on top of one another allows you to make things like hats, blankets, scarfs, and more. Because of the way the stitches lie, the fabric you create crocheting often takes on a chevron-type feel, even if the edges are perfectly straight.

Knitting is done with two needles, and the fabric you create is much thinner and smoother than crochet fabric. When you see a sweater in the store that’s made up of tiny V shaped stitches, that’s knit (although I’m pretty confident the clothes in the store are machine knit).


Knit fabric

Both are essentially looping yarn around itself to make a solid piece of fabric. The way knitting or crocheting differ from sewing is that instead of taking fabric and cutting it into the shape of piece you need to create a garment, you just make the fabric that shape in the first place.

A lot of people say that crochet is easier because you only have to maneuver one tool besides your yarn. A lot of people say that crochet is faster for the same reason. And for these two reasons, I think a lot of people prefer crochet. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that crochet uses up about 30% more yarn than knitting, so your budget may not go as far if you just crochet.

There was a time in my life (when I knew how to crochet but not knit) that I thought people could only really master one of the two crafts. I knew tons of people who could crochet and tons who could knit, but none who could do both. (It turns out my father-in-law can do both, but I didn’t realize that at the time.) Even though I liked crochet, I didn’t love it, but I’d practically resigned myself to never being able to knit because it was one or the other and I already knew crochet. Silly, huh? I’m so glad I didn’t stick to that mantra because I love knitting. I love it in a way I never really did love to crochet. I’m glad I have both skills, but knitting is definitely my preferred craft.

Neither one is better than the other; it’s all a matter of preference. Both have their own kind of beauty (though I vastly prefer the look of knit to the look of crochet, which is why I don’t really do the latter anymore), and both can be very rewarding. I just like the versatility of knitting better – it’s better for a wider variety of projects. If you’re in the “market” to learn a new craft, I recommend knitting. But if you’re worried about being able to handle two needles and the yarn all together, then by all means – try crochet. You can always learn to knit later.


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My Favorite Knitting Resources


During the past several months, since I learned to knit, I’ve found lots of great resources online to further feed this addiction. Here are some of my favorites.


There are really only two YouTube channels I watch with any regularity (at least the knitting/yarn related ones), and each comes with a blog. 

For knitting techniques and tutorials, Very Pink (website here) is my absolute go-to. The host, Staci, is very relatable and her videos are super pro. It’s just the right balance of seeing her face and the cutting away to just her hands during the actual knitting. She posts new videos every Wednesday and a podcast on Thursdays.

For dyeing, I cannot recommend Rebecca from Chem Knits (website here) enough. I found her channel from a YouTube rec, and I’m glad I did. After watching her videos just for fun inspired me to dye my own yarn, and that was a really rewarding experience. Her videos are very sporadic, but have been quite frequent lately, including a lot of live videos. She’s also starting a weekly video series called Dye Pot Weekly later this month.

Other Sources

If videos aren’t your thing and you’d rather read than watch, there are lots great sources, depending on what fancy is.

Knitting Paradise is a forum with a huge membership base. If you ever have a question about knitting, ask it there are you’ll likely have dozens of answers within just a few minutes.

Knitting Help is another one. It’s very similar to Knitting Paradise, but not quite as active. Knitting Help also has loads of “how to knit” videos that I used when I needed a reminder in my early days of knitting. 

Tin Can Knits are my absolute favorite pattern designers. They have tons of hats, mittens, sweaters, cowls, and scarfs, and virtually all of them are sized “from baby to big.” This is unusual in a pattern, but it’s awesome because it means that you can knit a sweater for your baby or child – and a matching one for yourself! In addition to having tins of sizes, each of their patterns is seamless, so when you bind off your knitting, you’re done – no sewing of pieces required.

Finally, Ravelry. This is the knitter and crocheter’s best friend on the internet. It’s a place to find and purchase patterns. It’s a place to offer your own patterns for sale or free. It’s a place to store your patterns as well as those you’d like to knit someday. You can also keep an inventory of the yarn in your stash. This is especially useful if you have a large stash and struggle to remember what’s available. You can also view other projects from patterns you’re considering, which is one of my favorite things to do on Ravelry. They sort those projects by timeline (most recently finished first), but you can also look at them based on which yarn was used. This is especially useful if you know you want to make a pattern but you aren’t sure which yarn to choose. Just hop onto Ravelry, find the pattern, and choose “yarn ideas.”

This list is far from comprehensive as far as knitting resources online, but they’re the ones I gravitate toward most often.


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Teaching Children to Knit


I have this strange desire for my children to share my interests. Maybe it’s not so strange, I don’t know. But it’s there. The problem with this is that I only have sons. And that I’m not particularly interested in things like Star Wars and Legos. I’ve tried teaching them to knit and crochet in the past anyway, with varying degrees of success. Today I’ll share a few of the tips I’ve gleaned from other sources on teaching children to knit.

Don’t force them.

D8E3DD46-FA59-4022-BE38-860DF5094B2EThis is a hard one for me because I really want my boys to learn the craft. But generally speaking, they’re mildly interested at best, but not at all interested more often. Forcing children to do something they don’t want to do, as any parent knows, usually just makes things worse.

Sit next to them, not across from them.

An adult has the ability to understand opposite hands a lot easier than a child. So when you take an adult knitting class, you might find yourself sitting across from the instructor, and you know you need to do the opposite of what you see, but children have a hard time mimicking that way. It’s best to sit next to them while you’re showing them what to do so they can see the actions the way they actually need to be performed.

Help them with their work. Don’t try to show them on your own needles and yarn.

5D6BD3EA-8D5B-4127-BDBC-C72C6C2F3955This was the hardest part for me to figure out. When I took my class, the instructor had her yarn and needles, and each pupil had theirs. She showed us by doing it herself. When I tried to teach Munchkin (11 now, but we started when he was 9) to knit following this method, it didn’t work out so well. He could cast on just fine, but struggled to actually knit. When I held his hands and guided them in the proper motions, he had a lot more success.

If your child is younger, you might even do part of the work for them on a fairly regular basis, especially in the beginning. With Small Fry (5), I cast on for him, and then taught him how to put the needle through the stitch. I then wrapped the yarn, but taught him to pull the yarn back through. This way, he was doing 2/3 of the work (and so still learning), but by not having him work the yarn he didn’t have to learn (yet) the most difficult part of knitting: manipulating yarn and needles together.

Keep it simple.

While knitting boils down to just two stitches (knit and purl), they can be combined in dozens of ways to make stunning garments. But when you’re first learning, it’s best to work for a long time on just the basics. When teaching a child, I recommend letting them work with just the knit stitch for a long time. Knitting is easier than purling, so make the, very comfortable with knitting before you add in purls. 

Ultimately, there’s not really a right or wrong way to teach them to knit. These tips are just some I’ve come across online and in my own experience with my boys.


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Learning to Knit


There are a lot of options for learning to knit. If you’re a very private person who prefers to do things in the comfort of your own home, YouTube is a great place to start. There are practically unlimited options there for teaching yourself to knit. I tried several of them in my quest to learn, and none quite worked for me. I still wanted to learn, though, so I looked into other sources. It turns out that the yarn store I go to had classes. And there was one coming up in just a week or two. So I got signed up, and by the end of the two hour class, I’d learned all the basics. By the time I’d driven the half-hour home, I’d forgotten most of them – but I had them stuck in my head somewhere, so the videos made a lot more sense this time, and I was able to pick up the craft again more easily.

I will have a specific list of resources on Saturday, and next week I’ll even be doing my own series of tutorials on how to knit. If you’re interested in learning, I hope you’ll stick with me. Maybe my photo tutorials will be helpful to you.


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Where to Buy Yarn


This post will be short and sweet 🙂

There are loads of places to buy yarn, and yarn to fit every budget. You can get skeins from craft stores like JoAnn and Michael’s, and virtually every yarn in those stores will be under $6 ($10 If you go for the super sized ones). Any regular store that’s big enough to have a crafting department will also have yarn. I’ve purchased from Walmart and Fred Meyer (a supercenter type store here on the west coast, owned by Kroger) before.

There are practically unlimited sources for buying yarn online. I’ve never bought yarn from an online company before, but I’ve read on some forums about a few, and most come with good reviews. Hobium Yarns is one. Handsome Fibers is another.

And then there’s my favorite: the local yarn store. I frequent Oregon Knitting Co., but I’ve also purchased from Nitro Knitters. Because these shops are local to you, they’ll be different depending on where you are. A lot of the, have similar inventory and prices, so it’s just a matter of finding one you like and developing a relationship with the owners and employees. 


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The Yarn Stash and How to Store It

There’s a time in every knitter’s life when you have a yarn stash – even if you’re a project buyer. Almost no project will use up an exact even number of skeins with no leftovers. A pair of toe-up socks is the possible exception (though I’ve never made those, so I don’t know from experience, only what I’ve heard). If you’re a stash buyer, your yarn collection will grow even faster. Eventually you’ll have to figure out how to store it all.

Because I’m a project yarn buyer, my yarn stash is rather small. I keep the leftovers from other projects in a “Dokument” wastepaper bin from IKEA. It’s taken me about 18 months to get to the point where my little bin is full. There have been a few times when I’ve bought yarn “just because,” and most of those yarns are sitting untouched in my bin, which is why I don’t buy yarn this way. Despite the fact that they don’t get used terribly often, though, it’s quite convenient to have yarn around. Just last week, my kids were invited to a birthday party with only three days’ notice. Rather than buying a gift, I decided to see what yarns I had on hand and I made a hat and mitten set for the boy. If I hadn’t had that yarn stash, however meager it is, that wouldn’t have been possible.

For stash people, a small wastepaper basket won’t do the trick for storage, as you might guess. So if you have enough yarn in your house to open a yarn store of your own, what do you do with it? Here are a few photographic ideas from around the internet. None of these photos are mine.




Finally, here’s an article from Lion Brand on dealing with your yarn stash.


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Buying Yarn “Just Because”


If you like knitting or crocheting, but you don’t think in a pattern-first mentality, you might be a “yarn stasher.” This is the kind of person who goes into the yarn (or craft) shop with nothing in mind.

They might be out of yarn, but not have a new project in mind yet.

They might be having a down day and decide on a little retail therapy.

They might have come into some extra money and decided to spend it on yarn.  

Maybe they’re on vacation and found a local yarn shop with fibers and/or colors specific to the area that they can’t get back home.

Or maybe they were surfing the internet and found a great deal on some yarn, too good to pass up, and decided to indulge. 

In all of these cases, the person didn’t “need” yarn. (Although if you ask a knitter or crocheter, they’ll tell you that they always need more yarn!) They had some other reason for buying it, and they’ll just “stash” it until the right project comes along. 

There’s nothing wrong with either method of yarn buying; it all comes down to your own personal preference and budget. And storage space, but that’s a topic for another day (tomorrow, actually). When you go shopping for yarn, do it the way you prefer. Whichever way that is, it’s the right one!


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Buying Yarn for a Specific Project


There are two schools of thought when it comes to buying yarn, and over the next two days I want to write about each of them. Today is my usual method of yarn buying: only when you have a specific project in mind.

So… you’ve chosen a pattern. Maybe you found a free one (there are thousands), or maybe you paid for it (even more options here). It doesn’t matter which route you go; all that matters is that you’ve found a pattern you want to knit. You have needles. Now all you need is yarn.  You go to the store and buy the yarn specified in the pattern for the size you want to knit. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, maybe less, depending on your budget. You can always come back for the rest of the yarn when you run out (although you do risk getting a different dye lot). That’s really all it means to “buy yarn for a specific project.” 

There is one more situation in which you may find yourself if you are a project-yarn-buyer. You go into the yarn store (or craft store or yarn section of a regular store), but you didn’t look at patterns first. You stand there for eons, looking at the different yarn trying to imagine what each could turn into. You fail to come up with anything and end up leaving with no yarn at all. If this happens to you, you know you’re a project purchaser and you should find a pattern before going shopping again.

I have been in both situations, which is why I (usually) only buy yarn when I already know what I want to knit.

Tomorrow I will write about the other kind of yarn addict: the stash buyer.


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What is an “Interchangeable Needle Set”?

Yesterday, I talked about the basic types of knitting needles: straight, circular, and double pointed. Today I have a “secret ninja” fourth type to mention – although to be fair, it’s really just a variation on circular needles. 

If you recall, circular needles are shorter needles connected to each other by a thin, flexible cord. Interchangeable needles are basically the same, but with one twist… they come apart. When you buy an interchangeable needle set, you get a wide variety of needle sizes (diameters), but instead of having a stopper on the end, they have a screw. The set also comes with a selection of cords, and each cord has the inverse screw to the needles on its ends. In this way, you can combine whichever needle size you need (in an interchangeable set, they’re called “tips”) with the length of cord you need. This system allows you to have a huge variety of circular needles without having an unlimited supply that you have to store and keep track of. It’s a very efficient way of having the needles you need for practically any project. 


Types of Knitting Needles


Yesterday I wrote about my favorite knitting needles and pictured some of my Knitter’s Pride Dreamz straight needles. Today I’m going to explain the difference between straights, circulars, and double pointed.

Straight Needles


These were my very first knitting needles, and they’re great for learning. Straight needles are defined by their long size, point at one end, and a stopper of some kind at the other end. This stopper prevents your stitches from sliding off the back of the needle while you’re knitting; this is why they’re good for beginners.

Straight needles aren’t just for beginners, though. They’re also good for anyone making a flat project. I’ve even knit sweaters on them before (by knitting the pieces individually and sewing them together at the end).

Circular Needles

Fixed circulars

Most knitters I’ve come in contact with over the past couple of years prefer circular knitting needles. They’re great for any kind of project, either flat or round (tubular). With circular needles, you can join your stitches to knit around and around in a tube, or you can turn the work over at the end of the row and knit back and forth to create a flat piece. You can also use the “magic loop” method to knit small diameter things, but I don’t particularly like that, so I won’t focus much on it.

Double Pointed Needles


Double pointed needles (DPNs) are use for knitting small diameter projects in the round. They’re mostly used for the tops of hats and sweater sleeves. DPNs come in a set of 5, and each one has points at both ends (rather than one point and a stopper). They’re also quite a bit shorter than straight needles. When you use DPNs, you put 1/3 of the stitches on each of three needles and then use a fourth to knit with, one needle at a time (just like straight needles). When you get to the end of one needle, you rotate your work, move the now-empty needle from your left hand to your right, and keep going. 

The main downside with DPNs is that they don’t have that stopper on the end, so it’s very possible for your stitches to fall off. It’s not a huge risk so long as you don’t fill them up too full; typically there’s plenty of room on a given needle to keep the stitches in the middle and avoid them being dropped.


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